What a rare event, sunshine and no rain! It was a great day to be out and Struan and I headed to Loch Doon to continue with our salmon tagging study to help us improve migration success through the loch and dam. This work allows us to better understand the issues affecting smolts once they leave the relative safety of the burns and head into the loch in spring.
We are attempting to work out how improvements can be achieved. We know that there are issues affecting migration through the dam and numbers descending the river are relatively low. Being able to identify individual fish when they leave the burns and eventually reach the dam (if they do) provides incredibly valuable evidence of where losses occur and may dictate how we attempt to mitigate these losses. With each fish carrying a PIT tag, we can monitor them as they pass the receiver in the fish ladder. Should any ever return from sea, we should be able to count them back into the loch as they ascend the ladder in preparation for spawning.
All the PIT tagged fish are identifiable by a clipped adipose fin. This won’t grow back so anglers catching a salmon that’s clipped are asked to release it carefully so it may continue it’s journey and hopefully reach the loch.
The fin is removed under anaesthetic and at the same time, a small sterile electronic tag (PIT Tag) is inserted through a tiny incision into the abdomen. Scale samples are collected to age each fish and after double checking the tag number, they are revived and allowed a suitable length of time to recover. These fish are then released back to where they came from and we may once again see them in the smolt trap in Spring before they reach the loch.
The photos below show a few trout that turned up as we captured the salmon.