Monday, 15 April 2013

Sunday, 15 March 2009

A day out and a Pike called Frankenstein!

Looking down the loch from Bowerhope.
I was pleased to be invited to fish with a couple of club members this week, we arrived early in the morning the sun shining, a gentle breeze and initially moderate though very variable temperatures. Although the fishing turned out to be slow we passed the time discussing various topics both fishing and non fishing.

One topic we spent some time discussing was that of the increasing number of artificial Pike fisheries being created. It’s the old stew pond vs. wild loch scenario again but in a different guise. Pike of various sizes (often up to 20lbs) are stocked into ponds containing large numbers of feeder fish (Rainbow Trout/Roach) with the aim of turning the Pike into hefty specimens in a short time. Pike that in the natural order of things would remain at moderate weights through environmental factors, genetics or mundane foraging ability, are catapulted forward to specimen levels in a very short time. However large Pike do not take well to being transported showing a high mortality rate and the lifespan of the artificially reared Pike is much less than that attained by natural specimens, but of more importance to discerning anglers is the question – why?

Where is the satisfaction in catching a Pike that does not require to use its highly tuned senses to hunt and detect food and when caught fights against the pursuing angler like a bag of sand?
A Pike that thrives on indolence knowing that easy meat is available whenever it desires to feed. A Pike who knows nothing of the wild only the comfort of a well stocked larder. A Pike whose muscle mass is exchanged for fat and looks more like a soft Rainbow Trout. Where is the joy in such a catch?

No doubt what drives many anglers to seek out these places is the kudos of being able to catch and subsequently display a photo of a big thirty or numerous twenty pound plus fish allowing the captor to become elevated above the status of the ordinary Pike angler.

But really is there any kudos in catching a Pike stocked at twenty pounds plus, force fed and then caught repeatedly at 30lbs plus by queues of fame seeking desperate anglers?

There is none; such a fish is a machination engineered to attract anglers who are eager to parade photos of their recent “record” or “PB” without putting in the time and effort to catch a wild specimen. Unwilling or unable to serve their apprenticeship in pursuit of naturally large wild Pike, they seek the easy option. This bizarre practice is doubtless seen as a victory for the catching angler but one that is seen increasingly by the Pike fishing fraternity as a hollow victory!
That which is won too easily is not worth having!

Such a Pike is viewed as a curio akin to the bearded lady at the circus rather than a goliath of the species, any wild Pike is worth ten of these creations.
Consequently respect has to be earned and an angler recounting his tale of how he caught his 30lbs plus Pike from one of these stew ponds would I am afraid fall on deaf ears! A truly wild fish in its natural environment is a trophy to behold; one of these engineered creatures is but an aberration!

A point to ponder is would a Pike from such waters be accepted as a record fish? I would hope that to maintain a degree of credibility such a fish would be immediately discounted. To allow such a fish to stand as a record makes a mockery of all those anglers who have caught large fish without having to resort to this pseudo Pike fishing.

Rainbow Trout stew ponds spring to mind where “record breaking” fish are stocked into a pond and caught hours later by frantic anglers desperate to gain the limelight. Such fish can often be caught with a bare Nickel plated hook. Match the hatch? I think not! Personally I would prefer to stalk a rising 1lb wild brownie knowing that the fish is truly wild and that my fly has obviously fooled the fish into thinking it was a natural. The same principle applies to the Pike I seek to catch.

The original environment is also manipulated by these introductions, for instance in a pond with only Brown Trout feeding on the food sources lower down the food chain a balance develops between hunter and prey.

With the intervention of stocking heavily with Rainbow Trout and Pike two more voracious predators are introduced and the food chain is placed under severe pressure. In some such cases Brown Trout have been wiped out after such introductions. See our earlier articles entitled Alien species for the rationale.

This altered balance will have an effect on the whole eco system, and as has been proven time and time again when man interferes with nature the long term consequences are often to the severe detriment of the eco system and often cause irreversible damage.

Our fishing outing resulted in no fish on the bank, a disaster some might say, but it was indeed a day that bore much fruit with good company, varied discourse, a melodious Blackbird, beautiful surroundings and some delicious open air cooked sausages.

Fishing is not only about catching fish!

Our 2009 Brown Trout season commenced today.

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