Norway's June 2010. Exceptional quality fish but fewer of them!
Taking two of Norway’s best rivers as a guide it seems Norway’s downward spiral continues this June. The numbers are 10 -15% lower than last year which was an average year in its own right.
The quality of fish being caught is un-surpassed anywhere in the world (The Gaula June salmon average 17.5lb!) but the numbers are diminishing. Yet still the attitude is catch & keep rather than almost everywhere else in the Atlantic salmon world where catch & release is the norm. This in-river exploitation coupled with commercial netting exploitation is simply too much for the salmon stocks.
Since year 2000 Norway’s rod catches have simply got worse and worse. It has got so bad in places that 120 rivers are actually closed to fishing. Yet, those fishing the Gaula, Orkla and others are catching salmon of dream quality – with two massive 50lb fish landed from the Namsen this year too. When we see fish caught like this it is so easy to think that all is well. But the figures show very, very clearly that it is not.
So why are the Norwegian anglers (and visiting anglers) killing nearly all of the fish they catch despite the trend? We have no idea but it is flabbergasting! – and it will end in tears. Let’s do some simple sums: This June on the Gaula at least 1500 salmon have been killed by rods at an average size 17lbs. Say, half were hen fish carrying 400 eggs per pound. This means the Gaula anglers have removed a potential 5.1 million eggs from the system. Hello? – wake up people. Let’s hope they change their attitude before it is too late. Put it another way, buy off the remaining nets, practise catch & release and Norway would have both salmon and anglers flocking back to their rivers in greater and greater numbers!
Scotland has been through all of this pain in the late 80s and early 90s. The old guard were massively against catch & release but dwindling numbers made even them realise that you simply must safeguard the breeding stock of the future. Dead salmon don’t spawn.
Norway is the guardian of arguably the finest race of Atlantic salmon in the world. I really, truly, honestly wish these fish were in better hands.