In the months since the flooding event, Loughs Agency has been conducting electrofishing, netting and rod based surveys as a method of recovering escaped rainbow trout and also to monitor their distribution and abundance. As part of this ongoing operation, today during a netting and electrofishing exercise at Sion Mills, the Agency recovered 263 rainbow trout.
Based on the information collected to date, Loughs Agency will continue to develop all possible methods for recovery of rainbow trout while conserving and protecting the native fish populations of the Foyle area.
April, May and June are significant periods during the lifecycle of native salmonid (Salmon and Trout) populations. Smolts descend our rivers at the start of their seaward migration. Any form of survey including rod fishing, netting and electrofishing has the potential to intercept large numbers of migrating salmonid smolts amongst other native fish species. After careful consideration it has been decided that no Loughs Agency targeted recovery effort will be undertaken during the smolt run.
The following methods may be utilised during 2018 to aid in the recovery of escaped rainbow trout and to monitor their distribution, abundance and condition.
- Loughs Agency rod based survey post, smolt run.
- Mid-June and September surveys.
- Monthly surveys in the 2018/19 closed season (Nov-Mar).
- Targeted netting operations, directed by the results of the distribution and abundance survey and suitable habitat types.
- Pending permissions, access/egress and suitable river conditions, sites such as Sion Mills lade and the Feddens will be targeted.
- Continuation of electrofishing trials – dependent upon river conditions.
The Agency appreciates the concerns of anglers and greatly values the efforts anglers have made in removing rainbow trout from the rivers. The Agency encourages anglers to continue with this and would ask that they report their catches to Loughs Agency. A reporting sheet is available from the Loughs Agency website. This sheet is only to be used for reporting on catches of rainbow trout in rivers within the Foyle system and excludes still water lakes. This information will be used to monitor how many fish have been removed, their size and location. Any rainbow trout which are over 30cm in length should be given to the Agency so that we can conduct further analysis. Please contact the Agency directly on 02871 342100 if you catch a fish of this size to arrange for collection.
Anglers are also asked not to discard rainbow trout on the river banks as this can lead to an increase in predator pressures. If there are disposal issues, Loughs Agency Fishery Officers will, if possible, collect fish that have been captured. Anglers are asked to contact the Agency directly on 02871 342100 to make arrangements.