I filmed a large number of smolts in the lade at Catrine on Sunday 3rd May. Typically we are bang in the middle of the salmon smolt migration period and also typically, we are short of water as there’s only been 18mm of rain in the middle of the Ayr catchment since the 18th March.
A new bywash was built in March and April just in time for the smolt run and we are hopeful that by careful control of the intake and flow through the lade, that the smolt numbers don’t build up as they become held up in the lade. This has happened since the hydro scheme commenced operation in 2017 and after much debate, SEPA insisted the Catrine Community Renewable that operate the scheme make alterations to improve fish migration.
l was rather disappointed to see that despite the new bywash being operational, numbers still appear to be far above natural levels we see in other pools throughout this system and the other Ayrshire rivers. I believe this must indicate that there is an accumulation of smolts at Catrine lade. However, after posting images on another social media platform, this morning, CCR opened up the two bywash intakes and the penstock gates and have apparently been flushing smolts all day. That said, after visiting this evening, I was informed that there never had been more than about 300 smolts in the lade at any time by a CCR member of staff. I’ll let readers and viewers judge for themselves from the photos and video that I shot. I still think my esimate at ‘thousands’ is appropriate and more realistic than 300.
The good news is that so far this year, we haven’t spotted any smolts in the voes which to date, has been a problem each year up til now. we will discuss how the operation of the bywash can be improved in our opinion with SEPA tomorrow and hopefully things will continue without numbers again increasing. Hopefully, the ‘flushing’ exercise will indeed move smolts out of the lade but we will keep a close eye on this and check again tomorrow.
Here’s a link to the short video I filmed which shows why I claim there were thousands of smolts in the lade. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJGLza8nSh4&feature=youtu.be