Although a lot of fish had been seen earlier this week on the reds at Kylemore, high water and continued bad weather have made it difficult to take any decent photographs. A quick phone call to Sarah and David Mc Evoy, the hatchery management team at Delphi, let me know that things were in full swing up there so I jumped in the car with the camera to see if there was any thing interesting going on.

When I arrived everyone was very busy so I spent the morning getting in the way and watching what they were doing. Mike Lydon and John Peter Coyne (who is a Kylemore gillie during the summer and a Sparsholt College student in term time) were netting out some of the brood stock that had been selected from the larger holding tanks.

At Delphi there is a smolt ranching project that has proved to be very successful, increasing the salmon catch at Delphi immensely. At the end of the season all of the hatchery fish are netted out of the system and put into brood tanks. This allows the wild stock to spawn unhindered by the large numbers of reared fish now present and maintain the natural genetic strain unique to the fishery. All the hatchery fish are marked by clipping off the adipose fin (the small fin between the dorsal and tail) when they are fry and thus are instantly recognisable. Just before the fish in the tanks are ready to spawn, they are taken from the tanks one by one, and squeezed gently from the gills to the vent.
The milt or eggs thus produced is then mixed together, a drop of water added and left for five or ten minutes until fertilisation is complete. The eggs are then put into mesh trays and placed in water troughs, where they are tended until they hatch, which is usually the second or third week in March depending on water temperatures.

The resulting fry will be grown on in the hatchery for a little more than a year, when they show signs that they will drop back from the fresh water into the sea (known then as smolts) they are released into the system and head for the feeding grounds in the north atlantic.

The eggs you see in these pictures will return as grilse or single sea winter fish in the summer of 2003.

I will post more Photos as a gallery page over the next few days.

Thanks to David and Sarah, and the Delphi staff.
Delphi Fishery details on accommodation and links pages.

Stripping the eggs from a hen fish.

Eggs mixed with milt.

A tray of eggs in the trough.

Above and below, fish waiting in the brood tanks.