Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saving trout in Switzerland

I was invited by a local fishing club to help save trout Swiss-style. It was an interesting and fun exercise in stocking trout, with kids invited along for the fun and education.

We went first to the St. Prex fish farm where the St. Prex fishing club raises lake trout and brown trout for planting in local streams. The trout are raised and planted by volunteers, with the supervision of the gardes-peche (fish guards). The operation was not totally streamlined, there was the typical Swiss concern for doing things "properly."

Our group collected 4000 fingerling (7-10 cm) trout and off we went with the trout in the back of the car, bubbling with oxygen and chilled. We were headed for the best stream in Gland, the Promenthouse, home of the Societe de pĂȘche la Promenthouse, near the site of the medieval village of the same name that once had 500 people but was wiped out by the plague and never repopulated. It's a pretty little stream, but a western US eye says the watershed could use a bit of restoration and fencing to keep the cows out of the streams.

We divided the fish into buckets, carried them down to the stream, and placed them in small groups in fishy-looking places. The kids were absolutely overjoyed, and we definitely saw some kids upping their interest in fish, streams, etc.

The Lake Geneva brown trout was mentioned by Izaak Walton in The Compleat Angler, and human involvement with this stock of fish goes w-a-a-a-y back. Switzerland is an intensively used landscape, with people and farms just about everywhere they can be. And the trout are still here, so let's not ask too many questions about how and why.


Gail "Kayak Sue" Burek said...

I just love the way it was designed to include the whole family...this is how we get the next generation interested in helping the environment!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful thing for children to experience; releasing fish into the wild.

But are they then going to teach the very same children to catch and kill those fish for recreation?

I would hope not..

Mark Powell said...

This is a fishing club, but they spend lots of time saving fish as well as catching them. The children seem to have more interest in looking than catching, at least at their current ages.

The people in these types of clubs are truly friends of fish, even with their preference of fishing for fun. They spend more time protecting streams than most enviros.