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Nairn Smolt Trap Up and Running

The Nairn rotary screw trap was re-installed on the 12th of April at Milton and our thanks to Sean Maclean (Findhorn Fishery Board), Charlie Black, Billy Milne and Gordon Rennie from the Nairn Angling Association, James Symons (SISI), Scott Galbraith (UHI) and Craig Galbraith (UHI) for all their help.

The trap has been in operation since spring 2016 and is providing valuable insights into the migration patterns of salmon smolts as they make the seaward journey from the Nairn. It also provides and estimate of the abundance of salmon smolts within the river. So far the two years of operation have provided quite different river conditions with 2016 remaining relatively wet with good river flows prevailing, 2017 was the opposite with a long warm spell leading to unseasonably low flows which prevented the trap from operating. This year looks like being different again with the long cold winter slowing down the emigration of smolts. Indeed since installation we’ve only had a few smolts so far but that will change!

In 2016 we captured 8321 salmon smolts while in 2017 the number was much lower at 4903. Using mark recapture techniques where a small proportion of the smolts receive a dye tattoo on their underbelly and are re-release upstream we can estimate the overall run of smolts for the river. Using this simple approach our trap typically catches about 10% of the passing fish leading us to estimate a run size of around 83,000 in 2016 and 49,000 which is impressive. However, more work is required to improve these estimates, for example the low flows in 2017 prevented the trap from operating for the majority of time and its highly likely that many smolts passed by the trap during these periods. As a result  estimate for 2017 may be low. 

We also collect data for other fish such as trout, pike, eels and sticklebacks and occasionally a larger finnock also appears in the trap box.  

The trap will be in daily operation until the end of May and usually we are there from 08:00 to collect and sample the catch. Visitors are always welcome but please contact before hand since operations do vary occasional due to other work commitments and the weather!

World Fish Migration Day

In particular please visit on Saturday 21st of April, as part of World Fish Migration Day, we will be available at the trap to explain more about the lifecycle of the salmon and other fish within our rivers. We will be on site from 08:00 to 10:00 and hopefully some fish will also be present in the trap!

For more information or to arrange a visit contact

Bob Laughton (FNLFT) 07887 535986 

or Alastair Skinner (Nairn Bailiff)  07825554808.