At this time of year some salmon appear to practice cutting redds. This week we had contact from a few ghillies who reported the appearance of large numbers of practice redds in pools on their beats. Others call them dummy or false redds but they always appear in late September or October, often in glides in slower water than where they will eventually spawn. One ghillie reported about 50 practice redds in the tail of a pool, many more than the number of actual redds created in that pool last year, and I’m sure this year. The presence of practice redds in an area doesn’t mean the fish will spawn there, most will move upstream.
These practice redds usually appear in holding pools where large numbers of fish are lying. They are much smaller than real redds, often circular in shape and quite shallow. We assume that it is the hen that creates these practice redds but as no one ever sees them being cut it is impossible to say. Given the number of practice redds present in some pools it can’t be only previous spawners that are involved; there aren’t enough of them in the river.
Polly and myself took a couple short underwater videos of the practice redds this morning in a middle/lower river beat of the Spey. See here for the link. There is a lush coating of algae on the river bed at the moment in the lower river so any freshly disturbed areas are highly visible. The beat owner made the comment that the fish are more advanced in their spawning livery than normal. That surprised me as the weather is still distinctly summerlike. Maybe the lack of truly fresh in that part of the river this year created the impression that on average the fish were more advanced in their maturation than normal?