About this time last year I posted about the “Carlsberg Burn” which is a great Spey spawning burn. Like much of the Spey catchment it was well and truly battered by the aftermath of Big Bertha in August and is now looking decidedly rough around the edges.
These big spate events can have a defining impact on the watercourse for years to come. A walk up the burn at the weekend was quite an eye opener with the scars of flood damage evident throughout.
A short distance away the former channel survives on a little seepage at present but will dry completely in due course.
I was interesting to see what effect, if any, this new channel had on fish passage. I should have said there were plenty sea trout redds downstream. It wasn’t long however before evidence of recent fish passage was found.
Talking about trees, a short distance upstream was the ultimate in large woody debris. A mature Scot’s pine about 40ft high, complete with root ball, had become lodged midstream creating a change in river level of 3 to 4 ft.
There was a distinct flow round the left bank side of the tree although with branches trailing over the entrance.
It wasn’t long before the question was answered. Above the tree a huge amount of gravel had been deposited and in the run at the top end of the long pool were 5 or 6 redds.
Down south, especially in degraded chalkstreams, or other silty streams, large woody debris like this are considered essential as they generate flow diversity and create good spawning sites. Lack of spawning gravel is not really a problem in the Carlsberg Burn, nor indeed almost any Spey burn right now, but it was good to see that a major blockage such as this appeared to have little impact on spawning fish passage. Indeed there were many redds present as far as I walked upstream.
So for a burn suffering a severe hangover from too much drink it seems to be recovering well. As always I didn’t intend for a walk with the dog to turn into a three mile hike, but it is good to have a look around to see the positives and negatives after the big spate. I saw quite a few pairs of sea trout still spawning and whilst I didn’t count the redds let me just say they were there in abundance.