Monday, 9 January 2012

Salmon in a Stewpond...

A 53lb monster from Palm Springs... dream or nightmare?
On picking up the latest copy of Total Flyfisher, I was surprised to see another article about stillwater salmon fishing at Palm Springs in Rutland... a subject which I’m pretty sure had been covered by a virtually identical at least once in the last year! Repetition in the fly fishing media, however prevalent it may be, isn’t the point of this post, though. The point is it actually got me thinking – how do I really feel about the idea of catching the king of fish from a tiny pond about an acre in size?
The first point that would spring to the mind of a lot of people is that it’s artificial sport with farmed fish – a contrived shell of traditional salmon fishing as we know it. But that said, many people including myself often indulge in fishing for stocked rainbows on waters of a similar size, which one could argue is no different. Plus, one can’t rationally be against it on the grounds of not agreeing with salmon farming practices (which by the way are despicable – why the Scottish government allow it I will never know) as these fish are farmed and grown on entirely in freshwater. However, although I accept that ethically there’s no massively different argument against Palm Springs, there’s something about it which to me seems distasteful. For a start, there is my original perception of the salmon – a wild, free fish with a spectacular lifecycle, the pursuit of which takes the angler to beautiful, clear fast flowing rivers. This is the polar opposite – a small bowl full of hemmed in fish (better than a farm cage I suppose) swimming round and round in circles endlessly until they get snagged on some gaudy lure. And then there’s fish themselves! Take the brute above for example, all 53lbs of it. It’s hard to even begin to believe that this is the same species as the silver bullets that grace our rivers, in fact it looks more like an enormous deformed spotty carp... whatever happened to natural selection eh. To some, the chance to hook such a monster is probably a dream come true... to me it’s the stuff of nightmares.
Some people might want to give this a go (it’s £120 a pop if you’re curious/insane) and wrestle with a big salmon – something indeed many might not have the opportunity to do in the traditional manner for one reason or another, and that’s their call. In fact I’m sure it’d be an enjoyable novelty for about an hour, but you can count me out!


  1. It's difficult to know what the hell is going to come next, I mean, is that a Salmon ???. If it brings people pleasure to catch farmed fish from a whole in the ground then fair enough, if it's not causing any risk to wild stocks the all the better.

    I have fished for stocked fish in the past and although I haven't for the last two years I will again at some point but this just doesn't look right somehow.

    A 53lb "Salmon" from a duck pond is like catching a pig from a sty surely. I'm firmly against stocking waters that have wild populations for the sake of profit (or for any reason) but dig a whole in the ground and fill it with water, as far as I'm concerned you can chuck whatever farm animals you want in it.

    The smile on that guys face you'd think he caught it from the tweed, I wonder how long before they start trying to claim records ;-)

    1. Hopefully the record business never happens... although I'm sure the farmers could find ways of growing them big enough! Give me a 5lb grilse from a river over one of those pellet pigs any day of the week. I reckon if the situation does arise where farmed fish of record sizes start cropping up they'll create a separate record for both farmed and wild fish, as they have with the brown trout.

    2. Please excuse me butting in here but frankly fish farming that takes marine protein from the sea and stocking with fish reared this way are both completely wrong. That's it!

      The side effects have been terrible and are going to get worse until someone blows the whistle on the whole foul practice.

      Regular Rod

    3. Regular Rod, I'd have to say you're dead right. West Coast salmon farming practices are one of the biggest environmental disasters of the 21st century - the fact that it is allowed to carry on is diabolical. Also the damage caused in producing the pellets to feed up trout in farms is inexcusable. However, it's a practice which isn't going to disappear any time soon, and one must remember that many people do not have the luxury of rivers and wild fishing in their vicinity!... so there will always be people willing to shell out to fish stocked waters.
      Being based both in Yorkshire and Cumbria, I'm not short on wild fishing, but I've fished for stockies before and can see why people want to do it. Hell, I've even spent time working on a trout farm... albeit one better managed than most.
      Trout farming is something people will have to live with (if you don't agree, don't fund the industry). Salmon farms on the other hand - fight them until the bitter end!

  2. I'm neither for or against the above, I have mates who have been down, this and last year, to fish palm springs over the new-year period.

    As you said above, one of my friends, his father used to fish for salmon, and now can't because of health issues etc.. it was nice for him to go and catch 'salmon' again. I think for disabled anglers, it could make dreams come true, another fish off their bucket list and so on...

    The fishing they experienced was good, not overly stocked and the fish were feeding (on what im not sure) - They certainly know what lures are!

    I don't think stocking them that size in such a small water is such a good idea (53lb) due to oxygen levels, It's tiny!

    I for one would never do it, but that's due to price, IF i had £120 doing nowt then maybe I would... jus tfor the experience.

    1. Catching a salmon from a stillwater will never amount to anything like the real thing, but in situations like that which you described above, where 'the real thing' is perhaps not achievable anymore, I guess it's a nice way to at least remember something of the experience and rekindle a wee bit of the magic.

      The size they're growing the fish up to seems to me to surpass the absurdity of the big rainbow fisheries like Felindre and Dever Springs! But then I suppose there's not a great deal of difference between the two concepts. Personally I'd find the whole thing less distasteful if they focused on producing fish in the 4-8lb class and tried to make them LOOK like salmon.