Spring FNLT Newsletter

ACE is committed to advocating a sustainable environment and fully support and promote the work of the FNLT. A healthy river sports a healthy fishery. Below is a transcript of the work they have undertaken recently as outlined in their newsletter.

FNLT

Findhorn, Nairn & Lossie Fisheries Trust

Spring 2015 Newsletter

Flood Schemes come to Fruition

by Barbara Hellett, Forres Flood Alleviation Scheme Manager

Construction of both the Forres (River Findhorn & Pilmuir) and the Elgin Flood Alleviation Schemes is drawing to a close. On the River Findhorn large deposits of gravel which had accumulated over the years and which were stopping the river moving naturally within the flood plain have been removed. The effectiveness of this approach was seen in August 2014 following the highest river flows since 1970. The Scheme coped well in that it prevented flooding in Forres and Broom of Moy, although large volumes of sand, gravels, cobbles and boulders were moved changing the river’s appearance and course. Opening up the Back Run during medium to high flow events has restored the river to a more natural situation creating more wet woodland habitats which will increase biodiversity in the area.

Bob Laughton from the FNLFT was closely consulted throughout the works. He gave advice on fish biology to ensure that construction activities during particularly sensitive times such as spawning, did not detrimentally affect fish stocks. Given the large scale of the works, the Flood Scheme has done well in safeguarding the juvenile habitat and spawning areas within the mainstem of the river, securing fish populations for the future.

On the River Lossie, a range of habitats have been created by the lowering of the river banks to allow flood waters to flow into the recreated flood plain. A range of wet meadow, wildflower meadow and riparian woodland habitats have been created and a 1.5km length of new watercourse, the new Tyock / Linkwood Burn channel has been created. The bed of this channel was seeded with gravels of a similar nature to those in the existing Linkwood Burn and a number of habitat features including rocks and large woody debris have been placed in the river to increase the variety of habitats in the new channel. The channel has colonised well with recent invertebrate and fish surveys showing that these species are present. In addition, access to the river that is suitable for use by those in wheelchairs and mobility scooters has been created in two locations agreed with the Elgin Angling Association in 2008. Bases have been provided for fishing platforms that could be constructed by the angling association in the future.

A Bailiff’s life … is a happy one

Have you ever wondered what a river bailiff gets up to every day? Well meet the Findhorn bailiffs, Sean McLean and Billy Forrester and the Nairn bailiff, Alastair Skinner to find out more.

Bailiffs are employed by the District Salmon Fishery Boards to “protect, conserve and manage the migratory fish populations and their environment”, so not just to catch poachers. They have a vast territory to patrol, 68 miles of Findhorn River and 38 miles of Nairn River, as well as special patrols on the 30 miles of the River Lossie. They still work long and antisocial hours from dawn to the dead of night, patrolling stretches of the river in all weathers, popping up when they are not expected to check for illegal nets, bait or fishing tackle.

But their job is much broader now. They co-ordinate volunteers to control non-native predators such as mink, and they help with the control of non-native invasive plant species. They work with the FNLFT River Director to monitor the health of the river systems, helping with electrofishing surveys to assess fish populations in the river, conducting regular bird and seal counts, and interviewing anglers to assess fishing effort.

The bailiffs enjoy working outdoors, although not when they slip on ice and plop into the river in January as Alastair did recently. They enjoy meeting a wide range of people- from keen anglers who live and breathe fishing to organisations and individuals with wider river catchment concerns. Meeting and talking to people on the river is an important part of their job. They glean helpful information on potential illegal activities, as well as reports of mink and other predators, and yes, actual sightings of fish in the river and fish caught. So if you see characters behaving suspiciously, then please give your local bailiff a call.

And finally thanks go to Albert Duffus, who after over 20 years of bailiffing on the River Findhorn, retired in January 2015. The Findhorn DSFB and Forres Anglers presented Albert with a new set of golf clubs in recognition of his years on the river… and to ensure he keeps fit now he isn’t out patrolling the Findhorn in all weathers.

River Findhorn Bailiffs; Sean McLean 07920 483081 and Billy Forrester 07879 295670

River Nairn Bailiff: Alastair Skinner 07825 554808

 Meetings and Events

Calling All Anglers. FNLFT Fly Fishing Competition at Achagour Trout Fishery Saturday 6th June Great angling prizes. Check www.fnlft.org.uk for further details and registration.

Extreme Duck Race at Logie Steading near Forres on Sunday 26th July (t.b.c.) An action packed event for all the family in the beautiful grounds of Logie Estate on the banks of the River Findhorn. Enter the extreme Duck Race and help raise funds to support the work of the FNLFT. Check www.fnlft.org.uk or www.logie.co.uk

Board and public meeting dates for the three District Salmon Fishery Boards and the FNLFT can be found on the Trust website www.fnlft.org.uk

 The Moray Firth Trout Initiative

It has been a busy second year for the MFTI delivering a range a conservation and education projects around the Moray Firth.

The MFTI Education Programme strives to give children firsthand experiences of their local river through electrofishing demonstrations and kick sampling for invertebrates. A total of 386 pupils from 13 different schools benefitted from a MFTI river or classroom visit in 2014. FNLT Director, Bob Laughton, helped deliver sessions to seven S3 classes at Elgin Academy on using science and technology to research and better understand salmon and trout populations. We hope the talks inspired some budding biologists as well as developing our skills in speaking and engaging with this older age group.

The MFTI conducts routine electrofishing, habitat surveys and habitat restoration projects. More ground-breaking research projects include tracking large brown trout through the Deveron system and trialling the use of stable isotopes to determine if trout fry are of sea or brown trout origin.

A key objective of the MFTI has been to learn more about the brown trout populations in our rivers and lochs. Unlike sea trout there are no formal catch records and anglers tend to keep their catches to themselves. To fill this knowledge gap we ask local anglers to collect scales and we organise teams of volunteer anglers to fish in lochs and rivers. This summer we targeted Loch Dallas with some local volunteer anglers who caught, measured and collected scales from 11 trout in two days.

Another objective is to improve our understanding of sea trout in the marine environment and we have begun a seine netting programme targeted at catching sea trout, post smolts and finnock as well as other marine species including sea trout prey. So far we have netted in the Beauly and Dornoch Firths but the next targeted site is Findhorn Bay – so watch this space!

We are very short of scales from all forms of trout: sea, brown, ferox, slob and even finnock from the Findhorn, Nairn and Lossie areas, so if you are a trout angler please get involved by getting your scale collection pack from Marcus Walters. All the hard work of all the organisations involved in the MFTI was acknowledged when Marcus Walters was awarded the “Wild Trout Hero Award” at the WTT conservation Awards in London in October 2014.

Marcus Walters
Mobile: 07500 602216 Email: marcus@morayfirthtrout.org – www.morayfirthtrout.org

 MINK

The first mink of the year, a female, was caught at Covesea near Lossiemouth in February by a local volunteer. Mink disperse at this time of year, looking for new territory and mates. So please contact a bailiff if you see any signs of mink in your area. Findhorn bailiff, Sean McLean 07920 483081 or Nairn bailiff, Alastair Skinner 07825 554808.

 INNS

Wild Things! are recruiting volunteers to participate in their Blue Gym initiative to control invasive plants. Contact Jennie Martin at Wild Things! 01309 690450 or Bob Laughton at the FNLFT 01309 611220 for more information. www.wild-things.org.uk

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