Grayling stocked into the Clyde 1858
The following article first appeared in “The Field- Country Gentleman’s Newspaper” dated 27 November 1858. It refers to the introduction of Grayling into the River Clyde at Abington.
THE GRAYLING IN SCOTLAND
Sir – The experiment for the introduction of the grayling into Scotland having now reached another stage of progress, and the last that can be decidedly marked for a very considerable time, I beg once more for a little space in your crowded columns to let your Scottish readers know how the matter now stands.
On Friday, the 12th inst., a large party of the West of Scotland Angling Club proceeded to Abington, to witness the running of the grayling pond, and to commit the young fish to the river, where they have to find their future home.
The period was selected as most suitable, when the trout, being in spawning condition, would be less able to molest he strangers, or, indeed, would be mostly absent an their annual visit to the lonely glens and little runlets far up in the boson of the hills, where they themselves had, probably, first seem the light.
Our anticipations of the number of fish remaining in the pond were somewhat chequered. On the one hand, undoubtedly a large number were hatched in the spring of 1857, and swarmed in the pond that summer, arid even in the spring of 1858 the number appeared very considerable; but, on the other hand, during the summer just past, our zinc enclosures have been several time broken, and there was reason to fear that either mischief or malice was at work against us. Some Impatient spirits among the local anglers perhaps wanted the fish into the river for their immediate sport; or an idea got abroad among the natives that it was intended to convey most of the pond fish away to colonise other streams. And so they laudably set about secretly frustrating such a plan. Be the reason what it may, the facts remain that our sluices were broken more than once, that a most unexpected number of young grayling were caught in the river, and that there was small appearance of many remaining in the pond. This was borne out by the result, though not quite to the extent that was apprehended.
From the unevenness of bottom and quantity of weed, it was not easy to run off all the water, or to capture all the fish, and some few may have escaped, but what we caught numbered 160 beautiful young fish, in high condition.
Were this the total result of our two years’ trial, we could not feel much encouraged by it; but viewed in connection with the fact that the river contains so many which we cannot doubt have escaped from the pond, we look upon the result as an entire success, and believe that we now have in Clyde a stock of grayling which places their extinction almost beyond risk. We have, however, additionally guarded against that by retaining a breeding stock in our pond, and by placing a few dozens in one of the Renfrewshire streams, which has been cleared of all other fish, and where the colonists will be protected and fostered.
We have also forwarded a few to the vicinity of one of the upper Tay streams; and if that small stock is successful, a whole system of streams, including the noble Tay, is likely to be stocked from it.
The remainder of our fish we carried away up the valley to the sequestered waters of the Darr, where, in the long stretches and still deeps, we hope they will grow and multiply, and, after a few years, send down an annual shoal to people the waters of our favourite Clyde.
We cannot, however, blind ourselves to the fact that they have to run the gauntlet of many dangers. The deep pools of Clyde and Darr contain monster trout; and we had evidence that the spirit in which these aborigines will view the intruders is very much that in which a New Zealander used to look upon a white missionary.
In one place, where we had committed a small flock to the stream, while we watched them swimming along in a little cluster, suddenly a large trout rushed out from under the scooped-out bank, and was among them in an instant. We could not mark the result; but it looked rater ominous.
Another serious hazard is from the poaching fraternity, who, in their far upland solitudes, practice “burning the water” pretty extensively. The process is not exactly the same as leistering salmon, the leister or salmon spear being only suited to large fish. The performers use an iron bar, something like a blunt saber; they wade in , and as the fish flock they are struck across the back and killed – large and small being alike considered fair game.
I should mention that I measured a number of the grayling, and found them range from 7 to 9 inches, the majority seeming to be from 7 ¾ to 8 inches long. I carefully weighed one of 8 inches, and found it 2 ½ oz.
They are now just eighteen months old, for which Mr. Eyre’s table of growth gives 9 ¼ inches and 3 oz. Our fish are, therefore, in both respects, rather short of the standard; but, I think, not to an extent that throws any doubt on their thriving.
G. A. Glasgow, Nov. 15, 1858
Article Provided by Mr J. Quigley, Secretary UCAPA Ltd.