Don estuary netting

I was invited over to join the Dee and Don fishery folk this morning with their attempts to sample sea trout post smolts in the estuary of the River Don in Aberdeen. An early start saw me there with plenty time to walk the dog along the beach before the 0815 rendezvous. I know very little about the Don, having only fished it for the first time a few weeks ago, and I had certainly never been to the estuary before.

The plan was to use a sweep net to try and catch trout in the sea pool at low tide. The teams turned out in force and well equipped with a boat and 60m long sweep net.

Aberdeen high rises flats

Aberdeen high rises flats

The netting site proved to be ideal. There was only a gentle current and few snags.

The netting site proved to be ideal with only a gentle current and few snags.

The first sweep contained a variety of flatfish, mainly young plaice and flounders but also two sea trout post smolts.

The condition odf the sea trout was excellent. The first ones were lice fre and were obviously thriving. Scales were taken for aging and growth rate analysis.

The sea trout were in excellent condition. The first ones were lice free and were obviously thriving. Scales were taken for aging and growth rate analysis.

Bouyed by this early success two more sweeps were completed slightly further upstream. The second sweep was productive with about 8 sea trout including an adult of 3lb or so.

Mark Bilsby, Dee Supremo, and Lorraine Hawkins, Dee biologist, examining the beautifuly conditioned adult sea trout. It had 6 preadult/adult sea lice.

Mark Bilsby, and Lorraine Hawkins, Dee Director and biologist respectively, examining the beautifuly conditioned adult sea trout. It had 6 preadult/adult sea lice.

A very pretty wee sea trout post smolt

A very pretty wee sea trout post smolt

Only one sea lice was found between all the post smolts. One chalimus stage louse was present on underside of the fish below.

The little speck between the ventral fins is a chalimus stage sea lice, species uncertain.

The little speck between the ventral fins is a chalimus stage sea lice, species uncertain.

The post smolts were in perfect condition

The post smolts were in perfect condition

All in it was a very interesting morning. The Spey estuary is not an area where we have focused much research but the sweep net we used today would be ideal for sampling fish within or near our own river mouth.

After a few problems with ropes (tangles) this morning’s operation went very well for a new site and team. A very professional effort by all concerned.

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