Carlsberg Burn hungover

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.

Last year the Carlsberg Burn flowed down the left channel in this photo, now the majority of the flow goes straight on, flowing over what was grassland, with a new channel gradually becoming more defined.

Last year the Carlsberg Burn flowed down the left channel in this photo, now the majority of the flow goes straight on, flowing over what was grassland, with a new channel gradually becoming more defined.

The new Carlsberg Burn channel flowing over grassland in the floodplain. Some gravel has already been deposited  and some parr have taken up residence.

The new Carlsberg Burn channel flowing over grassland in the floodplain. Gravel has already been deposited and some parr have taken up residence.

A short distance away the former channel survives on a little seepage at present but will dry completely in due course.

The almost dry former main channel, an area of fine spawning potential in limbo until the next channel altering event

The almost dry former main channel, an area of fine spawning potential in limbo until the next channel altering event

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.

A "compound"redd created by more than one pair of fish working in close proximity. There were about five reds in this fine area of spawning gravel upstream of the overland flow.

A “compound”redd created by more than one pair of fish working in close proximity. There were about five redds in this fine area of spawning gravel upstream of the overland flow.

Another short section of great spawning gravel with several sea trout redds.

Another short section of great spawning gravel with several sea trout redds.

A pair of sea trout redding in the most perfect spawnign gravel.

A pair of sea trout redding in the most perfect spawning gravel.

Further upstream the evidence of the big spate was obvious. Trees ripped up, massive fresh gravel deposits, chunks of river bank lay scattered over the floodplain.

Further upstream the evidence of the big spate was obvious. Trees ripped up, massive fresh gravel deposits, chunks of river bank lay scattered over the floodplain.

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.

A natural, fully limbed, Scot's pinelodged midstream. Downstream a pool of about 6ft had bene created.

A natural, fully limbed, Scot’s pine lodged midstream. Downstream a pool of about 6ft had been created.

There was a distinct flow round the left bank side of the tree although with branches trailing over the entrance.

Tree complete with root ball. The entire burn flow was runnign down a distinct meandering channel round the root ball and under the trunk. Could fish get past?

Tree complete with root ball. The entire burn was flowing down a distinct meandering channel round the root ball and under the trunk. Could fish get past?

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.

Several redds upstream of the tree "blockage".

Several redds upstream of the tree “blockage”.

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.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. James Leach at 11:02 am

    I Have recently acquired a week’s timeshare at Laggan and was recommended to visit your website. This is my first visit. Most interesting. Thank you for creating such an interesting site.

    • Brian Shaw Author at 4:18 pm

      Hi James,

      Thanks for the kind comments. I try to update the blog at least weekly so please keep reading. Good luck with your fishing at Laggan, hopefully you are getting in the right time!

      Brian

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