The new season will be open a week today so this is a good time to remind everyone about the Conservation Policy for 2013. The wording concerning conservation of the relatively fragile spring run has been strengthen to highlight the priority the Board attaches to the conservation of these fish. The 2013 Conservation policy can be seen here . Note that spring fish are defined as those caught up to the end of May.
The catch & release rate on the Spey would appear to be quite good at around 84% but there were still over 200 spring fish killed on the river in 2012, a level of exploitation that the enhanced conservation policy is designed to reduce. 200 spawning fish of proven spring origin are far too valuable a resource to be removed from the early running Spey stock at the moment. I’ll know more about the health of our stocks at the end of this summer but there is evidence that fry densities are not at maximum level across the catchment. If a lack of spawners is a contributory factor then every fish removed has a direct impact on future generations.
Colouring spring fish can of course be caught after May so rather than defining a date we should be encouraging the conservation of these fish throughout the entire season.
At the ghillies meeting there was considerable debate about the merit of the revised wording and I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn in saying that there was a fair degree of support for an even stronger conservation message, although not unanimous. It will be interesting to see if new policy has the desired effect.
Of relevance to this matter is some info I picked up at the annual RAFTS/SFCC biologists meeting last week. On the Naver they tag some rod caught fish with Floy tags, a few of which had been deep hooked and were termed “bleeders”. Subsequently some of them were caught again, alive and kicking. I don’t have any actual figures but this issue could be worth further investigation.
At the ghillies meeting the poor quality of the sea trout photos used in the conservation policy poster was raised. So here’s a plea; we are looking for good quality photos of sea trout in a variety of stages of freshness for next years poster. Lets hope there are a few more to be caught this year.