Looking downstream on the River Cree
Looking upstream on the River Bladnoch
Felling of commercial forestry in Galloway Forest Park
Looking upstream on the River Luce
North American Signal Crayfish
The sandy beach at Loch Grannoch
Belted Galloway Cattle, or 'Belties'
Fly fishing on the River Cree
A small upland burn
The High Cree, looking towards Cairnsmore of Fleet
A small waterfall on the Buchan Burn
A salmon from the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee
We recently attended the Dee DSFB AGM held at Parton Village Hall where we presented the results from the 2014 Tongland Fish Counter Report. The maintenance of the Vaki fish counter and analysis of data is conducted by GFT, funded by Scottish Power who own the fish counter that is situated within Tongland fish pass. An annual fish counter report is collated by ourselves which brings together monthly reports circulated to Dee DSFB members throughout the year.
2014 was a challenging year in respect of poor rod catches both locally and nationally. Traditionally, it has been rod catches that are used to assess the status of salmon in Scotland and if we take these figures alone, last year was pretty bleak. For a link to the official catch statistics see here. Poor rod catches suggested a second year of low salmon returns to many rivers across Scotland and in some cases, more worryingly, a distinctive crash in the salmon population. However, we must remember that reflecting on catch statistics alone has its limitations since exploitation rate may be influenced by a number of factors including river flow, fishing effort and fishing efficiency. We are fortunate therefore, that a more reliable comparison in annual migratory fish numbers can be made on the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee, using the Vaki fish counter data.
The Kirkcudbrightshire Dee Vaki fish counter provides a consistently reliable account of the Dee salmon and sea trout population. Whilst the data the counter produces is only accurate for the Dee salmon/sea trout population, the trends in data that the counter produces can go some way to producing a better understanding of migratory fish stocks across the Solway that can help direct fishery management on the Dee itself as well as other local rivers.
Regarding the Dee salmon count in 2014, the situation was not quite as bad as expected and 556 salmon came through the counter – a figure very similar to the previous year with the majority of salmon ascending during October (see graph of monthly counts). The increase in salmon movement during October corresponds with findings on the local rivers, where some beats reported their best weekly catch of the season in good water at the start of October. Most noticeable in the counts last year was the lack of a good summer (July/August) run of salmon. The last salmon passed through the counter on the 10th November which has implications for earlier broodstock collection effort in future (in previous years, when aided by milder water temperature, salmon have run the ladder well into December). On a more positive note, sea trout numbers (140 sea trout) were better last year than in recent years (see graph of annual Vaki migratory fish counts 2007-2014).
Looking forward, this year has already produced some encouraging results with the Vaki fish counter recording its best May salmon up count since the Vaki was installed back in 2007! Some rivers locally have reflected well on the spring season with Cree rods reportedly catching in excess of 40 spring salmon – with probably over half of this figure coming from Glentrool Estates on the Minnoch. Here are some clips of spring salmon and a trout passing through the fish counter at Tongland in May this year.