Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Salmon Fishing Scotland Predator control on Rivers.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Predator control on Rivers.

This was a recent angling article in the Daily Record BY SILVER WILKIE.

During a walk down the river the other day I thought I saw a salmon heading and tailing.

It’s been a poor back end and I’ve sometimes gone half a day without seeing a fish, so this was an event.

Seconds later I realised my mistake. From the depths out popped a goosander. Then I saw another one, and another one. There was a family of six eagerly feeding.

And what were they gobbling up? I’ll give you four answers – salmon, sea trout, brown trout and grayling parr.

Nowadays, because the goosander – a saw-billed duck – is a protected species there are hundreds upon hundreds of them hunting on every Salmon River in the country?

Goosander facts

These handsome diving ducks are a member of the sawbill family, so called because of their long, serrated bills, used for catching fish. A largely freshwater bird, the goosander first bred in the UK in 1871. It built up numbers in Scotland and then since 1970 it has spread across northern England into Wales, reaching south-west England. Its love of salmon and trout has brought it into conflict with fishermen. It is gregarious, forming into flocks of several thousand in some parts of Europe.

Upland rivers of N England, Scotland and Wales in summer. In winter they move to lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs, occasionally to sheltered estuaries.


Just imagine the huge amount of juvenile fish they are gobbling up!

The same is true of cormorants. I remember the days decades ago when it was a rarity to see one in freshwater. Nowadays I’ve spotted as many as 40 to 50 in one flock heading upriver to their killing grounds like German Dornier bombers over London, Coventry and Clydebank.

Just imagine, too, the damage they are doing to stocks of immature fish.

It’s no wonder ghillies, fishery managers, and anglers who are increasingly practicing catch and release, are fuming that the licenses given to cull the numbers of these predators are so paltry it’s hardly worth doing.

Birds such as cormorants and goosanders are protected by law and the power of the influential Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Like many other anglers I applaud their efforts to look after our song birds and endangered species such as ospreys and sea eagles.

Cormorant Facts

A large and conspicuous waterbird, the cormorant has an almost primitive appearance with its long neck making it appear almost reptilian. It is often seen standing with its wings held out to dry. Regarded by some as black, sinister and greedy, cormorants are supreme fishers which can bring them into conflict with anglers and they have been persecuted in the past. The UK holds internationally important wintering numbers.

Found around the UK coastline on rocky shores, coastal lagoons and estuaries, it is increasingly being seen inland at reservoirs, lakes, gravel pits and rivers.

But cormorants and goosanders are not exactly endangered.

Salmon are fast becoming so, but unfortunately they are cold blooded creatures which do not stir up the warm hearts of bird lovers.

I just wish there was a Royal Society for the Protection of Salmon.

What we are also seeing on our rivers is an increasing encroachment of seals upstream into fresh water where they chase and eat salmon.

On one beat of the lower Tay that I fish, seals cleared out what is normally a huge stock of salmon waiting to spawn by eating them and chasing them upriver.

I recently saw an aerial photograph of scores and scores of seals on a sandbank in the Tay estuary. Goodness knows how many salmon a day it takes to fuel their massive bulks, but it must be an awful lot.
A group of 500 to 600 seals in the Tay estuary recently.

Now I’m not advocating a total wipeout of seals, cormorants and goosanders, just sensible culls to establish a sensible balance of nature as there was in the past.

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