Q Do you sup­port catch-and-re­lease rules dur­ing pe­ri­ods of hot weather, as we ex­pe­ri­enced this sum­mer?

Mark Adams, via email

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Trout Surgery -

AI’m usu­ally a great be­liever in catch-an­drelease but not in very hot weather. There’s no doubt that dur­ing this sum­mer the trout in our rivers, lakes and small fish­eries, in par­tic­u­lar, would have suf­fered ter­ri­bly. Un­for­tu­nately, not only did we have ex­treme heat, but it re­mained hot for months, with no respite for the trout. Many an­glers who fish on north­ern rivers (in­clud­ing me) de­cided to leave the trout alone – with low oxy­gen lev­els, the fish would have strug­gled to re­cover after re­lease. Com­mer­cial fish­eries, on the other hand, de­pend on an­glers com­ing through the gates to re­main vi­able. At what I hoped was the peak of the heat­wave (un­for­tu­nately it was to get worse), I was in­vited to a fish­ery I hadn’t vis­ited be­fore. My ex­pec­ta­tions were low and I didn’t ex­pect to catch much. The trout were ob­vi­ously stressed with some fish cruis­ing close to the bank and many jump­ing in the mid­dle of the lake. How­ever, some trout in the cooler, deeper wa­ter were still feed­ing. I sup­pose some fish are more tol­er­ant of heat than oth­ers. By fish­ing the deep­est part of the lake, I be­gan to catch healthy-look­ing trout. They were re­turned, but I ad­mit I felt guilty. It made me think about what I would do if I man­aged the fish­ery. I would want to show more un­der­stand­ing than one an­gler. He was pulling a lure at a steady pace and within the hour be­gan to com­plain. An hour later he stormed off, shout­ing that the place had “gone to the dogs” and that he would never be back. Just the public­ity a strug­gling owner needs. With half the num­ber of an­glers vis­it­ing than nor­mal, I won­dered if more rods would be tempted if the cost of a day-ticket was re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly and the fall in in­come made up by hav­ing a kill-all pol­icy, paid for by a stan­dard fee per fish? The an­glers could then judge how much they were will­ing to pay for their day’s sport while un­suc­cess­ful an­glers would have a day out for lit­tle cost. I’d like to hear the views of a few fish­ery own­ers. Cooler weather and light rain tempted me to travel to an­other wa­ter I’d not fished be­fore. It was a per­fect day, yet I was one of only two peo­ple there. It was great to see trout ris­ing and I had a fan­tas­tic af­ter­noon’s sport with a small dry-fly. The trout were smaller than I ex­pected, but this might sug­gest that smaller, fit­ter trout are more ca­pa­ble of tol­er­at­ing heat – and they were beau­ti­ful rain­bows. What that day showed, how­ever, is that after a break from their sport many an­glers can get into the habit of not go­ing fish­ing. I hope those who stayed away dur­ing the heat­wave have saved up their “brownie points” and will make up for their ab­sence when con­di­tions im­prove.

If you plan to re­turn your fish in a pro­longed hot spell, keep them in the net to gauge their re­cov­ery. If they are suf­fer­ing, put them out of their mis­ery.

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