Salmon return to the Glenbeg Burn

In April 2013 I reported on the blog that with the assistance of BEAR Scotland and the SFB team baffles had been fitted in the culvert where the Glenbeg Burn flows under the A95 just to the south of Grantown. The aim was to improve fish access and the proof of the pudding would be the appearance of naturally spawned salmon fry in the burn upstream of the culvert.

Today was the first decent weather on a weekday for at least two weeks. With dropping river levels we took advantage to complete six electrofishing surveys; two in the Dellifure Burn, three in the Glenbeg Burn and one in the Kylintra Burn in Grantown. It was a very interesting and satisfying day although this post concerns the Glenbeg Burn only.

The three survey sites in the Glenbeg Burn were all upstream of the A95 culvert. The uppermost was on the woodland/moor fringe. The habitat here is excellent for salmon fry; shallow and riffly but there were only trout fry and parr present although in good numbers.

The middle site was more typical of the Glenbeg Burn; a deep entrenched channel with pebbly substrate. Previously only trout had been found at this site but amongst the 70 or so trout fry were 6 salmon fry. A nice find and irrefutable evidence that at least two salmon had made it past the baffles last autumn.

One of the naturally spawned salmon fry found in the middle Glenbeg Burn site

One of the naturally spawned salmon fry found in the middle Glenbeg Burn site

The middle site in the Glenbeg Burn. At least one pair of salmon must have made it this far upstream last spawning season

The middle site in the Glenbeg Burn. At least one pair of salmon must have made it this far upstream last spawning season

The lower site was a short distance upsteam of the culvert and here again we found salmon fry with a few parr. Scale samples will confirm the age of these parr but some may have been derived from the last stocking in 2012. We found no fry at this site last year but it is not inconceivable that some parr migrated upstream through the baffles.

The steel baffles in the Glenbeg Burn culvert. They have slowed and deepened the flow greatly.

The steel baffles in the Glenbeg Burn culvert. They have slowed and deepened the flow greatly.

The Glenbeg Burn has been stocked intermittently over a number of years and whilst it is known that they historically spawned well up the burn this is the first time that we have found salmon fry upsteam of the culvert when no stocking had occurred. At the stocking sub-committee it was agreed that it should be stocked again unless there were salmon fry present. However, the evidence from our extensive experience of stocking and monitoring in the Spey burns suggests that encouraging naturally spawning fish is likely to result in a more sustainable population, although of course the spawning fish that produced these fry could have themselves been stocked.

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Bryan Herbert at 9:35 am

    Brian it’s just a shame you never got this done before the big damaging spate that hit the river system as possibly a high proportion of the juvenile fish population could have been washed out of the burn drastically affecting your end result. But none the less at least some fish survived the torrents of water flowing down the system.

    • Brian Shaw Author at 7:47 pm

      Hi Bryan, there were still plenty fish in the Glenbeg Burn, not much different to the numbers found during previous surveys. However the Glenbeg Burn will be quite resilient to flood damage as it is quite low gradient, meanders naturally and the water can spill out onto the floodplain quite easily. We have had a look in a few burns over the last few days with mixed results. The Kylintra Burn in Grantown for example had one of the highest trout parr densities we have seen. In the River Fiddich today the upper site was excellent but numbers in the lower sites were well down compared to previous surveys. We need to do more surveying before we are able to come to any firm conclusions.
      Brian

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