2017 electrofishing report

A bit later than normal but the Spey Fishery Board Electrofishing report for 2017 has now been published. The report can be accessed from the following link

Spey 2017 Electrofishing report

If you have any questions please get in touch via the comments or directly to research@speyfisheryboard.com

The report summary is provided below:

• The 2017 cohort of salmon fry was strong with high fry counts/densities across most of the catchment.
• The salmon fry index results from the Spey mainstem were the highest in the series which runs from 2012 to 2017.
• Downstream of Spey Dam all but two of the salmon fry index site results were in the moderate to very good categories.
• Upstream of Spey Dam salmon fry were widely distributed and the fry counts were the second highest since 2012. A very strong correlation between salmon fry in one year and parr in the next was demonstrated.
• In contrast to the fry the 2017 1+ salmon parr cohort is weak with low counts in the Spey mainstem and in many of the larger tributaries.
• Salmon fry counts in the Avon catchment were found to have recovered well after the very low counts recorded in 2016, although parr counts remain low. This was a consistent finding across most parts of the catchment and is considered to be a consequence of redd washout during Storm Frank.
• Salmon fry index surveys were completed in the River Calder for the first time.
• In the Fiddich salmon fry densities were similar to 2014 but the parr densities were lower. A recovery in parr densities is expected in 2018 due to the strong 2017 fry year class.
• In the upper reaches of the Fiddich salmon fry abundance, and range, recovered fully after the very low 2016 figures.
• In the Feshie some sites were not surveyed due to high water levels. Where surveyed the overall pattern was similar to elsewhere with fry densities up but parr down.
• In the Tromie catchment several the sites demonstrated improving juvenile salmon densities, and in the most peripheral site, salmon were present again after being absent in 2014.
• In the Calder the juvenile densities were low, despite what was considered to be benign overwinter conditions. Low abundance of spawning adults is considered to be a factor. Carrying capacity may also be reduced due to the increasing incidence of extreme flows.
• Salmon and trout parr densities in the burns were found to be very stable in comparison to 2014 with virtually identical average densities.
• The average salmon parr density in the stocking monitoring sites was the highest recorded, primarily due to good results in the Tommore and Knockando burns. Increased smolt production is anticipated from the Tommore Burn in 2018.

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Spey Fishery Board

Spey 2016 electrofishing report

The Spey expends considerable resource on monitoring each year, mainly by juvenile surveys (electrofishing) and smolt trapping. This is an important activity for a river of the Spey’s stature; it is essential that management decisions are based on an informed understanding of the status of juvenile stocks in the river.

In 2016 we completed the Spey mainstem annual salmon fry index surveys as well as year 2 rota tributaries, primarily the Avon and Truim. The major event affecting juvenile stocks in 2016 was the extreme high flows that hit the east of the catchment during Storm Frank but also in early January when even higher flows occurred in the Livet. The 2016 electrofishing report can be found here.

In the mainstem the salmon fry counts downstream of the Avon were about half of the previous year but upstream they were close to average upstream of the Avon confluence, with particularly good results from the upper river in the area from Spey Dam to Kingussie. Upstream of Spey Dam salmon fry were limited in distribution and for the first timed more prevelent in the very upper reaches and almost absent in the usual area upstream of the dam. The salmon parr counts in the mainstem were good, the highest on average if the impacted and volatile results from above Spey Dam are excluded. A high proportion of these parr were large enough to smolt in 2017.

The area of most concern was in the Avon where the mainstem salmon fry index surveys revealed a dramatic decline in the fry counts with lesser. although still concerning, declines in the parr. In the Avon tributaries the situation was better with good salmon parr densities. The status of the juvenile trout population in the Avon continues to be good. Given the significance of the Avon the intention is to repeat the Avon mainstem salmon fry index surveys in 2017, along with some of the tributary sites to establish if the juvenile stocks have recovered naturally.

The results from the Truim also exhibited a reduction compared to 2013 but it is important to distinguish between fluctuations in juvenile densities and long term trends. 2013, the last year when the Avon and Truim were surveyed in detail were years with high juvenile stock status. The declines noted in 2016 are explainable; the extreme high flows being the most likely cause resulting in redd washout. In 2015 the comparison with the results from the 2012 monitoring cycle were good with fry and parr densities up in almost all of the tributaries monitored.

In the 2016 burns monitored (those flowing directly into the Spey) the situation was one of stability with little change compared to the same sites when surveyed in 2013. This suggests that the impact of the high flows was higher in the larger watercourses, where stream power is so much greater.

Overall, whilst the winter spates had an impact the situation is relatively good, especially in comparision to other rivers. It is worth recording that declines in salmon fry densities/counts in 2016 were not restricted to the Spey, news regarding declines in Welsh rivers even made the BBC website. The reasons for the widespread nature of these low fry counts are likely to be varied (high temperatures were suggested as a potential cause in Wales).

Our understanding of the status of juvenile stocks in the Spey remains at a high level. In 2017 the major tributaries surveyed will be the Fiddich, Feshie, Tromie and Calder, as well as the annual salmon fry index surveys in the Spey mainstem.


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Spey Fishery Board

Avon smolt trap report 2015

Finally managed to complete the River Avon smolt trap report for 2015. The report can be accessed by clicking here.

Salmon smolt production was down in 2015 compared to 2014, although the number of trout caught was higher despite lower trap efficiency in the generally higher river levels. Salmon, and trout, smolt age was also slightly less. Two years data is not much on which to base any definitive conclusions, but we can speculate. The differences in smolt production, for both salmon and trout, and the findings of the scale readings could, perhaps, have been anticipated in response to the “Bertha” spate of August 2014.

Comments welcome

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Spey Fishery Board

Spey 2015 electrofishing report

The report of the electrofishing surveys carried out by the Spey Foundation in 2015 is available to download by clicking here. This is a comprehensive report covering the results of the timed and density surveys. The summary and conclusion were:

Summary and Conclusions

• 60 salmon fry index timed electrofishing surveys were completed in the Spey mainstem with salmon fry were present in all sites downstream of Spey Dam.
• 82% of the Spey fry index sites, downstream of Spey Dam, were in the moderate to excellent categories.
• Upstream of Spey Dam salmon fry were found at 70% of the survey sites although all in very low or low categories.
• Salmon parr counts during the fry index surveys were down compared to 2013/14 with similar findings in the Spey mainstem density surveys.
• The salmon fry index surveys in the Dulnain found that although the counts were higher than recorded in 2012 there was no significant difference between 2012 and 2015.
• Salmon fry were found in all the Nethy index sites with the normal pattern of declining counts with altitude.
• The salmon fry index counts in the Luineag were in the moderate to good categories at all sites.
• In the Am Beanaidh the distribution of fry was atypical with higher counts found in the middle and upper sites. Channel instability in the lower reaches was highlighted.
• Overall statistically significant increases in densities of salmon, and trout, fry and parr were recorded at the sites surveyed in both 2012 and 2015.
• In the Dulnain density sites salmon and trout fry, and parr, were significantly higher than recorded in 2012.
• Monitoring of habitat restoration sites in the Dulnain catchment highlighted the value of such work, where opportunities exist, with improved fish densities in both diffuse pollution and morphological target areas.
• Annual monitoring of site in the upper Dulnain suggests that spawning stock abundance may limit production in more peripheral areas of the catchment.
• In the Nethy significant increases in salmon and trout fry, and trout parr, were recorded compared to 2012.
• In the Druie monitoring sites there were no significant differences in juvenile salmonid populations compared to 2012.
• In the burns monitoring sites only trout fry densities were significantly higher than recorded in 2012.
• Improved juvenile salmonid populations were recorded where fish passage improvements had been installed in the Mackalea and Broad Burns.
• Monitoring in the Tommore Burn continues to produce positive results with the smolt trap adding additional value and outputs.
• Parr densities recorded in 2015 in some sites were lower than recorded during recent surveys at the same sites however the parr present at these sites were of greater average size, highlighting the plasticity of the salmon lifecycle and their ability to cope with population disturbances.

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Spey Fishery Board

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