The weather today was not the best for redd counting – strong wind/sleet/low light levels etc but Rothes ghillie Robbie Stronach didn’t flinch when I called to ask if he still wanted to go to the Chabet Burn as planned this morning. The Chabet has featured on the blog a couple times before but this was the first time we had counted redds. Robbie knows the burns well so we set off to count the redds in a stretch in the middle/upper reaches of the burn.
We surveyed a 1.5km stretch where the average width was about 3.5m, giving an area of 5250m2. There were redds obvious from the start, mainly sea trout redds we thought, although some were of a size that could have been made by salmon or possibly larger sea trout. Within the survey stretch we recorded 30 redds. This was the minimum count as the conditions were not the best for identifying those redds in deeper or faster water.
We didn’t see one fish, dead or alive within the stretch; the fish had spawned and gone. After the count we checked another few hundred metres downstream from our start point. The habitat here was ideal for spawning and the redds here were much more frequent and often larger.
The dog came with us on this walk and he found one carcase, a hen salmon of about 5lb that had been predated.
The weather was much worse by this time and the burn was rising and colouring but we had a quick look at the lower reaches. The gradient here was higher (beaver proof!) and spawning substrate was at a premium but the fish had utilised little patches of gravel where they occurred. It looked like great parr habitat so next time we are electrofishing in this area we will include a site here.
One dead fish was found, a hen sea trout of about 5lb (when fresh run). It had been dead a while but there were no obvious predator marks although it was a few metres away from the burn bank.
The farmer was kind enough to invite us in for a coffee once we had finished, accompanied by some home produced smoked fallow jerky, which was delicious.
It was good to learn from Robbies knowledge of the burn and to get some redd count data on record. I’m sure in days past there may have been 100 redds in the same bit of the burn but the 30 redds seen today were probably enough to deposit the recommended 7 eggs/m2. One things is for sure. there were an abundance of trout fry during this years electrofishing surveys.