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A Tweed Fisheries Biologist’s Week – Saturday 26th November

Saturday 26th November: Checked the Peebles trap in the morning (nothing) and some local 2nd hand bookshops for any interesting Tweed / fishing books for the library (nothing we haven’t got already)

Sunday 27th November: Checked the trap early in the morning, one small Brown-trout, but clearly likely that fish would run in the falling water levels, so decided to check again at midday. Spent the time in between observing fish at the cauld on the Leithen, where the fish pass is not ideal & identified the problems they were having. Back to the trap and found a female Sea-trout had turned up.

Monday 28th November: On leave

Tuesday 29th November: At the library of the Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory, Pitlochry, collecting and collating records of tagged Sea-trout recaptures for the Living North Seas programme, one output of which will be a comprehensive map of where tagged Sea-trout have come from and gone to within the North Sea. What is very clear is that a change happens at or near the Tweed. To the north there are records of recaptures of Sea-trout tagged on the N. coast of Sutherland; Orkney; the Conon; Beauly; Ness; Findhorn; Spey; Ugie; Deveron; Ythan; Don; Dee; N & S Esk; Bervie and Forth but almost all are in or around the home river or on the coast, just an odd Norwegian record for variety. The most tagging has been on the Esks and there the recaptures are equally north and south, from the Spey at one extreme to the Tweed on the other but overwhelmingly on the coast near to the Esks themselves. The pattern of Tweed recaptures is very different, all to the south and many a long distance away, to the Frisian Islands and the Jutland coast. Our English partners will collate their records as well, and I gather that they too will show  migration to the south rather than just general coastal movements; another partner, Aberdeen University, will map the results along with marine currents and we’ll then see if this change in migration pattern is to do with current directions. The size of Sea-trout also seems to change at the Tweed, with much bigger fish appearing and being characteristic of both north-eastern English and western Danish rivers. It’s possible that what we call Whitling here are the small Sea-trout characteristic of the Scottish East coast to the north but here they overlap with the larger fish of the southern North Sea giving us the two distinct forms.

Wednesday 30th November: In the office most of the day catching up on admin and e-mails: a querie in from Denmark about whether we have any information on Beardies being used as food – and able to send a few refs. to this in reply. Collected up scale packets from three of the sample fisheries. Wrote up a short report on the Leithen fish pass.

Thursday 1st December: Out in the morning to help Kenny with the Ale trap as flows would be high, but found not as high as thought it would be, so able to clean and re-set it. In the office working on a presentation to the RTC meeting on Monday which involved reading up on the disease outbreaks of the 1880s and 1960s to see if any parallels with this year, then out to count the Goosanders on the Caddon reservoir.

Friday 2nd December: Monthly joint staff meeting with the RTC in the morning, then finished off the presentation I’ve giving on disease to the RTC council on Monday. At lunchtime sent off the tissue samples taken from diseased Salmon to the Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling University. In the afternoon started on the short piece I’m giving at the AST Salmon meeting in London on the 13th – there’s a lot of interesting information come out of the SALSEA programme, some of which will directly change the work we do here. Finished the day with a quick first look through the draft of the paper on the chemical analysis of trout fry, which shows how those that have come from Brown-trout eggs can be distinguished from those that have come from Sea-trout eggs, work that we are doing with Napier University.