After looking at the scales removed from the big fish and receiving confirmation from another couple of biologist, I can reveal that the fish has just entered into it’s 6th year of life. It spent two years in the river, one as a fry and the next as a parr before smolting and heading to sea in 2011. It then spent two years at sea before returning to the river to spawn in winter 2012/13. After successfully spawning,  it returned to the sea and regained condition,  putting on a few pounds before returning to the river a short time ago for probably it’s last time.

A scale from the big fish caught at Catrine. The blue lines indicate the end of each winter. This fish was a 2.2 sm 1

A scale from the big fish caught at Catrine. The blue lines indicate the end of each winter. This fish was a 2.2 sm 1

You read the age from the centre of the scale outwards. The first two years of life in freshwater can easily be  identified. Thereafter you will see the blue lines correspond to the outer edge of an area where the rings are closer together which indicates a winter and slower growth (just like happens with trees). The fourth blue line from the centre marks the readable edge after which significant erosion of the scale took place (indicating the first return for spawning) and this is a spawning mark. (written sm in the description). The last line on the outer edge of the scale showed there was no growth since the last winter and this is approximately the start of its 6th year since hatching in 2009.

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2 Responses to Scales from the big fish

  1. charlie says:

    but what if the anglers at sorn or muirkirk what if they caught it and put it back WHAT a fish .MMMM that would be like a win on the lotto . THATS THE DEAD ZONE up there . by the way good work dude

    • Stuart Brabbs says:

      Thanks for the comment Charlie. Things are improving all over. There is hope. 10 years ago the Ayr catch and release rate was about 10%. Last year it was 41%. Still behind other Ayrshire rivers but getting better. Just 3 years ago in 2011, release rate was the second worst of all reporting Scottish rivers at 19%. The tide has turned and long my it continue.