It was a very damp day yesterday and consequently there was a bit of water in the burns and river this morning. The Tommore Burn has risen by 16cm overnight although that translates into a considerable increase in flow, much greater than the rise in river level would suggest. There was quite a crowd at the trap this morning with the fishers from Ballindalloch up for a look amongst others. With the river running at 4′ on the Ballindalloch gauge this morning fishing may have been restricted for a while at least. However, the guest were very interested to observe the trap and learn about the project. In total there were 183 fish in the trap this morning; 131 fin-clipped almon smolts/presmolts (best daily catch over last two years), 7 unclipped salmon, 9 salmon parr and 36 trout, most of which were large enough to become smolts this year. We also recorded the first proper silver salmon smolts today, as opposed to presmolts to date.
One interesting feature this year is the greater frequency of one year old parr in the trap. During the entire trapping period in 2015 only two small parr (fish not large enough to smolt in that year) were trapped whereas we have caught 31 already this year. These are mainly fish from 50 to 70mm. We also had smolts of 134 & 140mm today, larger than any recorded last year. These were almost certainly 3+ fin-clipped smolts, something not seen in 2015. The standing stock of fish in the Tommore Burn now consists of 1+/2+ and 3+ salmon plus a range of different trout age classes. This may explain the higher numbers of small (1+) parr recorded in the trap this year. Another factor could be the higher number of 0+ parr stocked last autumn.
So far 45 trout have been caught in the Tommore trap in 2016 compared to 6 at the same date in 2015, although the earlier deployed would have had an effect. One thing we have learnt from the smolt trapping is that migration patterns are different each year. The water levels should drop in the Tommore overnight and with it probably the catch, although further runs can be expected with subsequent rainfall and water level rises.
The Avon also ran high last night with our gauge sitting at 67cm by the time we got there. The 6″ trap was jammed by a branch but there were still a few fish in the box. In total there were 20 salmon plus six trout in the traps. The running total for salmon to date is 69 compared to 86 and the same date last years, but it is still early days for the Avon traps. No fin-clipped fish have been recorded in the Avon trap so far.