Described recently as the “Rolls Royce” of electrofishing reports the Mach 2018 version is now available see here.
The report details the timed salmon fry index surveys on the Spey mainstem, as well as in some of the major tributaries. The triennial programme of density based surveys was reduced due to the workload but we still managed to complete 106 sites including 30 for the NEPS National Electrofishing Programme Scotland .
The findings of the 2018 survey are presented in the traditional way with the results compared against a baseline published in 2005. This is a good way of establishing trends but perhaps not so useful for assessing population status against a potential maximum capacity for that site. The analysis of the NEPS will be different, here the findings from each site will be compared against a modelled benchmark figure for each location. The report on the 2018 NEPS survey is due from Marine Scotland Science in April 2019.
The 2018 survey was generally positive with high fry and parr counts in the mainstem, and in all the major tributaries. A record high parr count was made at a site in the Dulnain (125 parr in three minutes). In the Dulnain, Avon, and Druie the greatest improvement in counts was noted in the middle and upper reaches. The strong 2017 fry population has resulted in a healthy population of one year old parr in most locations, but there are also good numbers of older parr, fish which will produce big smolts from these upland areas.
The hot, and dry, summer weather does not seem to have had an adverse impact on our juvenile stocks, indeed they appear good, in upland sites in particular. In the Avon the parr counts were similar to 2013 but they were 20% larger. Fry counts were slightly lower than in 2013, although still good, but they were 23% larger at a similar time of the year. This should produce a good crop of large smolts in 2019/2020.