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A Tweed Fisheries Biologist’s Week – Monday 14th November

Monday 14th November: Admin and data analyses most of the day, with an interlude from a Belgian visitor with whom we’ve been discussing trout trap design. He’s set up a trap on a small burn in the Ardennes to check what fish are spawning there and is waiting for the first run of the season. Interesting to hear from him that there has been considerable progress in getting fish passes put in on locks and weirs on the Meuse and Salmon restoration is on the cards. Whatever the problems of Salmon at sea, the positive side of things is that there are far more Salmon rivers now than there have been for at least a century: even the R. Mersey in England is recolonising. Kenny then took him out to see the trap on the Ale Water system that is being run with the Hawick Angling Club.

Tuesday 15th November: Spent the morning analysing electric-fishing data from the Ettrick and Yarrow checking for any  signs of reduced juvenile abundances in its upper zones. In the afternoon did a job review with James checking on how he feels his work is going.

Wednesday 16th November: Down river with Niall in the morning to download the Automatic Listening Stations & pick up the scale packets and genetic samples taken by the netsman at Berwick.  The ALS show that while the Sea-trout shot up river after tagging in September, the salmon (as last year) move much less quickly and many are still well down the river. In the afternoon did Kenny’s job review with him and then checked through the instructions and preservatives that I had asked for from the Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling University so that we can take tissue samples for disease examination. We’ve done this before without anything in particular being found, but with the number of moribund and diseased fish in the river this Autumn another check will be of interest.

Thursday 17th November: Did some early morning phoning around the nearest boatmen to arrange for them to contact me tomorrow about moribund fish that I could take pathology samples from. Weekly staff meeting today, instead of the usual Friday, then a meeting with the FASMOP team to hear the latest on the genetics work and what sort of findings will be in the report to us: clear, they say, that we have genetically distinctive Salmon populations within the catchment though precisely how many will take further work to find out. After lunch, out to count the Goosanders on the Caddon Reservoir, then e-mails and admin. A good  update in from Napier University about using pigments to distinguish between fry originating from Brown-trout and Sea-trout eggs, so it looks as if that is very much a “goer” & I will now have to draft a formal proposal for further work.

Friday 18th November: Collected tissue samples from moribund diseased fish at Ravenswood and Gledswood in the morning – visually, there’s nothing wrong inside with these fish, even the livers look normal. While the UDN of the 1960s is well known, there was also a disease outbreak in the 1880s, when it was simply called “the Salmon disease” and even though Bacteriology was a new science in those days, with limited techniques, they could see that the white, Saprolegia, fungus was only a secondary infection and not an actual, primary, disease – a finding that still hasn’t reached many anglers more than 100 years later! Offce work and admin for the rest of the day, including Barry’s job review, then out to the Hawick Angling Club centenary dinner in the evening.