Compared to what is known about the
early part of the life history of the Salmonidae,
our knowledge of coarse fish is small. Fortunately,
however, such lengthy and complicated proceedings as
are necessary to obtain a good stock of trout are
not necessary to obtain a good stock of coarse fish.
If even a few rudd, perch, dace, pike, or carp are
put into water where they have a good supply of food
to begin with, and which is suitable otherwise for
their well-being, the amateur’s chief trouble
after a few years, if the water is not heavily fished,
will be to keep down the stock of coarse fish in proportion
to the supply of food.
I have seen many cases where rudd,
perch, dace and carp have increased to an enormous
extent from a few fish introduced into the water.
Some four years ago we put a few small rudd into a
mill-pond at home, thinking that the fry they produced
would serve admirably as food to the trout which also
inhabited the pond. In about twenty months the
pond was full of small rudd, and last year we netted
out many hundred, as the water was terribly over-stocked
with them. The same thing has happened in almost
every case which has come to my knowledge; that is,
of course, where the waters have been stocked with
food, and suitable to the fish introduced.
The way in which dace will increase
when put into a suitable water is, if possible, even
more remarkable than what happens in the case of the
rudd. I will quote one instance, which proves
this very conclusively. A few years ago there
were no dace in the Sussex Ouse. Pike fishermen,
however, used to bring live dace to use as baits.
Some of these escaped, or were set free by the fishermen
at the end of their day’s fishing, and now the
Sussex Ouse contains more dace for its size than any
other river I have ever seen.
While rudd thrive best in a pond or
lake into which a stream flows, dace require a river
or stream to do well. They will, however, thrive
and increase rapidly in a river where trout are not
a success. A muddy bottom with occasional quickly
running shallows, seem to constitute the best kind
of water for dace. The largest, and by far the
best conditioned dace I have seen, have come from
the tidal parts of rivers, where the water is brackish
at high water. Dace from such a water have also
the advantage of being very good eating, as they have,
as a rule, not got the unpleasant muddy taste usual
in this fish.
Perch and pike will thrive both in
rivers and in ponds or lakes which have a supply of
water from a stream or from springs. They both
increase in numbers very rapidly, and when protected,
are more likely to require thinning down every few
years, than artificial assistance from the amateur.
The king-carp is the best fish for
the amateur who wishes to obtain good bottom fishing
from an absolutely stagnant pond. This fish is
much bolder and a more free feeder than the common
carp. It increases so rapidly in numbers, and
is a hard fighting and lively fish.
Most of the coarse fish deposit a
much larger number of eggs than do any of the Salmonidae that
is to say, in proportion to their size. In stocking
a water which contains no fish, the amateur may wish
to hurry on the process of nature in the case of coarse
fish; and, fortunately, this is fairly easily managed.
In the case of perch, rudd, pike, and carp, but little
change of water is required to hatch out the eggs.
The eggs of these fish take but a short time to hatch;
and if they are protected, and this protection is
also given to the little fish for a few weeks, it
will generally be found that an amply sufficient result
is obtained. The eggs should be spread out carefully
on wicker-work or the lids of baskets and kept in
the light. A trickle of water which is sufficient
to change the body of water in the pond in which the
ova are put will, as a rule, be enough. The amateur
must be careful that the pond in which he hatches
the eggs does not contain any of the many enemies
I have described in former chapters. If it is
at all possible to protect the eggs and the little
fish, it is best to hatch out the eggs in the pond
which it is intended to stock, for it is exceedingly
difficult to keep the newly-hatched fish in a rearing-pond
on account of their very small size. It will
be necessary to use muslin or flannel screens instead
of perforated zinc. Care must be taken that there
is not too great a flow of water, as this will cause
the little fish to be drowned at the outlet screen.