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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84

Acclimatised Fish

Acclimatised Fish.

Salmo Salar.—We have as yet no report of the reappearance of salmon in any of our rivers, From time to time rumors have reached us of a fish supposed to be a salmon having been caught; but in no case have we been able to find our wish realised—that such rumor might be true. During the year, however, another important venture has been made towards the establishment of this fish in our waters. Towards the end of 1884 five of the New Zealand Acclimatisation Societies subscribed £250, and this amount was supplemented by the Government by another £250 for the purpose of endeavouring to procure a substantial supply of ova. With this end in view, Mr. Farr, Secretary of the North Canterbury Society, proceeded to England in October of that year. Notwithstanding the lateness of his arrival in England he was successful in procuring about 180,000 eggs. These were packed under Mr. Farr's supervision, and brought out under his personal care in the s.s. " Kaikoura," which arrived here in May, 1885. The following extract from our minutes details the arrival at Dunedin and subsequent bestowal in the Opoho hatching boxes of our portion of this shipment:-" Our box of salmon ova page 7 part of the shipment brought from London in the s.s. " Kaikoura " by Mr. Farr, reached Dunedin by railway from Christchurch on Tuesday night, May 5. Mr. H. Edwards had charge from Christchurch to Oamaru, and Captain Fullarton from Oamaru to Dunedin. Our Chairman. Secretary (Mr. Arthur), and Manager, received the box at the Dunedin railway station, and after seeing that the ova was all right, and had a good supply of ice (the night also being cold), it was deemed best, owing to the darkness, to leave the box in the truck all night. Next morning the box was taken carefully to Opoho, the padlock unlocked, and the trays of ova, which still had an abundance of ice about them, were carefully carried to the old hatching house. The ova were found to be in excellent condition, and looked very healthy, not many bad eggs being present. The Secretary (Mr. Arthur), the Manager, and Mr. Black transferred the eggs to the hatching boxes, about half being laid on glass grills, and the rest on a clean layer of gravel specially prepared. The temperature of the water flowing through the hatching-boxes was 46½ deg, F. On may 7 Mr. Deans reported having counted the ova, and found 3,930 good and 1,171 bad, making a total of 5,101 as our proportion of 180,000 salmon ova reported by Mr. Farr, on February 25, as got by him out of the Tweed. There being five contributing societies, our proportion should have been much larger. So the Secretary wrote to the Christchurch Society, and got a reply from Mr. Farr. This letter states that each box contained when originally packed in the ice-chamber 27,600 ova, and gives the number of bad eggs removed from each during the voyage. Thus our box contained originally 27,648. where of 6,055 died on the voyage, leaving 21,593 good ova in the trays when they left Christchurch for Dunedin." The discrepancy between the number we should have received and the number actually received has never been accounted for and still remains a mystery. Of the 3,930 good eggs reported by Mr. Deans on May 7. nearly all hatched out into strong lively try. In June the Christchurch Society, seeing our disappointment at the small number of ova actually received by us, presented us with 2,500 of the fry which they had hatched out. These reached us safely, but on transportation to our boxes at Opoho, a most alarming mortality prevailed amongst them, probably owing to the quality of our water differing from that in which they had been hatched, and the greater namber of them died. On December 31 we had, altogether, 3,900 healthy try at the ponds, which, with 50 which we had sent to Mr. Pillans, made a total of 3,950 young fish as the result of the " Kaikoura " shipment

As the experiments of Sir James Maitland, at Howietown, and the investigations of Dr. Francis Day appear to point conclusively to the fact that the Salmo salar will breed in confine- page 8 ment—that it is not a physiological necessity that the fish should go to the sea to qualify them for reproduction—we propose keeping a limited number of these in confinement at our ponds in Marshall's Creek. If we succeed in hatching out healthy fry from the ova of these confined parents, the stocking of our waters will be a mere matter of time. With regard to the larger number, however, it is proposed to retain them only until they assume their smolt livery and show signs of desiring to escape to salt water, and then to liberate them under conditions favourable to their reaching the sea. It is thought that if this is done the fish will have a much better chance of escaping their natural enemies, and surviving to return as grilse, than if they were turned into the river while of small size and in the parr state of existence.

Loch Leven Trout.—Of Loch Leven trout on December 31, 1884, we had in our ponds 1,100 healthy yearlings. During the year we have distributed 800, the principal portion going to the Waikawa River. This river was fixed on as there were no trout of any kind in it, and we desired, if possible, to have at least one place where we could be certain of the purity of the stock being maintained. On the 16th June Ranger Burt started with 400 Loch Leven trout from fourteen to sixteen months old to be put in the upper waters of this river near Fortification Station. Owing to the absence of roads during the latter part of the journey, it was late the following night before Mr. Burt, accompanied by Mr. Elliot, reached the homstead. Up to this time only one trout had died. Owing, however, to the absence of any one at the station who in the dark could show the way to the Marinui branch of the Waikawa, and as the fish were getting sickly, it was found necessary to make search for the stream by the aid of a single buggy lamp. This involved so much difficult travelling and the loss Of so much time that 100 trout were lost ere the stream was reached. The balance, about 300 fish, of from three to four inches long, were then all put in. During the recent hot weather three or four of the fish in the Opoho ponds died. Two males, seven and eight inches long repectively were opened by Mr. Deans in the presence of Mr. P. F. Stoddart and the Secretary, and were found to contain milt in a forward state of development. On December 31, 1885, we had 300 fish in the ponds. We propose retaining about fifty of these at Opoho, and sending the rest to the ponds at Marshall's Creek, where, in the spawning season, we confidently expect to get a good supply of ova from them, as by that time many of the fish should be well over a pound in weight.

Salmo Fontinalis.—In September last the Christchurch Society were good enough to present us with 400 young fry of page 9 this hand some Charr (Salmo fontinalis). Ranger Burt brought them down, and arrived at Dunedin Railway Station without the loss of one. On being transferred to the boxes at Opoho a similar mortality to that which had taken place among the salmon set in amongst them—and after two days there were only about twenty left alive, but these are now thriving well. Previously to this we had got fifty fontinalis from Mr. Johnson, of Opawa, in exchange for some Burn trout, and we are pleased to say that these are thriving remarkably well, and in another year they will probably become parent fish.

Burn Trout.—In the belief that the common Scotch burn trout might prove more suitable to some of our streams than the larger variety we already have, we got from Sir James Maitland's Hamilton ponds a box of ova containing about 15,000. These arrived in Wellington on the 20th January, having been brought out under the care of Engineer Purvis, of the s.s. " Ionic." On their arrival in Dunedin they were immediately taken to our hatching boxes, but we regret to say we have not been so successful with them as we could have desired; 1,700 fry were hatched out, but on 31st December we had only 400 left. These, with fifty sent to Mr. Pillans and forty to Mr. Johnson, making in all 490, are all that survived. The principal loss occurred through deficiency in the water supply during the very dry summer. Those we have left are, however, vigorous and healthy, and are sufficient to form a good parent stock, and in the course of a few years we hope to turn out thousands of this game and lively fish into the various streams suitable for their reception.

Brown Trout.—The past year has been one of the most successful we have yet had with our brown trout. During the spawning season Mr. Deans succeeded in collecting, from various streams, about 340,000 ova. This is the largest number yet collected in any one season, and necessitated the making of an additional 90ft of hatching boxes. Of these ova 82,000 have been sent away, chiefly to the Acclimatisation Societies in the North Island. In all cases the shipments reached their destination in the usual satisfactory condition. Mr. Deans has now had so much experience, and exercises so much care in packing, that this satisfactory result is a matter taken for granted. We hatched out about 250,000 fry, of which about 190,000 have been distributed up to the 31st December, and 98,000 are still at the pond awaiting distribution. In addition to those distributed from the Opoho ponds, Mr. Pillans, from his hatchery, liberated 1,000 young trout in the Wash Creek, Clyde vale, near its confluence with the Pomahaka; and 800 in the Kaihiku, below the fall. The additional accommodation we shall now have at Marshall's Creek will put us in a position to supply an almost unlimited demand for ova, as well as to provide most liberally for the requirements of our own streams.

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The fishing season opened as usual on the 1st October, and the fish in the majority of the rivers were in very fair condition and more numerous than in any previous year. The Southern rivers appear still to bear the palm in the production of trout of beautiful shape and fine flavour; the Waipahi, above Arthurton, being, perhaps, in this respect unequalled. During the early part of the season the fishing in all the rivers was exceptionally good, but later the dryness of the season reduced the chances of sport very materially. Many of the smaller streams suffered severely from the drought, and reports reached us of great numbers of trout dying for want of sufficient water. This state of things was also very favourable for the operations of poachers, and we regret to say that poaching is being carried on to a large extent. The Society is desirous, and, indeed, has the right to expect that all anglers and others interested in the stocking of our waters should give their hearty co-operation towards checking the destruction of trout by poachers. It might be well if it were more generally understood that taking fish by illegal means is punishable by a fine which may be as high as £50. Several of the persons indulging in these illegal practices have received a salutary lesson through the watchfulness of our officers, especially of Ranger Burt.

As evidence of the continued success of fish culture in Otago waters, the following, among many other good baskets made during the season, may be worthy of mention:—

In March, last season, Mr. Burt had some capital fishing in the Poma-haka with natural minnow. On the 23rd he killed four fish, weighing 16lb; on the 24th, seven fish, weighing 33lb; on the 26th six fish, weighing 25½lb; on the 30th, eleven fish, weighing 48¾lb; and on the 31st, four fish, weighing 161b.

On the opening day of the current season a number of good baskets were made in the Shag River. Mr. P. Snowden had twenty fish, weighing 221b; Mr. W. Aitken, twentv fish, weighing 20lb; Mr. R. Chisholm. fourteen fish, weighine 16½lb; Mr. W. Carlton eight fish, weighing 12½lb; Mr. J. Wilkie, twenty fish" weighing 301b. On the 2nd Mr. W. Aitken had twenty fish, weighing 25lb; Mr. R. Chisholm. twenty-three fish, weighing 24lb; Mr. Snowden, twenty-two fish, weighing 20½lb: Mr. Wilkie. seventeen fish, weighing 21½lb. In the same river Mr. G. M. Marshall had, on October 8, 9 and 10, fourty-four fish. weighing 58½lb.

On November 11, Mr. J. P. Maitland, in the Waipahi, killed nine fish. weighing 34lb.

On December 8, in the same river, Mr. W. D. Smith killed six fish, 16½lb; Mr. R. Chisholm five fish, 15¼lb; and Mr. W. Carlton, four fish, 10¾lb. On December 7, Mr. W. Carlton, in the same river, killed seven fish weighing 30¼lb, the heaviest being 7¼lb; and Mr. W. You will got four fish, weighing 18lb.

Many other good baskets were made during the season, but these are sufficient to show the capabilities of our waters.