After last weeks battering, this week has mostly been about chopping up fallen trees. The wood shed is already full up for next year, so it is a matter of hauling the trees out of the river, burning the small branches, cutting the bigger bits into four foot lengths and stacking them where they lay, to be picked up at a later, drier, date. With one eye on the impending fishing season, I have to be wary of where I take the pick-up. The river is high after all the rain; the meadows boggy and any damage inflicted now by the pick-up may not be healed in time for the fishing season. With Friday a bank holiday, every day of this four day week has been spent chopping up fallen trees, hard physical work and with me turning forty last weekend, I am feeling it at the moment.
The fish in the hatchery are growing quickly now, gobbling up any food you throw them they will soon be ready to go outside to the next pond. The next pond outside is a small concrete raceway, a narrow channel with block work sides that has river water rattling through it. Because the pond is run on river water the water must be sufficiently clear so as not to induce gill problems in the fry. Raised on spring water, the fry are used to incredibly clean and clear water at a constant temperature. High suspended solids in coloured river water can irritate the fish’s gills causing excessive mucus to develop on the gill filaments. This reduces their efficiency and subsequently affects the fish’s general health and resistance to other infections. On river water the fish are exposed to fish parasites and bacteria present in the native fish population, the better the general health of the newly introduced fish the better chance they have of resisting these threats. Too big a difference in the temperature of the spring water on which they were raised and the temperature of the river water in which they are to be introduced can have a similar effect on general health and a fish’s ability to cope with the rigours of life in the river.