Fully recovered and swimming away
For the 2018 season the club rules were altered to allow optional catch and release at Little Bognor as a trial. Barbless or de-barbed hooks were made mandatory and wild brown trout had to be returned.
The two lakes at Little Bognor are well suited to catch and release as they are spring fed and therefore cool throughout the summer. The optional catch and release experiment was very popular. The number of visits to the lakes nearly doubled, the number of fish caught more than trebled to a nine year record and the number of fish stocked was slightly less than 2017. At the start of the season Little Bognor was a popular alternative with members who fish the river.
Throughout the season members were positive about catch and release. Many asked if it would be continued and if it could be extended to the other lakes in 2019. Occasionally the fish became difficult to catch but regular stocking ensured that there were always fresh fish available. Therefore, the Committee have agreed that catch and release at Little Bognor will continue but that it could be suspended if there are fish deaths due to high water temperature.
Barbless flies available at Great Springs
None of the rainbow lakes are spring fed to the same extent as Little Bognor. Water temperature at the bottom of Great Springs reached 25 degrees at the height of last summer. Catch and release throughout the season is therefore not an option on the rainbow lakes. The Committee have agreed that, on a trial basis, catch and release will be permitted for part of the season. Allowing catch and release for the first two months of the season (Sunday March 17 to 17 May 2019) on the rainbow lakes should avoid problems with high water temperatures and will prevent the trout from becoming difficult to catch later in the season.
The Committee have also agreed to allow catch and release on the rainbow lakes at the end of the season if the conditions are right. Extending catch and release to the rainbow lakes might be stopped if the water temperature gets too high prior to 17 May. The catch and release rules for the rainbow lakes will be the same as Little Bognor. The flies on sale at Great Springs will be barbless. If members do not intend to release any trout, barbed hooks may be used.
There will be no changes to the rules for the river.
After hooking a trout play it out quickly and use a landing net with a fine knotless mesh. If possible do not touch the fish, barbless hooks normally drop out once the line is slack. If you must handle the fish, use wet hands. Release it from the landing net. That will enable you to nurse the fish until it can maintain an upright position and swim out of the net unaided. It might take a few minutes for the fish to fully recover.
If you release a trout from your hands before it’s fully recovered, it may sink to the bottom of the lake and die. If the fish is bleeding it should not be returned. If you are in doubt don’t return the trout. It is a good idea to use a pan shaped net to give the fish room to recover. A long handle enables safe netting and release.