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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
I agree 100% we have f**ked up the whole countryside, but i can't help but think we are now too clean, everything that is natural and recyclable whether it be food waste or dead animals is destroyed, and we are starving the country with the recycling it needs to function.
Eels were once abundant in our rivers and were known to eat just about anything and the Elvers were a good source of food for Salmonoids since the rivers are now cleaner? the Eel population has fallen off the earth .
Waste does not have to be pollution if managed in the right way.
A forrest would not survive if it was not for the fallen leaves and dying trees that recycle the nutrients that has made it grow in the first place.

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I do understand what you're saying about less 'waste' around but I still think the way the countryside is managed is the much bigger issue.

The pool I mentioned yesterday that the flies used to be thick in, on the left bank were fields grazed by sheep. One field was allowed to grow out and a single cut of silage was took off it, the field was fertilsed the old fashioned way of dung from a midden and that was it till the following year. On the right bank was the 4 or 5 big fields that the landowner leased and was only grazed by small herd of cattle.

3 or 4 years ago, the landowner leased the land to a different farmer at a long term lease. He has a massive dairy herd and huge automated milking parlour. All the land was ploughed and reseeded. They are fine looking fields now however, there is absolutely nothing in those fields but grass. Theres barely even a bit of clover through it.

Starting in Spring, the fields are all fertilsed and slurried. Then the first cut is taken off it as soon as he can get it. He'll take as many cuts off it as he can get before the winter. He mowed it all again just yesterday. I think that's the fifth cut this year. After each cut, the ground is slurried again.

I could be completely wrong but it does seem to me that those clouds of flies disappeared in the years since the land was managed so differently.

Unfortunately, for the countryside, dairy seems to the only profitable way to farm these days. Sitting here thinking about it, from the first of those fields on the right bank of the river, its all fields intensively used for silage for the next 3 to 4 miles of river. Further downstream, there is now also around 2 miles on the left bank the same. That's only walking distance from where I live. One of those farmers owns another huge farm much further upstream too which is managed in the same way. So that's only 2 farmers.

As I said, I do understand what your saying about waste. There's a chap I know who cleans out his catch at the river before going home for the day. Cuts the head and tail off and cuts up through the belly and all the waste is thrown into the river. "It does more good in the river than the bin", are his words. ?
 

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SOS,
I apologise for the delay in my response to your post #57 above on Findhorn catches and other matters.

I am very wary of drawing conclusions about the Findhorn on the basis of short-term data, because it is a river that shows very big year-to-year variations in rod catches. Not only are the catches very water dependent, but also they are differentiated between different sections of the river and thus not uniformly distributed. As an example, a few years back the bottom of the river and the Forres AA water enjoyed a record year (>1,000 at FAA), while the upper beats were in mourning. At Tomatin, following a string of poor (dry) years, in 2017 we had our second best week ever after 2004 with 28 fish to 5 rods.

In 2015 I published on this Forum a highly detailed analysis of rod catches on the Findhorn across the 70 years since 1945 using MSS data. You might find it interesting to revisit, including observing both the variability and the overall upward trend. The discussion of the reasons for that benign trend were debated at length. See https://www.salmonfishingforum.com/forums/threads/findhorn-historic-catch-data.124234/

You and I have previously discussed our different perspectives on water quality. Yes, according to the WFD test regime Scotland's rivers are very clean, but that may not be the whole story on account of critical elements it fails to detect.
 

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SOS,
I apologise for the delay in my response to your post #57 above on Findhorn catches and other matters.

I am very wary of drawing conclusions about the Findhorn on the basis of short-term data, because it is a river that shows very big year-to-year variations in rod catches. Not only are the catches very water dependent, but also they are differentiated between different sections of the river and thus not uniformly distributed. As an example, a few years back the bottom of the river and the Forres AA water enjoyed a record year (>1,000 at FAA), while the upper beats were in mourning. At Tomatin, following a string of poor (dry) years, in 2017 we had our second best week ever after 2004 with 28 fish to 5 rods.

In 2015 I published on this Forum a highly detailed analysis of rod catches on the Findhorn across the 70 years since 1945 using MSS data. You might find it interesting to revisit, including observing both the variability and the overall upward trend. The discussion of the reasons for that benign trend were debated at length. See https://www.salmonfishingforum.com/forums/threads/findhorn-historic-catch-data.124234/

You and I have previously discussed our different perspectives on water quality. Yes, according to the WFD test regime Scotland's rivers are very clean, but that may not be the whole story on account of critical elements it fails to detect.
The graphs for the Findhorn and the Spey are very similar and as Ness glen said in the 2015 thread the catches previous were influenced by the removal of the nets, every river will have good and bad years depending on river conditions but the overall trend in most rivers is downward even for the Findhorn.

As for water quality
Why is the smolt count relatively stable on the rivers and tribs where counting takes place albeit with a slight downward trend which could be down to less spawners.
You would think if the water quality was poor then the quantity of smolts would decrease accordingly, so in my view if the water quality is good enough to sustain life forms but if it is producing less aqatic life then it is down to lack of nutrients rather than chemical polution, which takes us back to the lack of dead kelts and or other forms of nutrients.

The discharge of the river spey is approx 64m 3/s
The river Thames is 65.8 m 3/s
So I cannot see a problem with water abstraction.
 

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The graphs for the Findhorn and the Spey are very similar and as Ness glen said in the 2015 thread the catches previous were influenced by the removal of the nets, every river will have good and bad years depending on river conditions but the overall trend in most rivers is downward even for the Findhorn.

As for water quality
Why is the smolt count relatively stable on the rivers and tribs where counting takes place albeit with a slight downward trend which could be down to less spawners.
You would think if the water quality was poor then the quantity of smolts would decrease accordingly, so in my view if the water quality is good enough to sustain life forms but if it is producing less aqatic life then it is down to lack of nutrients rather than chemical polution, which takes us back to the lack of dead kelts and or other forms of nutrients.

The discharge of the river spey is approx 64m 3/s
The river Thames is 65.8 m 3/s
So I cannot see a problem with water abstraction.
The most reliable long term catchment-specific data we have for Smolt production comes from the Girnock & Baddoch burns. Both of these water courses are high up and located in relatively pristine countryside. There is no agriculture in the catchments, no sewage and little or no forestry.

The data set is well suited to study the relationship between Adults, Eggs and Smolts, but not great for examining examine the possible effects of pollution.

WRT abstraction, I don't think the absolute flow figures tell us a lot about the possible effect of abstraction on Salmon. What abstraction definitely has done, is reduce the quantity and quality of habitat in the upper river and that can't be a good thing.
 

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The graphs for the Findhorn and the Spey are very similar and as Ness glen said in the 2015 thread the catches previous were influenced by the removal of the nets, every river will have good and bad years depending on river conditions but the overall trend in most rivers is downward even for the Findhorn.
Ness Glen was adamant that there was a "step change" in catches after the removal of the nets, yet in fact there's no step change in the catches or visible in the graphs. I further checked this by working 10-year averages forwards and backwards from either side of the years in which the nets were removed. The fact that the lines happily intersected proved that there was no step change. No doubt catches were influenced to some extent, but by how much is impossible to ascertain, as any change was dwarfed by the normal year-to-year variation in rod catches.

It remains the case that rod catches, especially in the short term and on spate rivers, are a very poor analogue for salmon populations. I wouldn't wish to draw any inferences from 3 poor years: 2000-02 was followed by the bonanza of 2004; 2011 came out of nowhere; and 2014-16 was succeeded by 2017, which for us was our 2nd best trip ever. Yet for the past 2 years it has been possible to ford the river at Tomatin in September in wellies. So much depends on the weather and rainfall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
The graphs for the Findhorn and the Spey are very similar and as Ness glen said in the 2015 thread the catches previous were influenced by the removal of the nets, every river will have good and bad years depending on river conditions but the overall trend in most rivers is downward even for the Findhorn.

As for water quality
Why is the smolt count relatively stable on the rivers and tribs where counting takes place albeit with a slight downward trend which could be down to less spawners.
You would think if the water quality was poor then the quantity of smolts would decrease accordingly, so in my view if the water quality is good enough to sustain life forms but if it is producing less aqatic life then it is down to lack of nutrients rather than chemical polution, which takes us back to the lack of dead kelts and or other forms of nutrients.

The discharge of the river spey is approx 64m 3/s
The river Thames is 65.8 m 3/s
So I cannot see a problem with water abstraction.
It was mentioned elsewhere that Ken Whelan had suggested that their studies were seeing more smolting happening in very young parr, some heading to sea after only one year in the river.

This could mean that the quantity of smolts stays roughly the same, year on year, but the quality of them just isn't there. If they'd stayed in the river for another year or two years, they'd be physically stronger and more mature which might set them up better for the long journey, there and back.

Just on water quality, this was on the BBC news website this morning. (I can hear all the MSM moans and groans already).

BBC News - Glastonbury Festival: Traces of drugs found in river at site

There was one paragraph in it the really spoke volumes...

"We [also] need to raise awareness around drug and pharmaceutical waste - it is a hidden, worryingly-understudied yet potentially devastating pollutant."

Our rivers could be testing "clean" for those things that they are actually testing for but, the quote above would suggest that there just isn't the testing being done for many other pollutants.

I'm sure I read somewhere in the past that the some krayfish were changing sex from the levels of HRT drugs in their waters. With the levels of HRT drugs, anti depressants, statins, viagra, blood thinners, cholesterol, etc, etc, etc all on the rise, it is difficult to know the effects these have on the fish life living in those waters.
 

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It seems like most things to do with Salmon are a contradiction.
We cannot control when and at what age fish will smolt, if it is a problem that they are smolting at 1 year old, then why are fishery boards so concerned about the spread of Pink Salmon into our rivers, they smolt very early in life at a tiny size.

There is probably no doubt that there are unseen and untested chemicals being flushed into our rivers including pharmaceutical drugs that might have an effect on aquatic life, but the contradiction is why are they not affecting the huge population increase in seals which are at the top of the food chain..
The towns of Ellon and Newburgh on the lower reaches of the small river Ythan have increased in size substantially in the past 20 or 30 years yet have had no effect on the growing seal population.

We have spoken about increasing smolt production as a solution to the decline in Salmon numbers, but how would that work if
(1) there is a problem with the fish smolting too soon
(2) there is a problem in the rivers with chemicals affecting habitat
(3) there is a problem with water abstraction which is exaggerated because of the dry summers we are now seeing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 ·
It seems like most things to do with Salmon are a contradiction.
We cannot control when and at what age fish will smolt, if it is a problem that they are smolting at 1 year old, then why are fishery boards so concerned about the spread of Pink Salmon into our rivers, they smolt very early in life at a tiny size.

There is probably no doubt that there are unseen and untested chemicals being flushed into our rivers including pharmaceutical drugs that might have an effect on aquatic life, but the contradiction is why are they not affecting the huge population increase in seals which are at the top of the food chain..
The towns of Ellon and Newburgh on the lower reaches of the small river Ythan have increased in size substantially in the past 20 or 30 years yet have had no effect on the growing seal population.

We have spoken about increasing smolt production as a solution to the decline in Salmon numbers, but how would that work if
(1) there is a problem with the fish smolting too soon
(2) there is a problem in the rivers with chemicals affecting habitat
(3) there is a problem with water abstraction which is exaggerated because of the dry summers we are now seeing.
This is the problem for me SOS. Nothing is ever straightforward.

I really don't know why salmon are smolting early and if this is in anyway connected to anything that might be in the water. I really don't know either why seals and things are thriving while other species aren't. From the thread here recently, why are sea birds dieing despite good populations of bait fish? You would assume that the seals and sea birds would be sharing the same sorts of areas?

There are far more questions than answers, that is for sure.
 
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SOS,
I apologise for the delay in my response to your post #57 above on Findhorn catches and other matters.

I am very wary of drawing conclusions about the Findhorn on the basis of short-term data, because it is a river that shows very big year-to-year variations in rod catches. Not only are the catches very water dependent, but also they are differentiated between different sections of the river and thus not uniformly distributed. As an example, a few years back the bottom of the river and the Forres AA water enjoyed a record year (>1,000 at FAA), while the upper beats were in mourning. At Tomatin, following a string of poor (dry) years, in 2017 we had our second best week ever after 2004 with 28 fish to 5 rods.

In 2015 I published on this Forum a highly detailed analysis of rod catches on the Findhorn across the 70 years since 1945 using MSS data. You might find it interesting to revisit, including observing both the variability and the overall upward trend. The discussion of the reasons for that benign trend were debated at length. See https://www.salmonfishingforum.com/forums/threads/findhorn-historic-catch-data.124234/

You and I have previously discussed our different perspectives on water quality. Yes, according to the WFD test regime Scotland's rivers are very clean, but that may not be the whole story on account of critical elements it fails to detect.
I have noticed that myself about the Findhorn. Fishpal stats may not paint the full picture, albeit they do make for fascinating reading on how some beats fluctuate in catches depending on water ect.
Another thing re historical data with river like the Tweed say, that were known for their back end runs of fish? There's actually no point in even studying Autumn returns now as the majority are spring and summer fish and given catch and release, possible re captures.
It's imperative we get a nice winter for spawning, without more "unprecedented" bank high floods, which without doing much research into this years class of fish I suspect it was a disastrous wash out on the redds of our rivers?
 

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These two burns are far lower on the river but have similar smolt production as the girnock and the baddoch.
Yes, and despite the fact the Beltie and Sheeoch should be more productive*they don't appear to be.

The figures for the Beltie & Sheeoch are only for 2016. We can't draw any conclusions from a single year and my basic maths that follows is highly dependent on annual variables.
However, based only on the figures contained in the Dee Smolt report and the reported Girnock and Baddoch emigrant** counts:

The Beltie Burn produced .98 Smolts and a total of 1.3 total emigrants*** per 100 square meters.

The Sheeoch figures were 1.92 and 2.7

The Girnock figures were 3.18 and 3.98

The Girnock is 50% more productive by area than Sheeoch and 200% more than the Beltie burn.

I can't find the area of Baddoch so can't calculate Smolts by area, but it has a catchment 65% the size of the Sheeoch, and produces about 85% of the Smolts

*because they are lower, warmer and should have more insect & aquatic life.

** My rough figures per square meter are different from those in the Dee report because I make no attempt to estimate the number of Smolts subsequently produced by autumn Parr, I just counted the numbers

*** Emigrants includes both Smolts and the Autumn Parr - which migrate downstream to become Smolts in future years.
 

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The other factor you need to take into account is abstraction, which is insidious, slow-acting but exponentially cumulative in its effects in the long term. You only have to look at the MOD's archive of aerial photography of the Spey valley since 1940 to see a good example of the effects of damming headwaters, removing volume and moderating spate flows. I had a long discussion on this point with Ness Glen, the Spey's fishery scientist, and I'm pleased to note that the Board has finally launched a campaign against hydro abstraction from the Spey. Hydro abstraction is the largest scale and most damaging, but we should not forget the growing demands of domestic supply and agriculture (most notably for watering potato crops).

It is also interesting to observe and note the effect of the changing nature of sewage management. Fifty years ago the populations of many of Scotland's river valleys were in some cases quite similar to today. But they were in fewer households, with much lower water consumption and discharged their sewage to septic tanks and soak-aways. Very little went anywhere near the river. From the 1930s onwards, with the introduction of public amenity water processing, much of this previously enclosed sewage was piped to a single site and the output discharged directly into the rivers. Even if it was processed it was seriously de-oxygenated. Today there are far more households, consuming orders of magnitude more water, and discharging sewage containing every form of chemical, enzyme and pharmaceutical under the sun, much of which passes through treatment unaffected. You can see the changes in time series aerial photos of towns like Aviemore, Grantown, Banchory and Ballater.

As you correctly note, catchments with low densities of human population and without serious agriculture tend to fare much better. The Findhorn is a good example.
 

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Yes, and despite the fact the Beltie and Sheeoch should be more productive*they don't appear to be.

The figures for the Beltie & Sheeoch are only for 2016. We can't draw any conclusions from a single year and my basic maths that follows is highly dependent on annual variables.
However, based only on the figures contained in the Dee Smolt report and the reported Girnock and Baddoch emigrant** counts:

The Beltie Burn produced .98 Smolts and a total of 1.3 total emigrants*** per 100 square meters.

The Sheeoch figures were 1.92 and 2.7

The Girnock figures were 3.18 and 3.98

The Girnock is 50% more productive by area than Sheeoch and 200% more than the Beltie burn.

I can't find the area of Baddoch so can't calculate Smolts by area, but it has a catchment 65% the size of the Sheeoch, and produces about 85% of the Smolts

*because they are lower, warmer and should have more insect & aquatic life.

** My rough figures per square meter are different from those in the Dee report because I make no attempt to estimate the number of Smolts subsequently produced by autumn Parr, I just counted the numbers

*** Emigrants includes both Smolts and the Autumn Parr - which migrate downstream to become Smolts in future years.
Did you include trout/seatrout emigrants, that also need food to survive ?.http://www.riverdee.org.uk/f/articles/Smolt-production-in-the-lower-Dee-2016.pdf
PAGE 16
 

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Did you include trout/seatrout emigrants, that also need food to survive ?.
? Give a man a chance!

No I didn't because there are no trout Smolt figures for the Girnock or Baddoch Burns to compare.

Fortunately we don't really have to, because on the Lower Dee Smolt Report the total emigrant density (including Sea Trout Smolts), for the Beltie is 2.27 and Sheeoch 2.87 Smolts per square meter. The Girnock was 3.18

In 2016 the Girnock Burn produced more Salmon Smolts per square meter than the combined Salmon & Sea Trout production of the Sheeoch and Beltie Burns.
 

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I saw them doing that on countryfile a while ago and had completely forgotten about it till you mentioned it now. I suppose it will take a few years to see if the carcasses in the water can help.

I do think that farming and environmental factors are different too. There was far less silage, slurry, fertilisers etc from farming and far less sewage and prescription drugs from housing.

There was definitely far more insect life on my river years ago. I can remember one pool in particular that the flies were thick in. Swirling around the surface of the river like a fog and the trout and juveniles boiling beneath them feasting on them. It's very different now.

There was far less algal growth too between spate as there was far more water in the river.

I feel that our rivers were far better equipped to handle more juveniles in the past.
Its that around Braco area, Romans -mind them? They got a bit realised then to not choose to go much via Tay. There's a very distinct former Roman camp at this place, called Braco, quite a former roman soldier barracks and battle fought above Fettercarin. That was the when the former the kings so.
 

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Try asking for salmon scale classes via smolts via FDSFB and or any Trust, They will not give you that.

Very basic information cos it'd screw up how the Gov farmers genetic imperative needs primacy.

And we fund these fundamental idiots that are key-core anti?
 
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