September 2019 update – Part 3 – Working with the Forth River Trust

One of the important tasks that members of the DAA committee undertake is supporting the Forth River Trust’s biologist undertaking their routine surveys of the River Devon.

This year:

  • Bob Wright, Keith Broomfield and Alan Graham assisted with kick sampling to understand the relative health of the river’s invertebrate population (a key indicator of the relative health of a watercourse).
  • Colin Smail and Keith Broomfield assisted with electo-fishing in the Alva, Tillicoultry and Dollar Burns to survey at routine annual locations with relative density of young fish in these key burns

You may have seen Keith Broomfield’s excellent nature related articles in The Courier and Alloa Advertiser which frequently feature the Devon, Strathdevon, the Ochils and Glendevon. He is also an excellent twitter feed featuring many of his amazing wildlife photos:

Keith in recent weeks has published two articles about these surveys which I am simply going to quote from and use a few of his photos!

With an air of excitement, we empty the contents of our small river sampling net into an inspection tray and stare in wonderment at the multitude of wriggling invertebrates suddenly revealed.

Accompanied by Alan Graham and Bob Wright of the Devon Angling Association, and under the watchful eye of Amy Fergusson and Kyle Hind of the Forth Rivers Trust, we had just been ‘kick sampling’ to determine the abundance and variety of invertebrates on a stretch of the River Devon in Clackmannanshire.

The technique involves kicking the stony riverbed with wader-clad feet, and then catching in a net any invertebrates stirred-up into the water. This sampling exercise was a trial run by the angling association with a view to becoming part  of the national Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative to provide data on the health of our rivers.

In our examination tray there are numerous mayfly, caddisfly and stonefly larvae, as well as tiny freshwater shrimps. These invertebrates are the engine room of the river, the driving force that supports everything else – food for birds, fish and so much else. They provide many other ecological benefits, too, including the recycling of nutrients.

 

One way of monitoring fish populations, especially juveniles, is electro-fishing – a specialist technique that temporarily stuns the fish, enabling them to be scooped-up into a net before being later released unharmed back into the river.

As such, I was delighted to have been invited by FRT to participate in an electro-fishing session on the Dollar Burn. Headed-up by Jo Girvan, the team consisted of Jack Wootton, who also works for the Trust, volunteer Bethany Robinson and Colin Smail of the Devon Angling Association.

The Dollar Burn, along with Alva, Menstrie and Tillicoultry burns are regularly monitored by the Trust to assess how fish populations are faring and also to detect any trends.

Jo slowly wades slowly upstream, sweeping an anode into the water ahead of her. Jack is right behind and he quickly lifts up into his net any fish affected by the electrical current, which are then gently placed into a pail of water. Fish that are missed, recover within seconds and dart back to the bottom of the burn.

 

Jo sweeping Dollar Burn with the Anode

After a carefully timed sampling period, we return to the bankside and examine the live-catch. Jo is pretty satisfied with the result, with 39 young trout and six small salmon caught. The good number of one-year-old trout is especially encouraging, as it indicates that the most recent spawning season was relatively successful.

Juvenile Brown Trout from Dollar Burn

Comparing juvenile Brown Trout and Salmon [Brown Trout at top and Salmon at the bottom]

We also caught an eel, which caused a bit of excitement, as their numbers have plummeted alarmingly in Europe over the last few decades. This eel will stay in this burn for a few more years yet before embarking upon an epic migration to the Sargasso Sea off America to spawn.

Juvenile eel from the Dollar Burn

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September 2019 update – Part 2 – Work Parties

A separate post setting out some of the work done recently by our dedicated Wednesday work party team!

Our small group of volunteers head out onto the river and Glenquey most Wednesday’s to undertake works to improve the fishery, improve access and ensure that spawning fish can pass upstream to their traditional spawning grounds.

Just now the work parties have been working methodically up the river ensuring that passage can be made up the burns (for example making sure a channel is maintained at the confluence of the Tillicoultry Burn and river and clearing children’s dams from the Glendy Burn at Dunning Glen).

Over recent months quite apart from the endless strimming to maintain footpaths along the river and at Glenquey, the work parties have been busy making improvements for access including installing steps, building stiles etc.

Footpath improvements at Black Bridge

 

New sprung gate being built

Finished product

New footbridge over deep ditch

After every major weather event most of the popular stretches of the river are checked for falling lumber and cleared at the earliest opportunity

On top of these project they have been working with local landowners to deal with the increasing menace of fly tipping at key parking locations. The work parties has have to deal with the menace of blatant and inexcusable littering particularly at the height of the summer

These guys do a fabulous job for the association and the local community.

If you are interested in helping out or perhaps are able to give an occasional sunday morning please get in touch. The average age of our work parties are now well in excess of 70 and we really do need some (literally) young blood!

https://devonanglingassociation.org.uk/work-parties/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 2019 update

So next Saturday will bring to an end the 2019 Brown Trout season on the Devon and at Glenquey. The weather forecast suggest another damp week with the risk of heavy rain on Thursday so it looks like although the banks may be sodden the river should be at a fishable level after Thursday and Friday spates.

No reports (yet) of salmon being caught or even seen, but there has been a run of sea trout (seen at Dollar Weir)

Between spates the trout fishing has been really good, anglers practicing upstream nymphing have had good catches (particularly bumping heavier nymphs close to the stream bed). There have been several fish in the +1lb bracket on the fly and by bait anglers, and a fish 4lb+ landed downstream of Tillicoultry by a bait angler!

Glenquey has suffered a wee bit as the reservoir level has remained resolutely high. This is perhaps reflected in the low number of returns submitted in August (when combined with the rubbish weather) with only 23 returned. These showed  71 fish being caught (mean weight 0.5lb and an average 3.1 fish per angler visit). The lucky angler to win a free ticket came from Perth.

Note – Glenquey final week: There will be roadworks between Castlehill and Yetts O’Muckhart resulting in full closure of the A823. Please note these are overnight roadworks only and the closure should only come on after 20.00hrs ……… so shouldn’t affect anglers at Glenquey.

Best of luck for trout anglers in their final week and lets keep our fingers crossed that we get a run of salmon before the migratory fish before the end of the salmon season!

 

 

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Forth Rivers Trust – Summer 2019 newsletter

Our friends and colleagues at the Forth Rivers Trust have just published their latest newsletter setting out the work they are undertaking over the whole Forth Catchment.

https://mailchi.mp/704664088324/forth-rivers-trust-2018-recap-newsletter-2464169

There is some really interesting reading to be found here

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August 2019 update

After a series of minor spate events caused very heavy localised cloud bursts during last week the heavens really opened on Friday. In no time, the Devon at Castlehill reservoir had risen over a metre:

As is its fashion the gauge at Glenochil showed a much slower rise but peaking with extra 1.25m of flow:

This left the river the colour of a late, dangerously high and completely unfishable.

To date no significant migratory fish had been caught but judging by the number of cars parked at Vicars Bridge this evening a concerted effort has been put in, as surely some fish  must have come in to the river? It will be interesting to hear about any catches or even sightings!

The river has been fishing well with reports on facebook of a very large brown trout caught by angler bait fishing. These big fish do succumb often to worms  and I for one think there are quite a few lurking about (you only need to see some of the big brownies trying to get over Dollar Weir when there is a spate at the backend). Fly fishing has produced a lot of good fish in the 1/2lb to 2lb bracket and prodigious quantities of salmon and trout parr.

A number of anglers have pointed to incredible of  stands of weed (I stand to be corrected but I think this is Ranunculus  other wise known as Water-crowfoot) on the Fossoway Beats. This is posing difficulties for anglers with wets and nymphs, but real opportunities for the dry fly angler. The weed has always been there, but in recent years has been suppressed by silting caused by prolonged flows of compensation water. This summers regular series of spates has allowed the weed to flourish. Anglers may curse it but it does provide cover for fish and supports large populations of invertebrates .

Up at Glenquey, between repairs to the A823, fishing has been on the whole very good in June 48 catch returns were made catching 280 fish with a total estimated weight of 155lbs (mean 5.83 fish/visit and at mean weight of 0.55lb). Much fewer visits were made in July with only 34 catch returns made, catching 125 fish with a total estimated weight of 67lb (mean 3.67 fish/visit and at mean weight of 0.54lb). The level of the reservoir remains high and the prodigious growth of the vegetation means the work party will be endeavouring to clear the path on the south bank again (don’t be shy if you want to lend a hand ………… all help will be gratefully received)

The Glenquey permit draw for catch returns submitted in June went to angler from Alloa and in July an angler from Burntisland.

In other news we are busy working with Forth Rivers Trust, other associations/clubs and propitiators on a new initiative to promote fishing throughout the Forth catchment. We continue to badger Clackmannanshire Council and SEPA about fly-tipping that has occurred at Marchglen and Vicars Bridge (included the load of spent tyres dumped by the side of the road between Vicars Bridge and Blairingone at the weekend)

Work parties have suffered through a combination of well earned vacations, injuries and the crazy rate of vegetation growth this year. The boys will no doubt be out on Wednesday clearing debris from this weekends spate!

 

 

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Glenquey – More roadworks on the A823 -Friday 9th August to Monday 12th August 2019

Clackmannanshire Council have made notification of road closure on the A823 between Yetts O’ Muckhart and Glendevon (at the county line adajcent to the access road to Glendevon Water Treatment Works) from 20.00hrs on  Friday 9th August to 06.00hrs Monday 12th.

Access to Glenquey is only likely to be available via Gleneagles, I have asked Clackmannanshire Council for confirmation of this but please be prepared for a long diversion next weekend

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UPDATE Access to Glenquey – A823 Works complete, ahead of schedule

Goood news, I am pleased to report that Perth and Kinross Council have announced this morning on Facebook that:

The resurfacing work on the A823 Gleneagles to Glendevon road has been completed ahead of schedule, and the road has now re-opened to all traffic

 

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