Managing Smolts on the River Dee

June 26, 2018

Salmon smolts are the lifeblood of the River Dee salmon fishery. These sprightly little fish are the final stage of juvenile salmon in the river. As they lose their parr markings and take on that familiar silvery sheen of the adult salmon they are preparing to leave the river to begin their long migration to the feeding grounds of the North Atlantic. They will return to the river a year later as grilse or, if they stay at sea longer, multi sea winter salmon.

Our aim is to produce as many smolts as possible and to do everything we can to ensure as many of them as possible leave the river for the open sea. Concerns regarding the decline in returning adult fish prompted us to look in more detail at the smolt population on the catchment. We originally believed there to be a predation issue in the harbour and estuary, and expected to find the greatest smolt mortality there. But when we tested this assumption, we found that the main losses were occurring higher upstream.

Predation is a contentious topic, but armed with evidence we are pressing Scottish Government to support practical fisheries management to allow us to take the steps necessary to protect our fishery and the jobs of those who depend on it. Facts are opinions with evidence and we will continue to gather information about our fishery to support our case to government that our wild salmon fisheries need protection.

Special thank you to Alastair Peake of and Andrew Walker for producing an excellent video.

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