Round and Round Chasing our Tails
lockdown has provided us all with lots of time to do all sorts of things and for me that has meant returning to some of the wonderful books written about salmon researched 100 year ago. I love those old books because, at this time, salmon research was not a profession, it was a life's passion! Lifetimes of study going into some of the most interesting pieces of work and, for the most, lightyears ahead of todays "professional" offerings because they are written in a format thats to the point and easy to understand. They explain in one sentence what now takes 72 pages, most of which are references to previous similar gobbledygook. Unlike the former, few, if any ever reach an actual conclusion [Which is why we never actually get anywhere]. The only conclusion drawn being, more money or research is required!
Compare those to works such as THE LIFE HISTORY OF SALMON AND SEA TROUT AND OTHER FRESHWATER FISH BY PD MALLOCH, THE LIFE OF THE SEA TROUT BY G.A. NALL, and many others, for me, Is like comparing the Bible to, the Beano or Dandy!
The reason for todays blog however, is not about comparing those. It's a follow up from the others focusing on the juvenile output, or lack of it, in our rivers. Having been reading one of the afore said books and just at the chapter about scale reading. Interestingly, and totally out of the blue, I was sent a video about a couple of guys catching a fish in a river in Norway. Watching this video actually made me want to physically shout out aloud with frustration!
The film charted the catching of a previously spawned salmon number "7167" which amazingly was caught by the the same guy 2 years previous, but more than this, the salmon was the by-product of some ground breaking work carried out on the river. Rather than describe this, I will add the film here. A 15 minute watch and please remember to switch on subtitles. It's well worth while and really interesting.
After watching the film have a look at the link below. I'm sure you'll all find this of interest.
The reason this interested me so much was that back in the 1990s I had highlighted to our then biologist a similar problem on the Spey, a problem that I knew would have lasting implications. This was the "gravelling" of the main stem due to mans activity [Digging the river to form new pools] along with drainage and forestry run off. The damage to the river and the subsequent affect on both juvenile and adult salmon due to a change in the substrate of the river was obvious to both myself and the other two ghillies at Knockando.
Here I will provide another link to a file of interesting observations of mine from this time. The most relevant to this being the second one titled "Salmon Parr" Although I did enjoy reading the others again too - https://1drv.ms/w/s!Am-p2vhkHnr-grF8-TpFfh2YjGFf7Q?e=C9JoO3
A previous Spawner caught on the Findhorn earlier this season, spots on the gill-cover and long head are some of the tell tale signs.
At this time there were no Juvenile surveys on the river. All that was available was what our eyes told us, nothing else. Reading the "conclusions" in Malloch's very interesting book, his observations concur 100% with those of my own, namely, the size of the returning run of salmon relates or corresponds to the size of the previous runs of smolts. If this number falls below a certain level then future runs of adults will undoubtedly be compromised.