The First Fish of 2021

by Alasdair Laing

First fish of 2021

Congratulations to Cliff Robertson who caught this 7lb (3kg) fresh run (sea lice) fish in the Garden Pool at Logie last Friday.  That’s the first fish above the Darnaway Home Beat and it’s always a bit of a race, once they are on the move, to see who catches the first one. 

Sometimes they forget to stop here and Lethen or Glenferness beat us to it, but not this year, and just to make certain, on Monday Ewen Manson caught a 10lber (4.5kg), again with sea lice, in Sandy’s Kist on Logie.

an April salmon from the Findhorn at Logie

These are the multi sea winter fish, fish that have spent some years feeding at sea and are now returning to their native river to breed.  Having gone to sea as smolts weighing less than 1lb (500g) they return as mature salmon two to five or more years later weighing anything from 6 or 7 lbs (2.5 to 3kg) to 40lb (18kg).

Although the bulk of these bigger fish come into the river between February and early June they will not breed until the autumn.

Let’s hope the omens are good for 2021 to make up for the days lost last year.

Meanwhile, as the mature fish start to return, the juveniles are off to sea.  For two or three weeks in late April and early May the young salmon, hatched two or three years ago, undergo a physiological change which prepares them for life in salt water and start to swim downstream, heading for Findhorn Bay, the Moray Firth, the North Atlantic and beyond.

One of the big unknowns in the fishing world is why a smaller proportion (perhaps less than 5% now) of the juveniles leaving the spawning (breeding) areas return as adults than used to be the case 30 years ago (perhaps 20% or more).  As part of a major research project co-ordinated by the Atlantic Salmon Trust Missing Salmon Alliance the Findhorn is catching migrating smolts and tagging the larger ones with acoustic tags which will be read by arrays of receivers located from the lower reaches of the river right out into the Moray Firth.

smolt trap in the River Findhorn

Smolt Trap in the lower Findhorn

This research aims to establish where these fish are being lost.  Once we know that we can narrow down the possible reasons why they are being lost and look at ways of doing something about it.

Alasdair Laing 

27th April, 2021