Searching and Celebrating Sparling this Spring


5th Feb 2020
by Courtney Rowland

It is that time of year again where GFT begin our search or the sparling during their annual spring migration to the upper tidal limit of the River Cree. This year we hope to run several events on the banks of the River Cree to celebrate sparling!

In 2019 GFT were joined by volunteers to observe the night time spawning event.
In 2019 GFT were joined by volunteers to observe the night time spawning event.

To predict the approximate arrival of the elusive Sparling GFT monitor river temperatures daily from the 1st of February.  Sparling typically arrive for a week between the middle of February to the middle of March. Compared to last year the first few days have been quite warm, reaching temperatures up to 7°C, for comparison for the first few days of February in 2019 temperatures were between 0.75°C and 3°C.

This year to celebrate the rare sparling, GFT will be hosting a number of events during the spawning period to showcase this beautiful and rare species. This will hopefully give more people the opportunity to see these amazing silvery fish which smell of cucumbers and learn more about GFTs efforts to conserve this culturally significant species.

Due to the annual variation in the spawning period (greatly influenced by tide heights, river temperatures and river flows) we cannot yet fix dates for these events. In the next few weeks as we begin to monitor and anticipate their arrival we will be able to release approximate event dates, possibly with only a few days’ notice.

We hope to be heading out in the early hours on two occasions (dates to be confirmed) to observe sparling spawning in the hours of darkness, the spectacle has been described as the water boiling with silver flashes. If observing from the riverbanks late at night isn’t your cup of tea feel free to join us aside the new sparling bridge (date to be confirmed) as we hope to display a tank full of sparling for a day.

The three main events we plan to run are as follows (dates to be confirmed):

Event 1: Night Time Spawning Event Observation (from the river bank)

Event 2: Night Time Spawning Event Observation (from the river bank)

Event 3: Sparling beside the Sparling Bridge

**Please note the elusive nature of the spawning event, triggered by multiple variables, means there is no guarantee that we will be able to observe sparling spawn this spring.

If you would like to attend any events or get involved please contact our Sparling Project Officer Courtney on temp@gallowayfisheriestrust.org who will email dates in the build-up or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for event updates.

This work is being supported by the Co-op local community fund.

Latest News


Opening of Sparling Bridge marks the end of the Saving the Sparling Project

The long awaited Sparling Bridge successfully opened on Saturday 30th November. Crowds gathered either side of the bridge on the sunny afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of the new pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting the communities of Minnigaff and Newton Stewart.

New Inner Solway Marine Conservation Zone Designated to Protect Smelt

The Galloway Fisheries Trust is working with Natural England to produce a detailed Smelt Restoration Management Plan for the inner Solway Firth, to be the framework for European smelt (sparling) recovery in designated Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) around England and Wales.

Next Previous