Friday, 13 May 2016

Lamprey spawning on the Derbyshire Wye

Early May 2016 saw me fly fishing along the banks of the River Wye, not far from Bakewell. After recovering my fly line from the edge of the river - those wild rainbows occasionally do a dash to the bankside to drop the hook - I looked into the clear water and saw.......
something in the water....
Closer inspection revealed spawning lamprey. The first time in my adult life that I had seen them. I counted about 8 of them. The upper photo shows the size of the 'scrape' that they had made. They were about 5" or 12.5cm long. Impressively one of them was fanning its tail end across the gravel, shifting the stones, preparing the spawning bed.
Lamprey were spotted on another stretch of the river some days later - on the Peacock Open Day in fact.
They belong to a primitive group of fish that have sucker-like mouths instead of teeth and jaws. As they mature they stop feeding and develop the sucker typical of a lamprey. Once the adults have spawned, they die. So having spent the first part of their lives hiding away in the mud of the river bed they emerge, spawn and die - apparently!

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