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Cormorant vs. Sea trout?


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Ronan's report

Wednesday 24 April, 2013

During the past 2 weeks I fished along the south coast of Sweden for Sea trout. 20 years ago I fished that coast for the first time and simply was in love with it ever since. Very characteristical were the many small streams entering the Baltic sea in that area all offering a great stock of good sized Sea (running Brown) trout. It always was amazing to see all the fresh Sea trout entering those small streams between October and December for spawning and then after spawning going back to the ocean between January and April within the new year. On my trips I have shown those Sea trouts to many of my students. We were watching the spawning holes and the Sea trouts before and after spawning.

During the past 4 years we now have been focused a dramatic change! The stock of Sea trouts suddenly started to decrease significally. Fishing in April one usually would catch 90% Sea trout after spawning (colored ones) and 10% of Sea trout not having been in their streams during the last winter and instead staying in the ocean for further feeding (fat and silver ones). We almost never caught any small Sea trouts (below 45cm), because the high number of good sized Sea trout (55-85cm, avg. of 65-70cm) AFTER spawning used to push the smaller ones further out from the shallow coastal waters. Now since the Sea trouts after spawning are almost completely gone, we indeed catch smaller ones in the 35-45cm range.

Now you may think the stock changes by different natural influences from year to year and I agree. We always had some variations in numbers.

But it happened for the last two years now, that I could not find a single Sea trout after spawning in quite some of the smaller streams. Also I only found very few small fish (being born the year before). And then the spawning holes are not as much as they were, too. I found one this year though. The net fishermen stopped fishing for Sea trout by themthelves last year, because they almost did not catch any Sea trout at all along the coast. This year they officially were no longer allowed to put out their nets anyway. We coastal anglers almost don't catch a single Sea trout after spawning anymore. 10 years ago it was normal to have seen 250 of them being caught within 2 weeks (mostly by spin fishermen). This year I did not see a single spin fisherman (out of 70-80 I saw) catching any Sea trout at all.

All this of course leads to one question: Where are all the Sea trouts gone - especially those having spawned!?

One thing immediately comes to my mind: I never saw as many cormorants as I did during the past 5 years. The coast line simply is overloaded with that bird! And then we had strong winters in which a small stream might be the last change for them to have easy feeding - especially since those small streams offer perfect hunting conditions for them. Having thought that I had a look around the small streams and indeed found cormorants consistantly (during quite some days) sitting above a small stream. Since there are only Sea trout in that river, I have no doubt about them hunting exactly the Sea trout.

Also the Danish Sea trout experts have marked some Sea trouts in their streams and had to find the marks leaving the streams no longer in the water but travelling on an aerialized path back to the ocean instead.

Right now the cormoran is mostly 100% protected and is not allowed to be shot at all. That is the reason why the stock of that black bird has exploded after having reestablished them ca. 15 years ago (they have been killed a lot during the first and second world war and afterwards).

After all me and my students were lucky to catch a few Sea trouts this year again. But it was nothing similuar as it was 20, 10 or just 5 years ago. I really hope we Swedish, German, Danish and simply all anglers will unite to make it clear to the politics that the stock of cormorants has become that huge that many fish farms get in huge trouble as well as natural stocks of graylings, other fish and now even Sea trout do get in.

Here an online petition can be found. On the top right side you may click: "Sprache auswählen" (choose language). It's really time for a significant change in the politics around the stock management of cormorants. YOUR help is much appreciated!

Hopefully one day I will return to the Swedish coast. Next year I now will have to change my destiny!

All my best


p.s.: A good question for a further board discussion might be about the max size (of fish) a cormorant can a) kill and b) eat!?

Pic Of Day



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