Paddling during fish spawning season

Paddling during fish spawning season

Did you know spring is the breeding season for much of the UK’s fish population? As paddlers, it’s important to be aware of when and where fish may be spawning so we can avoid interference during the fish spawning season. We have put together a guide to help you know what to be aware of and how you can take extra care when paddling at this time of year.

Firstly, what is the fish spawning season?

Fish spawning is essentially the process by which fish reproduce.

Different fish species spawn at different times of the year and along the whole course of a river. For example, coarse fish, including barbel, bream, carp, chub, dace, eels, perch and pike, breed in the spring and summer and anglers are not allowed to catch them between 15 March and 15 June.  Shad and lamprey have international protection and spawn in rivers like the Wye.

What does all this mean for paddlers?

Paddlers should be aware of fish spawning times and how we can avoid interference. So please be aware and take extra care when different fish species are spawning.

Gravel spawners are the species most at risk. They may live within the gravel for some time during incubation and after hatching.

Please note, it is a criminal offence for anyone to disturb spawning fish or their eggs.

kayaking during fish spawning season

Advice for paddling on gravel bed rivers

When paddling, be careful around gravel river beds, especially when you are getting in or out of your boat.

You can avoid causing any problems in the spawning season by:

  • Not standing in the water when there is a gravel river bed
  • Being aware of the increased risk of making contact with the gravel river bed in times of low water
  • Avoiding contact between your paddle and the gravel river bed, especially when getting in and out of your boat
  • Avoiding contact with your boat and the gravel river bed, especially by not dipping the stern or cartwheeling when there is insufficient depth of water
  • If using a pole to propel an open canoe, revert to a paddle on sections of river with a gravel bed.
  • Following any local guidance in terms of preferred places to launch or climb out

Finally, when the fish spawning season has finished, be aware of anglers and share the space.

Want to learn even more? Read and download British Canoeing’s complete spawning fish guide.