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Galloway Fisheries Trust

Fisheries House, Station Industrial Estate, Newton Stewart, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. DG8 6ND
Telephone: 01671 403011 · Fax: 01671 402248 · Scottish Registered Charity No. SC020751

Looking downstream on the River Cree

Brown Trout

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

Murray's Monument

A small upland burn

A stoneloach

The High Cree, looking towards Cairnsmore of Fleet

A small waterfall on the Buchan Burn

A salmon from the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee

Update on research into ‘grilse error’

28 November 2016

A nice summer fish

A nice summer fish

Seeing as the fishing season is almost about to close on the Urr, the last river that we work on to close, we thought we would give you an update on the scale samples received (so far) for the research into ‘grilse error’ which is used in the calculation of river Conservation Limits.  If you missed our initial article you can read it here.

We have received scales from each river we were targeting for the research (Luce, Bladnoch, Cree and Urr).  Although the final few scales are coming in, here is a rundown of what we have so far at the time of writing:


Total scale samples received

Cree catchment total               55

Bladnoch catchment total        44

Luce catchment total               17

Urr catchment total                   12

GRAND TOTAL                        128


In total we’ve received 128 sets of scales out of a target of 200 for the season. June was drier, with only three sets of scales handed in, but more water was seen in July and this resulted in higher catches, with 45 sets of scales received.  Early August yielded fewer fish but more were being caught and seen towards the end of the month and overall we received 38 samples in August.  September showed more promise in water levels and better fishing appeared to be had towards the end of the month. 31 samples were received for September fish.  October was a drier month, with only 11 samples handed in so far.  If you have any scale samples lurking at home please do send them in now so we can get the last batch sent off for reading.

Scales are being sent to a professional scale reader that GFT and other fishery organisations, such as other fishery trusts and Marine Scotland Science, have used for many years.  So far we have had 102 sets of scales read and results show that, in the main, anglers correctly identified which fish were multi sea winter salmon and which were grilse.  Only ten fish were incorrectly identified: five fish were identified as a salmon when they were actually grilse, having spent only one winter at sea; and five fish were identified as grilse when the scale samples showed they were salmon, having been at sea for two or more winters.  Of these ten fish, seven were between 6lb and 8lb, the weight where it is trickier to differentiate between a salmon or a grilse.

In general the majority of scale samples (55) showed grilse, spending two years in freshwater and one winter at sea.  Of the salmon scales analysed, 24 samples also showed fish spending two years in freshwater.  The majority of salmon in this area smolt as 2+ parr.  Interestingly three Cree fish (all salmon) had spent three years in freshwater, so smolting and heading to sea as a three year old (3 + parr) and, interestingly, one Cree fish (a grilse) had spent four years in freshwater, smolting as a 4+ parr.  Three of these fish were caught on the Minnoch, the others caught on the lower Cree, perhaps destined for the Minnoch where scale samples have shown in the past that salmon will occasionally spend up to three years in freshwater.  Two Bladnoch fish (both grilse) and one Urr fish (a grilse) had also spent three years in freshwater.  Of the scales read so far, only one fish was identified as spending one year in freshwater and smolting as a 1+ fish – this was a grilse from the Bladnoch.  No scales read yet show a multi spawner (returning to the river to spawn for a second time), but this tends to be relatively rare.

We’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the anglers who have so far participated in this work and we hope for their continued support, with possibly a few more scale samples still to come in. 

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