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A Tweed Fisheries Biologist’s Week – Monday 12th May

Monday 12th May: Back on getting the talk that I will be giving twice this week ready, having had the weekend for new ideas to germinate. A visit from the secretary of the Wye Gillies' Association, who had been put off the The Junction by dirty water, to talk about Salmon management and how we do things here – and specifically about the fact that we have no hatchery. Lunch, some more work on the talk, then down to Tweedswood with Nick for interviews for a TV programme being made for STV on Salmon, and in particular, Spring Salmon. Back for more work on the talk and revision of a guidance pamphlet James is compiling on the RTC's policy

Tuesday 13th May: Some last minute excitement yesterday when an e-mail came in from Germany from an angler who had caught a Sea-trout I had tagged at Paxton last September, on the island of Sylt (details on the main news page). This is one of the Frisian Islands, right on the Danish/German border. The shallow waters inside the string of sandy islands that fringe the Dutch, German and Danish coasts are known as the Wadden Sea and there have been recaptures of Tweed Sea-trout at various places in it since the 1920's. Both fish tagged as Smolts and as Kelts have been recaptured there, showing that the fish go all the way back to their original feeding rounds to mend before returning to spawn again. Looking at the area on Google Earth shows wide areas of sandy bays and shallows, classic Sea-trout feeding areas. Rest of the day on various bits of admin and writing.

Wednesday 14th May: Out early for one of the regular Goosander counts. Not much on my section – May totals tend to be lower in the middle river as the smolts should be further downstream by then. Came across the film crew who'd interviewed me on Monday, at The Junction. They'd been at Upper Floors yesterday and had filmed four salmon being caught and returned.  Back at the office, a visit from the Slaney River Trust and some proprietors from the Cork Blackwater to talk about salmon management, our approach, structure, financing etc. The Slaney is one of a group of rivers in the south-east of Ireland that is, curiously enough, dominated by Spring running fish. The Cork Blackwater, further along the South coast is, however, an Autumn Grilse river. More writing in the afternoon, starting my talk for the TF's 25th Anniversary workshop in June. More information in about the tagged Sea-trout taken on the island of Sylt – it was found dead in a gill net set for Plaice. One of the many things we do not know about our Sea-trout at sea is the exploitation they encounter, from coastal nets or as bye-catch in recreational or commercial netting for other species, or by trawlers.

The Tinnis Smolt trap was put out of action at the weekend by a massive deposition of sand and gravel from a flash flood further upstream, which has been colouring the water all week since then – even at Kelso today, the water was not clear. As Kenny is on traps this week, asked him to find out which burn had been it – it turns out to have been the Eldinhope Burn which comes into the Altrieve Lake, the first tributary on the right hand side to come into the Yarrow below the loch. Amongst the photos he took were some of an unusual flood victim, an Adder. Drowned snakes are not a common sight (photo attached)

Thursday 15th May: On leave, to fish in the Ellem Fishing Club's annual river competition. The Ellem Club is the world's oldest trout fishing club, founded in 1829 and this competition is for the same medal that has been fished for since 1834. This year, I'm also giving the talk at the annual dinner, after the competition.

Friday 16th May: Comments from the anglers on the Whiteadder yesterday on the number of salmon smolts coming down (and I caught one on the Blackadder, near Greenlaw).  The Tinnis Smolt trap went back into action yesterday, having finally been dug out from all the gravel sent down the Yarrow by the flash flood at Eldinhope on Saturday. Usual staff meeting in the morning, then bits of admin and transcribing the records sheets of the smolt traps into the computer. Got a reply from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research on the island of Sylt, where the tagged Sea-trout was caught, from one of their personnel who studies the fisheries of the Waddensea. Hopefully we will be able to establish a link so any more tagged Sea-trout caught in that area will have a better chance of being reported and we might be able to get scale samples so we can establish growth rates – we take scales from the Sea-trout when we tag them, so getting scales from them after they have been at sea for a time will show how much scale growth relates to how much body growth.

Saturday – Giving a talk to the Society for the History of Natural History, in Edinburgh, on how we use historic records of fisheries in our work.