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

The Dorset Wild Rivers Project and Casterbridge Fisheries have welcomed the results from a survey following conservation and river enhancement work last year. It suggests the numbers of fish are rising significantly.

Castebridge Fisheries carried out the study to monitor the impact of changes on the Lower Bockhampton section of the river to where the Stinsford Channel joins the Frome.

The work included narrowing 150m of the river by creating willow mattresses, which help to provide a natural habitat for eels to flourish and increases the speed of the water flowing that creates clean gravels that are ideal for fish to reproduce.

The results of the survey showed a positive impact that included a growth in populations of species such as grayling, brown trout and eel.

The fish population and habitat diversity has improved, with the overall density of fish rising by almost 60 per cent.

Eels made up 50 per cent of the catch for the survey, which was welcome news after previous concerns that changes to the river could actually have a negative impact on the species.

The grayling, a species of fish that has flourished in the River Frome in recent years, also rose significantly from 4.1 per cent to 23.8 per cent of the catch.

Managing director of Casterbridge Fisheries John Aplin 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 survey results.

She added: “Over the last three years we’ve worked on over 5km of river.

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