Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Stocking Trout!

St Mary's loch is completely free of ice, the bottom half loch o the Lowes is however still frozen but melting quickly.

The stocking of Trout into local angling association waters has been a commonplace event over the last fifty years and much longer in some cases. Of course the thinking behind such moves was that the stocking allowed anglers the opportunity to catch more fish, and indeed associations who marked their stock fish saw a reasonable percentage of them caught making everyone happy!
Recent legislation countrywide however now forbids this practice with regard to "open" waters (waters that are not screened or landlocked) and quite frankly caused fury and much protest from anglers everywhere! I suppose such a response was to have been expected as the status quo was being dismantled and being subject to significant change is rarely comfortable, I remember my own reaction when I first heard of the proposals, one of astonishment and despair. Now however after researching the topic I find myself on the other side of the fence fully approving of the move. But what was the thinking behind such a move?
So what are the reasons for not allowing stocking? Bio security is the main factor where parasites/diseases (e.g.Gyrodactylus Salaris ) are transferred to the recipient water with the stock fish. Inappropriate introductions of fish not native to the area and under this heading are also classed dangerous animals with respect to the bio community such examples are Signal Crayfish and Zebra Mussel.
The move countrywide as adopted by Scottish National Heritage and Natural England is now that of movement towards "wild" fishing moving away from the "plastic" type fishery, which is rather worryingly increasing in some areas in screened waters only. Stocking into open waters alters the areas bio community with the possible displacement of the resident stock in many cases.
So in effect what is happening is that open water wild self sustaining fisheries are being created, coupled with conservation measures such as catch and release protocols. Such fishing will undoubtedly be much more challenging when compared to "plastic" fisheries but anglers choosing the wild route will undoubtedly acquire more in the way of satisfaction knowing that the prize at the end of the day is one superior to that which may be obtained by the "plastic" route! It also harps back to an era when "plastic" fisheries were unknown and all anglers had to serve a proper apprenticeship on the way to mastering their craft. Real anglers who have been unsuccessful will undoubtedly revert back to the drawing board and come up with an alternative method of fishing based on their observations of the Trout throughout the day! This scenario creates the proper learning curve for real anglers! The monotony of throwing a selection of random lures into the water won't do for these anglers!
Anglers seeking sport with the wild Trout will have to get back to basics and as in times of old the study of entomology will be will be a pre requisite if one is to match the hatch. Stripping a gaudy lure past such Trout will lead to aching arms, back and a dry net, their caution and more discerning behaviour will demand much more from the pursuing angler!
Research has shown that stocking Trout into wild waters may in fact be detrimental to the existing stock by competing for food and even ultimately displacing them; stocked Trout which can breed show a much lower survival rate with regard to viable fry numbers. The stock fish are also derived from a very small number of parent fish giving a vastly reduced gene pool when compared to wild fish, the continuation of which will lead to less diversification and potential problems later.
It has been said that it is imperative to maintain the original "wild" strain of Trout, but for all practical intents and purposes this original strain has now long since disappeared, human intervention has put paid to that. However calling a halt to stocking now will prevent any further dilution of the current strain of Trout and most importantly maintain bio security. It will undoubtedly also lead to a breed of angler more at one with nature whose obsession is the joy of being an angler and not numbers of and size of engineered fish.
What is happening in the world of Pike angling (on a sporadic basis thank god!) is that anglers bereft of skill in the techniques required to catch wild Pike resort to "plastic" fisheries where artificially high numbers of Pike and food fish in a pond combine to make such angling unbearably easy and tedious, as it's not a case of if, but simply when will one catch! So it will be with Trout angling with anglers moving into whatever stream (pun intended) beckons according to their skill and attitude!
I remember well regularly visiting a "plastic" fishery and catching week after week the only variable factor was what the weight of the fish would be! Innovation becomes stifled as there is no need for it; finesse is made redundant as is stealth. The thinking and questioning attitude associated with wild fishing was surplus to requirements! Slavish robotic casting was all that was required to bag a sandbag like fish. The fishing in this "plastic" fishery was simply too easy, many an angler I met said that they needed a couple of Trout and that was the reason for their visit so certain were they of catching.
A 30lbs Rainbow stocked into a pond in the morning and falls to an anglers fly in the afternoon, giving the angler a possible "record" fish – a situation more akin to a circus, entirely devoid of meaning having little to do with the real art of angling, and more to do with the financial interests of the ponds owner and egos of the desperate brigade.
Can there honestly be any joy in such an artificial sequence of events? Compare it to the capture of a wild 3lbs Brownie from a loch such as St Mary's and then decide which one you would rather have! I know which one I would rather have!
We will look in depth at the concept of the "plastic" Pike fishery in the near future!
Community Integration
It has long been a personal demon of mine that the club operated in a manner which did not fully involve the local community. Luckily my fellow committee members agreed so we drew up a long term plan seeking further integration into the community. To this end and as a first step we presented Mr Richard Newman with a cheque for £50.00 (see photo) to be used for any purpose as seen fit by the Cappercleuch Village Hall Committee with regard to community events! We will make this donation on a yearly basis henceforth. The photo below shows St Mary's Angling Club committee member Les Henderson presenting the cheque to Richard Newman Village Hall committee member.


Anonymous said...
There has always been a division between those who fish for wild and reared trout, its not really anything new. Some of us do both sometimes the plastic option is the only way to get a fight with a trout. Are you saying that fishing for reared trout is a second rate pastime?
Hello Anon the division as you put it is not one that is clear cut. It is a question of degrees! Consider the many put and take fisheries that have for decades met the needs of Trout anglers stocking 2-3lbs trout giving anglers the opportunity of catching nice sized Trout. I have no problem with this as it meets a need that wild Trout fisheries for whatever reason at present cannot meet. My hope however would be that with the opening up of more wild fishing via the “passport” system, put and take fisheries would diminish in numbers and become very much the minority choice!
My gripe is with the ponds where Trout at very heavy weights are stocked and pulled out by angler’s minutes later after paying an extortionate price for the privilege of so doing! Similarly I despise the Pike version of this scenario where an excess of Pike and food source are stocked into a pond making landing a Pike a foregone conclusion even for the most inept angler, it would be less so if anglers at such places did their business in seclusion. But all too often such catches are paraded in the angling press as being worthy and meaningful.
It is my opinion that they are completely without worth and make a mockery of the achievements of real anglers who battle against a wily and discriminating opponent; I refer you to the example given in the article. Fishing for these engineered fish is in my opinion a completely meaningless pastime that bears no comparison to fishing the way it should be, for me it is indeed second rate!

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