Pellet feeding in cold weather
Q We are a fly-fishing club based in the Staffordshire/Shropshire area and we constantly have disagreements on pellet feeding of stock during the winter period. Some members say that this spoils the catch rate while others insist feeding the fish is essential as insect life is dormant at this time of year. We have experienced a dramatic downturn in invertebrate life over the past few years in our stillwaters: daddy longlegs, buzzers, hawthorn flies etc have been in short supply. Is this something experienced by other clubs. Alan Cain, Fishery Officer, Salopian Flyfishers Association
PETER COCKWILL REPLIES: Good question this one and it’s a subject which should be addressed by many fisheries. To answer the last part first, 2017 was a poor year in many areas for daddy longlegs, and the hawthorn fly is also one which can seemingly not appear for several years in some areas. However, both are terrestrial and have no bearing on the productivity of your fishery. Buzzers are the mainstay of most stillwaters and form the major part of the available food in most waters. Maybe other fisheries could comment on the hatches they have witnessed this past year. What this then comes down to is the actual productivity of your fishery. Insect life doesn’t disappear over winter, it just doesn’t hatch. The bugs are still there in the water but are concentrated down on the bottom. However, dependent on the stock density, it is almost always certain that there cannot be enough natural food available to sustain the fish, especially over the winter months. That’s why supplementary feeding to maintain or enhance condition is an excellent management strategy. Many fisheries, especially catch-and-release waters, carry out this supplemental feeding, but have to keep it quiet as anglers somehow have the belief that it then makes it harder to catch the fish, despite them now being in great condition. It’s absolutely no different to any coarse fishery and yet feeding of trout is somehow seen as unfair. In fact, it’s entirely logical. I would definitely continue with your feeding programme and if members don’t like it then they can try elsewhere.