river don fishery report 2008


Evening Ladies and Gentlemen

The Don Board hatchery, which is situated at Strathdon, produced a total of 420,000 eggs from the 2007 Brood stock. 307,000 were Salmon, 58,000 were Sea trout and 55,500 were Brown trout raised on behalf of the Brown Trout Improvement Association. The Salmon eggs were planted out into the upper system as eyed Ova in artificial Redds in January. 307 artificial Redds were made in the upper river system, 5 tributaries were chosen and 3 parts of the main stem, where spawning activity was very low on the spawning beds.

One of the tributaries I chose, the Meoir Veannarch has an impassable dam. The other tributaries had either natural blockages due to fallen mature spruces trees or redd counts were low, and last years electro fishing had shown low numbers of young fry in certain areas of the burn

The sea trout and brown trout were stocked out as unfed fry. The Sea trout were stocked out into the tributaries and the Brown trout was stocked out into the main river.

Habitat Improvements

A number of habitat improvements were made this year within the Don catchment.

Two of our main salmon burns and one trout stream had suffered natural blockages due to mature wind blown spruce trees completely blocking or causing extensive damage to the stream banks, with water trying to force its way around the blockages this was causing siltation further down stream onto spawning beds. A total of 15 trees were removed from the stream where access is now available to all fish species.

Coppicing work was also carried out on the Bottom end of the Buchat burn where large beech trees were completely blocking natural light etting to the stream bed, which reduces vegetation







River flows during January were very high due to the ever changing weather pattern that the northeast has been experiencing this month. At the start of the month the river was 1ft above normal flow and on the 5th of the month the river went up to 5ft above normal flow due to heavy rain and the river was in full spate conditions. As the river started to slowly drop back in height, warmer weather moved in and the river went back up in height with a snow melt from the top reaches, again the river fell back. This did not last long, as on the 15th of the month more rain moved in and the river shot back up again. There were another two occasions when river levels rose, the 23rd and the 27th of the month. The river level by the end of the month was 2ft above normal base line flows for the river.


As river levels have been very high during the month, it has been very hard to ascertain if any spring salmon stocks have entered the system. In a normal year when river levels are more appropriate for this time of year and hard frost conditions prevail, we usually see spring salmon lying

above the weirs whilst checking the fish passes at night, but as river flows have been so high we have not managed to get on to the weirs to check..
Kelts have been seen in the lower Don and middle reaches splashing around in pools by the bailiffs, they also found some Otter kills in the Inverurie waters and the Grandhome stretches of the system.



A meeting was held at the SEPA offices on the 11th of the month, the meeting was in conjunction with the Water Frame work Directive, River Basin Management Planning. SEPA are now dealing with diffuse pollution on the Don system. The area from Inverurie down to the tidal reaches of the river has failed the water quality of the frame work; this is due to a number of factors, run off from mixed farming, high nutrient levels from paper mills, pollution from urban areas, from surface drains and sewage treatment works where phosphorus levels will have to be reduced and the list goes on. SEPA have take on 50 extra staff to deal with this, on the Don, Ythan, Ugie, they have been given a deadline of 2015 to sort out the diffuse pollution.


There will be five schools involved this year in the project they are as follows, Strathdon primary, Keig primary, Tough primary, Tullynessle primary, these four schools are being funded by Aberdeenshire Council who are determined to succeed budget allocation from the Scottish government. Kemnay academy is being funded by Inverurie Angling Association; I was informed it costs £1000 pounds to set up one of these special aquariums. Salmon eggs will be given to the schools on the 6th of February. It is great to see so many school getting involved with this project as it gives the children an insight of what’s in a river or stream and how important it is not to harm the environment around them. I suspect that some of these children will have farming backgrounds and could quite possibly take over family run farms, which in turn could help to keep the water quality at good levels for the future when they remember back to these projects in the class room .  



Just now in the hatchery the Salmon eggs are now all eyed ands the first 3 troughs are ready to be planted out into the streams, unfortunately we are going to have to wait until the volume of water drops back as levels are high at the moment.  All stock are progressing well at this time.



J Kerr- River SuperintendentM

Webster- Deputy Superintendent

S Murphy- Senior Bailiff.

Jim Kerr


River Superintendent


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