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
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.
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!
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
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.