As I mentioned in the last email, I did a quick trip to Thrift Dam in the Eastern Cape to assist with catching and spawning of fish for Martin Davies' hatchery.
The trip was delayed a few days due to inclement weather (snow and 90km/h winds), and when we arrived there was still patches of snow around.
Nets were set out to catch trout, and after 2 days there were just under 300 fish in the nets. Despite those many fish in the nets, fish were still being caught on fly. Those netted were between 1 - 2 kg, with the biggest over 3kg.
Thrift fish are hard fighting, due to the effort put in by Martin to select fish for breeding with large powerful tails, and good looks to boot. He calls them the MTD strain, after his initials. Without a doubt these are the best angling trout in the country.
The nets also caught a number of chub-headed barbs, which thrive in the dam despite the 'invasive' trout. A lone platanna was also caught.
After clearing the nets and moving fish into large keep nets, the females are stripped after weighing and measuring, with the roe sorted into categories. Really special roe is kept aside for very special male milt.
Some suckers (Isaac, George and I) have to stay in the 3degC water and howling wind for most of the day, sorting the males from the females, tailing each fish and passing them to the bag man, who takes them to the scale.
After the hens are de-egged, the males are 'milked' or 'milted'
The best job (which went to JP Gous) was releasing the fish after their molestation.
Thereafter, the roe goes through some special processes after being fertilized, then packed for shipping to the hatchery.
At this stage it was 8:30 at night. My intention was to go along to the hatchery, but after being in the water for so long I was exhausted and cold, so bravely retreated to a warm bed.
With all the handling I was expecting a high mortality rate, with dead fish washed up on the shore the next morning, but their were none.
This was indeed, an experience in a lifetime.
One day perhaps, the CPS will get hold of some of these fry, so we can fish for fighting fish and not eating fish.
Also looking forward to joining the volunteers next year again.
A good male fish caught by Isaac. This is a typical MTD strain fish
A female with a Kamloops heritage, note the body shape
A large male on the table showing typical MTD strain features. Broad strong tail, lovely colouring, grey belly, white tips to pelvic and anal fins, and a gold top to dorsal fin.
The mornings started with -5degC temps, and ice around the edges of the dam. Water temp was 3degC
What your hands look like after a day of being in and out of the waterall day, handling fish. Cracked, bleeding, swollen and sore
What the whole process is for, getting those eggs out of the hen fish
Trout gold, ensuring the next generation
Fish Eggs and Ham, Sam I am.