Long overdue but eventually I managed to visit the works at Dean Ford (I think it’s Lauder Ford, to be correct) where work is underway to replace the ford with a 4 section bridge culvert. It’s been years in discussion and negotiation but I’m pleased to report that the contract is well underway. This is the final major obstacle on the Kilmarnock Water sub catchment that needed easing to allow migrating trout and salmon to pass upstream easily. There are other man made obstacles on the Fenwick Water (the A77 culvert and the bridge apron at the North end of Fenwick) but neither are thought impassable or severely restrictive to migration.

Anyway, since I last met the contractors at the start of the job just a few weeks ago, progress has been made. The ford has been removed and work to construct the bridge is underway. The main contractors have taken incredible measures to protect the works and river from silt but of course occasionally, there have been hiccups by all reports.

Fish passage was our main concern during the works as they proceed throughout the migration and spawning season but there is a satisfactory side channel to allow fish to move upstream freely when the water is up. One added bonus of the Ford being removed is the mass of gravel and small sediments that have been liberated and can now be seen across the river bed beside and downstream of the works.

Today, the concrete foundations for the culverts were going in. I’ll keep an eye on this as time allows now that we have almost completed our electrofishing commitments.

A massive coffer dam surround the works at Dean Ford.  Fish shouldn't have any trouble migrating upstream.

A massive coffer dam surround the works at Dean Ford. Fish shouldn’t have any trouble migrating upstream.

Further downstream, the Black Rocks that were made passable to migratory fish by the Trust and Kilmarnock AC through the construction of two weirs and fish passes were looking great today as the high water of the last few days was running off. I half expected to see a salmon or two and was disappointed and about to leave when out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a large dark shape appear for a split second at the base of the falls.

Black Rock waterfall and weirs. All looking good and standing up to the test of time.

Black Rocks waterfall and weirs. All looking good and standing up to the test of time.

Now I don’t like to make claims that I can substantiate so I had to clamber down to the side of the falls for a closer look. It wasn’t long before my suspicions were confirmed and a hen salmon leapt towards me. That wasn’t the fish I’d seen as I was sure it was a bigger fish I’d spotted. A moment or two later and sure enough, a large cock salmon showed up and landed just a few feet in front of me. There was a third salmon trying to make it’s way over the rocks and I’m sure they would have managed in the flows that were there. I saw plenty of trout too and I’m sure some of them were sea trout.

These salmon are the future for this wee river and the tributaries that feed it. If they survive and spawn along with a few others, in just a few years, there should be many many more salmon running the Kilmarnock Water. It’s great to see them and will be even better when we find a few juveniles somewhere next year confirming success.

Poor light doesn't help when photographing fast moving fish but I thought it was worth posting this image all the same.

Poor light doesn’t help when photographing fast moving fish but I thought it was worth posting this image all the same.

A large cock salmon trying to find a route over the falls

A large cock salmon trying to find a route over the falls


Share →

3 Responses to Dean Ford (Lauder Ford)

  1. Skeffles says:

    Ah, what is this going on at the ford then? Is that the one on Dean Road, Kilmarnock? They finally bridging it? Some more photos would be nice. Just because it isn’t on a South Ayrshire river is no reason to stint on reporting and photodocumenting it? I’ve noticed you don’t do so great on northern and eastern parts of Ayrshire. Flying visits at best.

    • Stuart Brabbs says:

      I note your comments with some surprise. Firstly, we have blogged both here and on Facebook regularly of our activity on the Irvine and Garnock catchments this year and in the past when we have been involved. In 2012 we heavily reported on our work to install the weirs at Blackrocks just a short distance downstream of the Dean Ford. It was our easement of these falls that encouraged this work to take place at Dean Ford as it is the last major barrier on the system. We undertook and reported on fish rescues in 2 consecutive years on the Kilmarnock Water during the Scottish Water contract to replace storm water overflows. We’ve surveyed Pundeavon Reservoir, areas of the upper Garnock, and North Ayrshire Coastal Burns, all of which have been reported on our pages.

      We have also contributed huge investment into invasive weed control on the Irvine and Garnock and trained many volunteers at a significant expense. (I understand Gordon will be reporting on the CIRB project progress tomorrow on these blog pages).

      ART is a charity and we rely on contributions and funding to generate adequate income to survive. We do this in part by securing public funds for works that improve watercourses. The 4 larger rivers in South and East Ayrshire have District Salmon Fishery Boards all of who financially contribute to our costs in return for advisory and management advice and monitoring. On the Irvine and Garnock, there are no boards and the only management type organisation, the River Irvine improvement Association is hardly thriving and cannot contribute. Without financial incentive we can hardly be expected to provide an equal role in the North as we do further South and East of Ayrshire regardless of how much we would like to. Without our paid work, nothing could be reported for North Ayrshire as we couldn’t afford to do anything. Working for nothing is certain to bankrupt the Trust very quickly.

      The volume of our work and blogs dedicated to North Ayrshire, I think is impressive considering we receive nothing from the angling community except a few Club and individual memberships (all of which are much appreciated). Where else is anyone expected to work for nothing? I can’t imagine many organisations would turn out to a pollution incident unless they were getting paid. WE DO, ALWAYS!

      I recommend you look back through these pages and you may change your mind on our involvement in North Ayrshire. I hope so.

      • Iain Hamilton says:

        There’s just no pleasing some people. I’m sure that anybody interested in whats going on with the rivers in East and North Ayrshire are well aware of the good work the Rivers Trust are doing. I think your post above is at best rather inaccurate.