How it worked
Hatchery volunteers collect donor fish (brood stock) throughout the River Camel & Fowey catchments towards the end of the fishing season each year. We are in communication with all the fishing clubs, syndicates, associations and riparian owners (those who own a stretch of riverbank) throughout the catchment.
As the brood stock become ready to spawn the hen fish are stripped of their eggs and fertilised with milt from the cock fish. The eggs are laid down in specially designed egg trays with a flow of water coming from beneath to mimic the natural habitat of the river. At this point we have a first count of how many eggs have been produced.
In the coming weeks eggs that have not fertilised are removed and the remainder cleaned until the eye of the fish within can clearly be seen – at which point they are transferred to incubators filled with river gravel. The egg hatches into the alevin stage with its egg-sack still attached, and swims down into the gravel where they absorb the egg and graze on the algae on the gravel and start to develop into Salmon Fry.
The time from eggs being laid down, the ‘eyed-over’ stage, the alevin hatching and the ‘swim-up’ fry is all dictated by the temperature of the water – and can be accurately calculated by keeping a log of the water temperature on a daily basis
As the swim bladder develops the fry swim up to take their first breath of air and swim out of the gravel in the incubator and into the tanks to start the first phase of their lives in the Wainsford Hatchery.
In the next months the fish start to feed and increase in size. The hatchery staff raise them in a clean environment and monitor the fish’s health and size/weight.
Later in the year the fish can be graded in size to allow the smaller fish less pressure and a better chance of feeding. The larger fish are moved into the large outside tanks where they get a larger flow of water and more space to grow.
Towards the end of their time in the hatchery the fish are selected to either be put back out into the Camel or Fowey catchment at secret sites – or to be kept back at the Hatchery to be grown on to S1 smolt size for release the following year. Approximately 5,000 fish are selected to be put into the River Loveny (St. Neot River) and these fish are marked, under supervision by the Environment Agency, to identify them in the future. This is done by carefully removing the (unused) Adipose fin [link to pictures of this work]
For more information about the life-cycle of the Atlantic Salmon – see the
October – December : Brood stock collection
October – January : Stripping and laying down eggs
February – March : Loading eggs into Incubators as they hatch
April – May : Fry swim-up into tanks and start feeding
May – July : Feeding, Grading and splitting tanks within the Hatchery
August : Salmon Fry are put out into the river
September : Hatchery closed for repairs, cleaned and disinfecting
October : Hatchery re-opens for a new season