Another cold night and water temperatures this morning had dropped back down to 4.3oc in the Tommore Burn and 5.5oc in the Avon. There was ice in the bird drinking bath at the house this morning although a very pleasant spring day once the sun got up. Despite that the smolts are maturing with the majority of fish in the traps now quite silver and classed as smolts rather than presmolts.
We had 58 salmon smolts in the Avon traps today and 7 in the Tommore. Yesterday was the first day when we marked and released the Avon smolt traps catch back upstream. 40 salmon and 4 trout were released and today we had 2 salmon back in the trap, a recapture rate of 5% so far although we may get some more of the slower moving ones in the next day or two. Subject to sufficient numbers and suitable conditions we will try to mark fish on two days per week from now on. Of the 260 or so fin clipped salmon smolts released below the Tommore Burn we have only recaptured 8 in the Avon traps so far, a 3% recapture rate. Both these recapture rates are lower than we had in 2014 but the river has been running slightly higher on average than in 2014. Of course it is still early days for the smolt run and we found last year that as the run progressed the migration speed increased. It is quite possible that some of the released fish; from both the Avon and the Tommore, are sitting in the Avon between the release site and the lower traps – time will tell.
We were a bit mystified today as to why the rotation speeds of the Avon traps was slower than normal despite the river reading 40cm on our gauge. The traps were scrubbed and all debris removed as usual but they were still turning slower than they had been. It wasn’t until I was walking back to the pickup that the reason for this anomaly became apparent. The Spey was running quite high today, 3’9″ on the Ballindalloch beat gauge and the Avon was backing up towards the traps. So the 40cm on our gauge wasn’t entirely due to the flow in the Avon!