FEARS have been raised that the fish stock in a popular angling spot may have been wiped out after more than 1,000 were found dead.
An investigation has been launched after several anglers spotted floating carcasses in a part of the River Tean that is popular with anglers across the country.
Anglers are now speaking out online about the long-term problems caused as a result of pollution, after fish aged up to fifteen years old were found dead.
A five kilometre stretch of the waterway in Beamhurst near to Over Fole Farm has been affected and samples have been taken to establish what is in the water.
Now fears have been raised about whether the entire fish stock in that area may have been destroyed – while anglers say other wildlife may also have been affected.
And there are official concerns that the problem may spread to other rivers.
It has been speculated that the River Tean could take more than ten years to recover from the damage.
Roger Till, a member of Saracens Head Angling Group, said: "It is terrible. Our club, which has got the stretch below the farm, has at least 20 members who fish their on a regular basis.
"The River Tean is full of brown trout and is one of the best places for graylings in the area.
"It has a well-established stock, all naturally generated. Whatever has happened could have wiped the lot out.
"It goes deeper than the fish. It kills the vertebrates and affects the birds.
"It's all the wildlife and plant life. I have seen whole rivers destroyed and it takes years to get back."
The dead fish were discovered on Tuesday evening.
Mike Williamson, aged 77 from Marchington, who is treasurer of the angling club, said: "It is one of the best fishing rivers for grayling in the country. Members travel from more than 40 miles to fish there. It is devastating that more than 1,000 fish have been killed and possibly insect life as well. "It could be years before it recovers.
"It is worrying because the Tean runs into the River Dove, which is a big salmon river."
Bernadette Beaumont, landlady of the nearby Blacks Head in Tean, said: "It's very sad news. I usually walk down with my grandchildren to see the fish and a lot of people walk by the river before coming into the pub. Only the other day someone mentioned how many trout you can see, but now that will be in a mess."
Jenny Casey said: “Just think of the environmental damage after this outbreak, river polluted, soils, fish, insects, it’s a killer blow to locals and anglers, absolutely shocking.”
Tony Comerford said: “I remember seeing it 25 years ago and it was close to being a sewer. It was last week one of the best small rivers in the country.
“This was one of those fabulous little streams you would die for if you could find one.”
Steve Sagar said: “It’s so sad, I hope over time the river can get back to its beautiful self again.”
Simon Rose said: “Suffocation, the ultimate insult to a fish.”
Scott McGregor said: “It will take years to recover, the damage is done, very sad.”
Lee Buckingham said: “It was a great little river, I’ve grown up fishing this and now it’s gone, gutted isn’t the word.”
Glen Pointon said: “To see it was horrendous, I heard about them but seeing a whole system wiped out is something very depressing.
“The whole place looked dead.
“It will take 10 plus years to recover.”
Jan Hobot said: “It’s the worst thing that could ever happen to a river – all that river life was priceless.”
An Environment Agency spokesman said: " We are continuing to investigate the cause, checking and taking samples on the river upstream and downstream of where the incident occurred. We are still assessing how many fish have died but early estimates are in excess of 1,000.
"We are also appealing to any anglers who are on the Dove downstream of Uttoxeter to let us know if there is anything out of the ordinary happening."