It's a #ReddAlert

Neil Swift

In recent years we have seen a great increase in the numbers of fly anglers continuing to fish through the winter months, mostly targeting grayling and pike. Whilst this is good news for fisheries, for whom this provides a valuable income during, what are traditionally quiet months, it does mean that our rivers are seeing more and more pressure during the spawning season for trout and salmon.

The exact moment that trout and salmon choose to spawn is determined by decreasing daylight hours and falling temperatures. This means that spawning times will vary slightly from place to place and year to year, but in the UK this will usually be some point between October and January. On our southern chalk streams the peak of spawning activity generally seems to be around Christmas and into the new year. Spawning at this time means that newly hatched fry can take advantage of the better feeding opportunities that Spring brings with it, giving them the best chance of survival.

This means it is extremely important for anglers to be able to recognise, and avoid disturbing, areas where trout and salmon have spawned. Of course, it is not just wading fishermen who find themselves in rivers over the winter. Whilst it is certainly too cold for the vast majority of us to want to take a dip, your dog might think otherwise. Whether it is wading boots or paws, spawning grounds must be left undisturbed to ensure that trout and salmon eggs have the best chance of survival and we hope that this article helps you understand what to look out for.

What is a redd and what do they look like?

Put simply, a redd is a trout or salmon nest. They are created by the hen fish (the female), who turns on her side and uses her tail and body to create an oval shaped depression in gravel on the riverbed. This is where she will lay her eggs before the cock fish (the male) quickly moves in to fertilise them. Then the hen fish will once again use her tail to shift gravel, covering the eggs so they remain safely in the redd until they hatch.