I liked the look of this burn in the spring and promised myself to return at spawning time. It is too early for much salmon spawning yet but the sea trout are well underway. On the walk up I took a short cut through the wood and missed out the steep lower section of the burn; the best habitat was in the middle and upper reaches.
The first redd I came across was salmon sized but as I haven’t seen any salmon in the burns yet it was probably made by a large sea trout.
The habitat in the middle and upper reaches of this burn is first class: mixed woodland on the banks, fine mixture of pools and runs, undercuts and tree roots, it doesn’t get much better. It was also a perfect autumn day; fine and sunny with the air temperature around 10 -12 oC.
I was fortunate to spot a couple pairs of spawning sea trout before they had clocked me. A video clip of these spawning sea trout can be viewed here.
The water level was quite low but there were redds in pool tails, necks and runs in between.
In the upper reaches the burn narrowed but the habitat quality remained excellent.
Just about where I decided to turn back I saw a small herd of red deer, mainly hinds but there were two or three stags hanging around.
The largest stag had quite a small set of antlers but it was a fine looking beast.
As I turned back I spotted another sea trout cutting her redd. Luckily they hadn’t spotted me so I was able to observe them for a while and take some video see here tomorrow (second half of clip).
After watching these trout for a while I headed back downhill. I don’t think there are any barriers to fish passage in this burn so the sea trout probably go a good bit further upstream. Salmon spawn in this burn as well but our electrofishing over the years shows that the trout dominate in the upper reaches with salmon more prevalent further down. The salmon will appear in a few weeks. I have been told that there were some years hundreds of salmon spawning in this burn in the past. I don’t doubt it but I won’t be expecting to see that many this year. Hopefully we will manage a formal redd count later.
For the avoidance of doubt I didn’t see, nor claim to see, thousands of sea trout redds today but there were reasonable numbers, certainly enough to produce good fry numbers next year if the incubation conditions are not too severe. We will be electrofishing this burn next summer when we will find out. The videos I took today need a bit of editing, they are out of focus in places, but they do show some spawning activity, hopefully we will have them online tomorrow.
2013 was a poor year for sea trout fishing on the Spey, a very poor year, but it is good to see that there are still reasonable numbers of fish around in the spawning burns. On a more encouraging note some of the lower beats reported catching a lot of finnock towards the end of the season, hopefully a better sign for 2014. I haven’t done much night time fishing for sea trout but when I did I enjoyed it very much. I know I am not alone in hoping for an upturn in the runs of this sporting fish.
This burn is probably one of the nicest spawning burns in the whole of the Spey catchment; quite an accolade, it would even be a runner for the nicest spawning burn in Scotland awards. It doesn’t have the basic productivity of a Tweed burn but the habitat could not be bettered. There is absolutely no pollution, no modifications, no commercial forestry (lower reaches only) just a perfect natural burn – even the windfarm on the hills doesn’t seem to have had an impact!