When considering fish farming, one may choose a trout farm for sport angling. This would depend on one’s location, climate and facilities. One can allow only catch-and-release for younger fish and catch-to-buy for commercially sized adults.

In such a business model one’s revenue would come from access tickets for visitors, the fish caught, and cleaned, and revenue from whatever shop or accommodation one sets up.

Why choose trout for an angling farm?

Trout were first introduced into South Africa in the late 1800s as a sport fish. Unlike some other sport-fish (such as barbel) they are very good to eat, with firm, pink flesh. Their scales do not need to be removed before they can be eaten.

However, despite these positives, both rainbow and brown trout are considered invasive by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Department of Forestry and Fisheries. They have been listed as Category 2 invasive, with the department saying at the time of the species’ categorisation in 2018, “Category 2 means that the species can be utilised, with a permit.  This category is there to recognise that there are invasive species that have value, and can be utilised under conditions. For example, the forestry industry is not prevented from growing Category 2 pines, wattles or gums.  Rather, areas are agreed upon where these Category 2 species may be grown, and they are given permits to conduct their work.  The Department’s focus is to stop invasions of the species outside of the demarcated areas in which these Category 2 species may be utilised.  There is no difference with respect to trout, or any other Category 2 species.”

Trout hatcheries will need to apply for permits.  These are likely to be long-term permits (40 years is currently being considered), allowing hatcheries to breed, sell and distribute (live) trout.  Those acquiring the live trout will have to have a permit for the trout.  Those looking to apply should read this.

Not all areas in South Africa are suitable to trout farming, as the fish require cool water, thriving in temperatures around 15°C. Water above 23°C causes the fish stress because of reduced oxygen levels.

What facilities do you need for an angling farm?

Alongside one’s dams, therefore, one would need to have:

  • Space for parking,
  • A facility to weigh, gut, scale and possibly fillet the fish caught,
  • Cold storage,
  • Amenities for visitors, such as:
    • Toilets,
    • A cash or ticket office,
    • Possibly a small shop or tea room,
    • Even overnight or holiday accommodation.

A further possible revenue-generator could be to offer individual tuition, or classes, in various aspects of trout angling, fly tieing etc, with the onsite shop offering equipment for sale, including fishing apparel, rods, reels, nets and flies. This would be in addition to the day-hire of rods and equipment for occasional visitors.

Combining the trout angling operation with a more traditional trout farm would enable one to offer prepared trout, eg frozen fillets and whole deboned fish, as well as prepared trout products such as pies, terrines and pate, from the onsite shop.

One’s costs include labour to man the human visitor/angling operation, and labour to maintain the facilities, and feed the fish etc, as well as feed for the fish in one’s dams, filtration etc. A further cost would be advertising expenditure in media that reaches one’s target market.

Dealing with visitors

The success of such a venture would also depend on how easily one could attract sufficient visitors on a regular basis. In other words, one needs to be close to a town or city.

Another consideration before one decides to start such an operation has to be one’s willingness to interact with the general public, giving over one’s property or even a portion of it, to visitors who may become rude, difficult or abusive.

One must be prepared for the public.

The owner needs to draw up and display rules of acceptable conduct, covering not only rules around the nature and use of rods, hooks etc, but also around the process of catch and release. And a very important set of rules must pertain to the management of children on site, to minimise noise and disturbance. The safety of the children must also be ensured at all times.

Likewise indemnity notices need to be prepared and prominently displayed, and as the owner one would need to have adequate and suitable third party indemnity insurance in place.

This is part of a series on Dams & Fish. For more, click here.

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