Young roach released near Axminster

Colourful fish is reintroduced to the River Axe

ONE of Britain’s most colourful coarse fish has made a welcome return to the River Axe for the first time in nearly 30 years.

With its dazzling red fins and large silver scales, the eye-catching roach is a popular fish with anglers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

It was common on the Axe until the early 1980s when a serious pollution incident wiped out thousands of fish including roach, salmon and sea trout.

The local roach population never recovered despite conditions on the Axe being near perfect for the species.

This week saw roach return to the river for the first time since 1982 as the Environment Agency introduced more than 4,000 young fish as part of a re-stocking scheme.

Measuring around five inches long, the juvenile roach were supplied by the Agency’s national fish hatchery at Calverton near Nottingham and transported to Devon by Agency bailiff, Andy Locke using a specially equipped Land Rover and trailer.

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He said: “The Axe has all the features needed to sustain a healthy roach population. The absence of any angling pressure should give the species a very good chance of re-establishing itself as part of the river’s ecosystem. All we’re doing is giving nature a little helping hand.”

The young roach were released at three locations near Axminster.

“They were excellent quality fish and should disperse into suitable habitats along the river once they’ve settled into their new surroundings,” added Mr Locke.