How now brown trout of our area?

The stunning Loch Enoch at the base of The Merrick
The stunning Loch Enoch at the base of The Merrick

There was good news for Galloway’s nature-lovers in a report on the health of the region’s brown trout population that has recently been published.

The report claims that trout are now making a strong comeback in the face of the acid pollution of our rivers and lochs post-war.

Indeed, some local lochs where the population had nearly died out in the 1970s were showing a strong re-population, both by re-stocking by human hands or through natural recovery.

The study was carried out by a team from the School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, led by Professor Paulo Prodöhl and Professor Emeritus Andy Ferguson, who now lives in Galloway. It examined more than 2400 brown trout specimens from 23 lochs and six of the larger river systems, mainly in the Galloway Forest Park and adjacent Forrest Estate.

A summary of the report says that it was thought that five of our local lochs had lost their brown trout populations altogether but all five, despite acid pollution still being “strong”, now have thriving fish populations.

All the other lochs in the area now have “flourishing” trout populations with angler catch rates ranging from one to 20 fish per hour.

Among the lochs investigated were Loch Enoch and Loch Fleet. Scientists were involved in studies in the 1980s and 90s that suggested that pollution might eventually see the brown trout extinct in this area. We have, for the time being, dodged that ecological bullet.