Freshwater diving starts, well it has to there was a 7m swell at the weekend!

After a great summer diving at all of my usual haunts it’s time to get back to diving the local waterpark to help clear out rubbish discarded and also help get the site ready for netting in January, this means all large ‘things’ that can snag the bottom of the net to be lifted and taken out.

Well, I say a great summer diving, overwhelmingly it has been but last week I was asked to try and find a dog that a woman had ‘lost’ in the River Tees, I was fortunate insofar as I didn’t need to kit up as the loss was on one of the ‘canalised side runs’ near the barrage and an angler had accidentally snagged the collar as we were walking along, so a simple recovery, blanket up and carry to her car. I must say that these little areas are not best designed, they may only be four feet, or so, deep but there is a two feet wall ‘tween surface and path which makes escape for animals impossible and if you are a small human it can be quite a swim to the vertical steps which afford egress. Just a thought but the River and Canal Trust could well examine a hinged floating ramp arrangement or three to enable stricken animals to get out!

For the first dip of the year I was asked to check the ‘boating’ pool, it’s the same size as the others but has been drained down to a depth of around 2m rather than the more usual 4m, no idea why it is shallower, although at this depth you are able to walk along the flat top of the small retaining wall to maintain radio contact with your boat, so perhaps that is the reason. This shallower depth combined with no anglers keeping an eye means that people often swim and jump in from the step area and this is where I started my dive.

Although not of interest to the larger reading site-users I will confirm that the vis was around 4m, although there was a bluish tinge in the water, comparing with the other pools they appear rather silty, probably due to the higher fish stock levels and as I was to find out the presence of huge beds of weed in this pool whilst the others are virtually ‘weed-free’.

As expected there were mobile phones and I picked up three models, the newest being an apple smart phone and the oldest one of the original ‘bricks’, I had hoped to find something of monetary value as kids do jump in virtually fully clothed in the summer but nope a few phones and lots of lost clothing was all that I found, maybe next dive when I remove the old clothes and shoes something may turn up, we shall see………………

The bottom of the water park is ‘paved’ with light coloured slabs that are maybe two feet square and in this pool it was surprising that the area I checked these paving stones were visible, along with the small raised sections that run ‘east to west’ along the bottom. In the other ponds which are fished there is a silt layer, maybe ten centimetres deep covering the tiles, well covering the paving stones apart from areas where fish had been actively feeding and the silt is ‘blown’ away by the feeding actions of the carp, tench and bream.

As well as the visible paving stones there was another big difference between this boat pool and the fishing pools and that was the presence of large beds of Elodea Densalt, which is great in aquariums, but it is a problematic invasive species which only gets into British ponds when aquarium keepers illegally release fish and maybe weed into our waterways. Talking to the guys who lease the pools I wasn’t sure why they added chemicals to control weed, now I realise that it is to try and ensure that this invasive species doesn’t become a feature of the pools where it would be nigh on impossible to control. With this in mind I made sure that my kit was thoroughly sterilised and washed so there is no chance that I am spreading the weed, and I did take a handful back home to put into the small cool water aquarium that we have, certainly the four inhabitants certainly liked the introduction of this new cover and maybe food-source.

After moving a little further out I found a bike, not unusual I guess, but it meant that I had to drag back to my entry point and leave on the bankside before continuing, a bike will most certainly cause issues when netting the pond and is simply too large to float and push around, it wasn’t an especially good bike or indeed in a reasonable state, steel frame and wheels so a nice simple scrap. Unlike the scooter that I found next, it must have been thrown in with some force being near the middle of the pool, however being largely aluminium I will either ‘fettle’ or add to the winter scrap pile.

The other bits that I picked up were largely what you would expect to come across when diving any piece of water close to houses, drinks cans, an inordinate amount of golf balls, an old and broken fishing reel and finally what looked like a divers knife but attached to a length of string. This last find did clean nicely with nothing other than very light surface rust and when I get round to making a sheath for it, then it will be added to my ever-expanding spare kit boxes, if there had been any reported knife crime the offending part would have found its way to the local constabulary, but nothing reported means it’s mine! The surprising thing about the bits and pieces that I picked up was that there were no dog toys, most dives I find a couple of things, frisbees or balls on ropes which have sunk before the dog got to it, I am sure that the absence of dog toys in this pool doesn’t mean that there will be a dearth of these in the other pools, it saves me a few quid every year in recycling these toys rather than buy new for my dogs.

Having used very little air in my half hour dip it was time to get out and warm up, not that the pool was cold, rather I had forgotten my thermals so was only wearing jeans and T shirt under a membrane suit, not the best of configurations for UK diving at any time of year. I had only covered about 30% of the pool so need another couple of dips to say that it is ready for netting, not that I saw anything that was ‘nettable’ certainly I had expected to see small perch in the weed but there was no sign of them or even sticklebacks, which you tend to see in the shallower water. After the dive it was also interesting to note that I had seen no swan-mussels in this pool even though there are large numbers in both other pools, it is possible that they don’t like the shallower water.

I was planning my next dive being on the boat pool but from the Southern bank, however I just received a message that one of the anglers has dropped something in at pool 3, peg 7 and could I get it? It’s an easy win and makes sure that my unfettered access to these nice little local dive sites continues as does my positive relationship with the anglers who use the site.

Dive safe


Weight this dive – 5.0 kg

Weight this year – 1251.2 kg

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