Only 8 sites surveyed today, 7 were in same locations as last year with one additional site at Phones. Excluding the Phones results the mean salmon fry count today was 46 per site compared to 45.8 at the same sites in 2012. Fry were found at all sites generally in similar numbers to last year except for the site above Carron Bridge where the count dropped from 110 to 30 and at Dalmunach (also Carron & Laggan) where the count increased from 47 to 93.
The mean salmon parr count today was 17.3 per site compared to 7 at the same sites last year. All todays surveys were in the Aberlour to Blacksboat area. The better salmon parr counts found today match the results from the last two days although the increase in the fry numbers found in the lower river was not seen observed.
Several of todays sites were definitely more suited to parr than fry but it is good to have a variety of sites in the monitoring cycle. We left a couple sites today with the distinct feeling that there should have been more parr so whilst the improvement in parr numbers is welcome there is still room for considerable improvement. The new site at Phones was a prime example. The habitat here was excellent with small boulders providing a huge amount of cover for juvenile salmonids. The fry count at this site was the lowest of the day but there is limited spawning in the immediate vicinity due to the natural topography of the area. An even distribution of spawning gravel throughout the river is essential if all the habitat is to be saturated with parr. The parr count at this site was 16, not too bad, but the habitat looked so good it could possibly have supported many more.
As a by-catch we are finding lots of eels at each site, sometimes as many as 25. These eels are all sizes from elvers up to 50cm. There has been considerable concern about the eel population in Europe but some recent reports suggest that things are improving for this species. Eels are similar to salmon in that they both use the freshwater and marine environment so it is good to see that the outlook for one migratory species appears to be improving.
Tomorrow the team will continue to survey up towards Grantown. I won’t be able to join them as I have to go to Pitlochry for a meeting on marine renewables research where into the potential impacts on migratory fish such as salmon, sea trout and eels.