THREE thousand fish have been introduced to the River Dearne, to allay anglers' fears of falling numbers.

The juvenile barbel, a bottom-feeding species of fish, were put in in groups of 600 in sites at Adwick, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Darfield, Cundy Cross and Barugh Bridge.

Anglers had complained to the Environment Agency that the species had been proving more elusive to catch on the river and official tests confirmed this.

The reaction has been to move the fish in now as the weather is cold and the water is better oxygenated.

Fisheries officer Peter Turner said: "We had to make sure there wasn't a population already there.

"What we think is that the barbel in the river have grown old. They do migrate upstream but we will continue to do this once a year for the next six years to ensure we have a good population."

Although they can be found in still waters, barbel are predominantly river dwellers and are popular with fisherman for their fighting prowess once hooked. Adults can reach up to 20lb in weight.

The fish have been supplied by a fish farm in Calverton, Nottinghamshire, and their introduction has been funded by the rod licence money that anglers pay annually.