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Camera captures trout's great escape

HAMPSHIRE - The owners of a trout farm were left baffled when fish were going missing. But then a wildlife photographer caught their extraordinary escape route on camera. He pictured the trout making giant leaps out of their pond straight into the metal feed pipe three feet above the water level.

Caught on camera -  the Hampshire trout with pipe dreams of escape.

They then fought against the current for 30 feet until they reached the end of the eight inch wide pipe, which emerges underwater in a tributary of the River Itchen near Alresford, Hants.

The wildlife photographer Dennis Bright, 59, captured the amazing aerobatic fish earlier this week at the trout farm.

He said: "It was an incredible sight. Swimming against the current is instinctive for trout as they head up stream to spawn but they are doing a remarkable job getting through that pipe.

"They are jumping for freedom in large volumes but sadly I think their fate will be less than happy - there are otter, herons and many other predators feeding from the stream.

"I imagine the trout are quite stressed in the ponds because it is a free-for-all for predators. When birds come along the fish don't stand a chance."

David Riley, owner of Hampshire Trout Farms, said he would be extremely surprised if more than one or two fish were making it through.

He said: "I have been a farmer here for about 30 years and have never seen a fish make it to the other side but I know Dennis and if he says he has seen it I believe him."

"November and December is the mating season in the river and it is natural for them to jump at waterflows. It is not entirely impossible that they are getting through the pipe but if they do it would just be one or two.

"The pipe leads to the watercress fields which are only 150 yards long. If they were getting there in large quantities we would certainly see them.

"We already lose quite a lot of our fish to natural predators and I wouldn't like to think we are losing any more through the pipe.

"We do have a grill and deflectors that we can put on the pipe. Those that are not taken by otter or birds are used to restock rivers for sport."

Source: The Telegraph

Ellen Hardy

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