The following is an excerpt from the fly fishing ezine Eat Sleep Fish, written by a river keeper of longstanding. Click here to read the full (and very interesting) article.
I am not sure that I totally agree that the final hurdle is the paying rods. I think that they are certainly part of the problem, on the other side of the equation I think that we have to consider those that ‘own’ the fishing – the riparian owners. When you look at the prices that some of these beats are able to charge then I can quite readily understand why it looks attractive to plonk in a few monsters. I must stress that in this instance understanding does not equate to acceptance. To be frank I would have no compunction about banning stocking and would far rather see fishery owners invest in habitat to support the wild fish that make up the fishing rather than relying on stock fish. But in my utopian ideal the riparian owners will still be wanting to ‘sweat’ their assets and I readily agree with the article that not all fishermen many people will pay prices such as these to fish for wild chalkstream trout in the typical 10 – 15” range....
Perhaps this is little more than semantics. I am in broad agreement but wonder how we can realistically get to a situation where these rivers are managed for the benefit of the inhabitants rather than for the humans that stalk them. Given that it seems to have been almost a gazillion years in 'consultation' to get to the point where only triploid trout can now be stocked I doubt that we will ever get to the point of no stocking. Combine this with the evidence above that these stocked trout clearly support some very substantial cashflows and I become even more sceptical.
Fortunately the evidence is that there are now more enlightened keepers and more and more clubs and syndicates are managing their fishing in a more holistic manner. Perhaps the most likely outcome is a kind of cultural osmosis where these practices spread up and down the rivers, streams, bournes and rivulets. Of course there will be outliers, remnants of the old days left behind, but through time and as enlightenment spreads they will become increasingly scarce.