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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer



Fish stocks in Cumbrian rivers are set for a boost following a joint initiative between the Environment Agency and United Utilities. Efforts to encourage the spawning of salmon and trout into two major spawning tributaries, St John's Beck on the River Derwent and the River Lowther - a tributary of the River Eden - already appear to be reaping rewards.

By releasing additional water from reservoirs on the rivers, small artificial floods called freshets have been created. When timed to coincide with periods of rainfall these freshets provide a stimulus to encourage fish to move into tributary streams.

Agency Fisheries Officer Denis McCartan said: "Within 24 hours of the flow increasing in St John's Beck considerable numbers of salmon and trout had moved up into this important area in advance of spawning."

United Utilities' Water Resources Manager John Sanders said: "We have been working with the Environment Agency over the last 10 years to help improve river flows for salmon and trout in Cumbria. It's all about balancing vital water supplies with the needs of fish and the environment, and we are delighted that our joint action is generating such encouraging results."

The release of a freshet in the River Lowther appears to have been equally effective with numerous salmon along with salmon and trout redds having been seen by Agency fisheries officers in the days following water release.

The numbers of adult salmon returning to several Cumbrian rivers increased during 2004 as river flows remained reasonably high throughout the year. However, mild temperatures and lower flows in early November discouraged salmon, brown trout and sea trout from entering many spawning tributaries.

Both the rivers Derwent and Eden are being monitored to assess the success of the scheme but early indications are that both freshets have been effective in encouraging these species to move into, and hopefully spawn, in these important tributaries.

Martin James Fishing