It was mid winter in 2012. The fishing club committee had arranged a week-end on a large stillwater, for us to see if we could help the hatchery there boost it’s brood stock with some hens and cocks.
On the Saturday I enjoyed taking my good friend Win out on the canoe. Win had had a rough year, health wise, and I enjoyed the opportunity to help him “break the fishing drought” so to speak.
Some of us took a few minutes to find our sea legs! The boat is stable in that it will never tip over, but it has this little “wobble zone” where it rocks without resistance through about five degrees. It’s the sort of thing that is a bit disconcerting when the Great Dane stands up and leans over one side for a drink. Win was a lot more co-operative than the Dane, and we soon settled happily into the fishing off a steep side on the Northern shore.
(Note the box between us: used for keeping brood stock)
The water was just seven degrees C, according to the journal, and the air temperature around 12 degrees, but with a moderate Easterly wind blowing. Despite an apparently mild mercury reading, it was cold. Properly cold! Win was wrapped up for the occasion.
In recent weeks, fate has taken me into the Boston area on several occasions to spend time there with a farmer ,a forester and a faucet.
On Saturday, I dragged myself from an afternoon snooze. Between that and a looming business trip commencing Sunday morning, I knew I had to fit in an errand to Boston to shut off a valve on a dam. As we wound down the hill between the trees in the gathering gloom of the front that was curling in from the South, I spotted the dam in the distance. Even from there I began to beam at our success in dropping the level. We could see the baseline of the reeds, contrasting with the green tops, and indicating that the water was well down. On arrival at the shelter I could see the poles, which a week and a half earlier had barely protruded from the water, and which now stood high and dry.
In his excellent book, “Frogcall”, Greg French uses this as a name for the chapter on stripping Trout.
Here is a photo essay, a “visual trifle”, of the process, as undertaken by my friends and I each winter:
Breeding season for us ‘week-end hatchery guys’, brings on some peculiar behaviour. We go fishing with toolboxes, brush-cutters, wire cages, cleaning equipment, poles, thermometers and the like. And on many trips we don’t get to fish at all. But we still have a lot of fun.
While we catch most of our brood fish fairly, and on fly, it is silently acknowledged that to trap them is equally honourable. This requires a good fish trap in the feeder stream.
Fish trap building:
I lay in bed this morning, as the rain pattered on the roof, thinking as one does, about exactly where to spread our “winnings”. We have all, I am sure day- dreamed about how exactly we would spend our lottery winnings. A new truck, a couple of bamboo fly rods, a few trips to exotic fly-fishing locations reachable only by helicopter: Kamkatchka. New Zealand. Alaska. Maybe Mongolia for Taimen. That sort of thing. But our winnings this time are real winnings. They are Trout. Hatched Trout, and thousands of them.
Thousands of them!
We had a good year at the hatchery this year you see, and we have a last batch of some twenty odd thousand fry, that need to go into the dams tomorrow.