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A Tweed Fisheries Biologist’s Week – Saturday 22nd November

Saturday 22nd November:  On traps again this week. Little doing at the moment, low water conditions and cold.

Sunday 23nd November: Nothing in the traps – very cold water.

Monday 24th November:  Admin in the morning and making a short presentation on Beavers and Fisheries issues for our meeting with the Minister on Wednesday. Out to do the traps in the afternoon – water levels falling, so little chance for the fish.

Tuesday 25th November: More Beavers in the morning, then up to the Tweedsmuir trap to see what repairs need to be made after the big waters of the Autumn. Checked the other traps, hardly even need cleaning now, the water is so low & stable. One of the things that you gain by working with traps is a realisation of just how precarious access is for fish getting into smaller streams – it needs the right water levels at the right time. If we had had a long series of good catch records for Brown trout it would have been very interesting to see if the effects of drought Autumns could be picked up in reduced catches 2-3 years afterwards. Unfortunately, that is precisely what we do lack and what the TTGI is attempting to get going.

Wednesday 26th November: Did e-mails and some data entry, then off to Edinburgh with Nick and Andrew DH to see the Minister at Holyrood on Beavers, where tried to keep my presentation down to the time limit. A useful exchange of views then followed. Lunch there, then back down to Drygrange, where did a bit more data entry and also almost finished the first draft of a paper I’m doing for RAFTS, a “commentary” on an FRS publication on the data needed for salmon stock assessment in Scotland (there was a meeting about this about a month ago, but it’s taken this long to get it done). The idea is to synthesise the data requirements for National salmon stock assessments, as seen  by FRS, with local Trust management work, data collection and their own local needs for stock assessments. Such a system would work for all and  consequently be highly efficient and cost-effective for the country.

Thursday 27th November : Mild & some rain overnight, so a morning check of the traps required -but no flow increase to bring fish in. Finished off the Stock Assessments draft & sent it off and started reading the final draft of the SolwayTweed Eel Management Plan which came in earlier this week from the EA -we’ll adopt the recommendations of this into the Eels section of the next Fisheries Management Plan, though funding for such work is another matter. Unusually for Scotland, where Eel have never been of fisheries importance, we have a baseline on Eel populations here in the 1970’s when a massive Ph.D. study of them was done. It would be of very great interest to repeat some of the sampling done then, to see how Eel numbers compare today. Evening check of the traps afterwards.

Friday 28th November: Another morning check of the traps. At lunchtime, down the river collecting up scale packets at almost the end of the season, leaving stamped, addressed envelopes for any samples taken on the last day to be sent in. Opinions from the boatmen were that their seasons had varied from OK to good – the washouts in September and October had knocked some beat totals back, but others had picked up later and had reached good annual totals.  Did the evening check of the traps and back to the office. James is doing what he likes to do best – sorting and organising data – working on the scales collection and getting more into the database. All sorts of anomalies get picked up when this is done – fish that are apparently too long for their weight and vice versa. Kenny is still working through the TTGI results folders for all the different clubs.