Exciting discovery in the Polmaddy Burn

7th Oct 2021
by Rowan McCleary

GFT record first juvenile salmon within the Polmaddy Burn in over 25 years of juvenile fish data collection on the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee

All smiles as Kacie presents a net full of Polmaddy Burn salmon fry
All smiles as Kacie presents a net full of Polmaddy Burn salmon fry

As a follow-up to our 'Upper Dee Salmon Restoration Project' undertaken last year and supported by Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership; we recently returned to the Polmaddy Burn to continue electrofishing surveys beyond Polmaddy settlement.  The Polmaddy Burn is a significant tributary that enters the Water of Deugh at Dundeugh.  Historically, GFT have had concerns with the Polmaddy Burn regarding salmon access and acidification.    

Beyond the car park at Polmaddy settlement, over 2 km of mixed juvenile and spawning habitat lies upstream towards a set of falls at Drumness Linn.  The falls are likely to prevent access for migratory fish beyond.  The burn weaves around the historic settlement and begins to climb gently; with faster flows and a mixture of boulders and cobbles gathering large pockets of spawning substrates ideal for nursery beds for migratory salmon and resident trout.  Here, we selected our first electrofishing site and to our great delight, amongst a number of trout, we captured a single salmon fry (salmon arising from 2020 spawning).  Without delay, we cast our attention to an area upstream highlighted for its pristine spawning habitat.  Here, the burn escapes the conifer forestry on both banks and some 200 m of spawning matter lies (see picture).  Once more, we captured a good number of salmon fry before advancing upstream through a further site containing salmon fry and finishing our investigation a short distance from the Linn where we expected to uncover the odd salmon parr within a section containing boulders.  But alas, we continued to turn salmon fry but no parr.  Could we have uncovered an isolated year of spawning in this upper reach of the catchment?  Our investigations will continue…. 

In the meantime, what a delight to discover the first wild salmon in the Polmaddy Burn since GFT began juvenile fish monitoring within the Dee catchment over 25 years ago.  With the catchment receiving such low numbers of returning adult salmon in recent years, this is tremendous news for the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee.          

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