Following the posting online last week on social media of what looked like a couple of medium sized Wels Catfish being illegally released into the River Wandle, we have received the following information from the Environment Agency:

“Quick update on this; we carried out some electric fishing on Friday but didn’t see any sign of the catfish. We fished from the small, notched weir downstream of STW discharge up to Goat Bridge weir. Lots of other fish present; barbel, chub, big roach, carp and brown trout (including juveniles bred in the river).

We were planning to carry out some more electric fishing tomorrow, however have decided not to go ahead. This is because electric fishing is unlikely to be effective in the deeper, wider stretch approaching Watermeads weir. We would have to fish from a boat with just 2 anodes and the electric field would only cover the immediate area around the boat, leaving parts of the channel without coverage. This will mean we are not efficiently fishing the river. A major downside to electric fishing is that low level mortality can occur in other species. Large chub are particularly susceptible, we lost 1 last Friday along with a couple of decent dace. Causing stress and possible damage to other fish is the last thing we want along the river, especially as I feel our chances of catching the Cats are now slim.

Please feel free to share this update around Wandle anglers. We would urge any sightings or captures of the catfish to be reported to our incident hotline, 0800 80 70 60. We will look to collect the fish if possible. The EA are carrying out further investigations regarding the identity of those who stocked the catfish, obviously though the video online gives nothing away.

If you should happen to catch one of the suspected catfish can you please contact the EA via 0800 80 70 60. The call will then be passed onto our on call duty officer.  The duty office will then be able to speak directly with the angler, hopefully we will be in a position to collect the catfish from the angler.

There could be difficulties with this. Some of our duty officers live some distance away from the Wandle and would also need a suitable vehicle to transport the fish with. I don’t expect anglers to be waiting around for hours for an EA response, however please ask them to call us and we will do our best to get to the river quickly.

Alternatively if catfish can be held in a sling / net somewhere out of sight from the public this may be an option. I don’t really advocate this but humane destruction of the fish by an angler comfortable with doing so could also be a way forward.”

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