Mink raid trout stocks.

October 2, 2014 at 9:02 pm

There were only days left of the 2014 trout fishing season and decided on a last visit to my syndicate’s Hampshire chalkstream, hoping that recent much needed rain, would liven up the wild brown trout population enough to provide a few hours sport.

The deeper pools, once offering rewarding fishing, now appear devoid of trout and I made my way to faster water, where experience told me I should find some feeding trout. The rain had brought a riffle to the surface and I worked a small gold head nymph among the pockets formed among the gravel runs. The leader straightened long enough for quick upward lift of the rod and I was playing a hard fighting six ounce brown that zig zagged upstream, before dropping back into the net.

As the trout had flashed from side to side, I’d seen marks on both it’s flanks, but was sickened when I saw the V shape of a mink’s teeth had almost severed the brown’s tail and wondered how the fish had managed to escape from such a firm grip. Escape it had and I did my best to release the wildie with the minimum of fuss, holding it facing upstream, before the trout darted from my grip against the flow to disappear among the gravel. I’ve had many coarse fish escape the jaws of pike and survive, the pike’s teeth being like tiny razors, while the mink have larger crushing teeth, which in this case had caused severe damage.

We have two mink traps and several crayfish nets on this part of the river, all of which have taken their toll on the amphibious predators, but they are still out there feeding their young on anything they can get their teeth into, be it covered in fur, feather, or scales. For me, the absence of fish in the deeper pools is down to these mink having room to maneuver, while in the shallower runs, the odds are more in favour of the trout. The Animal Rights movement, that released thousands of mink from farms decades ago, have to be condemned for their efforts, which has resulted in some small rivers being stripped of wildlife.

Ten yards upstream the rod bent over again and another wild brown trout was splashing towards the net, this one being fin perfect and unmarked, lifting my mood to a more optimistic level.

This plump brownie turned out to be my last trout of the season, one that had started with much optimism, despite the failure of the Hawthorns to appear, the Mayfly had made up for this with many better size browns coming out to feed. How the mink problem can be countered I do not know and if the river is restocked, will we be giving these voracious animals reason to stick around.