Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I READ Peter Cockwill’s thought-provoking article inTFissue 470, which poses a number of questions.

While his remarks on food levels may be true for upland/moorland waters, many other small waters have enough insects, fry, shrimps and snails to support a reasonable stock of normal sized fish, which, if uncaught, grow on to a good size.

My experience is limited to Earith fishery in Cambridgeshire and nearby Elinor in Northamptonshire. In both fisheries, grown-on fish are frequently caught. ‘Trophy’ trout, artificially fattened, will inevitably lose weight when they get back to a normal diet, however rich the food source.

I don’t agree that the trout pictured in Peter’s article is in peak condition. It’s fat and could lose weight and then be fitter and more lively. I recently caught two trout of about 3lb at Elinor. One was slim, fit and fought very hard, whereas the other was of a similar profile to the pictured fish and came in like wet sack.

Why stock lots of fish? But why is it necessary to maintain a high stock level? Until fairly recently most fisheries were catch-and-kill. Limits varied, typically, from eight fish at Grafham and Rutland to six at Earith.

Stocking levels were such that you worked hard to catch your limit and were happy to do that. Fish were normally stocked at 1lb and any larger had grown on from there. In fact, I preferred the era of catch-and-kill.

With a six-fish limit at Earith, I started mid-morning and had the incentive of catching a pint in the local pub on the way home. I reckoned that the best time back then was between noon and 2pm, contrary to what is stated in other parts of the same issue of TF.

I was delighted with anything over 12lb for six fish. More recently, though, I’ve had situations where I was catching a large number of fish but eventually lost count and grew bored.

Part of the problem is that anglers are more demanding, looking for bigger fish and large catches of 20 or more trout. The great Arthur Cove caught many large trout, but stated that a 2lb rainbow was a good fish.

Fish of this size also probably give the best fight. Maybe this trend is because a lot of new fly anglers are from a coarse fishing background and want to catch large numbers of fish, having been used to filling their keepnet.

Everyone likes to catch large fish but where’s the satisfaction in catching big freshly-stocked fish as opposed to a grown-on one in Grafham or Rutland? In one case a few years ago at Earith, an angler was really pleased to catch one of the rare larger 5lb trout stocked back then, which had been in the water for only an hour, without a rimfire scope!

Then, soon afterwards, a regular caught a 15lb 6oz rainbow, which must have been growing on for a long time. I wonder who had the more genuine satisfaction?

Take pressure off fisheries Normal fisheries should not feel obliged to stock ‘trophy’ fish, though they are an obvious attraction. If anglers want to catch such fish, they should go to waters which specialise in large fish and pay the appropriate price.

I hope that this trend of stocking with large trophy trout doesn’t develop too much further or fisheries will be obliged to charge more which many normal anglers will not be able to pay. Most anglers are happy to catch their quota of normal sized, quality fish.

Contribute by Berry Kenny, from Hunting-Tips.Net.