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The Rearing Of The Rainbow Trout American Brook Trout And Char








As the methods used in hatching out the ova and rearing the young fish
are very similar in the case of different species of trout to those I
have already described in dealing with the common trout (_Salmo fario_),
I will confine myself to pointing out the most marked differences in the
habits of such species as are suitable to our waters, and which are
likely to be of use to the fish culturist. The salmon- or sea-trout will
be dealt with under salmon.

First and foremost among the trout, excluding of course our own brown
trout, I put the rainbow trout (_Salmo irideus_). There are several
varieties of this species, but that which is now being so freely
introduced into many waters in England is the McCloud River rainbow (_S.
irideus_, var. _shasta_). As I have before stated, the rainbow spawns
long after the _S. fario_. It therefore will give the fly-fishermen good
sport after the season for the common trout is over. It is a very free
feeder, and grows more rapidly than our trout; great care must therefore
be taken to give it plenty of food. I would draw my readers' attention
particularly to this fact as to the feeding and quick-growing qualities
of the rainbow, for they make it, if possible, even more necessary that
the water into which they are turned should contain a good supply of
food than it was in the case of the common trout; though even in the
case of the common trout, this is quite the most important consideration
in stocking a water with fish.

Another advantage possessed by the rainbow is, that it is less liable to
the attacks of fungus than any other of the _Salmonidae_. Though, of
course, this is not such an important consideration nowadays as it would
have been even a few years ago, still it is one which deserves some
consideration, particularly from the amateur. This freedom from fungus
is very marked in the rainbow, for I know of a case where some dace
suffering from fungus were put into a rearing pond containing a few
rainbows. Though the dace died of the disease, the rainbows remained
healthy and free from it. The amateur will probably receive the ova of
the rainbow towards the end of April or during May. The ova should hatch
out within a few days of their being received.

A few years, I might almost say months ago, the great majority of
disinterested persons, whose opinion was of any consequence, were
inclined to condemn the general introduction of this fish into our
waters. I was, unfortunately, supposed to be among a certain class of
people who advocated the general introduction of this fish into all our
waters indiscriminately. This, I have always said, was a very
short-sighted policy, for, to begin with, the evidence at our disposal
seems to show that the rainbow will never thrive in cold waters, and at
the best can only be expected to really thrive and spawn in the warm
waters in the south of England. I never advocated more for the rainbow
than that it should have a fair trial in waters where our own trout had
been tried and found not to be a success. Now, however, I in my turn
stand a chance of being converted by converts from among the very people
who, a short time ago, were condemning me for holding too favourable an
opinion of the fish in question. I am inclined to think that in the
case of a pond in the south, even when it is supplied by a good stream,
the rainbow is the better fish with which to stock. I have been led to
believe this, partly through my own experience, and partly on account of
the opinion of Mr. Senior, for I consider his opinion on such a matter
of the greatest possible value.

Another point about the rainbow, which in many cases will recommend it
particularly to the amateur, is that though of course an abundant supply
of water is an advantage, it may be reared with a smaller supply.

A fish which has been very freely introduced into British waters is the
American brook-trout (_Salvelinus fontinalis_). Though this fish is not
really a trout but a char I have included it among trout, because it is
so very generally known to fishermen as the American brook-trout. The
_fontinalis_, as it is commonly called by fish culturists, is a very
satisfactory fish to rear artificially, but there seems to be some doubt
as to its suitability to British waters. It grows to a considerable size
under favourable conditions, and is one of the best of table fishes. It
is, however, undoubtedly one of the worst of cannibals among sporting
fishes, and does not apparently rise freely to the fly when about two
years old and older.

The spawning season is extended over an even longer period than that of
our own brown trout, beginning, in its native country, in October, and
sometimes lasting till March. It shows a very marked tendency, at any
rate in America, to go down to the sea, and in some parts of Canada is
called a sea-trout. The fish are easy to rear, but I should recommend
great caution with regard to their introduction into any waters in
England. The remarks and instructions which I gave with regard to the
common trout, apply also to the _fontinalis_, but I would lay particular
stress upon the necessity of separating the fish, as soon as some grow
larger than the rest. The only drawback to this fish, from the fish
culturist's point of view, is that though a very free feeder, it is very
dainty, sometimes refusing a particular kind of food for no apparent
reason. As the spawning season is extended over such a considerable
period of time, it is obvious that the amateur will be able to obtain
the ova, ready to hatch out, during a similarly lengthy period.

A fish which I should very much like to see tried in England, is the
cut-throat trout (_Salmo mykiss_). It is also known as the red-throat
trout. I should think, from the description given in the report of the
Commission of Fisheries, Game, and Forests for the State of New York,
that it would do well in many of our waters. There are many varieties of
this species of trout. The common name of them all is _Salmo mykiss_,
the black-spotted trout of the Rocky Mountains. The cut-throat trout
proper, so called from the red colour of its throat, is simply S.
mykiss, but there are many varieties described. Among these are the
Columbia River trout (_S. mykiss_, var. _clarkii_), the Lake Tahoe trout
(_S. mykiss_, var. _henshawi_), the Rio Grande trout (_S. mykiss_, var.
_spilurus_), and the Colorado River trout (_S. mykiss_, var.
_pleuriticus_). As these names show, the black-spotted trout has a very
wide range and is found in what are totally different climates. I should
very much like to see the cut-throat and the Columbia River varieties
tried in our waters, particularly the former, as they would probably
succeed in waters which are too cold for the rainbow, and might very
likely thrive where our own trout (_S. fario_) is not a success. As it
is found in climates which vary so much as do Alaska and California, it
would probably be easy to find one variety, if not two or three, which
would thrive in England. It is a particularly fine trout, and the
ordinary maximum weight is five or six pounds, though some of the
varieties grow much larger.

Char, proper, are not at all satisfactory fish to rear. They are very
delicate, and require much more care and attention than do any of the
fish I have already described. From the very first period of their
coming under the care of the amateur fish culturist, that is to say,
from the ova, just before hatching out, till they are yearlings, the
mortality among them will be much greater than in the case of any of the
trout.

The two kinds of char, most commonly to be obtained by the amateur, are
the Alpine and the Windermere char. The ova of these fish will be
received shortly before they are ready to hatch out, as was the case
with the trout ova. The amateur's difficulties will, however, begin
almost at once, for in the act of hatching out considerable mortality
among the char often occurs. Trout almost invariably emerge from the egg
tail first. As soon as the tail is free the little fish begins to move
it rapidly, using it as a propeller with which to swim about and thus
soon works completely out of the egg. Occasionally, however, trout
hatch out head first, and in these cases the young fish generally dies
before it can set itself free from the coverings of the ovum. Buckland
observed that the alevins of the char very frequently hatch out head
first, and consequently that many of them die before they can work
themselves free from the eggs. If it were possible to have some one
constantly watching the ova at the time that they are hatching out, it
would be possible to save a very large proportion of them, as they may
be very effectually helped out of the egg with a feather or soft
camel's-hair brush; but this is, of course, quite impracticable, unless
there is some one constantly watching the ova, as the delay of even a
few minutes will mean the death of the fish. This peculiarity in the
hatching out of the char has also been observed by Mr. J. J. Armistead,
and I have been able to verify it personally.

The mortality which occurs in the actual hatching out of the alevins
does not, however, by any means end the trouble which the fish culturist
has to encounter in the rearing of char. They require much more
persuasion and care when they begin to feed and throughout the whole of
the summer. The percentage of deaths is always greater than in the case
of the trouts, not excluding the _fontinalis_, which is, as I have
already explained, not really a trout but a char.

Though there must be some doubt as to its success, I should like to see
a really serious attempt at introducing char into some deep and large
ponds in the south of England. Char have been very successfully reared
in shallow water, which was certainly not kept at a particularly low
temperature, so I see no reason why this fish should not do in some of
our more southern waters. One drawback to the chance of this attempt
being made, however, is that the char cannot be considered as being a
fish which gives very good sport, and I very much doubt whether any one
is likely to try the experiment simply to find out whether they would or
would not succeed in the south of England.





Next: Salmon And Sea-trout

Previous: Trout Management Feeding And Turning Out Of Yearlings



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