Website comments

The Spey Fishery Board is very keen to stimulate interest and understanding of the work we do, and to promote dialogue via the website, this being the primary reason for the establishment of the blog. However items posted in the News section of the website are there to provide information and should be viewed as official anouncements.  The website was set up by our IT advisors but is entirely run by SF/SFB staff. It is still relatively new and is much more interactive than the previous version.Consequently we are still learning about its capabilities and structure. In hindsight items posted on the News section should not have had the comments facility activated.

The policy will be to have the comments facility available on the blog but News items or other official notices will be there for information only with no comments facility.

I will next week post a report on the blog regarding our monitoring results from the 0+ parr stocking carried out last year, perhaps this would be a good opportunity for comments relating to that stocking strategy?

We would like to encourage comment via the blog and I am grateful for the feedback and comments posted to date, please keep them coming.

Brian Shaw

The Chairman has asked me to add that he, too, welcomes the interest that our new Website has produced. He also welcomes the obvious interest that news of an impending Public Meeting is generating. The main purpose of that meeting is for the Board to present the extensive analysis of both our new and historical research into the fishery, to provide more background into the current and historical use of our hatchery and give everyone the opportunity to understand the issues and decisions with which the Board is dealing. He has emphasised how important it is for anyone wanting to make a contribution to the debate, if at all possible, to attend the Meeting. The Board will also give consideration for views to be expressed by all those attending the Meeting, both at the Meeting and subsequently. But obviously these views need to be ones which reflect the information which the Meeting will have put into the Public Domain.

Roger Knight

 

There are 49 comments for this article
  1. smith James at 7:41 am

    To the Board.
    Similar to everyone else that has written you I to have been fishing the Spey,in my case now for over 30 years.
    Laggan,the Brae Water beats 3,4,5,Delagyle, Kinermony,Ballindalloch, Caron,etc.and have enjoyed this immensely.
    I have also fished in Alaska,Versuga (Kola peninsula,) Canada, New Zealand Patagonia,both the Chilean side and Argentina.
    The rational to close the Hatchery I simply don’t comprehend. Who ever came up with that idea.What is the benefit ?
    The forty odd letters that I have read protesting this situation does explain and I would be repeating what so many have already said.
    I simply wish to add one more voice!
    My understanding this closing could take place next year certainly is not good for the Salmon who has been suffering from Netting, Cormorants Goosanders,Disease from the Farms,Netting in the oceans which is supported by modern equipment ,etc.The economy of the areas would also be effected in a very negative manner,I am sure this is also recognised by all.
    Sincerely,
    J. Smith

    • Brian Shaw Author at 9:12 am

      Dear James,

      Thank you very much for your comment, the first for a couple of weeks on this lively topic.

      Decisons regarding the management of the river, and hatchery, should be based on evidence. In the case of the hatchery the evidence available consists of the genetic study and analysis of Spey rod catches in an historic context and in comparison with other rivers in recent years.

      The initial results of the genetic study shows that approximately 0.5% of the rod caught fish in the Spey were derived from hatchery origin fish. We don’t have any accurate counter data for adult salmon running the river but lets assume for a moment that it is in the order of 50,000 per annum. At the peak of the hatchery operation we were stripping eggs from 300+ hen salmon, around 1% of the total hen salmon spawning each year. So 1% of the hen salmon put through the hatchery produced 0.5% contribution to the rod catch. Clearly there may have been better returns if these fish had been left to spawn naturally.

      At its recent meeting the Spey Fishery Board agreed to expand the genetic analysis to include two further years of rod caught fish. This will make the genetic analysis very robust. The results from this analysis should be available in spring 2013.

      The initial target of the Spey stocking policy from 2003 onwards was to increase the Spey rod catch by 10%, or an extra 850 fish per season. Looking independently at recent and current rod catches it looks as if the Spey has under-performed in comparison with the nearby River Dee. Also there is no correlation between numbers of fish stocked and subsequent rod catches. For example the Avon and tributaries were stocked in 2008 with 1,000,000 fry, its highest stocking level. The smolts derived from that stocking would have smolted in 2010/2011 and be returning as adults now. The rod catch trend from the Avon is not encouraging with this season being particularly poor.

      It is my job to look critically at these matters and to provide advice to the Spey Foundation and the Spey Fishery Board. The evidence available suggests that the hatchery is doing nothing to improve catches on the rivers, indeed its operation is possibly part of the problem.

      No-one is complacent about current catches on the river so we need to be doubly sure that it is managed as effectively as possible to maximise smolt output and returns. The only real sustainable strategy on a river the size and quality of the Spey is to conserve the stock and ensure the habitat is as good as possible across the catchment.

      Brian Shaw

    • GRAHAM SALISBURY (SRG) at 8:43 am

      Hello James , just to follow up on your note and Brian’s response the Spey Rods & Ghillies (SRG) hold an alternative view to Brian’s in that previous use of the hatchery on the Spey may have appeared to have failed for several reasons some of which could be:-
      1. Timing of the stockings- fed fry were planted out in spring/mid-summer when the river has insufficient food or is in a feeding frenzy. SRG would prefer the use of targeted stocking of autumn parr which have shown increased return rates against fed fry.
      2. We know that the Spey has been stocked in areas where there were already healthy numbers of wild juveniles at max carrying capacity, again wasting opportunity.
      3. We know that the densities of the stockings were far too high again way above carrying capacity, further wasted stock.
      4. The very limited sampling of returning fish does throw opportunity for gross error.
      SRG feel that targeted stocking of autumn parr should be carried out for a minimum of five years in order to allow results to be felt. If you want to see an alternative professional opinion please find below a link to the Tay stocking policy August 2011. We recognise all systems need to be assessed independently but there is clear belief on the part of the TDSFB that stocking (Targeted) has benefits and has a part to play. http://www.tdsfb.org/documents/TayDSFBstockingpolicy.pdf . At the end of the day we all want the best for the Spey and I for one will not rule out any opportunity, nor will I bury my head in the argument that stocking is the only way forward as clearly there are alternatives. What we all need is an open mind to the opportunities and to be realistic about the time scales for reversing the fortunes of the Spey. Interestingly the Tay has fared rather well this season, its smolts travel the same migration routes as Spey smolts, and it will be worth monitoring this in the coming years to see if a consistent pattern emerges.
      Graham Salisbury (SRG)

        • Francis Sandison at 3:15 pm

          Time the Board spent its money on sensible improvements to the spawning beds and juvenile habitat, coupled with predator control, instead of wasting it on a hatchery that has been shown to contribute virtually nothing to the runs of fish. If rods are so convinced that a hatchery is worthwhile they can put up the money for it themselves. Who’ll be the first to put his hand in his pocket?

          • GRAHAM SALISBURY (SRG) at 8:37 am

            Francis, taking the positive from your note lets agree on the predator control! SRG have suggested a funding route for the improvements to the SFB including habitat improvement and continuation of a targeted autumn parr programme. I don’t think you will find rods slow to put their hands in their pockets towards a well-structured and planned programme to get the river back on course. I am a rod with a very small investment in the river and wouldn’t have a problem at all! Neither should any other genuine rod who wants to see the fortunes of the Spey reversed.

          • Chris Excell Factor Tulchan Estate at 3:32 pm

            Francis
            I must reply to your comments, Mr Litchfield the owner of Tulchan did exactly that in 2004 when the Spey Board was looking for additional hatchery space, investing in excess of £150K in a new hatchery at Tulchan under the supervision of the board, also the annual running costs of some £25K have been met by the Estate each year. The facility now stands empty because the board has decided to a reduce it’s rearing programme and is only rearing a small amount in it’s own hatchery at Sandbank despite being offered the use of the Tulchan hatchery at no cost to the Board. We all have the best interest of the river at heart and all our guests have been very supportive of our contribution.

  2. Chris. Feloy at 8:54 pm

    I have been fishing in access of some 25 years at Tulcom and on other parts of the Spey and I would have expected that the Fishery Board did some forward thinking with regard to the long term effects it would have by closing the hatchery, not only on the local community which is much dependant on fishing which brings a considerable amount of revenue to the area with regard to hotels, food and retailers to the fishing community. The hatchery is a most essential part to re-stock the river as we are continually seeing the adverse changes to our climate which has affected all natural habitat in the sea and on land.

  3. Tony Ellerbeck at 6:26 pm

    Like others more eloquent below, I have also fished the Spey for a number of years and for the past three years the number of parr and smolts seen in the river has reduced dramatically. Whilst I hope the Spey would never become solely reliant upon stocked fish I consider the closing of the hatchery myopic in the extreme.
    It is an additional management tool that can, with the right timing, provide a valuable support mechanism to allow the river to recover from this parlous state. It should remain open for at least another five years.

  4. John Shirtcliffe at 11:26 am

    I have fished the River Spey, commencing in 1983, every year for the last 15 years. Over the last 2 years there has been a definite decline which took a turn for the worse this year when, last week with 4 friends, the 5 of us fished for a total of 17 angling days for 1 4lb grilse (returned). We have all fished together, at this time of year, over the last 10 years and the lack of fish, experienced over the last 2 years, has become increasingly evident. I also fish with another team in June and the trend appears to be similar. It would appear that to close hatcheries at this time, until a proven alternative way of increasing fish stocks is found, is worse than short sighted.
    The cost of fishing including travel – 840 miles in my case – and accomodation is significant, and can only be justified by a reasonable catch, even if all were to be returned. It is not a numbers game, but a virtual absence of fish is not conducive to ecouraging one to return (indeed I have friends who no longer return, opting for other rivers where catches remain constant or better) which would be extremely sad for the Spey valley as it is a magnificent part of the world. Any absence of fishers would also be extremely hard on the local economy.
    The hatcheries are the only answer for the foreseeable future.

  5. Andrew Twelves at 11:11 am

    I have been fishing the Spey for some thirty plus years: spring, summer and latterly late summer every year. Unquestionably there are less fish than there used to be and to close the hatchery would be a great mistake. I am in favour of continuation.

  6. Roy Arris at 9:53 am

    I believe that in the past the hatchery has been used to stock with the youngest, most vunerable fish in June, when all of nature is probably lined up looking for food to feed its newly born/hatched young, so it may be no surprise that the returns of hatchery fish have been low. Before a final decision is made about the hatchery could there not be a reasonable trial period of using only parr, even some smolts, that would be stocked in September?

    I’m sure that, like myself, no Spey fisher wishes to see this wonderful river become totally reliant on stocking. But it would seem, from the very reliable evidence we get from the men who spend each day on the river, the Spey needs a hand in order to produce the surplus of smolts needed to allow a meaningful number of adults to return and sustain a healthy rod fishery.

    As part of an overall management plan an effective stocking policy could be a help for the immediate future, while the various catch-and-release and habitat improvement projects kick in to improve the natural breeding in the long term.

    Very best wishes for this evening’s meeting.
    Roy.

    • Roy Arris at 10:32 am

      Sorry, I meant tomorrow’s meeting.
      The days tend to get mixed up when you’re wishing them away until the next visit to the Spey!

  7. James Macfarlane at 9:13 am

    I have fished the Spey for, on average, two weeks a year for the last twenty years. Over recent years there is no doubt that there are far fewer fish in the river.

    Salmon fishing is just not about catching salmon. It is about the whole experience of being on the river in wonderful surroundings, being near to nature and in all sorts of weather. In short it is a unique experience. However to catch only three salmon, all of which were released, in the last four years is extremely disappointing. Consequently I am now, reluctantly beginning to explore other areas and rivers to fish.

    In my view the Spey Board is extremely shortsighted in not taking steps to try and rectify the situation. Surely it is important to keep the hatcheries open and to release parr as late as possible in the Autumn when they are more able to forage for themselves.

    Board members please wake up and change your policy with regard to the hatcheries.

    JFM

  8. Anthony Ellis at 8:26 am

    Ref. Planned Closure of Hatchery.
    I feel that it would be a huge mistake to close the Hatchery. The river needs all the help it can get to even try and maintain the current low levels of fish in the river. Removing this facility would result in decreasing fish levels, fewer visitors and a great impact on the local economy. Nobody wants to see such a great river and area go into decline.

  9. STEWART NEWELL at 8:21 am

    I have been a regular visitor to the middle Spey every April for 12 years and clearly the volume of salmon has declined year on year.

    Restocking has clearly been successful in other British and overseas salmon rivers and would seem an obvious measure to maintain viability of stocks until such time as the longer term issues are truly identified and dealt with, should this ever prove possible.

    I too would urge the Board to continue with the operation of the hatchery but to review the techniques and policy of stocking fish to maximise its efficiency.

  10. Alex Parramore at 7:10 am

    I have been fishing the Spey in September for a number of years and have come to the conclusion that there are fewer fish about now.
    On looking at the published annual catches for the four Big rivers in 2011 I note that three, The Tweed, The Tay and the Dee, caught in excess of their 5 year average whereas the Spey was down on its five year average despite a high release rate.
    It seems to be somewhat short sighted to be shutting hatcheries at this time, opening those already shut would seem to be more appropriate.

  11. Gordon Mackenzie at 4:04 pm

    From what Brian has been writing in his blogs, it appears electrofishing surveys have given variable results over the Spey catchment.
    To me this means that every time a fish gets killed on the Spey, it may have been destined to spawn on a part of the catchment where the fish population cannot stand any form of exploitation.
    It may be that total Catch and Release as well as a much more targeted hatchery programme may be the way ahead. Would those advocating that the hatchery remains open be prepared to do their bit for the Spey by agreeing total C & R until stocks recover or at least until the reasons for a decline in fish stocks on the Spey are better understood?

    • Jock Royan at 5:31 pm

      Hi Gordon,

      A good number of ghillies & indeed many anglers are very keen on an immediate 100% catch & release initiative on the Spey, especially regarding the spring fish. As the Spey board consider June catches to be part of their spring catches, it would make sense to incorporate C&R until the end of June as they do in England.

      I found it absolutely incredible that the Spey Foundation recommended the closure of the hatchery accompanied by no change to the conservation policy at their last meeting. I feel very strongly that if the hatchery is to be closed in a years time, anything less than a 100% C&R policy is simply bad river management. Such a policy could simply be reviewed annually.

      I’m afraid that those beats who consider that their tenants wouldn’t return unless they were entitled to keep could keep their catch, should recognise that the same tenants certainly won’t return if they can’t catch anything!

      The stats proven by the recent genetic study were based upon a chuck it & chance stocking policy & it’s crutial that the Spey Board admit this fact. Why they are bothering with an extra years genetic study is beyond belief. Surely the money would be better spent on habitat improvements.

      There is no quick-fix solution here however my own opinion is that we should give the late stocking of 0+Parr a chance as was agreed but in addition introduce a 100% C&R policy until the end of May as a minimum backstop.

      Kindest regards,

      Jock Royan

    • GRAHAM SALISBURY SRG at 7:33 pm

      Hi Gordon, just to reinforce the views of Jock a fellow SRG member I have no problem with C & R whether partial, targeted at protecting the spring component or total. One thing I am certain of is that for the Spey to regain its status as a top European destination for salmon anglers there needs to be a move to maximise the use of the nursery areas ensuring we produce the maximum number of smolts each spring. This is the only real area where we can have a degree of control or influence. SRG believe use of a well-targeted autumn parr programme will accelerate the rate of recovery. We must also remember the huge contribution the fishery makes to the economy of the entire Spey Valley.
      GRAHAM SALISBURY (SRG)

  12. Brian Moffat at 5:58 pm

    Given the growing concern about the level of our Atlantic salmon stocks and the need to support them wherever possible I would exhort you to keep the hatchery open and for a guaranteed meaningful period.

  13. Mike Hubbert at 10:34 am

    As an annual fishing visitor to the Spey it has become obvious over the last few years that their is just not the quantity of Fish in the river. We all make excuses about the weather, the temperature or the river level being why we haven’t caught as many fish, however if there aren’t the fish in the lies we are not going to catch them whatever the conditions. The Environment Agency states that for every successful spawning in the river they estimate 50 adult fish return. There must not be the quantity of successful spawning so adult fish are not returning. The hatchery has been assisting the natural spawning and if removed the quantity of fish will reduce further. Without an action plan to increase the spawning level and with no hatchery there will only be one outcome. The Speyside community will lose a major source of revenue and then people will have to move away. Mike Hubbert

  14. JACK ROLFE at 11:48 am

    This disturbing approach to close the Hatcheries can only be detramental to the returning of fish stocks. I have been fishing on the Spey for in excess of 20 yrs in April, May and early June, what was common to catch 4-6 fish for the week in April does not happen anymore. This year in mid April I did not see or touch one single fish after an extremely hard week`s fishing. I live in Oxfordshire about a 9 hrs drive non stop, I am seriously thinking of not returning in future years if things do not improve surely the best people to make a decision as important as this should be the Estate owners and there Gillies. Anyone preposing to do away with the hatcheries must be stark raving mad.

  15. Charles Tryon at 10:03 am

    The state of the River Spey’s migratory salmonid stocks appear to be at a historic low. When compared to stocks in many other East Coast rivers the Spey appears to be in a far worse position than its peers, a point well masked by the huge increase in fishing effort over the past 20 years on the river.

    The fundamental questions I would put to the Spey Board in light of the continuous decline in salmonid stocks are:

    1. What is the River Spey to its more important stakeholders (the ghillies, local businesses and riparian owners)?

    Surely it is a source of employment, revenue generator locally and valuable resource, not to mention a vital habitat and fishery.

    2. Should the board’s mission therefore be better aligned to the needs of the stakeholders?

    My personal observation is that anglers are increasingly deserting the Spey for better managed rivers elsewhere and fishing rates will come under increasing pressure. Anglers are patient people, but they will only tolerate so much. The stakeholders are all suffering from the dire stake of fish stocks in the river, a trend that looks increasingly set to continue.

    3. How can one address the evident decline in migratory fish stocks and stop the rot?

    There is no quicker solution than to stock the river. Rivers throughout the UK have been stock since the 1800’s. As fishing pressure and man made and environmental conditions have changed, man has increasingly stocked fish to improve stocks and catches, why should salmon be different from all other fish stocks who’s genetic identities are more sensitive in many cases?

    Failure to stock they Spey relies on nature and the management of the river taking their course, something that will take many seasons and life cycles to see results. Both appear to be against salmonid stocks and given the significant opportunity cost of not doing so, it would appear to be a decision verging on negligence.

    4. Should the Riparian owners not measure the Boards performance more closely?

    If the River Spey were a corporate entity it’s performance would be measured on its catch returns, fishing rates, angling rental occupancy rates and revenues generated to local estates. It might also be measured by the employment it delivers and local income generation.

    Surely on this basis with rod catches across most beats in a precipitous decline, anglers starting to desert the Spey for better fishing, livelihoods under threat etc the Board would be under threat. If the River Spey were a company, it’s stock would be in free fall, its management and board under significant shareholder pressure, they would probably be replaced!

    • Morgan Kavanagh at 9:24 am

      I would have to agree with Charles’s analysis. For too long anglers and gillies concerns about the river have been ignored-a real case of Nero watching as Rome burns. The river and the salmon stock seemed to have been used as a play thing for scientists over the years rather than as a properly managed fishery. A well managed hatchery will be vital if the river is to recover- closing it would be complete folly. I would like to welcome Brian Shaw’s blog and this coment page-at least we now have somewhere to vent our frustrations!

  16. Bill Day at 1:21 pm

    I have been fishing the Spey in late May for about 30 years [not missing a year].The serious decline in Atlantic Salmon I think started about 15 years ago since then it has got steadily worse,this year fishing the last week in May was the first time I did not see a sign of a fish let alone catch one.Surely if the people whose decision it is on the hatcheries have any common sense at all they must continue to try to get stocks up by any means at there disposal or there will be no Salmon for my grand children to catch and no revenue for Scotland.
    Bill Day

  17. Andrew Grant at 11:54 am

    I first fished the Spey some 12 years ago. To fish at Tulchan was the fulfillment of a long held ambition. For the last few years I have been taking parties of clients there to share the experience. I have a great attachment to the River and the estate but it is currently a poor business proposition given the poor catches that we experienced. When you set the cost of a week on the Spey with few fish against either other rivers or better prospects in Iceland it is looking very expensive.

    I want to go back every year and share this wonderful place with my friends and children. It is hard to see how closing the hatcheries can help restore the river to its proper glory.

    Action is needed but not this action.

    AG

  18. Andrew Wright at 10:57 am

    Like many others I have fished the Spey for nearly forty years and seen good and bad times. However its present state frankly is the worse, I have never witnessed such a major decline in fish stocks and of course the near complete lack of parr must obviously reflect the reasons for this decline. I fail to see that by removing the Hatcheries the river will heal itself and the runs will become prolific once again. There are no real issues with the quality of the river and its tributaries lets be honest the problems are from major decimation of the fish at sea, and worse the complete lack of honesty demonstrated by certain anglers when declaring catch returns to justify killing fish. What mediocre returns of mature fish to the river are decimated by the “kill every second fish” policy. I have witnessed rods declaring there dead fish numbers two, four, six etc and known full well they have only caught three fish. Whats worse is the records held by the beat indicate six fish caught. Here is the crux of the problem and I would suggest that people have been fooling themselves to believe the river is producing far more fish when in reality its not, this has gone on for years and now is obviously chrisis point. Several issues here, but I would ask that we simply focus on the causes of the situation firstly decimation at sea (Commercial Fishing,Explosion of Predators, ie; Seals), Secondly the falsification of catch records (complete catch and release through out the river), and lastly surely common sense would suggest any Hatchery is a help and to be encourage until nature can get back on its feet. Not until a cobination of these issues are addressed will the river hopefully turn the corner, if not we might as well take up white water rafting and buy a canoe as fishing will become a minority sport on the beautiful River Spey.

  19. Barry Fisher at 6:29 pm

    We have been fishing the Spey for 33 years and think it would be very detremental to the river and the people who’s livelyhoods depend on the river if you were to close the hatchery.
    With fish numbers falling closing the hatchery cannot be the right way to go forward.

  20. Andrew Roper at 4:44 pm

    The decline in returning salmon to the Spey can only be arrested by a serious committment to the hatchery (ie stocking) and improved management of the habitat.
    If the Fishery board does no have the will to committ to both they will be letting down all the families whose livelihoods depend on the fishing.
    Transparency of weekly catches and the appointment to the board of non riparian owners and factors would be a step in the right direction.

  21. Richard Heywood at 6:30 pm

    Dear Board Members,
    I have been fishing the Spey,almost annually,
    since 1959 & desperately hope you will keep the Hatchery open.I totally support the hatchery facility & fully support what Dougie Ross says about it.The decline in the number of parr caught is significant & highly depressing.
    Yours very sincerely
    RH

  22. Jonathan Ellerbeck at 12:17 pm

    Given the length of timelines needed in instances such as these, surely changes things when they are in decline is madness?

    This is like trying in to turn an oil tanker but disabling the engine or rudder half way through.

    Can the hatchery actually be doing more harm than good?

    Given the desperate state the river is now reaching, ALL avenues need to be explored.

    Furthermore, at what point does the Spey board acknowledge that there are lot of people with monetary interests along the Spey (both local industries/services and owners). All of which are dependent upon the demand of the river by the fishers. We’ve recently seen the FTSE 100 shareholders revolt…I sometimes wish there was more power held by the Ghillies. Surely the men that arduously work on the river day, day out, know that Parr levels have depleted.

    Regards,

    Jonathan Ellerbeck

  23. David Daniels at 11:46 am

    I feel that the most important matter with the Spey is the quality of the breeding grounds – tributaries included. Over the years I have noticed farm ditches clogged with mud, silted up, a lack of overhanging vegetation & this cannot possibly help matters.
    As to re-stocking I am certain that stopping this procedure now would be utter folly. Perhaps the detail of the re-stocking method should be scientifically addressed with fully weighted input from Ghillies.

  24. David de Stacpoole at 10:55 am

    Like many of those who have already commented on the declining stocks I believe it behoves the Board to keep the hatcheries open. No question. However, experience elswhere indicates that its highly likely that a change of tactic providing an Autumn release programme for parr will benefit the river considerably. DdeS

  25. Gordon Mackenzie at 10:26 am

    I am writing this as an occasional Spey angler. I am bemused as to why so many comments support the retention of a hatchery when it is obviously failing to do the intended job (put more fish in the river).
    I cannot see what good stocking with parr as opposed to fry will do. The result will more than likely be the same….much money spent and a continued decline in stocks.
    Surely it is time to take a step back and actually try and find the reason for the decline in stocks? Could it be that the hatchery operation is the reason for the decline?
    I fish the Tweed much more than the Spey and there appear to be many more fish in the Tweed which has not had the “benefit” of a hatchery for years.
    I seem to remember calls for the progency of spring fish to be restocked in the lower river due to a lack of catches of spring fish in the area. Can someone tell me if this was carried out and led to the improved catches of spring fish in the lower river this year?
    I am sure it is possible to get an idea of the numbers spawning fish from the redd counts and then maybe restock areas shown to be lacking in fish AFTER the reason for the lack of fish has been identified and fixed.
    Until then, would it not be better to preserve what stocks there are ( possibly by going C & R like the Dee) rather than possibly wasting stocks with aimless restocking.

  26. Chris Hallas at 8:03 pm

    To close the hatchery at this time when catches are reducing year on year would be an act of sheer lunacy. The future of this magnificent river could be at stake here. An alternative stocking policy,proven to have worked on other rivers, was supposedly agreed by the board and should be implemented as soon as possible. Anglers can still enjoy the wonderfull scenery and local hospitality,just give them a chance to catch a fish or two !

  27. Alan Robinson at 11:27 am

    The Spey needs help and support, to mentain its fragile stock of salmon. The way forward has to be with the support of a hatchery, releasing parr that can smolt in the river naturally. When!! With the the help from all those concerned in the long term future of the Spey, the salmon run is back to a level that it can support its self, you can concider the future of the hatchery in ten years time, not on the 25th September 2012

    Kind regards
    Alan Robinson SRG

  28. Dick Oldfield at 8:07 am

    I wrote my comment late at night and in a hurry, and on re reading it I realise that there are no significant hatcheries on the two mentioned rivers. The clue perhaps is somewhere else…ask the ghillies, they are best placed to say what should be done. Whatever… the hatchery should stay
    RO

  29. Richard Taylor at 7:36 pm

    I have fished the Spey regularly for over 20 years and the detoriation in the quality of the fishing is a very serious issue. In years gone by I would regularly catch parr on small salmon flies. These days I may catch the odd one in a week (and this on a beat where the number of fry is reportedly so good). I am entirely in favour of the hatchery and a policy of stocking 0 plus parr in large numbers. As someone who lives 12 hours from the river I am unable to attend the meeting on the 25th, however, I hope the decisions made will continue to make the journey worthwhile.

  30. Dick Oldfield at 7:13 pm

    Dear Mr Knight
    I am horrified to think that closure of the hatchery might be imminent. This year is my 40th year on the Lower Spey, and my 25th on the Middle Spey. During this time all catches have dropped enormously…only to be matched by the seeming lack of interest, and get up and go, from the powers that administer the river. Certain questions should be asked as to why the Dee this year has been more successful than the Spey. How, and why, has Tweed been successful. Maybe the clue is that they both have decent hatcheries. I would earnestly ask you to listen to those who work at the “coal face”, and action accordingly.
    PS why has there been no fund raising?

  31. Henry Taylor at 3:35 pm

    While entirely appreciating the need for science when considering whether or not to stock a river, common sense would also be helpful. Surely the strategic stocking of par every few yards rather than emptying buckets of fry would show a better return on the boards investment in the hatchery. There is a clear issue shown by the appalling quality of fishing on the river this year and a sensible stocking policy must be the answer. The salmon fishing on the river is the life blood of the local economy and the mear idea of closing the hatchery is total lunacy in my mind. Has the board considered adopting the excellent policy on the Tyne in the past?

  32. GRAHAM SALISBURY at 1:44 pm

    Dear Mr Knight, I note the wish of the chair for as many interested parties as possible to attend the meeting on the 25th September to contribute in the debate, however as you know the Spey has interested parties world-wide and a mid-week meeting in Aberlour will not offer many long term tenants and associates of the Spey opportunity to voice their opinion. The only way for the majority of rods and tenants to contribute is to use this link to convey their views. To that end it would be seen positively if the Board were to embrace this process and advertise the opportunity properly through the media and web the site. Graham Salisbury SRG

  33. chris marsland at 1:00 pm

    re. meeting 25th sept —future of hatchery—-
    I have in my relatively brief fishing history on the Spey (18 years ) seen a noticeable reduction in salmon parr together with a deterioration in numbers of salmon—surely the hatchery project is an essential element in ensuring that the “seedcorn” of future generations of salmon is given maximum support. I am in favour of continuation.

  34. Sandy Leventon at 12:23 pm

    I am told that, while the number of fish spawning in the main river was not too bad last winter, those tributaries and burns upstream of Castle Grant (where presumably many springers once spawned) were last winter virtually devoid of redds. Surely there is a sound case for stocking these with parr, which are far more likely to benefit the river than would fry

  35. Dougie Ross at 11:29 am

    Dear Board. I fully support the hatchery facility. At present you have a very good and capable manager who produces good fish. Although recent surveys show an increase in fry, numbers parr numbers are well below what they ought to be. Gone are the days when you could hardly fish for seatrout with small flies without catching lots of parr. At the end of the day we all seek the same result, more fish for our rods.
    In a previous debate the Chairman gave a firm commitment to SRG, to a five year 0+parr programme. Has he gone back on his word? This must be one of the worst seasons in living memory on the river, if not the worst ever. A hatchery used to its max and implemented properly can and should have an effect on those areas low in parr.
    Dougie Ross

    • George Bramley at 3:42 pm

      I whole heartedly support what Dougie Ross and others have said in relation to keeping the hatchery. Having fished the Tyne regularly and seen the remarkable results that have been achieved there I can see no reason why any person who wished to see the Spey improve would consider its closure. I ask why the advice given by Peter Gray has not been taken up?
      As a regular tourist consumer of Spey I am seriously concerned that those running its management are completley out of touch and are risking the livelihoods of a very fragile area economically.

      Can anyone explain why there are so few Parr being caught?

      Answers please!

  36. Jock Royan at 10:45 am

    Hi Brian,

    Considering the significance of the forthcoming open meeting, I feel it is vital that the vast majority of Spey anglers, who for geographical reasons cannot attend, be given every opportunity to express their opinion. Therefore your idea of allowing comments on your next blog post is a great idea.

    Purely to make things easier, could you possibly highlight the areas & densities where Sandbank & Tulchan hatchery fish were used & what percentage had adipose fins removed.

    I appreciate that you value transparency as highly as I do. This is obviously crutial with regard to an open meeting, especially for those who cannot attend.

    Many thanks indeed,

    Jock Royan

    • Brian Shaw Author at 11:06 am

      Hi Jock, comments are always welcome on my blog ramblings!

      I will provide as much detail as possible on the results of last years 0+ parr stocking at some point next week once it has been completed. We did a thorough and interesting study on the Blye Water yesterday allowing the total trout and salmon parr populations to be calculated. Full details to follow next week.

      Best regards

      Brian

  37. GRAHAM SALISBURY at 9:56 am

    RE-Meeting 25th September: Dear members of the board, I would like to voice my strong support for keeping the hatchery open to support the autumn parr programme for a minimum of five years to alow chance for the results to be felt. The reason the hatchery has failed previously is due to timings and density’s of the stockings. The hatchery is a valuable tool in the management of the Spey along side habitat improvement and science. Graham Salisbury. SRG.

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