Fish Refuges in Heesom’s Pool

The level of cormorant predation at Heesom’s Pool first increased significantly during the winter of 2014/15 and the number of these birds on this water was at an unprecedented level in the winter of 2015/16

In order to address this problem, in 2016 and 2017 Pat Colgan, (the Club’s Maintenance Manager), and Roy Garton, (our Health, Safety and Fisheries Officer), held a number of on-site meetings with experts from the Angling Trust  and the Environment Agency to discuss ways of protecting the Pool’s fish from these birds. Pat and Roy were told that it will be impossible to give 100% protection to this fishery because of the large numbers of cormorants that roost during the winter months on the Mersey Estuary, within easy flying distance of mid-Cheshire. However, some fish protection methods were suggested and in the spring of 2016 the Club’s Committee decided that a number of fish refuges should be built and placed in suitable areas around Heesom’s Pool

Over the last 18 months Pat Colgan and Phil Hawkins have spent much of their time building and installing such refuges. These are constructed of six circles of sheep wire mesh held together by cable ties to form a rectangular shape of about 3 metres by 2 metres with a height of 1 metre. The size of the holes in the mesh varies from 10 cm square to 30 cm x 20 cm.  The refuges have been filled with tree branches and their tops covered by a strong black weed control fabric. A spar was inserted through each refuge so that the Club’s excavator could be used to place them at the desired location.

To date, fourteen of these fish refuges have been put into Heesom’s Pool – (eight along the right hand bank and six on the left hand side) - and more are under construction. Unfortunately, there is a limit to where they can be placed as some areas of the Pool are not accessible to the excavator.



             refuge heesoms pool 2            refuge heesoms pool 3


Angling Trust Angling Improvement Fund award

for the installation of anchored, ‘floating island’ fish refuges

at Heesom’s Pool

To provide some protection against cormorant predation for the fish stock in in those areas of Heesom’s Pool where it is difficult to get access from the bankside, the Committee decided in August 2017 to install ‘floating island fish refuges’. On the surface these anchored structures look like small islands covered in vegetation. But underneath each is a 2 metre x 1 metres mesh fish refuge.

The Club’s project for the purchase and installation of a number of these fish refuges has been supported by an award from the Angling Trust’s ‘Angling Improvement Fund’. This Fund can provide financial assistance to member organisations for fisheries improvement projects and activities. It is administered by the Angling Trust and supported by the Environment Agency which allots finances for the fund from its sale of Rod Licences.

In September 2017 Roy Garton, on behalf of the Club, submitted an application to the Angling Trust for a grant from its Angling Improvement Fund. The maximum amount that an individual organisation could apply for was £5,000 and these grants were to be awarded to just 20 schemes nationally. Those organisations applying were advised to match any grant awarded with their own funding. I am happy to report that Roy’s application was successful and the Club has been allocated an Angling Trust award of £4,900. This sum will be matched from the club funds and the total amount will be used for the purchase and installation of floating island fish refuges at Heesom’s Pool from a company called ‘Aquamaintain’.

 These refuges are likely to be positioned between pegs 20 and 32, but their final location will be determined following a site meeting with the contractor. As this award has only recently been made by the Angling Trust, no precise timescale for the installation of the refuges can be given at this time but it is expected that the work will start in the New Year. An update about the progress of this project will be posted on this website at the appropriate time.


Installation of anchored, ‘floating island’ fish refuges at Heesom’s Pool


Over the 2-day period of 28th and 29th March, twelve anchored ‘floating island; fish refuges were constructed and installed on Heesom’s Pool by Aquamaintain Ltd. These refuges form part of the work being done at the Pool to provide protection from cormorants for the resident fish population.

The purchase of these islands was only possible because it was part-funded by a grant of £4,900 which the Club was awarded from the Angling Trust’s ‘Angling Improvement Fund’. This Fund can provide financial assistance to member organisations for fisheries improvement projects and activities. It is administered by the Angling Trust and supported by the Environment Agency which allots finances for the Fund from its sale of Rod Licences.


Description of the floating island fish refuges:

Each of the 12 floating island fish refuges are made up of two wire mesh cages. The bottom cages form the actual fish refuges and are 2metres long, 1.2 metres wide and 1 metre deep. These cages are below the surface of the water.

On top of each of these is a second cage which is above the water’s surface. The top cages are 2 metres long, 1.2 metres wide and 0.5 metres deep. Within each of these a coir mat has been placed into which 50 aquatic plants of various species have been planted. These plants will eventually grow through the mesh of the top cages.

Each of the floating islands is anchored in position by ropes tied to weighted sandbags.

Position of the floating islands fish refuges:

The floating islands have been placed in those areas of Heesom’s Pool where our Maintenance Manager, Pat Colgan, has been unable to gain access from the bankside to place fish refuges that he and Phil Hawkins have constructed.

Specifically, the floating island fish refuges have each been placed around 1.5 metres from the bank and are positioned between the following peg numbers:

20~21, 21~22,   22~23, 23~24, 24~25, 25~26, 26 ~ 27,   28~29,   29~30, 30~31, 31~32,    33~34.

I take this opportunity to thank:

The Angling Trust for the award granted from its Angling Improvement Fund which made it possible for the Club to undertake this project.

Aquamaintain for constructing and installing these fish refuges

Pat Colgan, Roy Garton and Phil Hawkins for all of the hard work they have done, (and are still doing), on the Club’s behalf in respect of the ongoing project to provide ways of protecting the fish stock in Heesom’s Pool from large scale cormorant predation.

 A floating island with some aquatic plants in placeInstalling a flating refugeLine of floating islands from Peg 20 to 26