Scottish River Vision
By Jock Monteith 14th June 2018
The days of relying on unsubstantiated scientific guesswork to steer the management of wild Atlantic salmon stocks in Scotland are gone as are the days of salmon anglers and beat owners sitting back depending on this consistently failing system.
River Tay Salmon Parr Counts
While scientists 'naturally' still try to cover their back sides by bleating on about 'ocean mortality' the real problems salmon face are in the Scottish rivers via over predation which has been allowed to multiply for various illogical reasons over the last decade. On Monday this week I requested one of my ghillie colleagues go out on the middle Tay and conduct his own salmon parr survey. After 3 hours of searching in the perfectly clear low water margins (with polaroid assistance) he'd only spotted 2 salmon parr. That visual information you can rely on way more than some oceanic snapshot guesswork statement which 'naively' is taken seriously. I'll go with any professional ghillie's visual feedback all day long as these guys are on the river and in 'observation mode' every day of the year.
River Predation Has Reduced Wild Smolt Outputs
Goosanders and mergansers are indeed beautiful birds but will rapidly diminish an entire shoal of salmon fry if left unchecked. Even the slightest graze on a juvenile salmon from a 'missed' attempt by a saw billed duck will kill that juvenile when it tries to make the transition to salt water. These days on the Tay it's common to see 30 plus of these birds feeding in the one salmon pool which will completely decimate entire juvenile salmon populations. These birds are fantastic parents so when they have offspring most of them survive to adulthood and one duck will typically produce 8 young each year so work that out over a 5 year period on your calculator and see where it takes you on the geometric progression front! Cormorants are at an even higher level of predatory efficiency as they can also handle smaller adult salmon too! Cannibal brown trout have also played their part as mentioned in this previous news letter entry.
Get Rid Of The Scientific Excuses
Even if the oceanic guesswork theme was correct then there's nothing much can be done at that end of the scale so focussing on what can be done is the only card available to play. Thankfully Mother Nature understands numbers so increasing juvenile smolt outputs via in-river predation control and wild smolt ranching shouldn't take the brain of Albert Einstein to understand the guaranteed benefits. The absolute rubbish about wild ranched smolts competing with river reared stock is total nonsense as there are no where near the juvenile numbers of salmon in any of our rivers these days compared to days of old and anyone who recalls the fry & parr densities of the 70's in the Tay will understand exactly what I mean here. In addition to that juvenile salmon competition is a great thing and do you think Muhammad Ali went into his famous 'Rumble in the Jungle' battle with Foreman without a few well chosen and super fit sparring partners!
Wild Atlantic Salmon Genetic Integrity
There are so many examples of 'not' protecting genetic integrity it's horrifying to think that these words can even be used these days. As an example River Tay salmon fry have been used for centuries to populate salmon rivers and as a boy I used to wonder why I'd occasionally catch heavy weigh cock salmon in the Ayrshire's little River Stinchar until I was informed! Beavers, red kites, rainbow trout, escapee farmed salmon and I'm not going to bore you or elaborate any further as the whole 'genetic integrity' hoax is anti evolution for any species as currently being perfectly demonstrated by the salmon fishing scientists of Scotland! We are not however advocating the mixing of any genetic salmon strains however the 'elitists' have done it with our God given food supply for improved crops (hopefully!) so what's all the fuss about. It's no wonder they built the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway but a true genetically intact salmon from any Scottish river is highly unlikely to exist these days as salmon like human beings are true explorers and despite popular belief they will enter and reproduce in other rivers which they are non native to.
Take The Effective Salmon Stock Development Route
It's OK guys we know it's not all entirely your fault that the Scottish salmon runs have nosedived compared to days of old and that it's a global problem with most species. All we are asking you to do is stop the 'distraction' tactics and get on board with meaningful initiatives before a real war develops over this. There are thousands of salmon anglers and professional river men who just want to see a bit of intelligent juvenile stock control for the benefit of the Scottish river reputations, the Scottish economy and the general well being of this fabulous industry which also just happens to tick big 'biodiversity' boxes too! Do yourselves a favour and put your names onto the New Year's honours list in 2025 by significantly growing the wild Scottish salmon stocks to make our nation the world's number one wild Atlantic salmon fishing asset. Meaningful and 'assisted' wild smolt outputs will most certainly counteract in-river predation issues if paired with 'well timed' release implementation which is fully within your control & remit!