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A Tweed Fisheries Biologist’s Week – Saturday 23rd October

Saturday 23rd October: On traps this weekend. Was expecting some movement with the higher water, but only one small trout at the Cardrona trap.

Sunday 24th October : Still nothing at the traps.

Monday 25th October : On leave

Tuesday 26th October: On leave

Wednesday 27th October: A complicated day, though was supposed to be very simple – James and Kenny at the Gala fish pass trap, while Nick and I met with some Game Conservancy experts to talk about our predatory bird surveys and how we could extend our counts and focus much more on the Ettrick and Yarrow, a major source of Spring Salmon. We need to try and separate out predation on Spring Salmon smolts from predation on Tweed salmon in general and see at what level this is at. After a preliminary discussion in the office, took our visitors out to see the smolt trap on the Yarrow and then went down to Philiphaugh for lunch at the cafe and to look at the Viewing Centre and the fish counter – but found that the counter was “not connected” and so not working. Phoned James and then tried to get it re-started but to no avail. Phoned him again and arranged that I would take his place at the Gala trap while he came out to the Ettrick counter, so took our visitors there as well. Found that James had already left and as he was using my vehicle, the other being in for a service, this meant that I had no appropriate footwear. Fortunately, B & Q being just nearby I was able to buy a pair of wellies. Worked the trap with Kenny for the rest of the afternoon, the system being that the fish pass is blocked off and then partially drained down from time to time to let us collect the fish that had come up meantime. A lot of fish jumping at the cauld and we were getting about half a dozen for each trapping session. About equal numbers of Salmon and Sea-trout, but no Brown-trout for sexing. However, we also collected scales from the fish processed – always useful to have these from fish in their home tributaries as it fixes the population they come from  and their “depth” measurements as well as lengths. This is to check on the accuracy of the formula the fish counter uses to calculate the length of the fish passing through it, which is based on the “depth” of the fish at the dorsal fin. Continued this till dark, then back to office, where found an unsuccesful James. The spare counter will have to be put in tomorrow. My computer, at least, is back in action – a new power unit was installed yesterday and it seems to be working fine. In the evening revised the talk I’m giving tomorrow at the Scottish Freshwater Group meeting at Stirling – hadn’t been able to do this previously without a computer.

Thursday 28th October:  Spent a couple of hours in the morning catching up on e-mails etc. after the computer glitch, then off to Stirling University with Niall to give a talk at the Scottish Freshwater Group meeting on trapping trout. James got the problem fish counter replaced with the old, spare, one but this doesn’t connect online. The problem one will have to go back to Iceland for repair.

Friday 29th October: Weekly staff meeting in the morning, then most of the rest of the day drafting a background and scoping paper on bird predation and counting and the Spring Salmon stock as a basis for future collaboration with the Game Conservancy, but in mid afternoon got a call from the angling club volunteer running the trap in the Ale Water catchment as he had got his first Sea-trout of the season. There’s nothing happening at the other traps at present, not even at the Tweedsmuir one, which usually has the earliest fish each year – but this Ale Water one has had over a hundred small fish already (Grayling and Salmon parr as well as trout), and now a Sea-trout pair, a very coloured cock and hen. There were a dozen or so small fish as well, which had been in the trap in the morning, the larger fish (around 4lbs each) having arrived later during the daytime.  Took genetics samples from all but the smallest fish. The burn this trap is in is a bit of a ditch and not the sort of place that it might be thought that fish would spawn in, but Sea-trout really can use just about any bit of water.