23 April 2008

Welcome to a grey and gloomy St George's Day.  The wind, what little there is of it, is now in the west and its just started to rain which is a good thing as the river could do with a lift.

I think I have regained my stamina after a marathon RFCA meeting at Clitheroe last night (3 hours!). I won't go into detail about all the issues that were raised and debated as you will lose the will to live, but there were a few decisions taken that are of interest to us up here at the top of the river. 

Neil Handy's presentation on the assisted recruitment of sea trout won unanimous backing once we got over a diversion into the issues surrounding stocking the river with diploid or triploid trout.  It seems that the EA have adopted a policy that will mean the end of restocking with diploids after 2015.  This generated a lot of heat with some members of the view that the absence of stocked sexually entire fish will impact adversely on future sea trout stocks. 

Let's face it, the MAA has been stocking the river with farm bred diploid trout for 60 years and in that time must have put in well over 60,000 fish.  If these were migrating to sea we would be up to our ears in sea trout by now.  We know from experiments with fish marking that few if any stocked fish survive winter floods.  They don't seem to disperse downstream in large numbers they just vanish. So for me the argument about diploid or triploid is sterile.  The real debate should be about whether clubs should stock at all with imported fish.

The catch returns we produce show that without stocking for the past two seasons we are nearly back to catch numbers similar to when we were putting in 6 or 7 hundred fish annually.  And all these fish are now wild fish.

Neil now plans to go ahead with his sea trout breeding scheme which
will involve setting up a hatching tank at the old hatchery later this
year.

We have an opportunity!  An opportunity to discover more about the distribution of our wild trout.  The RCCT have a pot of money to undertake electrofishing training for clubs on the Ribble and they are very keen that some sampling be done on the upper river.  I am writing to Council about setting this in place so watch this space.

The good news for all members who fish for salmon is that I now have a supply of salmon tags and the authorisation from the EA to issue these to members.  You will recall that there is now a voluntary scheme which the club has signed up to which limits each member to take only two salmon in any one season.  Any fish taken MUST be tagged.  Any member requiring their two tags should contact me.

We also spent quite a while discussing the problem of poaching on the lower river around Clitheroe and we now have a simplified system for reporting all such incidents to the police and EA.  There may well be a credit card sized information sheet for fishermen available soon.  Again, watch this space.

Finally, a move away from the meeting and back to the river where Brian T had a good day yesterday with two fine fish caught at Parker's Wood and a 1.5 lb brownie landed near Horton.

Ian

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