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
Guidelines on Worming
Before you decide to worm fish, please always check the river rules to see if this method of fishing is permitted and if so, in what conditions and at what times of year it is allowed. To undertake best practice, please follow these simple guidelines below.
Use bait controllers where possible; their design makes them easier to fish with and the weight easily separates from the line if snagged
Modern carp and specimen hooks are perfect for worming for salmon; circle and circle type hooks tend to only hook fish in the scissors or around the mouth and are unlikely to deep hook a fish. Check with the river or fishery rules for relevant hook sizes
Braided line gives excellent bite detection as opposed to monofilament; use a line size relevant to the river size and conditions as well as the river or fishery rules.
Always keep the rod in your hands whilst fishing; this keeps the angler in direct contact with the bait allowing them to react to takes and reduces the chance of a fish swallowing the bait.
Using a bait controller to fish the worm allows an angler to methodically fish a pool in a similar way to a fly angler by presenting a bait that is moving around the pool slightly slower than the flow, the amount of weight used can easily be changed to suit river flow. This method covers more of the river and effectively takes the bait to the fish. Fishing a static bait will not only reduce the chances of catching a fish but it will also increase the chance of a fish swallowing the hook should an angler get a take. Should a fish that needs to be returned be deep hooked it is best to leave the hook where it is and simply cut the line at the fish's mouth. This will not harm the fish whereby trying to remove a hook that is deep could be fatal for the fish.