The Global FlyFisher - A Good Place to go for Online Fly Fishing and Fly Tying
First published September 28th 2003 - More than 10 years ago
The end of the rainbow
In Denmark fishing for escaped sea farm rainbows is a welcome activity in more than one way. The sport is good and you help removing the fish from a nature where they do not belong.
But still we do have them, and still a cage occasionally does break open and thousands of fish escape. And when that happens it is time to grab the rod and hit the coast!
The rainbows are unnatural in many respects. Being a non-indigenous species it has no real place in the eco system other than the one already taken by mainly sea trout, which are mostly wild fish.
Also these fish are behavioural retards, so to speak. They are hatched in tanks, smoltified in the same place and have grown large in big, floating cages where thousands of fish swim in great schools in a very confined space in mid water. There is no bottom (except for the net), no natural obstacles and first and foremost no naatural food items.
The fish are fed with pellets which are sprayed over the surface every day, and these fish are so tuned in on feeding on these sinking lumps, that they seem to have no affinity towards moving prey - or flies - during their first period in the free. A wise fly tier once devised the pellet fly, and that would probably work well on these fish.
When these fish escape it can have many reasons. The cages sometimes just leak and a few fish can sneak out. No big deal. I imagine that many of these singles will just stick to the cages and live a monotonous life just on the other side of the net wall.
But sometimes whole cages break open allowing tonnes of fish numbering thousands to escape. In such cases the fish seem to roam in large schools, and they will eventually get to the shore, which is never far away in the enclosed seas of Denmark. This often happens during the autumn when the sea is rough and the wind can reach high speeds.
The fish are usually big - about 2-3 kilos (4-6 lbs) and well into the 50-60 centimetre or 20-25 inch range. That can be compared to the average 2-3 lbs sea trout that are common on the Danish coast. The rainbows are also fat due to the rich food source in the sea farms.
Was it not for their scars and lack of tails, they would actually be beautiful fish. But just after the escape they are usually still marred by a totally bitten down tail - often none at all - and scars from fights and encounters with each others, the net walls and the cage.
Their looks will improve greatly during an autumn and a winter, and when caught in the spring or summer they are amongst the most beautiful fish in our waters, often rightfully referred to as steelhead.
The beast must die!