So after four days of electrofishing the areas we stocked, we have now completed the stocking monitoring for this year.
On Tuesday, we electrofished the Burn of Mackalea and the Rothes Burn. The sites on the Rothes burn were new ones, with one just above the impassable distillery weir, and the other further upstream beyond the golf course. At the weir site, there were only two salmon with good numbers of trout fry, and trout aged both 1+ and 2+. At the site further up, there was just one salmon, and several trout probably one or two years old. On the Mackalea burn, the lower site had 1 salmon in comparison to 2 last year, with trout numbers lower too. The upper site also saw a reduction in the numbers of salmon which was disappointing.
On Wednesday, we left the car behind and set off to do the Burn of Brown sites, which require a fair bit of walking. This burn is not accessible to salmon due to a fairly impressive gorge like waterfall, which is popular with gorge walkers.
The first site was very long, and doing it three times was fairly hard going! This site had almost exactly the same number of salmon as last year which is positive and shows it is consistently a good place for them to mature. The numbers of trout had decreased though, perhaps the salmon are out-competing them.
The second site showed almost the same number of salmon and an increase in trout which was a good result! The final site also showed fairly consistent numbers of salmon with less trout.
Thursday saw us at the Cally Burn, not far from the office. Here unfortunately we did not find any salmon. The rest of the day was spent up the Batten Burn, near Carrbridge, where the lower site showed a very slight reduction in salmon, and the upper site showed lower than last year too. Although quite a few of the sites seemed to show a decline, the salmon that were present were in very good condition. I will have to look more into the sizes of fish caught to see how much they differ in size in comparison to last year. A few of the sites were also fished in very challenging conditions, efficiency of the electrofishing can play a role in the numbers you catch.
Today we started the mainstem sites on a very hot day! Waders are not the best hot weather gear. We started at the Brae Water beats and will steadily work our way up. This will be the third year of using the fry index method of surveying, so it will be useful to hopefully see a pattern building up.