|LOCATION OF PROBLEM||NATURE OF PROBLEM||ACTION OR MITIGATION||SUCCESS MONITORING|
|Main Stem River Lochy
|Low number of spawners in lower river due to lack of autumn-run fish||Electro-fishing survey undertaken to inform areas to seed with 2g summer fry in July||Electro-fishing survey the following year to count corresponding parr numbers|
|Main stem River Lochy
|Predation from goosanders, particularly during smolt run||Predator control through non-lethal bird scaring undertaken throughout the year with emphasis on spring and late autumn||Visual counts of goosanders throughout the year|
|Main stem River Lochy
|Predation from cannibal trout, particularly during smolt run at pinch points||Spring trout fishing at river pinch points (open trout fishing up to known local angling clubs)||Cumulative visual and trout rod catch evidence every year|
|Main grilse spawning tributaries (Loy, Lundy, Cour etc)
|Critically low number of spawners well below minimum spawning targets. Due to low marine survival of 1sw grilse in particular.
Habitat degradation in areas of commercial forestry and Smelter intake dams.
|Wild Lochy smolts grown on to produce captive broodstock. Eyed ova from these broodfish planted in artificial redds in all tributaries in late winter.
Live discussions with new owners of smelter and Forestry interests to improve flows and riparian habitat in Lundy and Cour tributaries.
|Annual electro fishing survey will inform whether corresponding fry numbers are healthy in stocked locations the following summer|
|River Roy headwaters
|Critically low number of spawners well below minimum spawning targets. Due to low marine survival rates (and long-standing habitat issues?)||25,000 fin clipped autumn parr stocked out in September. Talks with Estate on improvements to bankside fencing and riparian planting||Catches and electro-fishing will inform the success of this project funded by Braeroy Estate|
|Loch Arkaig catchment
|Critically low number of spawners well below minimum spawning targets. Several cumulative local factors possibly at play (low marine survival, Mucomir Dam, smolt farms and forestry).||Loch Arkaig Restoration Project – trapping wild smolts, growing captive broodstock and planting out eyed ova. Ongoing talks with SSE about improvements to flows and fish passage at Mucomir, coupled with ongoing dialogue aimed at improvements with all catchment neighbours||Fish counters and cameras at Mucomir Dam and River Arkaig hydro Dam, rod catches and annual electro-fishing, will inform the success of this multi-partner project (RLA, SSE, MHS, Lochiel Estate etc)|
|Estuary (Loch Linnhe and the Sound of Mull)
|Sea lice, escapes, disease from fish farms||Direct involvement with local fish farmers on a regular basis seeking to reduce lice or remove fish entirely during wild smolt run. Through very active membership of FMS Aquaculture Committee, working towards better cooperation with national industry and Scottish Government initiatives||Lice numbers, disease issues, escapes and unexplained mortalities are received on a monthly basis for all of the fish farms in Loch Linnhe and the Sound of Mull. Success of these industry-led initiatives and improvements becomes quickly apparent|
|High seas (ocean migration and marine phase from West Coast to North Norwegian Sea and East of Faroes).
|Lack of food due to major changes in the oceanic eco-system. Competition by pelagic fish. Predation by other species coping better with the changing climate (dolphins, seals, other fish species etc)||Working closely with key international scientists in the field with an objective of raising pelagic fishing quotas. Supporting the work of the AST, and particularly liaising closely on a west coast smolt tracking project proposal||Success may be slow but it may look like this – improvements to summer and autumn runs; increase in weight/condition of grilse; reduction of red vent syndrome in grilse (a sign of weakened immune and poor condition)|
Water height : 3-4ft6
Water temp : 50-52F
The Penultimate week of the season saw few anglers on the river but this probably had a positive impact on the fishing. A total of 13 salmon were landed – equalling the 2nd best week of the season. All from Beats 1 and 2. Unfortunately, Beats 3 and 4 are holding very few fish but this is normal in years with such low stock levels within the catchment.
The light fishing effort allowed pools to be rested which, at this time of year, can make a big difference to finding a taking fish.
With a dropping river after Thursdays heavy rainfall, Friday and Saturday were productive days. Kenny MacGregor managed a couple form Garrabduhie stream while Howard Evans finished off his season with an old 18lb cock fish from Garrabudhie flats.
Next week will draw a close to season 2018. A similar catch return to this past-week will take the total to 100 Salmon/Grilse – better than 2017 but less than half of 2016 and the current 5 yr average.
Water height : 5ft-12ft
Water temp : 50-52F
With continual rainfall in the catchment the river remained high for the whole week. Monday through to Wednesday were wet and windy days and not the easiest of conditions for the anglers. River levels peaked at 12ft on Tuesday morning and then 8ft on Thursday making actual fishing somewhat challenging…… but not completely impossible. Some Lochy pools can often produce at very high levels and indeed two fish were landed at the start of the week with a further 7 caught on Friday and Saturday as water levels steadied off. Once Again, most were MSW salmon.
On the Upper catchment, the River Spean benefits greatly from sustained high water and I’ve heard a reasonable number of fish were landed.
The forecast is showing some further heavy rain middle of next week which is bound to increase river levels once again….but this may not be a bad thing!
Water height – 2ft6-6ft6
Water temp – 52-54F
This is the first September week for a few years that it actually felt Autumnal! Water levels reached their highest since January-peaking at over 6ft, but more importantly water temperatures dropped from around 60F to low 50s – a key trigger point for salmon migration. This significant change in conditions was welcomed by the anglers and they took full advantage.
A dozen fish were caught and a few more lost – not record breaking by previous years standards, but with so few Grilse in the system, this was a very satisfying result!
As expected, most of the fish landed were MSWsalmon. Some had been in river for a good few months, others only a few weeks or quite possibly they were sitting out in the Sea Loch awaiting both water conditions and temperature to change?
Steve Wellards party had the lions of the catch with an average weight of 14lbs.
Pat Webster – a new Lochy tenant and relatively new to salmon fishing, hadn’t landed a salmon before this trip. Not only did he manage 1, but he went on to land a further 2 and lost a couple more. I should mention he was aided and guided superbly well by Andy Burton – well done to both. Suffice to say Pat left with a rather large smile on his face!
There was some minor room for optimism at the start of last week. River levels finally steadied off and starting dropping back to just over 1ft on the beat 3 gauge. Fishing conditions, for once, were almost perfect. More encouraging was the appearance of some fresh fish into the system. Ok, it wasn’t significant numbers but it was enough to provide some action and sport to the anglers.
The best of these was caught by Christopher Zawadski – a fine 18lb fresh cock salmon from beat 2. A fresh Grilse was also landed on Beat 2.
Unfortunately, this flurry of activity did not last and the latter half of the week was much quieter again.
It looks like the rain is making a return for this coming week so river levels are likely to rise again. Hopefully it may encourage a few more fresh fish in!!
Water Level: 1ft5-2ft
Water Temp: 55-60F
As what seems to be the norm these past years, August is our wet month. Rain fell in the catchment most days and kept river levels running around 1ft 6. This is, of course, a great fishing height for the main river beats but with few fresh fish about it does make then harder to find.
A total fo 5 salmon and grilse were landed, which is an improvement on the previous week but still far short of what we need. We did however have a “first salmon” for Humphrey Waltham-Dawson (Trapp party) – 13lb cock fish from Beat 2. It took a stripped sunray at the tail of Garra steam.
Simon Long also had a nice 9lber from Beat 2 while John Trapp managed a couple Grilse.
I would like to think we still have some fresh fish to come but reports from elsewhere do suggest that the summer Grilse runs are perilously low so we shall see what transpires over the coming days and weeks.
Water Height : 2ft
Water Temp : 55-60F
With the best conditions we’ve had all season there was an air of optimism that maybe, just maybe the Grilse would appear in bigger numbers last week. Sadly they didn’t! I think it’s fair to say now that the 1SW salmon run (Grilse) has failed to materialise again. Unfortunately, this is becoming a very worrying trend which extends much further than just the Lochy.
Catches – At the start of the week there did appear to be a few fish going through the system and Steve Wellard managed to land one and lose another first thing Monday morning. The Mather party then contributed quite substantially to the “lost” tally by losing 3 on Tuesday morning on Beat 2 followed by Michael Mann, who lost a good big fish on Beat 4. However, thankfully we had a celebrity over from Deeside and his flies always seem to attract fish!?! Ross MacD (fishing with Steve W) doubled our weeks catch with a 7lber from Beat 2 on Thursday night. Well done Ross!
I really enjoyed spending Friday morning with Ross and his son Calvin on Beat 3. Sadly we never touched a fish, but it was good to watch father and son discuss tactics while fishing down the Camisky pools.
It looks like more rain is arriving next week, which in all honesty, we could do without. We need fish, not more water!
Water height : 4″- 2ft+
Water Temp : 57-61F
The rainy season has finally returned to Lochaber!
After weeks of dry and at times, very hot weather, it was great to see a weekly forecast that favoured the fishermen and not the hill climbers and tourists. Water levels went from minus to plus 2ft on the Camisky gauge and further rain in the catchment kept the river topped up throughout the week – albeit it was mainly from the Spean and Roy so water colour and clarity wasn’t perfect…… however it got the salmon moving again!
Iain Lamont was quick to capitalise on the improved conditions and landed 2 lovely fresh fish in the Sluggan pool at the start of the week. 1 @ 6lbs and another @ 12lbs. (Note the red vent in the Grilse)
Upstream on Beats 1-4, the Wilson party also got off to a great start landing a cracking fish in the high teens and then went on to add a further 2 fish throughout the week. However the fishing in general remained rather slow which was surprising after such a prolonged dry period.
Further fish were landed (and lost) over the latter half of the week but it was becoming apparent that the numbers fresh run Grilse were still on the low-side ??
With river and weather conditions looking favourable over coming days the fishing could be good if the Grilse arrive in larger quantities.
Lets hope they do!
Water height : -4in to 0in
Water temp : 56-64f
Another week with very little to report in terms of catches, although there are signs that things are starting to change.
The river flucutated by a few inches throughout the week with some intermittent rain giving small rises however it still never made plus on the camisky gauge.
A few more fish were seen in some of the main holding pools indicating that even the small rises may have just been enough to get fish on the move!
The upstream beats were very lightly fished throughout the week with just a few rods venturing out for a few hours each day……and as such not much action was to be had ! However, as we know in salmon fishing, perserverence sometimes brings reward……and it certainly did for RLA chairman Andrew Shaw. On Saturday morning he managed to land a lovely salmon in the mid teens of lbs from beat 4.
The forecast for the next few days looks slightly more promising with rain and clouds featuring more than sun and blue sky! The river does need a proper flush out so let’s hope it comes this coming week!
River height : -2 to -4in
River Temp : 60-64F
Sadly I have very little to report from last week. The river remains desperately low and the fish are simply not running! Prolonged dry spells such as this typically change the migratory mood of the salmon and they will often choose the safety of the deep Loch to the vulnerability of being in the river in such low water conditions.
Even down on the Tailrace beat, the fishing was slow. Local angler Chris Cairns managed to land a lovely 8lber but I am not aware of any other fish caught. There are a few Salmon and Grilse now holding in the main pool and others seen coming in on the tides but I believe the bulk of the fish are staying in the Loch awaiting a change in river conditions.
As I write this, the rain is falling – but will it be enough?? Let’s hopes so!