FISH numbers are on the increase following a major conservation project on the River Frome.

Dorset Wildlife Trust said the population has risen ‘significantly’ after work last year by the Dorset Wild Rivers Project and Casterbridge Fisheries.

Willow mattresses were created at the Lower Bockhampton section of the river, where it is joined by the Stinsford Canal, as a natural habitat for eels.

This narrowed around 150 metres of the river, which increases the speed of the water, creating clean gravel for other species to reproduce.

Casterbridge Fisheries carried out a survey to catch and count the fish populations after the work and found eel, brown trout and grayling numbers have risen.

The overall density of fish was found to have risen by more than 60 per cent.

John Aplin, managing director of Casterbridge Fisheries, said: “It was great to be involved in this enhancement project and to see the native species using the site as intended. The gravels are now clean and fish are spawning successfully during the winter.

“The project also provides the much-needed cover for fish fry survival.”

Sarah Williams, conservation officer for the Wild Rivers Project, said she was ‘delighted’ with the results. She added: “Over the last three years we’ve worked on more than 5km of river.

“We have more plans for similar projects for the next few years and hope to see this positive news continue.”