This time we had a weeks notice of a requirement for a fish rescue. Things are much easier to plan and deliver when adequate notice is given and the team arrived at Catrine yesterday morning at 8.30am ready to remove whatever fish they could from below Anderson’s as the contractors were about to pour the last of the below water level concrete.

As the water level was reduced, it soon became obvious that there were going to be a few salmon to deal with. Bearing in mind there has been virtually no water for weeks, most of these fish must have moved upstream through very shallow water, presumably at night, before holding up in Anderson’s.

We had intended to use electrofishing to remove the fish but they seemed to be reluctant to move from a ever diminishing small pool of water below a ledge on the left bank so we netted all but one salmon and a good sea trout from here. One salmon escaped to the larger pool but was quickly netted after a single burst of electricity. These fish were immediately transferred to a holding tank and then quickly transported upstream. All were released unharmed and with as little handling and stress as possible. This was a better arrangement than our rather hastily organised rescues at Catrine over the last month. What a difference a bit of forewarning makes.

Gillian and Helen and some enthusiastic volunteers removed the remaining salmonid juveniles while I relocated the larger fish. The sea trout was around 2.5lbs in weight and all the salmon were estimated to be between 10 and 15lbs.

The grilse run isn’t far away and I’ll be urging the contractors to prioritise the remainder of the fish pass works to prevent a large scale problem developing at Anderson’s in the weeks ahead. I really don’t want to have to rescue large numbers of salmon stranded here while the fish pass extension is completed.

I’ve added a link to a video clip (I apologise for the royalty free soundtrack but is better than deafening machinery) http://youtu.be/xpIQWjcza2Y

I’ll post some still photos later when i update this blog this evening.

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2 Responses to Catrine fish rescue 25/06/14

  1. tony says:

    There has been plenty of salmon in the upper reaches of wellwood for years,The real fishers should know

    • Stuart Brabbs says:

      Tony,
      yes the Upper reaches of Wellwood are important spawning grounds and many salmon will head there as the season progresses but numbers of juveniles have been declining for years too. We monitor the population of juvenile salmon on all 4 Board managed rivers annually and the Ayr stocks are a fraction of the other 3 rivers and show little sign of improvement. At many potentially important spawning sites, we find a greater biomass of pollution tolerant species (minnow and stoneloach) than we do salmonids. This may be as a result of several sources of pollution, not least enrichment from mine workings and agriculture.
      Once the stock recruitment levels fall below a certain limit, then the future recovery of the salmon population may be severely compromised. In Scotland, Marine Scotland Science has yet to determine the conservation limits for our rivers although I believe ideally they would like to. In Ireland however they have set conservation limits and I understand that if the Ayr was in Ireland, then the killing of salmon would be prohibited to allow stocks to recover.
      I’m sure all the real fishers know that unless water quality improves and some of the problems are reduced, then things look bleak for the salmon population of the River Ayr.