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Salmon recolonise headwaters of rivers near Glenelg

Posted: Friday 10 July, 2009 @ 13:05:49

Colin, Peter and Anna Macdonald, and Billy Kugelmann by the 'Gonzalo' falls of the Glenmore River.

Over the past week, the Wester Ross Fisheries Trust electro-fishing team has been surveying juvenile fish populations in the Glenbeag and Glenmore rivers near Glenelg. According to local anecdote (and reflected in catch records) salmon populations crashed in both rivers in the 1990s. WRFT first carried out a survey of the Glenmore River in 2002 and the Glenbeag River in 2004. Since then, both rivers have usually been surveyed at two year intervals. 

For the first time, juvenile salmon (fry and parr) were found above the falls near Dun Grugaig in the Glenbeag River, and above a series of falls near Bealachasin in the Glenmore River (parr only). Neither of these rivers have been stocked with salmon in recent years. The survey thus demonstrated that respective falls are passable to salmon, and that salmon have recolonised headwater areas, signs of improvements in the health of respective populations.

Earlier in the year, juvenile salmon were found for the first time in the Balmacara Burn by the WRFT electro-fishing team on 9th May at the NTS-FC Balmacara Country Day, a further indication of an improvement in salmon populations within the Loch Alsh - Loch Hourn area.

One outstanding question relates to the genetic status of wild salmon in rivers of the area. In 2008, 30% of the recorded rod catch of salmon in the nearby River Croe were escaped farm salmon. WRFT has an ongoing programme of genetic screening of salmon populations within its area which may help to highlight management and conservation priorities.

Many thanks to all estates for permissions to carry out surveys, and to Alan Mackenzie (Eileanreach Estate), Colin, Peter and Anna Macdonald, Nick Sanders and Jamie and Billy Kugelmann for help.