Con­di­tions on Clyde fi­nally al­low suc­cess

Hamilton Advertiser - - SPORT -

Towards the end of Oc­to­ber the Clyde came to life for its salmon an­glers.

Catch­ing the King of Fish isn’t easy, but some an­glers re­ported as many as six fish in one day.

A rel­a­tive new­comer to the sport even man­aged to net three fish on the last day of the sea­son.

By now, every­one who bought a salmon per­mit should have sent their catch re­turns to the clubs, or as­so­ci­a­tions, whose wa­ters they had fished.

These re­ports of how many fish they had caught, and how many were re­leased, will help to de­ter­mine what clas­si­fi­ca­tion might be given to the Clyde in fu­ture years.

We al­ready know that the Clyde has been given a Cat­e­gory 2 clas­si­fi­ca­tion for 2019, which means some con­ser­va­tion mea­sures must be taken.

As there is al­ready a car­cass tag­ging pol­icy, and limit to the num­ber of fish that can be killed, this should not af­fect an­glers on the Clyde.

A very un­of­fi­cial re­port sug­gests there has been an in­crease in the per­cent­age of salmon, rather than grilse, run­ning the Clyde. The ac­tual num­ber might not have changed.

For any read­ers who are new to salmon an­gling, a grilse is a young fish that has only spent on win­ter feed­ing in the sea. A true salmon has spent more than one win­ter do­ing this.

At one time, I would have been con­fi­dent to say that any fish weigh­ing less than 6lbs would be a grilse – in fact, I thought a two-sea win­ter fish would weigh at least 12lbs.

A re­duc­tion in the feed­ing avail­able in the sea has meant that fish as small as 4lbs might have spent two win­ters at sea.

The only way to be cer­tain is by hav­ing a scale read un­der a mi­cro­scope by an ex­pert; for­tu­nately, there has been a project do­ing just that in re­cent years.

Those fish es­ti­mated to weigh around 20lbs are def­i­nitely salmon.

Grayling an­glers were thwarted by heavy rain in Oc­to­ber, but con­di­tions changed, markedly, in No­vem­ber.

A few nights of frost meant that the wa­ter level was al­lowed to drop to a nor­mal height, and this might have prompted the grayling to come prop­erly on to the feed.

Most an­glers had a cer­tain amount of suc­cess, but what they caught was of­ten no more than a suc­ces­sion of small trout and grayling.

How­ever, this pro­vided a de­gree of sport for an­glers who had not caught any­thing for the last few months.

More im­por­tantly, the pres­ence of young fish proved that the big­ger spec­i­mens had been there, and suc­cess­fully bred.

It was not long be­fore the an­glers de­cided they had been prac­tis­ing with the parr long enough and wanted bet­ter spec­i­mens.

Not every­one will catch the grayling that weigh more than 2lbs or 3lbs, but most of them are aware that these fish are there and can be caught.

Fish­ing for grayling was a so­cial ac­tiv­ity, but we only caught fish that were said to be‘her­ring-sized’. It took a long time be­fore we re­alised that grayling stayed to­gether in shoals of the same size.

One of our friends lit­er­ally ran away in front of us with­out try­ing any of the nearer spots. We tried our luck on our way to catch­ing up with him.

By that time we had tales of how many small fish we had caught, and he had only caught a few, but they were three or four times big­ger.

He was happy to al­low us to fish his favourite spot be­cause he knew we had vir­tu­ally no chance of suc­cess.

While he was alone he could care­fully fish the wa­ter be­fore grayling were dis­turbed.

In those days it was not un­com­mon for an­glers to kill ev­ery fish they caught.

Some wanted to feed their fam­i­lies, or dogs, or thought in­tro­duced grayling were com­pet­ing with na­tive trout, and be­lieved that by killing the grayling they were help­ing the trout.

Our knowl­edge has moved on a lot since then, and we now know that the grayling are no threat to the trout.

Most of us are now happy to re­lease grayling – after all, fish­ing is a sport, not a com­mer­cial en­ter­prise.

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