Pacific Salmon: The Pink Peril

pink salmon

Pink salmon are being caught all over the UK
Image source: Shutterstock

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make most conservation-minded anglers’ blood run cold, it’s the idea of yet another invasive non-native species coming to join the Himalayan balsam, floating pennywort, American signal crayfish, Ponto-Caspian shrimp, and other unwelcome visitors which are already wreaking havoc on our rivers and lakes.

Yet that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing here in the British Isles this summer – with alien Pacific pink (or humpback) salmon showing up in unprecedented numbers in rivers around our coastline.

So why has this happened? And is there anything we do about it?

Far from home

spawning phase

An Alaskan pink salmon in its freshwater spawning phase.
By Bering Land Bridge National Preserve – Pink Salmon, CC BY 2.0

As their name suggests, Pacific pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbusca) evolved in the rivers and seas of the northern Pacific rim, from Oregon all the way up to Alaska, and down the coast of Russia to the Korean peninsula.

Like the four other species of Pacific salmon – chum (dog), coho (silver), king (chinook) and sockeye (red) – they’re genetically programmed to thrive in hostile Arctic conditions without the beneficial warmth of the Gulf Stream.

Mature adult fish run into rivers in mid to late summer, spawn quickly, and die almost at once, boosting the rivers’ ecology with all the remaining marine nutrients in their bodies. The fry hatch within 80 days, and migrate to sea at a young age (unlike juvenile Atlantic salmon, which live in their rivers of birth for much longer).

Year classes are strongly defined in two-year cycles, and don’t mix at all – a characteristic which has led to some runs of Pacific salmon being completely obliterated by natural or man-made disasters. Maybe to make up for this, pinks are happy to stray some distance from their own rivers to colonise new water. But like so many other alien invaders, they’ve now moved far beyond their native range as a result of human intervention…

Starting in the 1960s, and continuing for about 40 years, it’s believed that Russian scientists started stocking them into the Barents and White seas with the intention of creating a commercial net fishery and canning industry.

From here, pink salmon started spreading to Finland and Norway (where breeding populations have become established) and then to Iceland, Denmark and Germany. Occasional two- to five-pounders have appeared in Scottish, Irish and English east coast rivers since the earliest years, but it’s the scale of this summer’s invasion which has started to cause concern.

What’s the problem?

crowded pink salmon

Pink salmon crowded in Alaska
Image source: Shutterstock

Hundreds of pink salmon, from around two to five pounds, have been caught in more than 40 rivers around the British Isles in 2017 – from the Helmsdale and Ness to the Tyne, and even the Cong and Galway fisheries on Ireland’s River Corrib.

In England, they’ve turned up in Yorkshire’s Driffield West Beck, too, where David Southall was surprised to catch a hard-fighting 3lb specimen in August on a streamer intended for chalkstream trout.

Native Atlantic salmon are already under serious threat in most British rivers, and many anglers fear that a major influx of Pacific salmon could put them under even more pressure – either from competition, or via the introduction of pathogens and diseases still unknown.

Others argue that the earlier timing of pink salmon runs means that the adults will be long dead by the time our native salmon start trying to spawn, and any remaining redds are likely to be overcut. Juvenile pinks will migrate to sea much sooner, and at a far smaller size, than Atlantic salmon smolts, so it’s not so likely that significant competition will occur at this life stage either. Dying Pacific salmon could even contribute valuable nutrients to oligotrophic Scottish and Scandinavian catchments, making more food for Atlantic salmon parr.

Yet having said all this, if invasion ecology teaches us one thing, it’s that the potential for unintended consequences is almost limitless. So the wisest course is probably the precautionary approach.

More information is certainly needed, and fisheries scientists have already started researching the viability of pink salmon eggs in UK waters, by excavating redds in the River Ness and moving the eggs to incubation chambers for further observation. Empty egg shells were also recovered, suggesting that some alevins might already have hatched.

What else can we do?

In smaller rivers, controlling pink salmon by disturbing their very obvious redds might be an option, but in huge rivers like the Tay, this simply wouldn’t be possible, even in low summer water.

More than anything else, the UK’s fisheries authorities need information about this year’s pink salmon run, so they can prepare to deal with the next one (possibly even more numerous) in two years’ time (2019).

With their prominent hump, male pink salmon are very obvious, but some of the other differences from Atlantic salmon are more subtle. If you catch a small salmon at the back end of this season, and you suspect it might be a pink, here’s what to look out for:

 

Atlantic salmon

 

Pacific pink salmon

 

No spots on tail

 

Large black oval spots on tail

 

Pale mouth and tongue

 

Very dark mouth and tongue

 

Usually larger (up to 110cm in length)

 

Usually much smaller (40 – 60cm in length)

 

One or two spots on the gill cover, plus spots on the back above the lateral line

 

Steel-blue to blue-green back, silver flanks and white belly

 

Thicker base of tail than Pacific salmon

Breeding males have a distinctive humped back

If you think you’ve caught a pink salmon, here’s what to do:

Don’t return it to the water, but dispatch it humanely and report it to the relevant authorities (listed below) to arrange for inspection. If this isn’t possible, please retain some scale samples for further analysis.

England and Wales: Phone the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.

Northern Ireland: Tag the fish and phone the Loughs Agency on +44 (0)28 71342100: replacement tags will be issued.

Scotland: Contact your local district fishery board and fishery trust: information will be collated by Fisheries Management Scotland and Marine Scotland Science.

Ireland: Phone Inland Fisheries Ireland on 1890 347 424.

About the author:
Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East Rivers Trust, and founding editor of urbantrout.net, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements. His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his manual on controlling invasive non-native species, The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing appeared in 2014.

10 Summer Holiday Fishing Tips

Off on your travels this summer? Whether it’s a dedicated fishing break, or just a rod snuck away on a family holiday, a lot of us will be on the road this summer. But if you want to get the best from your trip, you’ll need to be prepared. We’ve asked Dom Garnett for some timely advice. Here are his top 10 tips for the travelling angler.

Fishtec-holiday1

Successful fishing abroad just takes a little careful planning.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

1. Make a list

Once you’re on the road, you can’t nip home, so be prepared. Make a list of all your basics, from rods and reels to lures and cameras. It’s worth doing just for peace of mind, and you’ll be able to use your list again next time.

2. Protect your neck

There are things that save your neck time and again on long haul fishing trips. I always store a few essentials in the boot and they come with me on any holiday: Bottled water; a hat (wide brim is best); sun block; spare socks and a towel. Get a simple first aid kit too.

Fishtec-holiday2

Local tackle shops might not be what you expected, so be prepared!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

3. Map it out

Mapping out where you’re going will save you time and hassle when you get there. The internet is a great resource for maps, postcodes and so on. I tend to go low tech on holiday and have them written down too – if you’re in the middle of nowhere with a poor signal, a hard copy beats Google every time. Maps and directions can also be screen-shotted on your mobile phone, as can fishing licenses and addresses.

4. Be social

We live in a brilliant age for networking with other anglers. I’ve been on a lot of fishing trips simply through making friends on Facebook, messaging a blogger, or following up a conversation. So be friendly. Ask questions. You may get some great advice, or better still make a new friend.

Fishtec-holiday3

An American smallmouth bass, from a summer road trip.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

5. Bait’s motel

Don’t court disaster by travelling with too much bait, or filthy live stuff. It can smell worse than election expenses in a hot car. If you want to take maggots, worms or other fresh bait, it needs to be put in a cooler bag or box, and well packed! Boilies, pellets and groundbaits are much easier to manage. If you’re flying, get your bait when you arrive.

Fishtec-telescopic-lure-rod

Featured product: Savage Gear Tele Finesse Lure Rod from Fishtec

6. Travel light with lures and flies

If time is limited, or you’re juggling fishing with family time, lure fishing is probably my favourite method. A travel rod and a couple of boxes of lures take up little space and you can sneak in short sessions whenever the chance arises.

Fly tackle is similarly light, with a fly box or two weighing next to nothing. Chris Ogborne’s recent blog for Turrall has some great recommendations for hitting wild rivers and the coast this summer.

Fishtec-holiday4

Invest in some travel kit that won’t take up much space.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

7. Rods, bags and customs

Airport staff can be an utter pain when it comes to taking fishing tackle on holiday. They like slapping on extra charges, or going right through your things. Be polite though, and above all be prepared. Lures, scissors and bait can raise their hackles if included in hand luggage. Have everything well organised, smile and they shouldn’t give you too many problems.

Rods need to be well packed, padded and in tubes if you are on a long haul flight. Many airlines will insist that they go in the hold luggage, so do pack well. I swear they play football with some of the cases.

Fishtec-rod-tube

Featured product: Airflo Multi Fly Rod Tube from Fishtec

8. Get a Guide

There is no substitute for local knowledge and guides are worth their weight in gold. OK, so you might not fancy paying extra. But a guide can save days of guesswork and put you right on the fish. Furthermore, the new skills and knowledge you pick up will last for more than just a day.

Fishtec-holiday5

Local guides offer know-how and experiences you’ll never forget.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

9. Water-tight packing

Wet gear or water-damaged kit are bad news on any journey. Bring a large zip or plastic bag to store pongy nets and always take a waterproof hike bag for your phone and camera. I always wrap things like cameras in bubble wrap for the long haul.

10. Go boldly forth…

Finally, my last tip is to be brave, try something new and challenge yourself. There are so many amazing countries out there and not all cost the earth to travel to. Look for cheap flights and anything is possible. The same is true in your own country. If you haven’t already, why not try your hand at the Wye Valley and the Norfolk Broads. Or the Scottish Highlands and rugged coast of Cornwall (see last year’s blog on our top UK fishing destinations for five great options closer to home).

Fishtec-holiday6

Jason Coggins fishes the Isle of Skye. You needn’t travel far to find good fishing.

More from our blogger

Read two-dozen great angling tales from Dom Garnett in his most recent book Crooked Lines. With original illustrations and travels from Arctic Norway and the streets of Manhattan, it makes great summer reading. Find it at www.dgfishing.co.uk or as a £4.99 E-book for your tablet or Kindle at www.amazon.co.uk

Sea Fishing: The Canary Islands’ Best Beaches

Whether you’re in hot pursuit of first-class fishing opportunities or looking for a few hours angling during a well-earned holiday, there’s every reason to pack your fishing tackle on a getaway to the Canary Islands.

From spinning on the rocks to boat fishing off the coast, the Canary Islands have it all when it comes to sea fishing. We asked fishing enthusiasts at the Optima Villas team about the best beaches for angling on these volcanic isles. Here’s their insider’s guide to fishing the Canaries…

Fishtec-fishing-Canaries1

A marina in Lanzarote

1. Playa Quemada, Lanzarote

From boat excursions to shore fishing, this small fishing village retains the traditional Lanzarote culture, despite being just minutes from the large resort of Playa Blanca. Boasting an unspoilt, sheltered bay which protects visitors and locals alike from the prevailing winds and currents of the Punta Gorda, this quaint coastal village is brimming with a diverse selection of fish in its waters.

Translated as Burnt Beach, it’s the black rocky bay which gives the village its name – and it’s the lack of golden sands which means that Playa Quemada is such an undiscovered corner of the coastline. Home to just three restaurants and several residential houses, this largely untouched bay is arguably one of the most idyllic spots for any anglers looking to fish in guaranteed peace and quiet.

2. Playa del Moro, Corralejo, Fuerteventura

Situated on the north east coast of Fuerteventura, the town of Corralejo is best known for its dune-backed beaches and endangered wildlife in the Corralejo Natural Park. With the island famous for its bonita tuna, barracuda, garfish and bluefish on the coastline – as well as the chance to catch mullet, bream, amberjacks, palometa and parrotfish on organised boat fishing trips, Corralejo’s waters are a must-visit for any keen angler.

As the day draws in, this former fishing village boasts an excellent choice of eateries and bars – and with the volcanic Montaña Roja promising spectacular panoramic views across the island, there’s plenty to see and do once you’ve packed up for the day.

3. Playa las Teresitas, San Andrés, Tenerife

Fishtec-Canaries2

Playa las Teresitas, Tenerife

With a history dating back to 1497, San Andrés is one of the oldest villages on the Canary Islands, and is located just a stone’s throw from the vibrant capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Set against the impressive backdrop of the Anaga mountains, the picturesque village of San Andrés boasts some of the most sought-after fishing opportunities on the island.

With the majority of residents relying on fishing as their source of income, the new 360m long jetty operates as a breakwater – as well as providing anglers with a much-needed fishing dock. If you’re looking to get a closer look at life under the sea, why not swap your fishing pole for a snorkel and scuba dive, taking the plunge into these unspoilt waters?

4. Playa de Melenara, Gran Canaria

The island may be a favourite stop off for cruise ships due to Las Palmas’ array of duty-free shopping opportunities, but it tends to be the black lava and white sand beaches which attract so many of us to this mountainous island each year. Playa de Melenara is just 7km from the historic town of Telde, where visitors can discover some of the most important archaeological sites on the island and see what life was like in the town’s pre-Hispanic past.

On the coast, Playa de Melenara boasts a beachfront promenade that’s packed full with bars and restaurants – and with the expansive Atlantic Ocean so close, experienced anglers looking for a new challenge can head out into the waters to try their hand at catching barracuda and marlin, as well as tope, smoothhound, dogfish and angel sharks.

5. Playa de Puerto Naos, La Palma

As the largest beach resort of La Palma, Playa de Puerto Naos is no doubt one of the most beautiful hotspots on this island – and still relatively undiscovered by tourists. With its volcanic black sand boasting light green hues due to the olivine crystals that are present on its beach, Playa de Peurto Naos offers something truly unique.

The strong surf means that sea bass (lubina) can be regularly caught from La Palma too, and with barracuda and wrasse common on the coastline, there’ll be no shortage of things to catch during your stay.

Whether you try your hand at shore fishing or cast your net further on an afternoon of boat fishing, the beautiful climate and well stocked fisheries make the Canaries an excellent choice for anyone in search of an exotic fishing break.

This article was kindly provided by the team at Optima Villas, Lanzarote. If you fancy some exciting sea fishing and need somewhere to stay, check out the choice of villas on their website.

Fly Fishing Blogs to follow in 2017 – Part 2

At Fishtec we are always keen to discover fresh and interesting fly fishing blogs! Here we have unearthed 5 more great fly fishing blogs for your reading pleasure. Trust us, if you love fishing these bloggers are well worth following through 2017 and beyond.

Fishing the Irwell – A Fly Fishing Journey

Manchester’s river Irwell is an urban success story. Once horribly polluted, this river system and it’s numerous tributaries and sister streams now hold a wealth of fish life.

A fine urban trout

A fine urban trout from the Manchester area

Join David Bendle as he fishes undiscovered urban rivers and streams in the Irwell catchment for truly wild trout and grayling. The stream surrounds may look industrial, but the fish are as beautiful and challenging as anywhere in the world. Not afraid to chuck a streamer or fish in a storm drain, this blog is serious motivation for fishing an urban stream near you.

The Naked Fly Fisher

A fly tyer and angler from Northern Ireland, the Naked Fly Fisher’s blog is a mix of tackle reviews and fine fishing adventure in spectacular ”Game of Thrones” country.

Lough Fadden NI

Lough Fadden NI – a fishery worth a visit.

With the tagline ”getting down to the bare essentials of fly fishing reviews” you will indeed find plenty of useful, unbiased information if you are looking for new fishing tackle, as well as fishery and scenic stuff. We feel there is a lot more to come from the naked fella, so keep your eyes firmly on his blog and instagram page.

Hawker Overend – Fly fishing on the Welsh Dee

Andrew Overend’s blog is primarily a diary of his fishing exploits on the famed Welsh Dee for trout, salmon and grayling, with trips further afield to the Ribble, Tay and more in search of fly fishing sport.

Salmon success for Andrew Overend!!

Salmon success for Andrew Overend!!

Andrew’s 40 years of experience and passion are evident in this fine blog – which provides great up-to-date information on how the Dee is fishing. Keep tabs on it to find out which methods are proving successful on various named pools and beats of this famous Welsh water course.  His instagram page ironblue34 is also worth checking out.

A Fly Fishing Journey – Rediscovering a passion for Fly fishing

Sometimes a break from it all can re-inspire a passion. ‘Downstream flies‘ recently re-discovered the joy of casting a fly rod and visiting the scenic, wonderful places where our sport takes place.

A fly fishing journey

A fly fishing journey – North Wales mountain lake

With a mix of fish catching action, reviews and a philosophical slant, this is a great mixture of fly fishing reading material. As a newcomer to the fly fishing blogging scene, we feel there is a lot more to come on this fly fishing journey.

Pike and Slippers

Clearly a Victorian gents mustache is a fish magnet. They used to catch a LOT more fish in those days – right? On top of that, imagine you had a girlfriend who loves fishing just as much as you? Well, the lucky chap that is Fred Simeons has both – plus he writes a neat blog devoted all aspects of angling, including fly fishing for trout, pike and carp. It’s also backed up by a rather nice Instagram page.

Pike and slippers

Pike and slippers – fishing adventures in Scotland and beyond.

Girls that fish are all the rage – so if you want to see more of Fred’s other half’s cool ”fishing chick” stuff, make sure you head to Heels and Reels on Twitter!

Missed part 1? You can catch up with 5 more superb fly fishing blogs here.

Top 10 Angling Disasters (and how to avoid them!)

hook-head

We’ve all done it right? The hook in the hand…
Image source: Dom Garnett

It’s only fishing, what could possibly go wrong? For some of us, quite a lot! Dom Garnett talks us through his top 10 angling disasters, with a healthy dose of hindsight humour. Take the chance to learn from Dom’s mistakes and make sure you don’t get caught out in the same way…

1. Rod pulled in!

napping

Don’t get caught napping! If there are big fish about, you could lose that rod in a flash.
Image source: Dom Garnett

There’s a price to be paid by those that don’t stay alert. Heavy hitters like carp and barbel can easily pull your prized rod into the drink. That rule about never fishing unattended rods is there for a reason. There are three easy ways to avoid this common error: Set the drag on your reel carefully (a little loose if your mind tends to wander); double check baitrunners are on for carp; and for goodness sake, pay attention!

2. Forgotten landing net

That sickening feeling… it’s not there when you open the boot. Sure you can fish, but how are you going to land anything? The only solution is to nip back home. Or find a more accessible spot. Or buddy up with an angler who is better organised than you.

3. In for a soaking

getting-wet

Falling in might be a bit of a joke, but hypothermia certainly isn’t.
Image source: Dom Garnett

Getting wet is the stuff of angling banter, but not always a laughing matter if you’re the victim. I’m constantly amazed by the fact that over a quarter of fishermen can’t swim. Assuming you get out safely, it could be more than your pride that hurts. Cold is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Unless it is baking hot, you should quickly change into dry clothes if you plan to keep fishing.

Having got my feet wet on many occasions, my answer is simple: always have a spare set of dry clothes in the car. Anything will do, even that old band t-shirt from 1995. Just don’t make yourself ill.

4. A hook in the hand

Ouch! That looks nasty. Whether it’s a point in the finger or an unwanted piercing somewhere else, getting hooked isn’t much fun. If it’s a small or barbless hook, you might be fine. The best way to remove an errant hook is to push down against the barb, then pull up (try practising on something other than your hand!). If the hook is big or lodged solid, you should go to hospital, period. It’s also a good idea to make sure your tetanus boosters are kept up to date. (There’s yet another argument for barbless hooks in there somewhere too).

5. Missing bait, lures or flies?

Oh for goodness sake, how did I forget my bait box or neglect to pack any lures? It’s easily done, but what happens next? If you’re a messy angler, you might just find a few stray flies, an old spinner, or a tin of sweetcorn in the boot. Otherwise you’ll have to improvise.

If you can’t nip to a shop, perhaps you could gather some bait on the bank? If there are old leaves, rocks or stones to turn, you might just find a worm or other snack. But the best answer is to have a sneaky bag of bait and a little handful of lures stashed away in the boot of the car for emergencies.

6. The call of nature

It’s not a pretty business, but there are times when you (ahem) have to do what you have to do, but are miles away from the nearest toilet. The prospect of going Tarzan style in the bushes is fairly horrible, um, so I’m told… but needs must. Always have a roll of loo roll and a thick resealable bag hidden in your car or supplies.

7. Lost or cut off

cut-off

Tides and conditions must always be watched.
Image source: Dom Garnett

It’s easy to lose sense of time or direction, especially if you enjoy fishing wild areas or those exposed to the elements. The weather can change very suddenly. You can easily get stuck or even stranded by the tide. For any fishing trip in a new or risky area you should always try to get advice from a local, let someone know where you’re headed and keep a mobile close.

8. Plenty of bites

Mosquitoes, midges, horseflies and other insects can be pure evil. For anyone who fishes in Scotland, Finland or Alaska, plagues of these creatures can crop up! Repellent is essential (“Skin so Soft” is a good one, for those who shrink at deet). If things are really heavy you may even need a mask (no kidding). It’s often good practice to cover up ankles, legs and exposed areas so you’ll avoid ticks and other critters too.

9. Bird trouble

Birds love eating bread (or any floating baits) and can also tangle with line. We all need to be vigilant and fish with care. As for what to do if you hook a duck or other bird when fishing, that’s another mess altogether. Try to retrieve the line and hook as quickly and delicately as possible. Usually the best way is steady pressure. If you can see and free the hook, great. If it’s more awkward, the best thing to do is to cut the line as closely as possible- and remove anything that might hinder the bird. A small barbless hook will cause little harm; but being tethered to fishing line is serious. If you are concerned for the bird’s welfare, you can call the Environment Agency, who will direct you to the best local source of help.

10. Broken rod

broken-rod

At some stage in your life it will happen… crunch!
Image source: Dom Garnett

It can be the most heartbreaking thing of all. Your favourite rod, snapped. What can you do? If you had the sense to pack a spare, at least you can keep fishing. If it’s broken near the tip, you might even get it fixed. However, if the break is a bad one you might need a spare section; which can be a pain if it’s more than a couple of years old. In any case, it’s probably time to speak to the good folks at Fishtec!

More from our blogger:

Dom Garnett is an avid all round angler, author and photographer. His books include Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide; Crooked Lines and the Amazon bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish. Catch his weekly column “The Far Bank” in the Angling Times, or discover more from him at www.dgfishing.co.uk

Fishing In Droughts – Lack Of Rain Stops Play?

low water fishing

Summer low: dry conditions call for extra caution.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

With some of the lowest rainfall levels on record, 2017 could prove testing for fish and anglers alike. Dom Garnett offers some thoughts on the challenges of low water fishing and the issues facing our rivers.

For both coarse and fly anglers, low rivers present a difficult scenario. We might dream of full, healthy waters during the closed season, but often the picture is very different on the bank.

This year we have been hit by some of the strangest weather on record, and whether you blame climate change or just freak chance, more extreme weather patterns look set to stay. The driest April for decades was followed by some of the warmest temperatures we have ever seen; including the hottest June day since 1976. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the huge effect this can have on our rivers.

New highs, new lows

dried-up-river

Down to the bones: a drought-hit river.
Image courtesy of Angling Trust.

While pretty much all UK rivers have been at low levels lately, some have witnessed dramatic extremes. In Wiltshire, for example, parts of the River Kennet ran totally dry earlier this year, and experts warned that Britain’s rivers were in danger of drying up.

Of course, it is not only extreme weather that causes problems. Human activity also exacerbates low river levels, with abstraction and water wastage two of the biggest causes of falling waters. Indeed, groups like the Angling Trust and WWF have been campaigning for years to push for better standards, as population levels grow and water management still leaves a lot to be desired.

Effects on fish and fishing

chub

A summer chub lurks in inches of water; fish like these can be painfully cautious.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Welcome rain has stemmed some of the extreme drought recently, but as river levels across the UK remain low, what can anglers do? Should we be fishing at all in extreme conditions? This is a very personal choice, but caution is advised and we must be extra careful with our catch.

For the fish themselves, low water can be a time of stress. When the body of water shrinks, temperatures rise quicker. Lower flows also result, further depleting oxygen levels. Just as we feel lethargic and short of puff on a hot day, the warmer the water becomes, the lower dissolved oxygen it holds for fish.

Some species should probably be left alone altogether when the water is really low and warm. Pike are especially fragile, but some anglers also cease fishing for barbel and other types of fish too. The choice is yours, but the fishing is likely to be challenging- and if you do succeed you must be responsible for your quarry.

Low water tactics

avoid-spooking-fish

Anglers will need to work harder to keep a low profile.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

When rivers run low, fish are often at their most vulnerable. Less water means more exposure to predators, so they tend to be cautious. They will often move from their usual haunts too, meaning you must track them down. Many fish, such as chub and even carp, will migrate to fast, shallow flows where they have cooler, more oxygenated water. Others may abandon shallow, exposed lies for deeper pools and cooler depths.

The most obvious consequence for the angler is that they must be stealthier than ever to avoid scaring fish. Keeping a low profile and cautious wading are a must. Line and tackle are also more obvious when the water is clear and shallow, so finer kit makes sense. Smaller baits and hooks are a good idea for those seeking coarse fish, while fly anglers should resort to fine lines and smaller, more natural looking flies.

On trout streams, low water can make keen-sighted fish especially spooky. Those you find in the steady glides can become painfully shy to any disturbance. Spots with broken, faster rushing water tend to fish better therefore, providing oxygen for trout and enough commotion to conceal the angler.

On coarse rivers, standard tackle never looked so obvious to the fish and you might have to scale down. Simple link-legered or even free-lined baits are one answer, and you might find smaller, more natural baits such as maggots and casters work best. Another good dodge is to try fly fishing for the likes of chub, roach and dace.

Fish care in hot weather

handle-fish-with-care

Keep fish wet and handling to a minimum in hot conditions.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Low rivers and warmer temperatures make the fish we catch more vulnerable to angling pressure. As we’ve said, it is a personal decision whether to fish or leave them alone, but in the hottest weather we must take extra care. Keepnets, for example, can be dangerous when fish are retained for any length of time.

A good general rule for the summer is to handle your catch as little as possible. Waders are useful here, allowing the angler to unhook and release most fish without them leaving the water. Should you want a quick picture though, your quarry can always be retained in a submerged net- much better than them flapping around on a dry bank. Should you need to land a fish, make sure your unhooking mat is well-doused with water.

Fish often need more recovery time on a hot day too. Just as you find exertion leaves you exhausted on a balmy day, fish also suffer in the heat. Where possible support the fish you are releasing and give it time to recover. Point it nose first into the flow and be patient; fish like grayling and bream may need a few seconds to fully come to their senses.

Above all, use your common sense and be as kind as you can to fish in low water and hot conditions. You might also find my selection of catch and release tips handy, on the Turrall Flies blog.

Longer term lows?

cracked-river-bed

Is this what the future has in store?
Image source: Shutterstock.

Are current low water levels an exception, or part of a troubled future for our rivers and waterways? Even Donald Trump would have a hard time writing off present day extremes as “normal” as records continue to be broken and the vast majority of scientists point towards a future of more freakish changes in our weather.

The bigger picture for rivers is that they will face more floods and droughts in coming years and require our protection more than ever. It falls to all of us to be more cautious about water usage and to lean on authorities to manage natural resources more wisely.

Finally, there are two further things we can all do to play our part. The first is to report any worrying signs such as painfully low water levels or fish in distress to the Environment Agency (the number is on the back of your EA license). The second is to support the Angling Trust, who relentlessly campaign to combat abstraction and other critical issues. If we anglers aren’t conscientiously taking care of our fish and the fragile habitats they depend on, who else will?

More about our blogger…

Dom Garnett is a weekly Angling Times columnist and author of several books including Amazon bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish and his recent collection of angling tales Crooked Lines. You can read more from him at www.dgfishing.co.uk.

One More Time By Rene’ Harrop

The latest monthly field report from Rene’ Harrop – American fly fishing guide, author and consultant for Airflo.

Aside from time spent away in the military, I do not recall being anywhere other than the Harriman Ranch on June 15.

June 15

June 15

Even as a very young boy in the 1950’s, the traditional opening of fishing within the Ranch was a date of supreme importance. What seemed a long journey in those days, the annual family fishing excursion was actually only a 65 mile drive up old U.S. 47 to Island Park. To both my father and grandfather the Ranch, as it is still most commonly known, represented a special fishing opportunity. And that awareness was firmly implanted in the mind of a fledgling angler not yet 10 years old.

Ranch Rainbow

Ranch Rainbow

On Monday just passed, I was joined by members of two subsequent generations in my son and youngest grandson in a renewal of an annual ritual as important as any in my lifetime. Along with Bonnie, whose time fishing the ranch water extends back nearly 4 decades, we joined a parade of like-minded fly fishers numbering perhaps as many as 60 or 70 individuals on the trail running downstream from the Last Chance Access at around 9:00 A.M.

Within less than an hour, both banks were lined with the year’s first human visitors for as far down river as the eye could see. With at least one fisherman positioned about every 50 yards, just finding an open spot to await the appearance of rising fish was a bit of a challenge along the northern most mile of the Ranch section, but on opening day it doesn’t seem to matter.

At more than 100 yards wide and quite wadeable, this section of the Henry’s Fork is unique in its ability to accommodate the exceptional numbers that will be mostly gone within a few days. And remarkably, this predominantly mannerly gathering seems able to coexist on the water with only minimal conflict.

Slow Water Performance

Slow Water Performance

I think this orderly conduct can be best explained by a sense of reverence that folks seem to possess for the history, tradition, and continuing influence that are represented by the gentle and fertile currents in which they stand. This is not a place for the selfish, greedy, or inconsiderate, and seldom are these characteristics revealed, even at the busiest of times.

On this day, my family and I were just happy to be there as part of something larger than ourselves, and our fishing success was of secondary importance. The reconnection with old friends seen only at this time of year combined with becoming acquainted with new faces that may become so somewhere down the road.

Working The Edge

Working The Edge

John McDaniel spoke of the “Ranch Culture” in his excellent book dedicated to the Harriman Ranch portion of the river. I agree with his comments pertaining to the age of those most often observed fishing this water. Most anglers I saw this week would be closer to 60 than 40, and this is somewhat troubling to one who might fear the coming of a new and somewhat indifferent attitude toward what fishing the Ranch has represented going back to when it was purchased by the Harriman Family more than a century ago.

For myself, the highlight of opening day 2015, was watching my 15 year old grandson land a very respectable rainbow hooked on a flawless upstream cast that was preceded by a skillful approach that told me he knew exactly what was needed.

I believe that in our descendants go ourselves and, therefore, we continue beyond mortal existence. Brogan Harrop is the most recent of five generations with whom I have shared the Ranch experience. My oldest great grandchild is 5 years old and with luck, I will live to include a sixth.

Fishing in Danger Zones

mine sweep

U.S. Army photo of a land mine sweep by Spc. Derek Gaines, via Wikimedia Commons

It should come as no surprise that some of the most troubled places in the world have excellent fishing. While we worry about civil war, piracy and nuclear radiation, the fish thrive on neglect. Dominic Garnett looks at some of the most dangerous fishing spots in the world, and what swims there.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Lake Band-e-Amir by Carl Montgomery

Would you go fishing in the Bamiyan area of Afghanistan, where the local landmarks include the City of Screams (Shahr-e Gholghola), the Blood Fort (Shahr-e Zohak) and Dragon Valley (Darya-e Adjahar)? In 2015, parts of Afghanistan were relatively safe, allowing one of Forbes Fly Tying’s intrepid bloggers to dodge the landmines to try his luck there.

For a desert country, Afghanistan has a surprising amount of water. Among the mountains, you’ll find Jurassic lakes and fast rivers, many of which contain trout. There are also snow trout in the mountain springs, which local people catch using handlines, explosives, and even the occasional rocket propelled grenade.

West Hawaii

lava

Lava flowing into the sea in Hawaii. Image courtesy of USGS via Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who fancies spicing-up their angling experience by dodging molten lava while they fish, will find West Hawaii a red-hot spot. With some of the most active volcanoes on the planet, the warm coastal waters there are incredibly fertile.

Anyone mad enough to wet a line In West Hawaii will find a cornucopia of species there, from colourful oddities, to the likes of bonefish, barracuda and snapper. Just get ready to run or swim if you hear a rumble.

Namibia

shark

Fishing from the beach in Namibia
Image source: Shutterstock

The coast of Namibia offers some of the most spectacular shark fishing on earth. A nation once blighted by apartheid, poverty and war, thankfully, the political situation is less perilous now.

You’ll still have to keep your wits about you though, not least because of the searing heat of the sun, and the huge variety of hungry sharks there.

Chernobyl

chernobyl

Radioactive waters surrounding the Chernobyl power plant.
Image courtesy of Carlwillis via: Wikimedia Commons

Big fish including including wels and sturgeon dwell in the bleak industrial waters of Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. But what happens to the fish when man-made catastrophe renders waters radioactive?

There are rumours of, and actual captures of strange mutants, like the catfish Jeremy Wade landed in River Monsters. And there are also hordes of zander, thriving due to the lack of human inhabitants. Just don’t hang around for too long: visitors must adhere to strict time limits to avoid overexposure to radioactivity.

Northern Norway and Iceland

ice fishing

Arctic conditions can be life-threatening. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

If it’s extreme fishing weather you crave, rather than war zones, volcanoes or toxic death traps, Northern Norway and Iceland have some truly wild conditions and remote places to fish.

You wouldn’t want to be caught in an avalanche or freeze to death in a blizzard, but if you do survive the howling winds and freezing temperatures, there’s some unreal arctic char fishing in the mountains of the North. It’s treacherous territory, so a guide is essential, as is a giant corkscrew drill to get through the ice.

Britain

britain

Keep your wits about you, wherever you are. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

We’re not joking. In terms of the annual number of fatalities, the risk of drowning makes fishing the UK’s most dangerous sport. And natural hazards aside, how many of you would consider fishing in the one of the tastier parts of London or Liverpool in the early hours of the morning?

Some of the areas of the country that get the worst press are in fact very friendly and have surprisingly good fishing; Birmingham, Glasgow and Plymouth are some of the best examples. Nevertheless, there are plenty of spots where you do have to keep your wits about you.

Fishing tips for risky places

  • Preparation is everything. A lack of drinking water or extremes of hot and cold are the biggest threats to your safety.
  • If you’re fishing abroad, a local guide always makes sense. He or she will be aware of the risks, and is your best chance of staying safe.
  • Don’t fish risky areas with fancy tackle or too much gear. Expensive kit left around will catch unwanted attention. Keep your tackle simple and be prepared to move quickly should you feel threatened.
  • One of the biggest dangers for anglers is to get too absorbed in the fishing. Always keep your wits about you, keep an eye on others, and anticipate what the weather is doing. Follow your gut instinct and listen to warnings the first time.
  • Always keep your phone and other essentials safe and close to hand. Pack a first-aid kit and keep an emergency bag of supplies. Mine always contains ID, antiseptic hand gel, a bottle of clean water, spare socks, a few calories and sunblock.

Further fishing adventures…

Casting a line from Arctic Norway to the streets of Manhattan, Dom Garnett’s most recent book “Crooked Lines” is packed with a host of great fishing stories, original illustrations, and features a foreword by Matt Hayes.  Order your copy for just £9.99 or as a £4.99 e-book at Amazon UK.
Crooked_Lines_Cover

Top Five Water-loving Dogs

man and dog

Some dogs love a day’s fishing almost as much as their owners
Image source: Shutterstock

Some dogs have an innate love of water and, with patience, can be trained to be excellent fishing companions…and there are other mutts, incredibly annoying four legged fur balls whose presence on the riverbank is a blight on your day.

If you like a hound for company, here are five breeds which, with the right instruction, will enjoy a day’s fishing without driving you and your fellow anglers to distraction.

1. Standard Poodle

poodle

Poodles love to play in the water
Image source: Shutterstock

Originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, the poodle gets its name from the German word pudeln, “to splash in water.” Poodles are still used as hunting and retrieving dogs, their famous “poodle cut”, an 18th century invention designed to make them more buoyant.

Standard Poodles love to impress their human families and get along well with children and other dogs. Intelligent animals, they’re protective, love to be trained, and often excel at dog sports.

2. Newfoundland

newfoundland

Newfoundlands are extremely strong swimmers and can withstand cold water
Credit: Jeremy Tarling. Image source: Creative Commons

A big-hearted dog that’s gentle, protective and loves children, Newfoundlands also have an affinity with water that makes them excellent angling companions.

In J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan, ‘Nana’ is the Newfoundland employed by the Darling family to look after the children. In reality, Newfoundlands were a tough working dog bred to help fishermen by hauling nets, towing mooring lines and moving loads by cart.

With their double-layered coat, webbed feet and immense strength, Newfoundlands are superb swimmers which are also known for their courage and determination. One Newfoundland called Whizz was recently posthumously awarded an OBE for saving the lives of nine people during its lifetime.

3. Portuguese Water Dog

water dog

Bo, the Obamas’ family dog outside the White House
Image source: Flickr Wikimedia

Remember Bo and Sunny, the Obamas’ White House pets? Portuguese Water Dogs weren’t originally bred for high office, but for herding shoals of fish into nets.

Portuguese Water Dogs also retrieved lost fishing gear and acted as boat-to-boat couriers, carrying messages between fishermen.

Closely related to the standard poodle, this intelligent breed has webbed toes for swimming, strong legs and a wavy coat that repels water. Portuguese Water Dogs are content to stay close to their masters and can be trained to follow complex commands.

4. Labrador Retriever

lab

Labrador Retrievers love to swim
Image source: Wikimedia creative commons

The modern Labrador Retriever is a descendent of the St John’s Water Dog, a Newfoundland breed famous for its swimming and retrieval abilities. Benefiting from a dense coat that repels water and keeps it warm, the modern Labrador is the UK’s most popular family dog.

A Labrador’s soft mouth means it can be trained to retrieve fowl and fish, and because it’s intuitive and responsive to body language and hand signals, giving your Lab’ orders needn’t disturb your fellow anglers.

Labradors can sometimes be very intense around water, but you can avoid this by beginning their water training while they’re young.

5. English Setter

english setter

A loyal English Setter will even help to carry your tackle
Image source: Pixabay.com

English Setters were originally bred as bird dogs to point and retrieve game on English moors. Known for being affectionate, gentle, intelligent and social, they excel at a wide variety of tasks including pointing, retrieving and tracking.

These beautiful water-loving dogs mellow from about the age of three years and love human company. In fact, even more than most dogs, English Setters need to be with people and part of their owners’ daily lives.

An ideal dog for those looking for companionship and affection, your English Setter will love you even if you never catch a thing.

How to Make a Living out of Fishing

dominic garnett, professional angler

Could you cut it as a pro angler?

Ever considered turning your favourite pastime into a job? Fishing author and guide Dom Garnett presents a realistic rough guide to making your living from angling.

The good news is, there have never been more opportunities to make money from fishing, just don’t expect it to be easy because the sector has never been more competitive.

Here’s some advice to get you started.

What can you offer?

dominic garnett with big fish

You will need to be a passionate, competent angler to earn. Eye-opening catches can help, but the “professional big fish angler” is a complete myth!

Forget the myth of the “sponsored angler”, the guy who gets paid just to go fishing. If only it was that simple. You’re only going to make money from fishing by providing something that others want.

Professional angling isn’t just about catching big fish. A much better starting point is to ask: “What can I give to angling as a sport?”

Perhaps you take a great picture or can tell a great story. Do you have design or creative skills? Are you a dab hand with social media or digital marketing? Or maybe you have a deep understanding of the environment.

Guiding & Coaching

dominic garnett, fishing guide, with an angler

Guiding and coaching are the most realistic ways to earn from angling.

The most realistic and achievable way of making an income from angling is to take others fishing, by which I mean becoming a guide, gillie, skipper or coach.

Folks who teach others to cast a fly, who can charter a boat or who can provide some other direct service can all generate an income of some kind. But remember, guiding is not about going fishing yourself, but putting others first.

Get qualified. Schemes run by bodies like the Angling Trust are excellent, and fishing clubs also offer events and pathways to training. Gaining a recognised qualification puts you above board with first aid and insurance, and learning to be a better teacher means you’ll be able to give your guests a great experience.

Most guides specialise. Perhaps you live near some top class barbel fishing, or live in an area with lots of fly fishing. Or maybe you have a specialist skill and can share it with others. Many professionals attach themselves to a venue like a fishery or hotel, while others, from pike specialists to sea fishing experts, are more mobile. Work out what your strengths are and play to them.

I also know a few angling pros who make their living from coaching kids, a task that takes patience and paperwork, but what a wonderful calling.

Writing

angling magazines

Various magazines will take articles, but you need quality and determination.

Articles and books have been my mainstay for ten years. Writing about fishing is not brilliantly paid, but there remains a decent market for it. The magazines and weeklies thrive on content provided by anglers like you.

The key to success as a writer is to compose good quality articles and get them to the right people. Print titles tend to be the way to go to get paid. Many websites don’t pay at all or offer a pittance, although they can still be very useful for getting your work out there.

You must always think of your target audience, remembering to adapt and tailor your work to different styles and formats. Editors want to hear from you, but they’ll be off-put by dodgy English or material that’s a headache to work with.

If you’re new to the game, be prepared to be rejected. The vast majority of us have the ability to write, but it’s a craft that must be honed. Organise your articles so that each is clear, logical and free of glaring errors. Come up with a strong title and a punchy opening sentence, pay attention to word count and always check your work.

Getting friends to read and critique your output is always helpful. Choose those who’ll highlight your mistakes and provide honest feedback. Give your work a fair chance by taking pride in it, or an editor might simply reject it without saying why.

Finally, do also pay close attention to your photography. Even the best-written piece won’t be accepted if it doesn’t have decent pictures. A really arresting main image can sell your work every bit as well as a great headline.

Blogging

fishing and blogging

If you love to fish and love to write, blogging could be a good start

Blogging is huge and though it’s difficult to make money directly from blog posts, I can’t stress how important this skill is. Tweets and Facebook posts become ancient history incredibly quickly, whereas popular blog posts can remain popular for years and show up on search results far better than do social media pages.

In today’s digital world, we’re invisible without an online presence. A blog puts you out there and gives you the freedom to talk about whatever you like, enabling you to build a relationship with readers and customers. Whether you’re a guide, a writer, a bait company or a photographer, your blog tells your story and engages with the people who use your services.

And don’t forget professional blogging. There are a huge number of companies and organisations now hiring bloggers, and the fishing world is quickly following suit. Well, you’re reading this aren’t you?

Fishing Books & E-Books

crooked lines by dominic garnett

Crooked Lines is my fifth book; but it has taken many years to develop my craft and build up a readership.

If words are truly your thing, the biggest single chunk of income you can make from writing about fishing is to produce a book; a daunting task and a subject in its own right. Suffice to say, you need a strong idea and a lot of willpower to make this happen.

I strongly believe the old saying that we all have a book in us. But the key to the success of any fishing book is how many readers it will appeal to. Whether it’s a great page-turning read or an insight into a special area of expertise, you need a solid theme and something compelling to capture the reader’s attention.

The most obvious route for the would-be-author is to try and get a publisher interested. Afterall, writing the text is only half the battle with any book. Design, layout, proofreading and marketing are just some of the other tasks you would otherwise have to take care of yourself.

Self-publishing is another option, but a major book project can be a nightmare without specialist knowledge and support. That said, if you do have an audience, along with the right skills and connections, you then have the advantage that you retain editorial control and keep more of the profits.

Last but by no means least, I should also mention ebooks. Kindle edition fishing books are still not vast in range, but times are changing and they do sell. You won’t get as many illustrations in a download and the writing has to really stand up to scrutiny, but ebooks can be great little earners. Once you’ve uploaded your book there are no printing costs, storage or overheads to consider either.

Both of my own ebooks, Crooked Lines and Tangles with Pike sell at a nice steady trickle all year round and interestingly, those who enjoy the Kindle edition quite often buy the “real” hard copy after reading the digital version. Above all though, ebooks are an exciting and underexploited area. Why not be one of the pioneers and give it a try?

Sponsorships and Angling Companies

dominic garnett's flies

Ever had an idea for a new product? I had many ideas rejected, before Turrall began producing my various flies for coarse species.

Many anglers seem to believe that being sponsored is the easiest route to a career in fishing. Sadly, this is seldom true. There are, admittedly, a heck of a lot of sponsored anglers out there, but most get free kit and bait rather than a salary. But seeing as most landlords don’t accept boilies or lures in lieu of rent, how might you go about getting a proper paid role?

If you have specialist knowledge or business skills, a job with a tackle company is the obvious route to take. Do bear in mind though that these days, companies are looking for all-rounders and not just those who can catch big fish or make a sale.

There is also the possibility to endorse or design products for a commission. Again, not easy but possible if you have an idea with sales potential and a company willing to listen.

Digital marketing is hugely important now, and lots of companies are looking for people who can provide films, blogs and other digital media. The trick, as always, is to identify a need, then tailor your products and services to meet it. Be warned though, the tackle world can bite, so be careful, pick wisely, and if you have useful skills don’t give them away for nothing.

Film, TV Work & Talks

filming with NatGeo

My “lucky” break with National Geographic came after many rejected efforts.

Television is a very tough world to break into, but it never hurts to make contacts and ask questions. From the outside looking in, professional TV anglers appear lucky but most faced years of trial, error and rejection before getting any kind of break.

I shudder to think how many of my ideas and emails were ignored or rejected, but eventually I made progress. Not to stardom, but to appearances on Sky Sports and National Geographic, experiences that were lots of fun, paid money and helped my career.

Just like selling features and articles, you need something fresh to offer film and TV people. You also need to be able to handle rejection and keep going. Any practise you can get will serve you well, like making your own videos or giving talks and presentations. And if your videos get stacks of views on YouTube you might even make a small amount of advertising revenue.

Fisheries, Fishing Shops and the “Front Line”

There are a heck of a lot of jobs in the wider world that might not be “living the dream” but do mean getting closer to it! Those who run fisheries and tackle shops or who work in conservation or protecting the environment are all linked to the angling sector.

Realistically, the “superstar” angling celebrity is one in a hundred thousand, and the guy simply paid to go fishing is a myth. However, if you have passion and are prepared to work hard and give something to the sport there are many roles that might work out. I wish you the very best of luck.

Some Further Tips:

dominic garnett angling tips

It’s always good to have a niche; blurring the lines between fly and coarse fishing has definitely helped me to offer something different and enjoyable.

  • Identify your strengths. Ask yourself what you can contribute into the sport.
  • Get qualified.
  • Get insured.
  • Be licensed and above board at all times.
  • Never work for nothing. If you have a skill, don’t give it away for free.
  • Specialise. If you go down the big fish and PB route, you’ll be one of many. Do something original.
  • Be versatile. For most of us, the only way to make a reliable income is to juggle different roles and jobs.
  • Stay positive. Help others, serve the sport well and you will be helped in return.

Further Info:

You can read more on the highs and lows of a professional angler in Dom Garnett’s books and regular blog at www.dgfishing.co.uk

All images © Dominic Garnett.