THOUSANDS of fish have been rescued from the River Tarrant in Dorset following a recent dry spell.

The Environment Agency and the River Tarrant Protection Society worked together to rescue fish as water levels in the river started to drop, leaving fish trapped in pools and unable to migrate.

A plastic duck, which was a remnant from an annual duck race held in a local village, was also recovered.

Roger Genge, a fisheries officer with the Environment Agency, said: “During the summer when the weather is hot, the river level falls and it starts to dry out, leaving large pools which trap the fish.

“I’m really pleased we were able to rescue some really big trout, grayling, eels – and a plastic duck!”

The Tarrant is a major tributary of the River Stour and an important nursery for brown trout, salmon and grayling. It is fed by underground streams.

“We’re very grateful for the help and support of riparian owners and the River Tarrant Protection Society who helped rescue fish, some of which were too large to fit into the buckets we were using and had to be carried to safety in separate containers,” Mr Genge added.

The fish were relocated to the River Stour so they can migrate upstream when river flows return to normal.

People can report fish in distress to the EA’s free 24 hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.