Spey Electrofishing Report 2012

A key role of the Spey Foundation is to monitor the health of salmon and trout stocks throughout the Spey catchment. A rotational monitoring system has been established with selected tributaries and the mainstem surveyed annually. In 2012 the Dulnain, Nethy, Druie, upper Spey, some of the Spey burns and stocked sites were surveyed in detail. Emphasis has been placed on making the report visual and readable.

As 60% of the wetted area available for migratory salmonids is to be found in the Spey mainstem it is surveyed annually using a timed electrofishing protocol. The results from the Spey mainstem in 2012 were encouraging with salmon fry found at all but two of the 61 sites surveyed along the mainstem, both of which were above Spey Dam. This years results from the timed sites were classified using the Spey 2012 results, in future years the classification will be developed and based on a five year rolling average.

The results from the tributary sites were variable as expected. Some of the tributaries surveyed in 2012 were at the lower end of the instream productivity scale on the Spey catchment and fish densities in areas would naturally be low. In order to put the results from the tributary sites in context they were classified according to the SFCC Moray Firth Region categories, corrected for stream width.

Considerable effort was placed on monitoring the salmon stocking undertaken by the Spey Fishery Board. Monitoring of sites stocked in 2011 and 2012 with 0+ parr were completed as well as two burns stocked with fry in June 2012.

The report can be read by clicking here.

There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Jock Royan at 8:00 pm

    Hi Brian,

    I thought there was a considerable variation in the quality of the stocked 0+Parr. Was that not the case? What percentage of stocked fish had their adipose fins clipped. A much more cost effective means of identification than the costly DNA sampling.

    • Brian Shaw Author at 9:17 pm

      Hi Jock,

      I was referring to this year, i.e the 0+ parr I was involved in stocking out. According to reports there was variation in the quality of the parr stocked last year only. None were fin clipped. That was considered too labour intensive. The electrofishing monitoring of stocking in the burns is an effective technique as most were stocked where there were no salmon present.


      • Jock Royan at 8:19 am

        Thanks very much Brian. Apologies, my comment on fin clipping was in relation to identifying returning fish. Although appearing labour intensive, it would have been far less costly than DNA sampling. I’m also pretty sure you would have had a good number of volunteers to assist.

        Fin clipping although intrusive would also allow anglers a practical way to see just how many or indeed how few hatchery fish were amongst the naturally spawned component. I’d really like you to consider fin clipping next year. On my first Foundation meeting, when the SRG restoration plan was submitted, Bob agreed to gin clipping at least 10% and I offered to get manpower to assist.

        If the 0+parr were stocked in an area where there were no salmon present, was the water quality and habitat checked prior to stocking? Perhaps the ‘natural’ salmon weren’t in that area for a reason?



        • Brian Shaw Author at 7:23 pm

          Hi Jock, I’m sure we can look at the fin clipping for next year.
          All the salmon were stocked in areas where no salmon were present, always due to the presence of obstructions such as weirs or culverts. Regarding water quality I doubt if there is anywhere in the Spey catchment that wouldn’t support salmon, water quality is suitable everywhere and even bad habitat can support some fish. However we didn’t stock the Fochabers Burns this year as it is still recovering from the massive spate in 2009. Water quality does however vary considerably across the stocked burns, maybe the fish are more highly adapted to the local conditions than many give them credit for?

  2. Toby Kirkwood at 4:53 pm

    A very well written report Brian. It is easy to read and to understand! I regularly check up on the blog and enjoy reading up on what you have been up to at the board.

    I find your point about the Avon water quality very interesting because it could well be the reason for poor survival rates. However i cant help but feel that these parr having been brought up in an anthropogenic environment are at a serious disadvantage in terms of fending for themselves when stocked into a wild burn where predation could be a big issue.

  3. Mel McDonald at 7:20 pm

    This is a substantial and extremely interesting piece of work. Well done for putting this together in a readily understood format.
    It is very discouraging to see that the results of the 0+ late season stocking during the last 2 years has produced such poor results. Could this be down to stocking out too high a density or poor parr quality or a combination of both ?

    • Brian Shaw Author at 6:47 pm

      As discussed before Mel the stocking density was variable but even when stocked at low densities the survival appears to be low in most stocked locations. The physical quality of the parr when stocked couldn’t be better so there is little room for improvement in that respect. The results from the Avon tributaries stocked were better; the water quality there is maybe more similar to that in the hatchery burn?

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