Sections
You are here: Home Celebrating 150 Years The Introduction of Trout into Tasmanian Waters

The Introduction of Trout into Tasmanian Waters

The ability to trout fish in Tasmania is due to the personal sacrifices & the dogged perseverance of a group of men who, despite failures & setbacks, kept on trying until they ultimately achieved success.

Extracts taken from the Origins of Trout Fishing in Tasmania by Jean Walker

The ability to trout fish in Tasmania is due to the personal sacrifices & the dogged perseverance of a group of men who, despite failures & setbacks, kept on trying until they ultimately achieved success. The story to what seemed an impossible dream by early settlers is:

  • The first recoded attempt to bring salmon & trout eggs the 12 000 miles from England was on 6 February 1852 with the shipping of 50 000 ova of salmon & trout on the 454 ton barque “Columbus”.

    The ova were placed in a purpose built large oval tub with a false bottom made of wood, cased in lead & containing 60 gallons of water & gravel. Every 6 hours during the four month journey a fresh supply of 6 gallons of water was added.

    The £300 experiment failed with all the ova dying but it resulted In discovering that future success relied on the ova being shielded from concussion & that a low water temperature must be maintained throughout the voyage

    Sir James Arndell Youl K.C.M.G. (1810-1904)
    Sir James Arndell Youl K.C.M.G. (1810-1904)
  • James Youl of Symmons Plains carried out experiments that led him to believe that the governing principle to success would be retarding the development of the ova. His discovered that hatching period corresponded with heat but freezing would be fatal.

  • In 1860 under Youl’s supervision, another attempt was made with 30 000 Atlantic salmon ova. An icehouse holding 15 tons of ice was built between decks. The ova were laid on gravel in swinging trays which were given a constant flow of water from the run-off of the ice. Unfortunately the ice melted rapidly & when the ship was 59 days out, all the ova died.

  • In 1861, Youl, in preparation for the next attempt, went to Scotland & Ireland, to France & to Belgium, to study fish culture. In Paris he learnt of a method of sending ova on long journeys in wet moss.

  • The third attempt was ill-fated due to travel delays & extremely bad weather. Overseen by William Ramsbottom, a larger icehouse was built for 25 tons of ice, & 50,000 Atlantic salmon ova were laid on trays. Cooled water was arranged to flow over the trays at a rate of 500 gallons per day up to a maximum of 2 000 gallons.

    William Ramsbottom (1833-1868)
    William Ramsbottom (1833-1868) 1st Superintendent of the Salmon Ponds
    The ice gave out & by the 74th day & all the ova died. However, the ova in a little box - packed by Youl with living moss survived eight hours longer than the rest. The experiment had been costly with the Tasmanian government contributing £3000 pounds, Victoria £500 & New Zealand £200. Youl was unjustly abused by the press for waste of public funds.

  • During 1863 Youl & Ramsbottom carried out further experimental work. The results showed that a continuous supply of water was not necessary, neither was light, & the partial absence of air was not fatal. Youl now knew that with one more attempt he could succeed - provided that the ice lasted.

  • Messrs Money Wigram & Sons offered 50 tons of space in their clipper “Norfolk”. This time there would be no complicated apparatus - no pipes & pumps, swinging trays & water tanks. The ova would go out packed in moss, in boxes & placed in an icehouse. Shortly before the “Norfolk” sailed, 3 gifts of trout ova were delivered from Francis Francis & Frank Buckland. Youl had not intended that trout ova would be included in this shipment. The boat set sail to Melbourne on 21 January 1864 & arrived in Melbourne 84 days later. It is recorded that it was “with fear & trembling” that one of the small boxes was opened & after years of trial & failure, living salmon ova had landed in Australia! 11 small boxes containing Atlantic salmon ova were left in Melbourne but William Ramsbottom refused to leave the trout ova as instructed by Youl.

    Francis Francis (1822-1886)
    Francis Francis (1822-1886) He sent a gift of 2,000 brown trout ova

  • It was on 21 April when the cargo finally reached New Norfolk, after many long & tedious transshipments, with the last vessel being a barge to the Ark Inn. It was met by 50 men of the Derwent Valley who carried the cases of ova the 4 miles to the Salmon Ponds using bamboo poles resting on their shoulders.

  • 91 days since the ova had been placed on board the “Norfolk” in England, Ramsbottom removed the screws from the first box & to the horrified dismay of the crowd most of the ova were dead but by the time a dozen boxes had been unpacked, it was clear that a large proportion of the ova were alive. Of these only about 300 were trout. On 4 May 1864, the first young trout emerged, & on the following day the first Atlantic salmon. By 8 June 300 healthy trout & several thousand salmon were at home in the Salmon Pond

  • In April 1865 Ramsbottom realised 40 small fish into the waters of the Plenty. The remainder he retained as brood stock. The trout, which had only been included in the “Norfolk” shipment as an afterthought, grew, prospered & multiplied. Unfortunately the attempt to introduce salmon was a failure despite further shipments of ova sent from England. The ova could be hatched & the young fish reared successfully, but once released they failed to return from the sea as adults.

    Morton Allport  (1830-1878)
    Morton Allport (1830-1878) Foundation Member of the Salmon Commission
  • By 1872 the distribution of trout ova & fry from the Salmon Ponds was well advanced & ova was sent to New South Wales, Victoria & New Zealand.

  • Great Lake was stocked in 1870 by Chief Constable James Wilson.

Trout Fish Tasmania Celebrating 150 Years

 

Ova Box

A replica of the ova box used to transport ova successfully half way around the world.

 

Ova Transportation

50 men carried the cases of ova the 4 miles to the Salmon Ponds using bamboo poles resting on their shoulders.

 

Norfolk

The clipper ‘Norfolk’ - owned by Money Wigram & Sons who donated space enabling the first successful importation of live salmon & trout ova to Tasmania