More accurately this section should be described as the upper, middle reaches of the Fiddich; salmon go a lot further up than the stretch we counted today. Incidentally someone asked last night for the origin of the term “redd”. I was stumped but a quick internet search suggested that it was originally a verb meaning to “put in order; tidy” or “to clear” see http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/redd (other web references are available). I can see the connection with a fish cleaning or preparing the gravel ready for the eggs, or as someone else suggested, a clean area of gravel! In Ayrshire spawning was referred to as “redding”, a more literal use of the term.
Today Steve and I were joined by Ian, who fortunately for him, lives almost on the banks of the Fiddich. We counted this stretch on the 2nd Dec last year but in 2015 the weather was befitting the first day of winter with lying snow and sleet falling; last year it was a beautiful autumn-like day.
The stretch counted starts where the Cabrach road crosses the Fiddich. This year there were 4 or 5 redds immediately below the bridge (always good vantage point), a good start.
Typical Fiddich salmon redd
Very few fish were seen, just the odd cock fish, the spawning was effectively over. As with all the middle and lower Spey tributaries differentiating between salmon and sea trout redds is tricky but we tried to be quite critical today.
This one was a unanimous salmon redd: all three judges agreeing!
The 2015 count was impressive; 139 salmon redds with 49 counted as trout redds. This compares with 57 salmon and 4 trout redds in 2014. I suspect we were harder on the identification of the redds today but the total count was definitely three times higher than last year. The 2015 count also compares favourable with others in the longer dataset. The highest count was 480 in 1993 but that was a combined count including the downstream section as far as the Dullan mouth, I suspect that count would also have included both trout and salmon redds.
Habitat quality in this stretch of the Fiddich generally good, there is bankside grazing but not too intense with riparian trees almost throughout.
There was a cracking root ball on this alder; how much longer can it last?
In a few places the Fiddich had cut new channels, or more accurately reopened paleo-channels. In the photo above a relatively new channel was becoming established where the Fiddich has meandered into the alder wood.
There endeth my redd counting for 2015, the spate that is bound to follow this mild evening will flatten many of the redds making counting more difficult. Still it was good to be impressed by the number of redds in the Spey at last!
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