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Suitable Fish And Suitable Waters

Having stocked his water with suitable vegetation and food, the next
matter which should engage the attention of the amateur, is what fish he
had better introduce. He should, where there is a fair chance of
success, introduce a trout of some sort, as they give better sport than
coarse fish.

The introduction of salmon into a river is not likely to be attempted by
the amateur, but the head of salmon frequenting a river is undoubtedly
affected in the most marvellous manner by artificial means. In Canada
and the United States this is particularly remarkable, but the
operations are conducted on a gigantic scale.

In the case of a stream or river where brown trout already exist, or
have recently existed, in fair numbers, re-stock with these fish, for
they can hardly be bettered in our waters. There are, however, some
sluggish rivers where brown trout do not thrive when they are
introduced. In such rivers and in many ponds in the South of England I
believe that no better fish exists than the rainbow trout. I say
particularly in the south, because I do not think that the rainbow trout
will ever really thrive and breed in cold waters. I have at other times
given numerous examples which go to show that the rainbow will only
thrive in warm waters.[1] I will therefore only quote the case of New
Zealand. The rainbow trout was introduced into both islands, but while
it thrived amazingly in the warm waters of the North Island, it has
proved a comparative failure in the cold waters of the South Island.

[1] _The Rainbow Trout._ Lawrence & Bullen, London.

While the common or brown trout (_Salmo fario_) and the rainbow trout
(_Salmo irideus_) are, in my opinion, to be strongly encouraged in the
waters suitable to their respective qualities, the American brook trout
(_Salvelinus fontinalis_) does not seem to have met with the approval of
most of the authorities on pisciculture in this country. My experience
of this fish is not sufficient for my holding any very strong views with
regard to its suitability to British waters. In one case I know that it
was a great success for two seasons, but I have not had any opportunity
of following it up in this particular instance. In another case it was a
decided failure. I am sure that it should not be introduced into streams
where brown trout thrive, and I am doubtful of its ever succeeding in
waters which are suitable to the rainbow trout.

Of all the trout, the rainbow is the hardiest, and the one with which
the amateur pisciculturist is most likely to be successful. It is also
the fish most likely to supply a want felt by very many fishermen, a
good sporting fish in waters where the common trout will not thrive.

In large and deep ponds with a good stream, or in lakes, char may be
tried with a prospect of success. They require cold waters, and I have
never heard of their being successfully introduced in the South of
England. They are a more difficult fish to rear than trout.

Grayling have many violent opponents, but I am inclined to think that
they do but little if any harm in a trout stream, and they supply
excellent fishing during part of the close season for trout. They seem
to thrive best in chalk streams, but there are no doubt many waters
which would carry a good head of grayling which at present contain only
trout. They probably do much less harm than most of the coarse fish
constantly found in trout streams. The great crime attributed to them is
that they eat the spawn of the trout, but I am inclined to think that
the harm they do in this way is much over estimated. They spawn at a
different time and would not be likely to frequent the spawning places
at the same time as the trout. I have no doubt that an infinitely
greater proportion of trout ova are eaten by the trout themselves than
by grayling in rivers which contain both fish. Chalk streams and those
rivers with gravelly bottoms and with alternate shallows and pools seem
to be the most suited to the grayling.

Among coarse fish the rudd is one of the best from the fly-fisher's
point of view. It takes the fly readily, is very prolific and very easy
to introduce. It thrives remarkably well in ponds which contain a good
supply of food. Its fry serve as excellent food for other fish,
particularly trout, but I have known cases where it increased rapidly in
a pond at the expense of the trout. It can, however, be kept under by
judicious netting.

The dace is another fish which gives sport to the fly-fisherman. It will
not thrive in ponds. In some rivers, however, where trout--brown trout,
at any rate--will not thrive, the dace does very well. In the case of
the Sussex Ouse this is most remarkable. Little more than ten years ago
there were no dace in that river, now it swarms with them. Their
presence is attributed to the fact that some dace, brought there as
live-baits for pike, escaped destruction and established the present
stock. Sluggish and muddy rivers seem to produce the best dace. Chubb,
which also possess many points to recommend them to the fisherman, will
also do well in such rivers.

To those who enjoy bottom fishing and possess a pond, even a small one,
I can recommend no fish more highly than the king-carp. It is a much
bolder-feeding and gamer fish than the common carp, and is just as easy
to introduce. While dealing with carp I may mention that the goldfish,
when introduced into a suitable pond, grows to a very large size. I have
caught them over a pound in weight.

The perch is a very prolific fish, and will thrive in ponds with a very
small stream running into them, and in sluggish rivers. Other coarse
fish are as a rule easy to introduce into a water. Though perch fry form
excellent food for trout, perch, and of course pike, should be kept out
of a trout water.

The suitability of a water depends to a great extent (as to its capacity
of supporting a healthy stock of fish) upon its having plenty of
suitable vegetation upon the banks. Therefore if the banks are bare of
vegetation, willows and alders, as being quick growing and easily
established trees, should be freely planted upon the banks. This
fortunately is very easily done, for willow and alder sticks cut and put
into the ground in the spring are pretty sure to do well. It is needless
to say that the moister spots should be chosen for the willows, though
they will do well in suitable soil in comparatively dry places. Besides
giving shade and shelter to the fish, which is always an important
consideration, a considerable quantity of food is bred upon trees and
shrubs at the water side. I have found as many as eighteen caterpillars
in the stomach of a trout which I caught under an overhanging oak tree.

Next: Trout Preliminary Hints And Advice

Previous: Stocking Waters With Food

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