A wee tour upriver

On the way to the smolts traps I managed to take a few photos of the river conditions.

Someone asked yesterday where the turbidity in the lower Spey was coming from. Not sure about yesterday but today it wasn’t from the Avon.

Avon/Spey confluence. The Avon looks a lot clearer than the Spey. The catchment area of the Avon is about a fifth of the Spey at the confluence.

Avon/Spey confluence. The Avon looks a lot clearer than the Spey. The catchment area of the Avon is about a fifth of the Spey at the confluence.

The Spey was running high but none of the burns downstream of the Cromdale Burn had any extra water. Even the Dulnain was well down on the last couple days. The contrast between the very dry conditions on the Moray coast yesterday and the volume of water lying in the upper river floodplain was striking. Along with the big snow melt there has been a lot of rain in the upper catchment since Sunday.

Sandstorm dry conditions at Craigellachie/Macallan beats

Sandstorm dry conditions at Craigellachie/Macallan beats yesterday with the river in a big spate.

 

Insh Mashes from Ruthven Barracks, the floodplain was under water from bank to bank

Insh Mashes from Ruthven Barracks, the floodplain was under water from bank to bank

 

Upper Spey/River Calder confluence at Newtonmore Bridge. The Calder was distinctly clearer than the Spey.

Upper Spey/River Calder confluence at Newtonmore Bridge. The Calder was distinctly clearer than the Spey.

The turbidity in the upper Spey was most likely from the landslip in the Markie Burn, the same burn that caused so much discolouration last summer. The water level in Spey Dam had dropped considerably since Sunday but the dam was still spilling.

Spey Dam overtopping. Two days ago it was 18" above the dam level. That is a huge volume of water which would surely have helped the early smolts on their way

Spey Dam overtopping. Two days ago it was 18″ above the dam level. That is a huge volume of water which would surely have helped the early smolts from the entire upper river on their way.

Today was the first time I have seen the Spey Dam counter in operation. We still don’t know how many fish it has counted since it was installed, one day we will!

Close up of the Spey Dam counter. Looking forward to finding out what its results are.

Close up of the Spey Dam counter. Looking forward to finding out what its results are. It is a resistivity counter, the metal electrodes detect changes in resistivity when a fish passes. The counter can also detect if a fish is going upstream or downstream as it passes the counter.

To conclude the day I had a quick walk up the Markie Burn. A high gradient burn surrounded by very steep hills, it is known for its torrential flows. The lower 1km was steep with many cascades but no waterfalls that would limit fish access. Some think salmon can’t survive in such harsh/turbulent conditions but there are salmon rivers with entire catchments like the Markie. If salmon were able to access the Markie it would no doubt produce a modest smolt run.

Typical view of the lower Markie Burn. It appears to be clearing quickly now after high water.

Typical view of the lower Markie Burn. It appears to be clearing quickly now after high water.

It was good to see the upper river again. There is a lot of water to come down but the lower river should start to drop from later tomorrow, hopefully those fishing this week will get a day or two in.

 

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