It was like christmas had come early today when the new electrofishing set arrived. It wasn’t the first time we had seen the equipment, the manufacturer brought up a demo set two weeks ago, but it is always nice to unpack a new piece of equipment. During the demo we went down to a small burn on Knockando Estate where a good population of juvenile trout was found. The equipment worked to our satisfaction; the only negative feedback was that the bleeper was a bit on the quiet side. It was okay when standing at the back of the pickup during testing but the sound of the bleeper was soon lost with the noise of the river flowing by. Of course the inability to hear the high pitched bleeper may have been because the average age of the four staff present at the demo was around 50! Still the manufacturer took on board our feedback and fitted an enhanced (and lower pitch) bleeper which sounds a lot louder.
So why the investment in a new electrofishing set? Well our existing sets, although still functional and reliable, were old technology compared to recent advances. The new set has a digital display and a much greater range of settings, all easily adjustable and programable. The voltage range is higher; ideal for the low conductivity water found in upland Speyside. Crucially it has an inbuilt countdown timer. This is an essential feature for the timed mainstem surveys. The timer counts the actual time fished rather than the total time taken to do the survey. One problem with the previous survey techique was that if there were a lot of fish present at a site the fish handling time e.g. transferring fish from the nets to the bucket,took up a greater proportion of the survey time than at a site with few fish. The new timer will also eliminate operator variance and be compliant with the proposed protocol from the Scottish Fisheries Co-ordination Centre.
We will be starting the timed electrofishing surveys in the main stem within the next two weeks, weather permitting, and we look forward to using the new toy.