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THE massive rainstorms which caused many Scottish salmon rivers to flood this year have had a real potential to seriously damage fish stocks.

As I write, for instance, the River Tay, which has been in flood for days, is still storming down.

The Tay is not the only river to have been affected.

Up and down the country, rivers and burns have been turned into savage, muddy torrents.

The problem for the future of salmon is that this is the time of the year when they are spawning.

In years gone by, river levels were dropped by frosts and salmon had lovely clear water in which to drop their eggs in the gravel.

Spates, however, are very bad news for this annual activity.

Adult salmon can survive no matter how strong the spate is.

But what of their eggs?What chance have they got when the river is rushing down like an express train?

Tragically, after all the efforts that go into spawning, the eggs get swept out of the reeds to be tumbled down the river.

A few survive to hatch out, but many end up being damaged, trapped in flooded pools beyond the river bank, or covered in silt as the river subsides.

Some years ago after a massive spate many anglers and ghillies witnessed tide lines of bright orange roe along the river bank. The season's spawning had been seriously damaged.

A huge spate can also cause mass fatalities in tiny fish.

In an ordinary spate, most of them manage to hunker down in calmer spots away from the main current or under rocks, well away from danger.

After the massive spate which caused a major flood in the Spey towards the end of the season this year, a friend of mine witnessed a tragic event.

He told me later: "In every little pool in the grass, left by dropping water, were thousands of trapped tiny fish.

"There were so many I could hardly believe my own eyes.

"They were all an inch to an inch and a half long and they were all juvenile salmon.

"I spent hours scooping up what I could and put them back into the river, but I only made a dent in it.

"The effects of that spate up and down the river will have telling effects on salmon stocks in the future."

If we are to believe in the effects of global warming, then torrential rain storms like those we have just witnessed will be regular events.

This will make the future of Scotland's salmon much more precarious than they are now.

THIS hefty pollack, which tipped the scales at 13lb, was caught by Thurso angler Donald Thomson.

Donald tempted the fish from Melvich Bay while fishing from his own boat.

Congratulations, Donald. You will shortly be receiving details of your fantastic rod and line prize courtesy of top tackle makers, Daiwa, our Fish of the week sponsors.

Send your coupon to: Fish Of The Week, Daily Record, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA. Unfortunately, we cannot return Fish Of The Week picture entries
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 27, 2009
Next Article:THE recent storms across the [...].

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