2014 Spey Fishery Board Annual Report

The 2014 Spey Fishery Board Annual Report has been published and is available to read here.

Included in this year’s report you will find updates on the following topics:

  • Wild Fisheries Review
  • Water Abstraction Issues
  • Reports & Analysis of the River Spey’s Salmon & Grilse and Sea Trout catches for the 2014 season
  • Board’s Conservation Policies and the Scottish Government’s Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) Regulations which came into force on the 9th January 2015.
  • Extensive Management Report
  • Spey Foundation Report
  • Summary of Publicity work throughout the year
  • Finance – which includes income and expenditure accounts.

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Spey Fishery Board

Auchnahannet Burn surveys 2014

Almost finished our electrofishing for 2014, just a few odds and ends to tidy up including two monitoring sites in the Auchnahannet Burn today. This burn was the subject of a habitat restoration project by the Spey Catchment Initiative over 2012/13 with fencing to exclude stock access and tree planting. We have monitored these sites over the last three years – there has been quite a transformation in the quality of the instream and bankside habitat.

The Auchnahannet Burn upper site in 2012. This site is located immediatly upstream of the Dulnain / Carrbridge road

The Auchnahannet Burn upper site in 2012. This site is located immediatly upstream of the Dulnain / Carrbridge road

Roughly the same view today, the burn is a lot narrower and deeper,. Trout habitat you may say but you'd be wrong, there was a great population of salmon.

Roughly the same view today, the burn is a lot narrower and deeper. Trout habitat some may say but they’d be wrong in this case – there was a great population of salmon. There is a lot less sand in the stream bed now. The water was deceptive in its depth, it was almost to the top of our waders in the foreground.

The view downstream from below the road bridge. This shot was taken in winter but the bare banks and erosion have gone.

The pre-fencing view downstream from the road bridge. This shot was taken in winter but the bare banks and erosion have gone.

The downsteam view today, what a transformation.

The downsteam view today, what a transformation.

The results from the surveys in the upper site are shown in the table below.

An impressive increase in the salmon population in particular at this site

An impressive increase in the salmon population in particular at this site, same for the trout parr. Note that the figures are expressed as fish per 100m2 wetted stream bed area.

Some of the mixed salmon and trout catch during processing (note: they some are still under the effects of the anaesthetic).

Some of the mixed salmon and trout catch during processing (note: some are still under the effects of the anaesthetic).

I didn't think the lower fish looked quite right, it is potentially a trout/salmon hybrid. Upper one is a cracking fat salmon parr.

I didn’t think the lower fish looked quite right, too many parr marks for a trout, potentially a trout/salmon hybrid. Upper one is a cracking fat salmon parr.

One problem at the site were the long streamers of fibrous algae which made catching the fish difficult. We only fished each site once but I reckon our efficiency was lower than usual.

The long strands of algae made fish capture and net movement difficult, consequently we left a lot more fish behind than normal.

The long strands of algae made fish capture and net movement difficult, consequently we left a lot more fish behind than normal.

The lower site produced less good results than we recorded last year when a tremendous density of parr were found. Not sure why the parr numbers were lower today but we caught a lot of salmon fry.

The results from the lower site. Less parr thanlast year for some reason but no shortage of salmon fry.

The results from the lower site. Less parr than last year for some reason but no shortage of salmon fry.

Must remember to survey these sites immediately after a spate next year, there might be less algae about then.

Kirsteen and Polly processing the catch on a fresh autumn day.

Kirsteen and Polly processing the catch on a fresh autumn day.

Spey Fishery Board

Week Commencing 15th September 2014

Well another week finished, the season is dragging itself to a close. The weather forecast for the coming week is for a settled week with some rain on Thursday night, which might liven the river up towards the weekend. The tides are building all week but weather there are any more fish is questionable. Surely this season should quieten anyone calling for a season extension, the last thing I need is to have to write more weekly reports!

Catches: I am sure there were some. The Gordon Castle Beats made it into double figures. Delfur managed about half a dozen. Rory was kind enough to send me this picture of a hen fish Tom Mellon landed; when it first came in I thought someone had caught a carp!

Tom Mellor's salmon Delfur

Tom Mellor’s salmon Delfur

At Rothes, Eric Wardle’s party finished in the mid teens with almost as many lost. Eric said they fished hard and it was nice to see the pools full of fish including a few decent sized ones.

The beat above finished with 5, Charles Harman sent me a couple of pictures. Kitty Campbell landed her first salmon but he was not around to get a photograph.

Charles Harman's salmon.

Charles Harman’s salmon.

Keith and Dan better together!

Dan Russel with Keith McLaren

Up stream things were pretty quiet but most beats managed a couple of fish.

Spey Fishery Board

Week commencing 8th September 2014

Another week passed, not long to go now. Autumn can be a beautiful time of the year.

Sunset

Sunset

The river started around the two foot six mark and fell away all week finishing around six inches. The forecast is for some more settled weather with perhaps some heavy rain before the weekend but as usual it is hard to predict what Friday might bring. Temperatures remain quite high for September. The tides have peaked last week and there will be no new water till after the weekend.

Catches: The Gordon Castle beats again landed over fifty salmon for the week a mixture of older coloured fish with some sea liced fish as well. Delfur started the week with a rush but things slowed as the week progressed; they finished around the mid twenties. As usual Mark and the boys have been generous with their photographs’.

Charles MacPherson Delfur

Charles MacPherson Delfur

Charles again

Charles again

And again

And again

Another of the ten Charles caught Monday & Tuesday.

Another of the ten Charles caught Monday & Tuesday.

Lee Landale's first fish

Lee Landale’s first fish

George Bullard Twa Stanes Delfur

George Bullard Twa Stanes Delfur

Further upstream there are still fish to be caught. Craigellachie had a handful. Wester Elchies again lightly fished but still managed seven. Both Carron and Laggan were around the double figure mark. Team Boathwick landing the majority at Carron. I have a few interesting pictures from Ian and Neil. The red marks on the first fish are caused by Caligus Elongatus, which are the other smaller sea lice. The theory is that there was a large infestation of Caligus, possibly brought in by mackerel. The time of the year is right so it seems a plausible explanation. Other rivers are seeing fish with similar marks.

Red spots caused by Caligus Elongatus obviously!

Red spots caused by Caligus Elongatus obviously!

Perhaps not of Spey Origin

Perhaps not of Spey Origin

Ugly Beast

Ugly Beast!

Sandy Smith tells me that Buckie angler George Alexander had a fish estimated at twenty pounds from the Pouch but unfortunately the photographs were not too clear.

Grantown struggled a bit with the low water but still managed a handful of fish the best being a fish of around fourteen pounds from the Lurg.

Spey Fishery Board

Week Commencing 1st September 2014

The river started around two feet on Monday and fell away all week till Friday night’s rain pushed it up again on Saturday. The water temperature fell back as the week progressed. This weekend’s rain has again lifted the river and for about the fourth Monday in a row the river will start on the high side. There is little turbidity as a lot of the rise is Avon water. The SEPA gauge, on the Avon is reading about 18” low following gravel shift during the last big spates. (This also applies to other websites who take their information from SEPA.) The forecast for next week is for some warm settled weather as the high pressure dominates. The tides are still building for the early part of the week. Can I take this opportunity to remind everyone to return as many fish as possible, large cock fish do not make good smokers as they have lost most of their fat. The hen fish are full of eggs and need to be handled carefully and returned as soon as possible.

Catches: The Gordon Castle beats finished the week with over fifty fish landed, Ian Tennant tells me there were plenty of fresh ones. Delfur had just short of forty, a mixture of some old and some new, it is nice to see fresh fish being landed this close to the season’s end.

Nice bright autumn fish Delfur

Nice bright autumn fish Delfur

Another bright September fish Delfur

Another bright September fish Delfur

Close up.

Close up.

Both Craigellachie and Wester Elchies managed half a dozen. The Hosker Party at Carron landed eight, the ladies catching three quarters of the catch, Mrs Maureen Chesmore the girls done good!

Ruth Hosker Carron

Ruth Hosker Carron

 

Rebecca Chesmore Carron

Rebecca Chesmore Carron

Rebecca again Carron

Rebecca again Carron

 

Ian Borthwick with another of Ruth's fish

Ian Borthwick with another of Ruth’s fish

Again Grantown reached double figures of salmon with perhaps a few more yet to be reported, The pick of the week was a 15 pound fish landed from Clach an Uaran, on a fly.

Spey Fishery Board

Spey Dam salmon fry counts 2014…………..

Last week the team headed up to the very top of the river to carry out the annual salmon fry counts. By the very top I mean that part of the Spey mainstem upstream of Spey Dam. There is about 20km of river above Spey Dam but I think it is fair to say that the salmon population up there is not what is should be or once was.

We have 11 mainstem survey sites above Spey Dam, including one within 1.5km of the source of the river at Loch Spey. We didn’t have time to survey that uppermost site this year but its omission was of little relevance to our overall findings.

Access was secured through Rio Tinto in Fort William and once the paperwork formalities had been completed with their staff at the dam we headed to the first site behind Sherramore Lodge.

Salon fry count survey site at Sherramore Lodge. Doubt if anone would disagree that this is the habitat that a salmon fry's dreams are made of.

Salmon fry count survey site at Sherramore Lodge. Doubt if anyone would disagree that this is the sort of habitat that a salmon fry’s dreams are made of. Note the white van in the background, one of many in the area as part of the Beauly Denny powerline upgrade.

We found a few fry at this site and a few salmon parr but the fry were trout, setting the scene for the rest of the day.

Selection of trout fry from above Spey Dam

Selection of trout fry from above Spey Dam

After completing what was the furthest downstream site on the schedule we headed for the uppermost. In 2012 we found 17 salmon fry at this site but none this year.

The uppermost site at Shesgnan Bothy. It is not a big river up here but that riffle was perfect salmon fry habitat

The uppermost site with Shesgnan Bothy behind. It is not a big river up here but those riffles were perfect salmon fry habitat

Working our way back downstream the pattern was repeated; a few trout fry, the odd trout parr and the occasional salmon parr turning up at most sites.

Again nice salmon fry habitat downstream of Melgarve.

Again nice salmon fry habitat downstream of Melgarve (well the instream bit at least!).

Trout fry caught at one of the survey sites

Trout fry caught at one of the survey sites

It was noticeable that in the upper sites all the salmon parr that we caught were large, i.e. over 100mm and almost certainly two year olds.

A very well conditioned salmon parr of 139mm from the site at Garva Bridge, not much wrong with the feeding experineced by that fish. Scale readings showed it to be 2+ years old.

A very well conditioned salmon parr of 139mm from the site at Garva Bridge, not much wrong with the feeding experienced by that fish. Scale readings showed it to be 2+ years old.

Two smaller salmon parr of under 100m were captured in two of the downstream sites, they were 1+ year old.

One ane two year old salmon parr.

One and two year old salmon parr.

This apparent absence of salmon fry above Spey Dam is of great concern. There has been no stocking above Spey Dam since 2010 so any fish present since then must have been naturally spawned. The sizes, and age classes of the salmon parr found this year match exactly the salmon fry counts over the last three summers. The better than expected recruitment of salmon fry in 2012 produced reasonable numbers of salmon parr last year with a lower number remaining as two year olds this summer, all of which will smolt in 2015. If the same absence of fry occurs next year the Spey above Spey Dam will be virtually bereft of juvenile salmon.

So in contrast to recent salmon fry counts on the Fiddich which were the best I have ever seen, this was the worst. There endeth a very disappointing day. Not so much a day of salmon fry counts more a day of no salmon fry counts……

Spey Fishery Board

Week Commencing 4th August 2014.

The river rose as predicted but was not as coloured as I feared. The rise was fairly short lived but it seemed to move the fish about and bring some more on the take. The forecast for the coming week is wet, tonight there is supposed to be over an inch of rain and the rain continues most of the week all be it less severe. My forecast suggests the winds will be light though other suggest we will get the tail of Hurricane Bertha (sounds like a Beatrix Potter Book) The BBC forecast suggests a yellow warning for rain fall but again winds to be relatively light. The tides continue to build till Wednesday but no new water after that. I will continue to check the tree branches first thing in the morning, if they are blowing about, it’s windy anything else is mere speculation.

Whilst fishing at Wester Elchies I landed this coloured grilse showing signs of the Anasakis Nemotode or red vent syndrome. I was reminded that I had not issued a warning about it this year but on more thought I hoped most anglers were returning all their fish in this year of shortage. But just in case there are some desperate people out there, remember to either cook the fish or to freeze it, do not eat it raw as in sushi and if smoking to freeze it first.

Anasakis Nemotode

Anasakis Nemotode

Catches, I think the river as a whole probably landed around 200 salmon and grilse making it the best river in Scotland. The Gordon Castle beats landed close to fifty fish, a mixture of salmon and grilse the largest was estimated at over 30lbs. Delfur continued to fish well with over forty caught and as usual I am grateful to Mark, Grant and Rory for taking the time and trouble to send me photographs. Most consistent angler was Rory Mountain who had fish every day.

Rory Mountain with the Cocker Pack.

Rory Mountain with the Cocker Pack.

Rory Mountain Collie Delfur

Rory Mountain Collie Delfur

DSCN4362

Nice seatrout.

Guess Who again! But he did catch a fish everyday

Guess Who again! But he did catch a fish everyday

John Ward 1st salmon.Delfur

John Ward 1st salmon.Delfur

Jack Melville Delfur "His biggest so far."

Jack Melville Delfur “His biggest so far.”

Archie Mountain Otter Delfur with Grant

Archie Mountain Otter Delfur with Grant

Emma Mountain Hollenbush del fur

Emma Mountain Hollenbush Delfur

Rothes had a reasonable week getting towards the mid twenties Penny Buchanan of Mr Dan Drew’s party was kind enough to send me some of her pictures. Again a mixture of old and new, and salmon and grilse.

George Buchanan Rothes

George Buchanan Rothes

Penny Buchanan & Robbie Rothes

Penny Buchanan & Robbie Rothes

Winning team again

Winning team again

George Buchanan with Robbie, Rothes

George Buchanan with Robbie, Rothes

I hear the beat above were also in the forties but as usual have no more information.

We managed six at Wester Elchies with a couple more lost.

Cuilean Wester Elchies

Cuilean Wester Elchies

The beats opposite were about the same. Carron went one better landing seven.

Again as I predicted the high water at Grantown brought some salmon up river and a few were landed on Monday, hopefully this forecast rain will bring some more up this week. The seatrout fishing continues to be good with over 200 landed with at least two approaching double figures.

Spey Fishery Board

Week Commencing 4th August 2014.

The river rose as predicted but was not as coloured as I feared. The rise was fairly short lived but it seemed to move the fish about and bring some more on the take. The forecast for the coming week is wet, tonight there is supposed to be over an inch of rain and the rain continues most of the week all be it less severe. My forecast suggests the winds will be light though other suggest we will get the tail of Hurricane Bertha (sounds like a Beatrix Potter Book) The BBC forecast suggests a yellow warning for rain fall but again winds to be relatively light. The tides continue to build till Wednesday but no new water after that. I will continue to check the tree branches first thing in the morning, if they are blowing about, it’s windy anything else is mere speculation.

Whilst fishing at Wester Elchies I landed this coloured grilse showing signs of the Anasakis Nemotode or red vent syndrome. I was reminded that I had not issued a warning about it this year but on more thought I hoped most anglers were returning all their fish in this year of shortage. But just in case there are some desperate people out there, remember to either cook the fish or to freeze it, do not eat it raw as in sushi and if smoking to freeze it first.

Anasakis Nemotode

Anasakis Nemotode

Catches, I think the river as a whole probably landed around 200 salmon and grilse making it the best river in Scotland. The Gordon Castle beats landed close to fifty fish, a mixture of salmon and grilse the largest was estimated at over 30lbs. Delfur continued to fish well with over forty caught and as usual I am grateful to Mark, Grant and Rory for taking the time and trouble to send me photographs. Most consistent angler was Rory Mountain who had fish every day.

Rory Mountain with the Cocker Pack.

Rory Mountain with the Cocker Pack.

Rory Mountain Collie Delfur

Rory Mountain Collie Delfur

DSCN4362

Nice seatrout.

Guess Who again! But he did catch a fish everyday

Guess Who again! But he did catch a fish everyday

John Ward 1st salmon.Delfur

John Ward 1st salmon.Delfur

Jack Melville Delfur "His biggest so far."

Jack Melville Delfur “His biggest so far.”

Archie Mountain Otter Delfur with Grant

Archie Mountain Otter Delfur with Grant

Emma Mountain Hollenbush del fur

Emma Mountain Hollenbush Delfur

Rothes had a reasonable week getting towards the mid twenties Penny Buchanan of Mr Dan Drew’s party was kind enough to send me some of her pictures. Again a mixture of old and new, and salmon and grilse.

George Buchanan Rothes

George Buchanan Rothes

Penny Buchanan & Robbie Rothes

Penny Buchanan & Robbie Rothes

Winning team again

Winning team again

George Buchanan with Robbie, Rothes

George Buchanan with Robbie, Rothes

I hear the beat above were also in the forties but as usual have no more information.

We managed six at Wester Elchies with a couple more lost.

Cuilean Wester Elchies

Cuilean Wester Elchies

The beats opposite were about the same. Carron went one better landing seven.

Again as I predicted the high water at Grantown brought some salmon up river and a few were landed on Monday, hopefully this forecast rain will bring some more up this week. The seatrout fishing continues to be good with over 200 landed with at least two approaching double figures.

Spey Fishery Board