Pel­let feed­ing in cold weather

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Advice Squad -

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.

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