As I write this report in late November 2021 we are just about to complete another successful round of broodstock collecting.
LDAC waters in the mid-Fowey have again proved to be the backbone of this work and thanks must go to Jason Drew and Jon Hake for their incredible efforts to get our adult fish to start the 2021/22 programme. Thanks too to the LDAC Chairman for his fish donated in October and also to first-time-donator Pete Tucson.
The 2020/21 programme was very successful in terms of both broodstock numbers into the Hatchery at Colliford and the 40,000 fish we ultimately stocked out.
We achieved our fin-clipping goal of 25% of the fish having their adipose fin clipped to mark them as Hatchery fish.
Fin clipped fish are now quite a regular sighting on the Fowey which is great news. We had to turn down a really nice 8 1/2lb hen fish which was offered as broodstock in November because it was fin-clipped.
We cannot use fin-clipped fish as broodstock so that we keep the DNA and genetic purity alongside the wild-spawned fish.
The weather finally turned in late November – not least to get the leaves down for the last couple of weeks of the fishing season – but to really drive down the water temperature. Fingers crossed for the main river temperature dropping in temperature to protect the wild spawning. We have our chillers ready to go should the water temperature hold up – this is another of the main benefits of the Hatchery where we have the ability to chill down the water in a warm winter as an ‘insurance policy’ against global warming.
Reminder – The Environment Agency are going to judge the success of the Hatchery based on fin-clipped fish caught. While this is somewhat flawed – it remains imperative that anglers should download and complete the FRA/EA Form each time a fin-clipped fish is caught at: https://bit.ly/38RzofO
Final results for the 2020-21 hatchery cycle were somewhat disappointing, as initial difficulties in establishing a new treatment regime following transferring to the use of Formalin40 necessitated the return of two larger hens prior to stripping.
With the remaining brood hens being small grilse the final egg count was in the lower 20,000’s, and whilst egg losses were initially small a pump failure impacted on the final stocking figure, which, after these losses amounted to just over 18,000; split between swim-up and reared on fry.
Once again Covid restrictions applied for much of the time and we are indebted to Graham Hake and Nick Lintott for keeping the hatchery operating through this difficult time.
Encouragingly during the season a number of multi sea winter fish, predominantly hens, were taken, and this pattern continued once brood fish collection started for this year. A number of good size hens were put in the hatchery, but as in some previous years cock fish have been hard to find, and those taken were mainly small. However they do have a tendency to be more productive of milt than that the larger cocks.
Once again we are grateful to our brood stock collectors who have worked hard, particularly in tracking down cock fish.
We now have the task of keeping the brood stock free of infection until they are ready to strip, hopefully this will be during early December, although much depends on water temperature. The water cooler and new egg tray system introduced by Graham have proved successful in the last few years.
With all our volunteers getting older we could really do with some younger new blood so if you feel you could be interested please contact Arthur White. The commitment level is up to you, but any help, preferably on an agreed time pattern will be most welcome.
It is dangerous to predict the likely outcome of this year’s egg production, but initial signs are encouraging, and hopefully an improvement will be achieved over the last two years’ performance. 2020 catch figures for the Lynher indicate that the river has performed better when compared to the smaller South West rivers, and, whilst we cannot directly assess hatchery performance due to lack of fin-clipping, signs are that the fish run has improved.
Perhaps this is the best measure of the likely success of the hatchery.
GH reported that brood stock collection had been difficult in winter 2019 and that there had been a shortage of cock fish.
Despite the slow start 28,000 eggs had been laid down and hatching was progressing well
He noted that 30% of the alevins were stocked out into side streams under artificial redds. Monitoring of these sites later in the season had showed high densities of fry – attesting to the success of the method.
GH noted that the Lynher hatchery was run solely by volunteers and the provision of the site by N Lintott was highly appreciated. The work of the secretary (A White) was also highlighted.
Financial donations were critical to the continued existence of the hatchery.
He thanked LDAC for their generous financial donations in supporting the hatchery and urged Club members to join the Lynher River Association (£10.00 pa) thereby helping to further finance the activity.
RG firstly mentioned the recent passing of C Bettinson, a long-term member of the Club and a keen supporter of the Colliford hatchery.
RG noted that the Facebook page was being effectively used and that external interest in the Club was evident.
Hatchery specifics followed
- 2019 brood stock collection had been successful with 9 cock and 9 hen fish collected.
- LDAC waters had provided over 50% of the fish.
- Operating challenges included the withdrawal of Pycezes as a treatment measure. The EA has just approved use of an alternate treatment.
The hatchery was on target to have stocked 100,000 fish into the St Neot River by summer of 2020.
Fin clipping was discussed and the importance of reporting any fin clipped fish caught emphasized
At the LDAC AGM Richard Grieve gave an update on the great progress at Colliford Salmon Hatchery.
He gave an interesting discussion on the hatchery operations and water flow issues.
Richard reported that this was the start of the third year of operation of the relocated Colliford Hatchery.
It is widely recognised that the prior concerns over water quality had not materialised.
Richard thanked his volunteer staff for all their efforts, especially those that were from local communities, not the more typical angling population. He noted the key LDAC/FRA support for the hatchery.
Richard then discussed in detail the issues over water levels and their possible effects on salmonid migration in the Fowey. Whilst the SWW releases of summer water for abstraction at Restormel provided artificially high flows in the mid-river this did nothing in the lower estuarine reaches as it was all being abstracted at Restormel.
Richard’s concern was that the abstraction of water at Restormel was seriously impacting the ability of fish to by pass the weir at Restormel. Water should be left to run out to the estuary below Lostwithiel, especially that associated with water bank releases.
Richard has requested the FRA review the water-bank at Colliford and that it be more fully utilised to encourage migrating fish from estuary to upper river and that the FRA/WRT could focus on this issue with SWW and the EA.
Finally Richard noted that brood stock collection in late 2018 had been fair but with the majority of hen fish being small grilse. Late stripping of one fish had resulted in helpful EA agreement not to insist on factorial mating to complete the operation.
In support of hatcheries Rob Williams presented an analysis of Fowey counter figures that clearly showed that, in the period before the Wainsford hatchery was first in operation, the 9 year average was 696 fish whilst the 10 year average during operations (including the 3 year smolt/first migration period) showed that this average had risen to 902 fish (a 23% increase). Whilst some might discount such data, at worst it showed that Wainsford hatchery had no detrimental effect on Fowey stocks and at best it improved them substantially.
The LDAC Chairman noted that fin clipping of 25% of the Fowey fry was undertaken and urged members to look out for such fish and to report them if caught – thereby proving the success of the hatchery.