Conservation on the Border Esk
Catch and release
Rivers and Fisheries Trusts spend a lot of time and money improving the environment for fish and other wildlife in the river but anglers also have a role to play. Catch and release of all fish is now more popular than it has ever been, although on some fisheries the take-up has not been as good as on others. The release of salmon, sea trout and brown trout can and does have a major impact.
Our rivers are busier than ever and it may surprise anglers how high the proportion of fish that are in a river get caught each year. Some studies have shown that as many as 35% of the salmon entering a river can get caught, of course on lightly fished rivers this will be far lower. If all of the fish caught were to be killed it is a huge amount of ova that is lost for future generations. It is worth remembering that a 10lb hen salmon may have somewhere between five and seven thousand eggs inside her. If we release 1000 fish on the river and assuming that 50% of them are female, that is something in the order of 2.5 million – 3.5 million ova secured for the next generation. Despite a lack of evidence of success, many anglers like hatcheries, yet releasing more fish will always generate more fish over the long term than any hatchery can ever hope to deliver.
Almost everyone likes to take a fish for the table on occasion, after all salmon and trout, cooked properly, are a delicacy. Some stocks are however still in a very perilous situation, spring salmon for example, and we need as many of these fish to successfully spawn as possible. Wild brown trout in rivers as well can be under pretty high pressure at times and the most prolific fisheries for these tend to be the ones where fisheries operate under a 100% catch and release.
For information on catch and release practice see this PDF