The pros and cons of trout migration
by John Gray
stay or will I go? A serious question indeed! So much so that an
adolescent trout may, on some rivers, go through a bit of an identity
crisis. "Am I a brown trout or a sea trout?", she will ask. "Will I
emigrate or stay at home?" The answer will generally depend, as it so
often does, on the home environment and parental expectation.
short, rocky, acidic streams of the west coast, there will be little to
keep the ambitious young female at home and the general expectation will
be that she will go to sea as soon as she is old enough, there to make
something of herself, to mature into a beautiful sea
who will have many suitors when she returns for her annual summer
holiday. Indeed, she will, in all probability, have to fight them off.
She can't really be bothered with all this sex business, though - she
thinks it's all very over-rated - and it's always over so quickly!
Still, she likes the attention and that seems to make all the travel worthwhile
- and it's always very satisfying to see the young fry when
she comes home. There will always be some, however, who are just not cut
out for adventure, or who are perhaps expected to follow the perfectly
respectable, if slightly boring, family tradition of keeping the home
fires burning, but the majority of the young females will elect to get
out as soon as they can.
Most of the males, on the other hand, are pretty lazy and can't be
bothered with all the hassle of moving away. They are sexually
precocious and generally have there minds on only one thing. They can
only get that at home, so they may as well hang around until the chance
comes. It may be only once a year but, boy, is the Great October Orgy
worth waiting for! It's not much fun for the rest of the year, though.
Things are hard at home and all their energy is needed to keep body and
soul together. Some young males will follow the young females to sea,
thinking they might be missing out on something. They will eventually
return, with the females, as impressive specimens, to while away their
time over the long summer holiday, relaxing in the deep shady pools with
the beautiful mature females. When the time comes, they will have no
trouble seeing off the small brownies and will have their pick of the
crop of female sea trout .. but they will often wonder if the long
courtship and all that sea travel was really worthwhile. Size isn't
everything, after all.
On the richer rivers of the south and east, the expectations are
entirely different. Here, the brown trout are the aristocrats, the
establishment. Life here is very civilised. There is plenty of
everything to go round and order is maintained by a strict hierarchy
based on seniority. The younger trout are very respectful and almost
always give way
their elders. The young males, however, like young males everywhere,
generally think of only one thing - well, two things, really ... food and
sex - and can be a bit of a handful at times, especially at the back end
of the year. The females are brought up to stay at home. Broadening of
the horizons through travel is discouraged, although there will always
be a few rebellious youngsters, usually female, often with
unconventional family backgrounds, who leave home to go to sea - a case
of "like mother, like daughter". They will return for the summer
holidays and the Great October Orgy but will generally be shunned by the
brown trout community, especially the local females who resent all the
attention they get from the young males.
old trout, though, are happy to see the comings and goings of these
"silver tourists", as they are known locally. They remember the time of
the Great Pollution when the whole river trout population was almost
wiped out and only recovered through the valiant spawning effort of a
few returning sea trout. They now see the emigration of the few young
rebels as an insurance against any possible future domestic catastrophe.