Chabet Burn revisited

In February this year I posted a blog about the Chabet Burn, a significant burn which had only once been surveyed by the Foundation. Today we managed to complete two sites, in the upper and middle reaches. The planned site in the lower reaches was unfishable due to the slightly high water levels and very rocky terrain. Anyway the upper sites were of greater interest. The upper site was adjacent to the limekiln referred to in the original blog. Its presence hinted at some richer geology and this was borne out by the conductivity reading of over 120. There was a bit of a run in the burn and the water was very dark with peat stain, however still fishable in our chosen site at an old wooden footbridge.

Electrofishing the upper site in the Chabet Burn, there will be no problem locating this site again with such a prominent landmark.

Electrofishing the upper site in the Chabet Burn, there will be no problem locating this site again with such a prominent landmark. The limekiln can be seen just above the right hand stanchion of the bridge.

The burn at this point looked too small for salmon and none were found. There was however an extremely good juvenile trout population. We captured 132 trout fry and 12 parr in a site about 25m long. This is equivalent to a trout fry density of 231/100m2, a very high density. Many of the trout fry were over 60mm, up to 75mm; some of the largest trout fry found this so far this year.

The middle site was located immediately below a forest track bridge.  Here we fished a stretch of burn 31m long catching 268 trout fry, 35 trout parr, 74 salmon fry and 3 salmon parr, plus a couple others. This was a lot of fish and we had to bring the reserve yellow tub into action to hold all the fish during processing.

Chabet Burn middle site, a nice site on the woodland edge. The fish liked it too; it was stuffed.

Chabet Burn middle site, a nice site on the woodland edge. The fish liked it too; it was stuffed. The burn was just over 3m wide at this point, a  crossover width for the presence of salmon.

 

I was doing the fish identification and measuring. Several of the fish were difficult to tell apart between salmon or trout leading us (me) to conclude they were hybrids.

Top os a trout, no doubt about it; the bottom one not so obvious, I thought it was a hybrid, not the only one at this site.

Top one was a trout, no doubt about it; the bottom one not so obvious, I thought it was a hybrid, not the only one at this site. The head and tail were salmon like, as was the pectoral fin but the body markings were neither trout nor salmon.

After the original blog post the Stronach brothers, Robbie and Roddie, gillies at Rothes and Tulchan respectively provided me with much valuable information about the Chabet Burn. When boys they lived on its banks and like all loons interested in fishing they knew the burn intimately. They both reported that salmon and big sea trout spawned in the burn. A mixed spawning population is ideal for hybrid creation and in my experience when one hybrid is found there are often others present.

The surveys today confirmed what we suspected; the Chabet Burn is a rich and productive spawning burn. It will be a big producer of sea trout smolts along with some salmon. We may manage to fit the lower burn survey site into the programme before the summer is over but we learnt more than enough today.

 

 

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