After rescuing fish from the middle pool yesterday, we were back this morning to remove any fish in Anderson’s Pool to enable the contractors to complete the concrete works as quickly as possible. Rob, Covanburn’s site agent called us once he had pumped the pool to a low level and we jumped into action.
By the time we arrived, the pool was heavily silted and we couldn’t see into the deeper water but around the margins we could see hundreds of salmon and trout parr moving around. We did see an adult salmon and Rob informed e he thought there was 2, possibly even 3. We asked them to reduce the levels a bit more and then set about catching the salmon before we used the electrofishing gear. We quickly caught a fish of around 12 lbs which we attempted to tag but the gun broke so that was the end of my well thought out plan to find out where these fish go to later in the season.
Once we returned this fish to the river upstream we tried again and managed another double figure fish straight away that I saw just below a rock ledge and it obliged by turning straight into the net. Again this fish was processed and quickly returned upstream. As Gordon arrived back with the bin, we moved another fish and quickly netted it. This was the biggest salmon I may ever have seen in the River Ayr and I’d estimate it’s weight at around 25 – 26lbs but will check this against the various tables before I make the final call on this. It was a huge fish whatever it weighted. It had slight damage to it’s dorsal and I hope this doesn’t develop infection and lead to the loss of this fish before spawning time. At the same time we managed another fish around 8lbs.
Four safely sampled, moved upstream and returned unharmed to the river, we started up the electrofishing equipment to catch the many trout and salmon parr that were left in the pool. All hell broke loose as the water erupted in thrashing salmon! Two local ‘worthies’ watching our antics immediately offered to buy the electrofishing kit from us. I admired their enthusiasm but declined.10/10 for trying!
The site agent managed to join in the fun netting his first ever salmon.
In all we safely removed 9 salmon from Anderson’s Pool and moved them upstream. It is worth pointing out that all salmon caught before the 1st June are to be returned on the recommendation of the Ayr DSFB. This is to protect what is a very fragile and small proportion of the River Ayr salmon stocks. We are going to ask Catrine AC to close the pool above the dam to angling for a few days to allow these fish to redistribute themselves to a safer location. Let’s hope the club agree.
Apart from 9 adult salmon, we managed to catch several hundred more trout and salmon parr, eels and lamprey and one decent grayling.
When we stopped work, Covanburn’s men topped the pool up with fresh water to sustain the remaining fish as we knew we hadn’t got them all. They will now get on with breaking out the concrete below the dam to deepen the take off area and widen the gap to reduce water velocity. This should be completed in a couple of days and then the access will be fully restored for migrating fish which will no doubt arrive in increasing numbers with every spate. We have consistently expressed our concerns that the work and timescales may have on migrating salmon and this has been vindicated by today’s fish rescue. Thankfully, the contractors have been first class and I’m sure will work with us to look after the fish.
Before I left the site, the contractors had begun cutting the concrete and getting on with the job. I’ll be back daily at the moment to liaise with Rob on the best strategy to protect the fish. I’m pleased so far with the results.