Rutland Underwater by Jack Perks

Over thirty club members attended this really memorable presentation on Thursday 26th January. We were lucky and very delighted to have been able to welcome Jack to give us the benefit of his incredibly extensive knowledge on underwater life. He has illustrated many publications on the subject.

Jack Perks

He has been on many media programs with the likes of David Attenborough. He was also on the One Show and will shortly be on the new up-and-coming David Attenborough programme, Wild Isles. He showed us his diving attire which included a wetsuit well decorated in camouflage no doubt pretending to be a weedbed! He added that his presence in the water had limited impact on the local fish population except, where the fish were accustomed to encountering larger predators: e.g. otters.

He showed us some wonderful slides and videos of the activities of a range of fish. He has in fact photographed some 54 species in their element. The first few he showed us were of some unusual feeding habits and diets of freshwater fish. This included bullheads consuming salmon eggs, Pike helping themselves to mayflies as they ascended to hatch.

We had some wonderful underwater pictures of barbel spawning in the River Trent. He said that his favourite fish was the Grayling – sometimes understandably, known as the lady of the stream. We saw some lovely pictures of them in their element with minnows keeping safe distance behind them: although it might be thought they were in little danger from the limited predatory nature of the Grayling.

We saw a picture of a pair of very large brown trout swimming in the lower reaches of the River Leen in Nottingham. This is remarkable as it is in fact, a totally urban watercourse throughout the last 7 miles. It was thought that these fish got to this size with a rather more human diet. e.g. fish and chips!

Another interesting and unusual video followed showing bass, perch and zander together in the same pool in a south coast river. A lot of his work is carried out with a camera on what appeared to be a pole resembling a broomstick; as he said, simple but effective and in no danger spooking the notoriously shy mullet he was trying to photograph.

He showed how a drone could be very useful in identifying spawning redds in salmon rivers. We saw a picture of these being identified in the river Derwent at Duffield where an obstructive weir had been removed which had allowed, for the first time in many years, salmon to ascend the river and a small brook known as the Ecclesbourne.

Now back to Rutland. Jack had spent some seven years photographing our beloved fishery and showed us some samples of his success. This included vast quantities of perch around the draw off tower at the south end of the dam. Then, what we really wanted to view, of course, some pictures of trout activity.

It was very interesting to note that the browns feeding habits are not quite so individual as we thought. The underwater video showed a group of these fish ranging between 3 and 5lb charging into a bait ball of fry and then returning to mop up the casualties. It was interesting to note the apparent absence of rainbows attacking these fry; although, an odd one did appear in the video.

The President thanked Jack for a fascinating evening and applauded his remarkably extensive knowledge of his subject.

Some photos above are ©Jack Perks. Find out more at Jack Perks Photography