River Bela Association
The River Bela is a short river formed by the confluence of Stainton, Lupton and Peasey Becks; it enters Morecambe Bay below Milnthorpe.
The river flows through pastureland, much of which has no public access, and is intermittently fenced to exclude stock. The geology of the area is predominantly limestone, which gives the waters a high pH, typically 8.5.
The river has partially recovered from and supports healthy populations of fish, invertebrates and a flora dominated by ranunculus, The fish populations are made up of brook lamprey, bullheads, stone loach, minnows, eels, sticklebacks, brown trout, sea-trout and salmon. The migratory runs have increased greatly in the last 10 years since the Environment Agency opened up a fish pass at the Heron Corn Mill at Beetham opening up additional spawning areas for both salmon and sea-trout in the headwaters. The tributary becks all contain large populations of white-clawed crayfish although the main Bela carries only occasional specimens.
Angling on the lower Bela is controlled by Bela Anglers who rent water from Dallam Estate. Milnthorpe Angling Association has the fishing from Heron Corn Mill upstream to Hang Bridge again, rented from Dallam Estate and also rent sections on Stainton and Peasey Becks from riparian owners. Lupton Flyfishers have a stretch of Lupton Beck.
Milnthorpe Anglers has records of stocking dating back to 1887 but from 2014 their waters are being trialled as a wild fishery. In support of this initiative the Club has organised a number of environmental improvements including:
- Stock exclusion fencing to create buffer strips between pasture and river
- Tree planting
- Himalayan Balsam removal
- Fish refuges
- Barn owl box schemes
- Mink trapping
- Weed cutting
- Reinstatement of pool/riffle in the canalised areas
- Regular monitoring of invertebrate through the Riverfly Partnership scheme