The ideal spawning burn……

The ideal spawning burn has to have a few essential ingredients; first and foremost spawning gravel, without which no salmonids could exist. Secondly there must be juvenile habitat, shallow riffly water for the fry in their first summer is ideal along with deeper; cobbly or bouldery water, fast flowing, if possible, for the older parr. If there is the occasional deeper hole or shady undercut bank alongside a deep glide, to provide refuge for adults, you have the ideal mix. Someone went even further and published a paper on the ideal mix, concluding that what required was one unit spawning gravel, two units for the fry and three units parr habitat, That, it was stated was the formula for the perfect spawning burn. The perfect angling burn, or more likely river, requires something else, but that is not the subject of this blog.

We are blessed with many, many, burns in the Spey catchment that could be classed in the ideal category; the upper Fiddich, Livet, Allt a’ Gheallaidh, Tulchan Burn, Cromdale, Conglass and so on but not all…

I took the opportunity last week to spend the day getting to know an upper Spey burn that I had been meaning to get acquaint with since the summer of 2013, when I first met her. This burn, which shall remain nameless, posed a few questions after the initial date; why were there only parr at the upper site, that site should have supported more and what about the loch in the middle?

It was quite easy to answer the first question.

The burn above the loch, great parr habitat but barely any spawning gravel to be seen. With the weed growth it was very reminiscent of burns I used to know in the Hebrides.

 

I suspect there are spawning gravels below the weeds. If so I know the answer, the only thing is that it involves a great deal of hard labour! I would be worthwhile preping a couple areas before next autumn to see if they were used by fish.

Moving downstream the first gravels were seen a short distance above the loch.

The first spawning gravels seen and the first redd. This looked like a grilse sized redd under the left bank, just upstream of the two boulders on the right.

The loch is know locally as the Pike loch, although funnily enough the estate owner told me none are ever caught. The main characteristic lacking above the loch was spawning gravel; there was however an abundance of mixed juvenile habitat though, perfect for the few fry and parr present.

I skipped the lochside taking the vehicle downhill before approaching the burn at the outlet. The contrast with the upper burn was amazing, here there were an abundance of spawning gravels and the perfect gradient.

The source of this gravel was soon obvious, a tributary joined at the outlet, it was responsible for the transport of copious amounts of ideal spawning substrate.

The sediment highway; a nice, steepish, tributary burn full of spawning gravel.

The lower reaches of the tributary were lined with dense, even sized alders, the sure sign of a recent fencing enclosure. I walked up the tributary, curious to learn a little more of its character.

Above the fence the burn was more typical of the moorland fringe with a few old alders dotted about, a fertile seed source obviously.

 

The same burn from the same spot but looking down towards the fence. The trees have responded in the usual way to the removal of grazing pressure. I did wonder however which was the better scenario, the non regenerating moorland trees or the alder thicket below the fence? In the summer the young alders will cast a dense shade, for many years to come until a few start to blow, or fall over; then a bit more diversitywill appear in the tree age structure. Perhaps we should assist this process by planned thinning along the banks?

Back at the main burn the stretch below the loch was an almost continuous spawning bed for several hundred metres, there was however a distinct lack of parr habitat.

Looking downstream from the loch, perfect salmon spawning gravel and flow.

 

Ideal spawning habitat. although suspiciously straight, I suspect the hand of man.

Further downstream the sediment became finer,  the coarser material being deposited first.

Here I came across what looked like a remarkable fresh trout redd, it had that typical round and humpy profile. But, so fresh looking for late Feb? A late spawner or have flows really been that stable overwinter?

As the loch was left behind the sediment became almost sandy, with weed beds before the burn changed character again as the gradient picked up.

The burn a little further down, there was a lot of bedrock here and virtually no spawning gravel.

 

The rocky section extended for quite a distance. There were virtually no areas suitable for spawning until below this cascade where I am sure there were two salmon redds on the right bank where the burn widened allowing some gravel to remain.

Further down, closer to the confluence with the Spey, the habitat, for the first time, started to match the ideal spawning burn formula.

Great mixed habitat in the lower reaches, spawning gravel , fry and parr habitat all in the same photo. There were two salmon redds left foreground.

 

And more of the same.

My understanding of this burn increased no end, on this, the second date. Virtually no spawning above the loch, too much below, morphing into trout spawning habitat, a bedrock section – again virtually devoid of habitat, before the great mixed habitat in the lower reaches. I’m not sure if it was beginner that designed this burn, or not. However not every burn can be perfect, it has however got a fair bit of biodiversity interest this particular one to make up for the design shortcomings.

Proof that fish do spawn here, salmonid (a large one at that) bones found beside the burn below the loch. If I’d had the dog I’d would have no doubt found more but this estate is a bit game rich for Rogie!

The post The ideal spawning burn…… appeared first on Spey Fishery Board.

Spey Fishery Board

Tommore Burn smolt trap 2016

The Tommore Burn trap was installed on the 4th March by Jimmy Woods, primarily to test that it was working okay, but it was left in operational mode over the weekend. On Monday morning, to everyone’s surprise, there were 43 fin-clipped presmolts and one fin-clipped 1+ parr. Tuesday’s catch was 24 fin-clipped presmolts and four 1+ parr, with 4 fin-clipped presmolts today and one unclipped.

Since the deployment of the trap last Friday 71 fin-clipped presmolt salmon have been trapped plus a few fin-clipped 1+ parr (which will not smolt in 2016) and one unclipped salmon presmolt. The trap was not deployed until the 20th March last year when the catch in the first eleven days totalled 7 fin-clipped fish. The catch subsequently increased in early April as water levels rose. The total catch of fin-clipped presmolt/smolts in 2015 was 352, therefore the catch in this early phase in 2016 is already 20% of the 2015 total.

The 9am water temperatures have been low, 1.9oC yesterday morning for example, with snow falling nightly.

It is not possible to say at this early stage what the rest of the 2016 Tommore Burn smolt run will be like and as the trap was not put in place until later last year it is impossible to know if we missed a similar early run in 2015. In the past we haven’t deployed smolt traps as early as this because even in the Truim and Tromie (which are located much higher up the catchment) the first reasonable catches were not normally made until about the 20th March.

Most readers will, I’m sure, be aware that the Tommore Burn trap is part of the monitoring associated with the mitigation stocking of this lower River Avon tributary. Fish access is blocked a short distance upstream of the fish trap by an impassable culvert under the Glenlivet Road. The Tommore trap will be monitored daily from now on so that an assessment of the remainder of the smolt run can be made.

The post Tommore Burn smolt trap 2016 appeared first on Spey Fishery Board.

Spey Fishery Board

Tommore Burn project: stocking monitoring

Readers of the blog and followers of the Spey will be aware that the Tommore Burn has been stocked with 0+ salmon for a number of years and since 2013 all stocked fish have been fin-clipped. We surveyed two of the regular monitoring sites in July one very still and midge infested evening along with some of the Spey ghilies. The remaining two sites we left until the last day of the 2015 electrofishing programme, mainly so that we would be able to assess how well the 2015 stocked fish had done.

The four electrofishing sites cover the lower, middle and upper reaches of the burn, straddling a range of habitat zones from mixed broadleaf to moorland fringe in the upper site.

The results from the 2015 monitoring with 2014 for comparision, are shown below.

Tommore burn electrofishing results 2015 and 2014.

Tommore burn electrofishing results 2015 and 2014. There were no salmon fry in 2014 as all the monitoring was done prior to that years stocking. It can been seen that good densities of salmon fry had been established in both sites in 2015. Overall the mean salmon parr densities were similar in both years, 12.0/100m2 in 2014 compared to 12.9/10m2 in 2015. We have no  late season surveys from 2014 with which to compare the 2015 results. Trout fry and parr densities were also higher in 2015 than in 2014.

The lower Tommore Burn stocking monitoring site.

The lower Tommore Burn stocking monitoring site.

Although we are only dealing with two sites and small numbers of fish it was interesting to note that the mean size of the stocked fry in the lower site was 55.4mm whereas it was 58.5mm in the upper site.

Teo fin-clipped salmon fryb from the upper site. These fry were sampled one month after stocking. Whilst they are lean the tail fins are very healthy looking

Two fin-clipped salmon fry from the upper site. These fry were sampled one month after stocking. Whilst they are lean the tail fins looked perfect.

We are building up a good set of data from the Tommore Burn now; electrofishing and smolt trapping, both of which we will continue in future years.

The post Tommore Burn project: stocking monitoring appeared first on Spey Fishery Board.

Spey Fishery Board

Grantown caravan park burn spawning

Today I took the opportunity to follow up on reports of sea trout spawning in the upper Kylintra Burn in Grantown today. One of the bailiffs had relayed a report and mention of sea trout spawning in burn next to his accommodation by one of the members of a salmon fishing forum prompted a quick visit whilst in the area. The interest was mainly because the Kylintra Burn was on our database as being impassable; or at the very least troublesome for fish to reach.

Trout redd by the road opposite the Grantown Caravan Park. This was one of about 10 redds in less than 100m downstream of the park entrance.

Trout redd by the road opposite the Grantown Caravan Park. This was one of about 10 redds in less than 100m downstream from the park entrance.

Trout redd in the Kylintra Burn near the caravan park in Grantown

Trout redd in the Kylintra Burn near the caravan park in Grantown

There are several culverts between the Spey and this point in the Kylintra Burn as well as a weir but the fish obviously made it past them all this year. The weir is on the outlet of an inline pond but I was able to have a look at it today through the fence and it certainly didn’t look impassable.

This summer we electrofished a new site upstream of the main road at the Craiglynne Hotel. There were a few salmon fry and parr but it was stuffed with trout; the parr density was the highest recorded this year.

Trout size distribution in the Kylintra Burn opposite the Craiglynne Hotel in Aug 2014

Trout size distribution in the Kylintra Burn opposite the Craiglynne Hotel in Aug 2014

It is good to see that the trout are able to utilise the full length of the naturally accessible part of the Kylintra Burn. A short distance upstream of the caravan park there is an impassable waterfall. This is another burn we can remove from our obstacles database.

Spey Fishery Board

Burn of Lochy/Allt Iomadaigh

Had a nice walk up the Burn of Lochy and one of its tributaries the Allt Iomadaigh (how do you pronounce this?) yesterday. The aim was to check out the sea trout spawning (I wasn’t disappointed) and to have a look at the habitat. I had only visited parts of these burns before to complete electrofishing survey sites so it was good to be able to spend a bit more time learning a little more about this part of the catchment.

The Burn of Lochy is a tributary of the Avon which it joins on the west bank just upsteam and opposite Tomintoul Distillery. The Allt Iomadaigh is the smaller of the two main tributarie; the other is the Burn of Brown but it is inaccessible due to a waterfall at the Bridge of Brown. I started my walk in the Iomadaigh but I’ll start this report in the Lochy and progress upstream.

As soon as I started walking up the Lochy the sea trout redds were apparent. There was an abundance of spawning gravel in the middle reaches of the Lochy, more so now after the big August spate, probably to the extent that the fish could be very choosy where they spawned.

Typical nice varied habitat in the middle reaches of the Lochy.

Typical nice varied habitat in the middle reaches of the Lochy.

A large redd close to the bank

A large redd close to the bank

A "abstract" shot of a pair of spawning sea trout

An “abstract” shot of a pair of spawning sea trout

At least two large redds in this photo. There were a couple fish on the redds but I didn't see the fish until it was too late but when they shot off downstream they looked like salmon.

At least two large redds in this photo. There were a couple fish on the redds but I didn’t see them until it was too late but I thought they were salmon when they shot off downstream. On the way back downstream I approached the site cautiously and I am sure my initial assessment was right.

Much of the Lochy channel was quite mobile, flowing through large gravel beds but in this section the burn was flowing down what looked like what was until recently a back channel. A more stable channel which the fish obviously liked, there were quite a few present.

Much of the Lochy channel was quite mobile, flowing through large gravel beds but in this section the burn was flowing down what looked like what was until recently a back channel. A more stable channel which the fish obviously liked, there were quite a few present.

I didn’t count the redds in the Lochy itself but I was impressed, there must have been hundreds in the 2.8km stretch I walked.

I took a distinct fancy to the Allt Iomadaigh when we surveyed it a couple years ago so I was keen to explore a little more of it. We completed two electrofishing sites then, both of which supported good salmon and trout populations. As with the Lochy I spotted the first redd as soon as I approached the bank.

Lower, wooded section of the Iomadaigh. The burn is about 4m wide at this point and provides excellent habitat for wee fish.

Lower, wooded section of the Iomadaigh. The burn is about 4m wide at this point and provides excellent habitat for wee fish.

Tjhe allt Iomadaigh a little further upstream. Our upper eelctrofishing site is located a short distance downstream of where this photo was taken. The tail of the pool looked a great site for spawning and sure enopugh there were at least three good sea trout redds.

The Allt Iomadaigh a little further upstream. Our upper electrofishing site is located a short distance downstream of where this photo was taken. The tail of the pool looked a great site for spawning and fish agreed, there were at least three good sea trout redds.

Dead cock sea trout of about 2.5lb. There didn't appear to be any predator marks.

Dead cock sea trout of about 2.5lb. There didn’t appear to be any predator marks on this particular casualty.

As I went further upstream I started finding more sea trout remains.

All that was left of a cock sea trout of about 4lb. The rest probably fed an otter

All that was left of a cock sea trout of about 4lb. The rest no doubt fed an otter

Upper middle reaches of the Iomadaigh. Not so suitable for spawning in this stretch but excellent parr habitat.

Upper middle reaches of the Iomadaigh. Not so suitable for spawning in this stretch but excellent parr habitat.

Just upstream of where the Allt Catanach joins the Iomadaigh there was a short section of great spawning gravel.

Sea trout redds in an area of tip top spawnign gravels

Sea trout redds in an area of tip top spawning gravels

Progressing upstream the surrounding terrain closed in to form a nice steep sided valley. The steeper, rocky ground, hinted that I would soon reach the limit of fish accessability so I wasn’t surprised that the second waterfall encountered looked impassable.

Impassabe waterfall in the upper Allt Iomadaigh

Impassable waterfall in the upper Allt Iomadaigh

I marked all the redds in the Allt Iomadiagh using the GPS and whilst I haven’t downloaded it yet I know that I started on waypoint 17 and ended on 63, although the last was the waterall location. Forty five or so redds in that wee burn was more than enough. I only saw one live adult fish, a cock sea trout, all the spawning activity in the Iomadaigh was over. Pity I hadn’t gone up there last weekend.

Spey Fishery Board

Mackalea Burn spawning

I have kept a regular eye on the Mackalea Burn since the installation of the fish pass. Yesterday afternoon to water was rising and colouring although it wasn’t really a major spate. This afternoon the water had dropped and cleared providing a chance to see what was what upstream.

Rising and dirty water yesterday afternoon

Rising and dirty water yesterday afternoon

There were a couple new sea trout redds about 50m upstream of the fish pass and immediately in front of the B&B. A short distance upstream a fence crosses the burn; a likely looking spot where I had expected to see a redd appear. No sign of any redds there today but just above there were the remains of a cock salmon.

Rogie eyeing up the salmon remains.

Rogie eyeing up the salmon remains.

A short distance upstream there was what looked like a salmon redd.

What looks like a salmon redd opposite an old bale. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a small salmon and a sea trout redd but this one extended over the full width of the flow nd looked more salmon sixed in comparison to the smaller, and rounder sea trout redds.

What looks like a salmon redd opposite an old bale. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a small salmon and a sea trout redd but this one extended over the full width of the flow and looked more salmon sized in comparison to the smaller, and generally rounder, sea trout redds.

There were about 12 redds in total (mainly sea trout) above the fish pass. The salmon redd was upstream of both our electrofishing sites in the Mackalea. It would be nice to find salmon fry there next summer.

Spey Fishery Board

“Opening up Spey burns”- Mackalea Burn fish pass

The Mackalea Burn is a small tributary of the Fiddich which suffers from an unusual fish passage problem. The burn flows under the Dufftown to Huntly road via twin 2m diameter culverts. There is a concrete bridge apron on the downstream side but the major problem was the set of concrete steps on the upstream side of the road. These steps were apparently created by the road engineers in an attempt to control sediment movement. However it would be hard to envisage a more fiendishly difficult obstacle for fish passage. The steps aren’t totally impassable, in high water conditions they are effectively drowned out and some fish would get over if the water arrived at the appropriate time. Timing in this case is everything as spawning fish would only enter a wee burn such as the Mackalea on the point of spawning.

In May this year myself, Duncan Ferguson and Brian Davidson from RAFTS met at the site with Alasdair Donnelly of Moray council to discuss the improvements.

Alasdair Donnelly, Duncan Ferguson and Brian Davidson of RAFTS discuss the Mackalea steps.

Alasdair Donnelly, Duncan Ferguson and Brian Davidson of RAFTS discuss the Mackalea steps.

Happily I can report that Moray Council subsequently agreed to our suggestion to remove a notch from the upper step with the creation of a ramp constructed from timber. We were also granted permission to fit timber baulks to the concrete apron on the downstream side to create depth over what was a very flat surface and shallow water.

Last year we entered into a sponsorship partnership with Speyburn Distillery in support if our conservation work in the Spey catchment. The Mackalea Burn was an ideal project to take forward under this partnership and in September we were able to engage local contractors to carry out the planned works.

Mark Strathdee Ltd at work installing the timber modifications to the Mackalea Burn

Mark Strathdee Ltd at work installing the timber modifications to the Mackalea Burn

The timber ramp installed on the Mackalea Burn steps

The timber ramp installed on the Mackalea Burn steps

Timber baulks to create depth on the formerly shallow concrete bridge apron ont he downstream side of the culverts

Timber baulks to create depth on the formerly shallow concrete bridge apron on the downstream side of the culverts

Since the works were completed the flows in the burn have been low, this part of Scotland having missed the recent heavy rain on the west, however it is pleasing to report that a few sea trout redds have appeared in the burn upstream of the culvert.

One of two sea trotu redds in close proximity a short distance upstream of the new fish pass.

One of two sea trout redds in close proximity a short distance upstream of the new fish pass.

Salmon have also been seen trying to ascend the steps in the past, indeed we have stocked upstream of the culverts in recent years with salmon parr. I will keep an eye on this burn in the next few weeks to see if there is any evidence of salmon above the road. A nearby B&B proprietor is also a keen fisher and he also keeps a close eye on the burn. An additional temporary baffle has been placed across the left hand culvert to create more depth at the foot of the fish pass. Subject to further observation this baffle will be a permanent fixture.

This was a nice wee project; it won’t suddenly transform the fortunes of the Spey but all the burns in ths part of the catchment are highly productive for juvenile fish given access. I would expect that in due course the population structure of the trout in this burn will become more consistently good and it will be interesting to see how the salmon respond.

We are extremely grateful to Speyburn for the sponsorship they provide and we look forward to developing other improvement projects in the future.

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

Salmon return to the Glenbeg Burn

In April 2013 I reported on the blog that with the assistance of BEAR Scotland and the SFB team baffles had been fitted in the culvert where the Glenbeg Burn flows under the A95 just to the south of Grantown. The aim was to improve fish access and the proof of the pudding would be the appearance of naturally spawned salmon fry in the burn upstream of the culvert.

Today was the first decent weather on a weekday for at least two weeks. With dropping river levels we took advantage to complete six electrofishing surveys; two in the Dellifure Burn, three in the Glenbeg Burn and one in the Kylintra Burn in Grantown. It was a very interesting and satisfying day although this post concerns the Glenbeg Burn only.

The three survey sites in the Glenbeg Burn were all upstream of the A95 culvert. The uppermost was on the woodland/moor fringe. The habitat here is excellent for salmon fry; shallow and riffly but there were only trout fry and parr present although in good numbers.

The middle site was more typical of the Glenbeg Burn; a deep entrenched channel with pebbly substrate. Previously only trout had been found at this site but amongst the 70 or so trout fry were 6 salmon fry. A nice find and irrefutable evidence that at least two salmon had made it past the baffles last autumn.

One of the naturally spawned salmon fry found in the middle Glenbeg Burn site

One of the naturally spawned salmon fry found in the middle Glenbeg Burn site

The middle site in the Glenbeg Burn. At least one pair of salmon must have made it this far upstream last spawning season

The middle site in the Glenbeg Burn. At least one pair of salmon must have made it this far upstream last spawning season

The lower site was a short distance upsteam of the culvert and here again we found salmon fry with a few parr. Scale samples will confirm the age of these parr but some may have been derived from the last stocking in 2012. We found no fry at this site last year but it is not inconceivable that some parr migrated upstream through the baffles.

The steel baffles in the Glenbeg Burn culvert. They have slowed and deepened the flow greatly.

The steel baffles in the Glenbeg Burn culvert. They have slowed and deepened the flow greatly.

The Glenbeg Burn has been stocked intermittently over a number of years and whilst it is known that they historically spawned well up the burn this is the first time that we have found salmon fry upsteam of the culvert when no stocking had occurred. At the stocking sub-committee it was agreed that it should be stocked again unless there were salmon fry present. However, the evidence from our extensive experience of stocking and monitoring in the Spey burns suggests that encouraging naturally spawning fish is likely to result in a more sustainable population, although of course the spawning fish that produced these fry could have themselves been stocked.

Spey Fishery Board

Ballintomb Burn – LIFE project success

In order to improve fish passage up the Ballintomb Burn the “Irish Ford” pipe bridge across the lower reaches was replaced with a proper bridge in 2004 as part of the LIFE project. The Ballintomb Burn is noted for its dark peaty water, in fact yesterday you couldn’t see the bottom if it was more than about 6″ deep.

I had never surveyed the Ballintomb Burn before but as we are currently trying to balance the electrofishing survey plan with the need to prepare for forthcoming meetings etc Polly, Kirsteen and myself nipped out to fit in two surveys in close proximity to the office yesterday afternoon.

The new bridge over the lower reaches of Ballintomb Burn, constructed as part of the CASS LIFE project

The new bridge over the lower reaches of Ballintomb Burn, constructed as part of the CASS LIFE project

The survey site in the Ballintomb Burn was described as “500m upstream of Irish Ford”; a vague description, but the site photos combined with the GPS allowed us to find the exact survey site with little difficulty. As in many burns with a high level of tree cover the rocks were very slippery with algae; along with the dark water it was tricky wading.

Site SLB12b in the Ballintomb Burn. This is qute a high gradient area with a high percentage of boulders.

Site SLB12b in the Ballintomb Burn. This is quite a high gradient area with a high percentage of boulders.

We caught quite a few fish including 10 salmon parr.

Kirsteen measuring the catch. I thought the water looked tea coloured, others suggested it was like Vodka and coke - it's a generational thing I suppose!

Kirsteen measuring the catch. I thought the water looked tea coloured, others suggested it was like Vodka and coke – it’s a generational thing I suppose!

There a decent history of surveys at this site, mainly due to the involvement of the LIFE project, and it is pleasing to see that quite an improvement in the fish stocks have been recorded.

Both salmon and trout densities have improved post bridge construction. The parr densities for both species recorded yeterday were the best to date. Fry numbers are generally low at this site, probably due to the gradient and rough substrate, although the trout obviously did well in 2002!

Both salmon and trout densities have improved post bridge construction. Yesterday’s parr densities for both species were the best to date. Fry numbers are generally low at this site, probably due to the gradient and rough substrate, although the trout obviously did well in 2002.

There is only a short length of the Ballintomb Burn available to migratory fish due to the presence of a large set of waterfalls. The gains from the investment made by the LIFE project were therefore relatively modest but by making it accessible to migratory fish returns will occur now and for evermore more.

Shepherd's Linn on the Ballintomb Burn

Shepherd’s Linn on the Ballintomb Burn. This photo was taken in the winter, note the clear water.

Spey Fishery Board