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The Rearing Of The Rainbow Trout American Brook Trout And Char

As the methods used in hatching out the ova and rearing the young fish

are very similar in the case of different species of trout to those I

have already described in dealing with the common trout (_Salmo fario_),

I will confine myself to pointing out the most marked differences in the

habits of such species as are suitable to our waters, and which are

likely to be of use to the fish culturist. The salmon- or sea-trout will
r /> be dealt with under salmon.

First and foremost among the trout, excluding of course our own brown

trout, I put the rainbow trout (_Salmo irideus_). There are several

varieties of this species, but that which is now being so freely

introduced into many waters in England is the McCloud River rainbow (_S.

irideus_, var. _shasta_). As I have before stated, the rainbow spawns

long after the _S. fario_. It therefore will give the fly-fishermen good

sport after the season for the common trout is over. It is a very free

feeder, and grows more rapidly than our trout; great care must therefore

be taken to give it plenty of food. I would draw my readers' attention

particularly to this fact as to the feeding and quick-growing qualities

of the rainbow, for they make it, if possible, even more necessary that

the water into which they are turned should contain a good supply of

food than it was in the case of the common trout; though even in the

case of the common trout, this is quite the most important consideration

in stocking a water with fish.

Another advantage possessed by the rainbow is, that it is less liable to

the attacks of fungus than any other of the _Salmonidae_. Though, of

course, this is not such an important consideration nowadays as it would

have been even a few years ago, still it is one which deserves some

consideration, particularly from the amateur. This freedom from fungus

is very marked in the rainbow, for I know of a case where some dace

suffering from fungus were put into a rearing pond containing a few

rainbows. Though the dace died of the disease, the rainbows remained

healthy and free from it. The amateur will probably receive the ova of

the rainbow towards the end of April or during May. The ova should hatch

out within a few days of their being received.

A few years, I might almost say months ago, the great majority of

disinterested persons, whose opinion was of any consequence, were

inclined to condemn the general introduction of this fish into our

waters. I was, unfortunately, supposed to be among a certain class of

people who advocated the general introduction of this fish into all our

waters indiscriminately. This, I have always said, was a very

short-sighted policy, for, to begin with, the evidence at our disposal

seems to show that the rainbow will never thrive in cold waters, and at

the best can only be expected to really thrive and spawn in the warm

waters in the south of England. I never advocated more for the rainbow

than that it should have a fair trial in waters where our own trout had

been tried and found not to be a success. Now, however, I in my turn

stand a chance of being converted by converts from among the very people

who, a short time ago, were condemning me for holding too favourable an

opinion of the fish in question. I am inclined to think that in the

case of a pond in the south, even when it is supplied by a good stream,

the rainbow is the better fish with which to stock. I have been led to

believe this, partly through my own experience, and partly on account of

the opinion of Mr. Senior, for I consider his opinion on such a matter

of the greatest possible value.

Another point about the rainbow, which in many cases will recommend it

particularly to the amateur, is that though of course an abundant supply

of water is an advantage, it may be reared with a smaller supply.

A fish which has been very freely introduced into British waters is the

American brook-trout (_Salvelinus fontinalis_). Though this fish is not

really a trout but a char I have included it among trout, because it is

so very generally known to fishermen as the American brook-trout. The

_fontinalis_, as it is commonly called by fish culturists, is a very

satisfactory fish to rear artificially, but there seems to be some doubt

as to its suitability to British waters. It grows to a considerable size

under favourable conditions, and is one of the best of table fishes. It

is, however, undoubtedly one of the worst of cannibals among sporting

fishes, and does not apparently rise freely to the fly when about two

years old and older.

The spawning season is extended over an even longer period than that of

our own brown trout, beginning, in its native country, in October, and

sometimes lasting till March. It shows a very marked tendency, at any

rate in America, to go down to the sea, and in some parts of Canada is

called a sea-trout. The fish are easy to rear, but I should recommend

great caution with regard to their introduction into any waters in

England. The remarks and instructions which I gave with regard to the

common trout, apply also to the _fontinalis_, but I would lay particular

stress upon the necessity of separating the fish, as soon as some grow

larger than the rest. The only drawback to this fish, from the fish

culturist's point of view, is that though a very free feeder, it is very

dainty, sometimes refusing a particular kind of food for no apparent

reason. As the spawning season is extended over such a considerable

period of time, it is obvious that the amateur will be able to obtain

the ova, ready to hatch out, during a similarly lengthy period.

A fish which I should very much like to see tried in England, is the

cut-throat trout (_Salmo mykiss_). It is also known as the red-throat

trout. I should think, from the description given in the report of the

Commission of Fisheries, Game, and Forests for the State of New York,

that it would do well in many of our waters. There are many varieties of

this species of trout. The common name of them all is _Salmo mykiss_,

the black-spotted trout of the Rocky Mountains. The cut-throat trout

proper, so called from the red colour of its throat, is simply S.

mykiss, but there are many varieties described. Among these are the

Columbia River trout (_S. mykiss_, var. _clarkii_), the Lake Tahoe trout

(_S. mykiss_, var. _henshawi_), the Rio Grande trout (_S. mykiss_, var.

_spilurus_), and the Colorado River trout (_S. mykiss_, var.

_pleuriticus_). As these names show, the black-spotted trout has a very

wide range and is found in what are totally different climates. I should

very much like to see the cut-throat and the Columbia River varieties

tried in our waters, particularly the former, as they would probably

succeed in waters which are too cold for the rainbow, and might very

likely thrive where our own trout (_S. fario_) is not a success. As it

is found in climates which vary so much as do Alaska and California, it

would probably be easy to find one variety, if not two or three, which

would thrive in England. It is a particularly fine trout, and the

ordinary maximum weight is five or six pounds, though some of the

varieties grow much larger.

Char, proper, are not at all satisfactory fish to rear. They are very

delicate, and require much more care and attention than do any of the

fish I have already described. From the very first period of their

coming under the care of the amateur fish culturist, that is to say,

from the ova, just before hatching out, till they are yearlings, the

mortality among them will be much greater than in the case of any of the


The two kinds of char, most commonly to be obtained by the amateur, are

the Alpine and the Windermere char. The ova of these fish will be

received shortly before they are ready to hatch out, as was the case

with the trout ova. The amateur's difficulties will, however, begin

almost at once, for in the act of hatching out considerable mortality

among the char often occurs. Trout almost invariably emerge from the egg

tail first. As soon as the tail is free the little fish begins to move

it rapidly, using it as a propeller with which to swim about and thus

soon works completely out of the egg. Occasionally, however, trout

hatch out head first, and in these cases the young fish generally dies

before it can set itself free from the coverings of the ovum. Buckland

observed that the alevins of the char very frequently hatch out head

first, and consequently that many of them die before they can work

themselves free from the eggs. If it were possible to have some one

constantly watching the ova at the time that they are hatching out, it

would be possible to save a very large proportion of them, as they may

be very effectually helped out of the egg with a feather or soft

camel's-hair brush; but this is, of course, quite impracticable, unless

there is some one constantly watching the ova, as the delay of even a

few minutes will mean the death of the fish. This peculiarity in the

hatching out of the char has also been observed by Mr. J. J. Armistead,

and I have been able to verify it personally.

The mortality which occurs in the actual hatching out of the alevins

does not, however, by any means end the trouble which the fish culturist

has to encounter in the rearing of char. They require much more

persuasion and care when they begin to feed and throughout the whole of

the summer. The percentage of deaths is always greater than in the case

of the trouts, not excluding the _fontinalis_, which is, as I have

already explained, not really a trout but a char.

Though there must be some doubt as to its success, I should like to see

a really serious attempt at introducing char into some deep and large

ponds in the south of England. Char have been very successfully reared

in shallow water, which was certainly not kept at a particularly low

temperature, so I see no reason why this fish should not do in some of

our more southern waters. One drawback to the chance of this attempt

being made, however, is that the char cannot be considered as being a

fish which gives very good sport, and I very much doubt whether any one

is likely to try the experiment simply to find out whether they would or

would not succeed in the south of England.