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A Tweed Fisheries Biologist’s Week – Monday 7th June

Due  to a Gremlin in the works the previously posted Monday to Wednesday reports have somehow vanished into Cyberspace. To continue:

Thursday 10th June: Down to the nets for a 06.30 start. The difficulties started with the presence of a seal off the batt, which is not good news for netting. Seals inspect nets as they are being hauled, either from inside or outside, looking for an easy prey. Scared fish dive to the bottom, so if the base of the net has not yet touched ground, the fish escape – seals can also rip nets to get at fish, which means delays to make repairs. The next difficulty was the amount of  “Slake” (green algae, Enteromorpha) which has built up in the estuary without a spate to carry it away and this clogs up the net, makes it visible to fish and creates a great weight to be hauled – still got a salmon and three sea-trout in the first shot though. The next difficulty was for me as, from time to time, there's a fish that just seems to be resistant to anaesthetic , and this was one of them, so the processing was not easy. After just four shots, netting had to be abandoned due to the sheer weight of weed, even before low water and the flood. Back to the office earlier than expected. The usual Friday morning weekly staff meeting in the afternoon, as I'm netting again tomorrow morning. A good box of tissue samples in from one of the beats that has been collecting them for the salmon genetics work, including a 19lb fish caught in May – always extra interest to see which part of the catchment such fish come from. This is the second season that these beats have been collecting these samples – and they include fish from December and January when we've had special permission from the government for one of the beats to fish for a few days to sample fish from outside the season.

Friday 11th June: Another 06.30 start, a beautiful morning. Both seal and Slake still present. The tides are bigger now, so some movement in the water to make the net work and space to make bigger shots. The first was so full part of the cork line was under water, but in amongst the Slake were 2 salmon and 16 Sea-trout. After that, not much but weed and netting was again abandoned early when the turn of the tide started bringing tons of the stuff back in. When nets fill with weed, small fish that usually go straight through the mesh get brought in, and one shot today produced a few Sandeels, one of the key species of the Sea-trout food-chain. Back to the office early again.Yesterday, everyone else was at the Glendale Childrens's Countryside day, with 1550 primary school children from all over Northumberland. The report was that that it was the same as last year, that only a tiny fraction of the children, the very, very, few who'd been fishing, had even heard of the names “trout” and “salmon” let alone knew that these were the fish that lived in the streams they saw every day near their homes.