Study shows pike colonised Irish rivers naturally up to 8,000 years ago

First natural coloniser? IFI’s Dr Joe Caffrey with a research-caught (and released) pike of about 8kg from the River Inny

First natural coloniser? IFI’s Dr Joe Caffrey with a research-caught (and released) pike of about 8kg from the River Inny

 

INLAND Fisheries Ireland welcomes the publication of a scientific paper relating to pike (Esox lucius).

The species had been thought to have been introduced by man in the last few hundred years. However, this research shows they may have colonised naturally some thousands of years ago.

Computer modelling of genetic data has indicated that pike probably colonised Ireland in two waves; the first occurred about 8,000 years ago, and the second about 1,000 years ago. This is the first time evidence has emerged for natural colonisation of a freshwater fish to Ireland.

Debbi Pedreschi, lead author, said: “What was really intriguing was how the examination of genetic material allowed us to build a hypothesis, which was then found to fit extremely well into the historical and archaeological background.”

Prof Stefano Mariani, now at University of Salford, believes this investigation embodies the nature of conservation biology: “At this point, it would be irresponsible to ignore these strong patterns of pike diversity, but we are also keen to provide a more exhaustive picture.”

The study was conducted in partnership with the school of biology and environment science UCD with support from the Irish Federation of Pike Angling Clubs and University of Salford, under the co-supervision of Prof Mariani.


Record catch
Colin Folan’s end-of-season report for Lough Inagh makes for interesting reading. For only the second time in the fishery’s history, the salmon catch surpassed 100. The weather played a massive part and was not suitable for Inagh with the lack of water and continued droughts.

“Water levels in July were horribly low and the water in the lough touched 23 degrees. However, when the rains did come, June and September produced superb fishing,” he said.

This year again saw few double-figure salmon, in fact, only six. But the average weight of 103 salmon was 2.7kg. Rob Byrne (below) landed the best fish of the season at 6.5kg from the Derryclare Butts on a Willie Gunn Tube. Eileen Magill landed the first salmon, also from the Butts, on a Cascade.

Sea trout numbers were down on 2012, but the fishery is delighted with the recorded number of 739 fish. The first sea trout was also the heaviest at 2kg and caught by Colin at the Butts on a Silver Badger.

There was an increase in the number of char caught and a decrease in the number of brown trout, especially big browns – only four exceeded 2.3kg.


Howth agm
Howth RNLI annual supporter’s meeting will be held in Howth Yacht Club on Wednesday, November 6th, at 8pm. The meeting is an opportunity to thank those who have supported the station and also to provide an update on how donations have contributed to saving lives at sea.

There will be a presentation to a crew member who has shown great skill and expertise and certificates will be awarded to groups and individuals who carried out fundraising during the year.

Lifeboat Christmas cards and souvenirs will be on sale on the night, and supporters can find out more about the Reindeer Run in Marlay Park on Sunday, December 1st. See jointhestampede.weebly.com for more details.


Arctic char released
A North Wales lake has received a new lease of life as Natural Resources Wales (NRW) released more than 5,500 Arctic char into Llyn Padarn, in Llanberis. The rare species can only be found in a few cold, deep lakes in north Wales.

The release is part of an ongoing programme to restock juvenile char into the lake, where populations have been declining in recent years. The fish were reared at the organisation’s Mawddach hatchery

NRW’s Tim Jones, said: “We’re committed to ensuring the future of the iconic Arctic char population in Llyn Padarn and we’ve put great effort into restocking thousands of fish over the years.”


angling@irishtimes.com

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