Nov 01 2020

The Importance of Fishing

Published by at 10:35 am under Expeditions and Experiences

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The ecological information I am writing here is not necessarily true everywhere, but certainly true in this general area. If it does not apply to where you live, just see it as a different perspective. It might also not apply to every type of fish.

The brown trout (Salmo trutta) is the most common fish in this area of Norway. It is in virtually every lake. One could claim it is not natural in the normal sense, since the fish has been planted there in most of the lakes. However, the transplanting goes way back and some of the lakes might have been colonized by the aid of humans thousands ago.

Because it is not strictly natural as such, imbalances tend to occur. In former times we also had bears and otters which might have made a significant contribution to keeping the fish populations down. These days the main predators are fishing birds of various kinds. Although effective, they are not numerous enough (and probably will never be) to keep the population growth down. They also appear to be less attracted to lakes with low quality fish and tend to move in as the quality increases.

Because of lack of natural predation, the lakes tend to easily get overpopulated if left alone. This is not true of all types of lakes as there are many factors involved. Available spawning ground to the size of the lake being the most important one. During an overpopulation, quality will decrease. The fish will get skinnier, smaller and have a tendency towards getting more parasites.

When having fish as a staple, one does not want to eat low quality fish. The fat content is essential for not getting tired of them and also to get enough energy. Larger sized fish have a higher capacity for storing fat and although very small fish can be good for frying, you will generally want to have larger fish because of this reason.

In order to remedy overpopulation, we are keeping a constant, very high pressure on the good lakes and we try to reduce the fish population to below normal carrying capacity when restoring a lake to good condition. Such a high pressure on the fishing will allow the feed insects and crustations to recover and create better conditions for the fish. This can involve fishing thousands of fish and in large lakes it is an enormous job. The quality will often be so poor it is not worth keeping more than 10% for food during such stages.

You want to fish as much as possible on the smaller sizes of fish in lakes with high reproduction. The larger fish cannibalize the smaller and spawn at a slower rotation (like not every year). This will thus over time help the lake into a higher degree of self-maintainance. Some of the larger fish will however be so stunted that they are beyond recovery. These will gradually be taken out even in nets that are too small for them. But they can persist for a surprisingly long time.

The example below are lakes where Jon (jonsbushcraft) and I have been doing the majority of the fishing. The first years we threw away more than 50% of the fish. Now we are generally throwing away less than 10% and the quality is experiencing a major increase.

The statistics below are from when we started the project. We are not quite done for this year yet, but the majority of the catch has been made. Unfortunately we did not record the weight during the first years. However, we did for 2020, so I am including that to show that the average weight is still pretty small.

2016

3308 trout

2017

2532 trout

2018

1602 trout

2019

3581 trout

2020

1505 trout (193.63kg)

Regards
Torjus

Get my book "Traditional Trout Fishing: Fishing for Survival in the North (Volume 1)
".


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