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Londoners are to awake one fine would stimulate into still morning to find that their old greater activity an opposition river is a salmon-water.
that undoubtedly lies ahead — The species of the Salmonide the opposition of a large section with which it is proposed to of the holiday and club anglers, stock the Thames are salmon jealous of their present fishing (Salmo salar), sea-trout (Salmo opportunities. trutta), brown trout and Loch- None of the difficulties we levens (Salmo fario and leven- have mentioned seems to be ensis), and rainbow-trout (Salmo quite unsurmountable. Polluirideus). Whether the river is tion, certainly, is not. It was in a condition as yet to make the opinion of Frank Buckland, the introduction into it of sal- who himself made experiments mon proper a success is open in stocking the Thames with to doubt. Apart from pollu- salmon, that they could be intion, reasons for doubting it troduced into any decently exist that apply equally to all clear water communicating Salmonidæ. There is, for ex- with the sea, provided the ample, the wash of the launches necessary spawning - beds are and the river-craft in all its present. Now, we know that variety over the upper stretches pollution in the Thames is beof the river, — the stretches ing dealt with in a which ought to, and in all that at least sets an example to probability would, form the the management, nothing short redds or spawning - beds. If of disgraceful, of most of our the river pleasure season and rivers. Since the Act of 1894 the game-fish spawning season laid the duty of its prevention were coincident, fish - breeding upon the Thames Conservancy, in these
these waters would be pollution has diminished by a almost impossible ; and even third, and the measures that as it is, the winter traffic, we have accomplished this fear, is sufficient to arrest it likely to be still more efficient considerably. It would be in the future. Whether the necessary, therefore, to fence tideway is sufficiently clear is off the redds- -a step that pre- another matter: we doubt it, sents patent difficulties. But and we rather doubt the value the greatest obstacle, undoubt- of the experiment that has been edly, to the scheme of stocking proposed of sending a case of the Thames with Salmonidæ is smolts floating down it. We one that would grow greater feel assured, however, that in with the increasing success of time the pollution can be coped the scheme itself. For in pro- with. The presence of proper portion to the success attend- redds above, Buckland always ing the introduction of game- said, is a matter of greater fish to the river would be the study and anxiety than the natural desire of the riparian clarity of water below; and it owners to benefit under the is the opinion of not a few enhanced value of the waters well able to judge that the that certainly would follow Thames never has been a river thereupon; and that desire possessed of the natural spawn
ing-beds that are necessary to necessary from the very earliest. make it a salmon-water. In stage to point out how carefully that case, the idea of convert- and with what precautions ing it into a salmon-river may these must be made to be sucbe given up. If, on the other cessful. The promoters of the hand, the necessary spawning- scheme must guard against a beds are there, they could be fiasco—which is very much the satisfactorily fenced off. Nor same as saying that they must would it be impossible, surely, be wary of the enthusiasts. before a scheme for stocking What has been said of salmon the river with Salmonidæ is is precisely true of sea-trout; entered upon to compound but the case for stocking with with the riparian owners, and so brown trout and Lochlevens disarm the club anglers of the is entirely different. Without one real argument against it doubt the Thames, throughout with which we can imagine its entire length above the tidethem possessed.
But while we way, can be made an excellent are persuaded that to stock the trouting-river. It may surprise Thames with some Salmonidæ many of our readers to learn is a practicable enterprise, and we have met scores of Loneven would be pleased to see doners who had no idea of it some money expended on experi- —that at the present moment ments with salmon, we are far the Thames contains trout that from being sure that the time are famed among anglers all for them is ripe; and certainly it the world over as sporting fish. will be a matter of regret if the No doubt they would be famed restocking enthusiasm, of which a table - fish as well, and there are so many signs at the their existence more generally present moment, should inspire known in consequence, were any one to ill-considered and they not unenlightened action. One other destination
for them thing, we are convinced, neces- when caught than a glass-case sary to success is the establish- apparently is not to be thought ment of a hatchery on the of by the Thames angler withbanks of the river, and the ex- out horror. The indigenous perience of the past warns us trout is distributed over the against committing any such whole non-tidal portion of the hatchery to the care of the river. In the close season, the amateur pisciculturist. There professional fisherman is out is the true story, not to be for- on the river - bank, or slowly gotten, of those who placed paddling up and down stream, several hundreds of trout-ova seeking to "spot” the fish in a hatchery on the bank, where they have taken up a and in course of time collected position on a feeding - ground, from the fry-pond some very and when the open season arexcellent perch! We have no rives he acquaints his clients wish to throw cold water on with the information thus gathany efforts towards improving ered. The sight of the big fish the sporting condition of the feeding is enough to quicken Thames; but it is absolutely any angler's pulse. As calmly
as the excitement will permit, gler may be as great as the flyhe looks to his delicate gut fisher's, but that his sport will bottom and the flight of tri- compare with the other's is nonangle hooks (so tiny), on which sense. If the river is stocked he fastens the glittering bait with trout, there need be no that he is 'to flash over the more roasting in a malodorous spot where the great fish has punt, catching dace and roach risen. As likely as not, he of trifling size, or filling up the flashes it in vain. Dissatisfied river preparing a swim for a with the live lure, he may spin day's barbelling. The rushing over the water where the fish and bubbling weir-heads and the is,—not necessarily with better streams below them, the swir. results. He is fortunate if, ling eddies, the deep and quietly by either method, he feels the flowing pools, the channels bewelcome tightening on the line. tween the long waving weeds, For when a Thames trout, a the quiet boscages beyond the seven-pounder, say, is hooked, wash of traffic, -all would hold you may look out for a battle their head of trout, and the royal: the trout has the fight fly-fisher's ideal would be atin it of a salmon twice its size, tainable, and be attained. and the lucky man who lands There is no one, we imagine, it has a tale for his grand- who doubts that by a properchildren, when he sits in the ly conceived and carried out arm-chair of old age, and hand scheme the Thames could be and wrist have lost the power stocked with fario ; but we and knack of striking and play- may direct attention to an ining such a prize. So rare is teresting suggestion that has the Thames trout, however, been made of turning in rainthat one notable angler for bow trout as well. The rainthem has confessed to fishing bow trout is a fish indigenous for two whole seasons in vain; to the Americas, and a prejuand luck (which enters here as dice against it on that score elsewhere) comes in a large may exist in some minds—the slice to him who takes half-a- more so that importations from dozen to his rod during the America of Salmo fontinalis (so four or five months in which called ; but it would seem that the sport is open
open to him. the fontinalis is not a trout at Moreover, at a legal weight all, but a char) for stocking the Thames trout, as we have home waters—or home rivers, at said, will not rise to the fly. any rate—was a complete failure. Now if the river were stocked But the prejudice against all with fario the standard for acclimatisation of fish is unreasthe indigenous trout might be onable. It is surely sufficient lowered, to permit of the fly- to remember that, but for acfisher plying his art for them climatisation, there would not as well.
The character of the be a trout to-day in New Zeasport on the river would be land, where instead there are levelled up—that is undoubted: hundreds of great size, and in we are anxious to admit that the pink of condition. the skill of the coarse-fish an- are to judge by the manner in
which the rainbow trout a 500,000 fish could be transbeautiful fish-thrives in waters ferred to the river; although similar to the Thames, we may a better policy would be to reconclude that it would thrive serve at least 100,000 of them well in it. There has been until they are two-year-olds. ample opportunity for testing This is not too great a mass of its qualities. A considerable fish to plant in such a river as stock is held by most pisci- the Thames : were we to go by culturists in England, and their the practice of pisciculturists in hardiness and rapid growth are charge of certain American and spoken of in high terms; while Continental waters, we should their beauty, and, we believe, have to estimate for two or their fine quality as food, are three times as many
fish. And not to be denied.
in addition to these, fully-eyed cases they have been placed ova ought to be planted in redds, in unsuitable waters, and have artificially formed and protected, failed accordingly; but in pub- in which, though considerably lic reservoirs, and in slow and less successfully than in the deep-flowing waters, they grow hatchery, a supplementary stock rapidly, feed heartily (without of fish could be reared. being cannibals overmuch), rise To hatch out this great quanfreely to the fly, and fight tity of ova, it will be necessary, every ounce of their weight. as has been said, to build a The evidence all points to the properly devised and equipped rainbow as a capital fish for hatchery, and it is no less necesthe Thames.
sary to place it under the conBefore the Thames could be- trol of a thoroughly competent come the trouting river which
Such a hatchery, and we have pictured it earlier, a the upkeep of it most of all, long course of assisting Nature will entail a large expenditure must be entered upon. Hatch- of money; and the want of eries capable of hatching-out at money will be the first of the least one million ova in a season obstacles to present itself to the would have to be established promoters of the scheme. It upon the banks.
The fry, so seems too much to expect that soon as they had absorbed the in England any experiment in umbilical sac, would be trans- pisciculture will receive State ferred to rearing - ponds care- aid.
We have no belief that fully prepared to receive them, the support of the County and, where suitable, to fenced- Council and other public bodies, off portions of backwaters and such as would be given to it in tributary streams, and there other countries, is to be counted carefully assisted to food until upon. To begin with, at any they have reached the age of rate, the burden will have to be twelve months. Thereafter borne by the anglers themselves. they would be turned into the It will be
thereriver. It seems reasonable to fore, for the societies to take count upon fifty per cent of the matter up, and, unfortuthe original ova reaching the nately, united action on their year-old stage. In that case, part is difficult to obtain. There
are in London two great asso
business to hatch out fish eggs. ciations of anglers, containing Plenty of water-that is the together some seven thousand main thing. In the case of the members. Besides these, there Thames, the supply of water are two great preservation so- could be afforded by the river cieties — the Thames Angling itself. A suitable method to and the Thames Restocking adopt would be to obtain the and four up-river preservation water from one of the weirs, and restocking bodies. The whereby the water that flows interests of all these societies the hatching boxes is are identical. They have, or water aerated to the highest they are supposed to have, the extent. The water-conveyed same reason for existing-the in a small pipe to a supply promotion of the sport of an- tank provided with an overflow gling on the Thames. But they outlet to prevent the sy
swamping are disunited; too often work- of the eggs should the river ing to the same end by antag- come down in flood would
There are signs pass over the trays from the of a better feeling among them, tank in properly regulated it is true, and there would be volume. Very soon the eggs no better occasion for soldering would start to hatch, and then their differences than a joint would begin one of the most scheme for restocking their interesting and beautiful proriver ; but we must anticipate cesses in Nature's economy ; all the difficulties in the way of and as possibly it is unknown such an enterprise, and here un- many
of our readers, we may doubtedly is one of them. It dwell upon it at some length. is necessary to be prepared for Within a few days of the the work being undertaken by hatching starting, the hatchinga section of the associations trays are transformed into a only, instead of by a joint-com mass of fish-life. There is no mittee representing them all. more helpless creature than
By whatsoever body it is the newly hatched fish; hence taken in hand, there the hatch- the great importance of protecery must be, in charge of an tion for it at this stage, and unexperienced pisciculturist re- til the umbilical sac is absorbed. sponsible for all hatching and So soon, however, as that is rearing operations. Every year, accomplished, and the young as our knowledge of fish-rearing fry, as they are called now, becomes deeper, the process is begin to feed, a new stage made simpler; but every year is entered upon. If a healthy shows also that, without the head of fish are to be produced, necessary knowledge, to enter the fry must be given at this upon the process is worse than point a copious, almost useless. Pisciculture has been unlimited, supply of water. In far too long a hobby in this the case of the Thames this country, - it is time that it would be a simple matter could became a science. In expert we
assume that the various hands, given the water-supply, backwaters and small tributary it is comparatively a simple streams will be available ; but