Many thanks to Hoddom Castle for facilitating this camera's location. The River Annan (Uisge Annan in Gaelic) is a river in southwest Scotland. It rises at the foot of Hart Fell, five miles north of Moffat. A second fork rises on Annanhead Hill and flows through the Devil's Beef Tub before joining at the Hart Fell fork north of Moffat. From there it flows past the town of Lockerbie, and to the sea in the fishing town of Annan. It is one of the region's foremost fishing rivers, despite being used for many years by Chapelcross nuclear power station which extracted water for cooling purposes, but in any case is now being decommissioned. The main fish found - and hence the target of anglers - are salmon and sea trout, brown trout, grayling and chub, with a few others such as pike.
Hoddom, Nr Lockerbie, Scotland, DG11 1AS
Situated in a convenient location in the heart of south west Scotland, Hoddom Castle Caravan and Camping Park can be found in partially wooded parkland in the grounds of a 16th Century Border Keep forming part of the 10,000 acre Hoddom and Kinmount Estates.
added: 13th May 2013
posted by: Michael Fearns
The River Annan Trust and the Annan district Salmon Fishery Board have launched a new website outlining much of the work undertaken by the trust and the board as well as more detailed information on the...
Annan catchment itself, a link is available below this report.
The Annan is still struggling to produce some decent hatches and therefore the afternoon rises have not been that good. The Annan is a river that is very much hatch dependant and once the weather begins to settle we should see the return of good afternoon rises and the start of the olive upright hatch.
There are still some salmon coming into the river and the odd one keeps getting caught in the lower reaches despite very low angling pressure and with continuous good water this month the numbers of salmon arriving should increase as we go into the end of Mat and the beginning of June.
added: 8th May 2013
posted by: Michael Fearns
The trout fishing over the past few weeks has been very difficult with only sparse hatches on most days and not too many fish rising to them. The hatches have been a little inconsistent for most of the...
early season now which is partly due to the long period of cold weather during early spring and everything now seems to be at least a couple of weeks behind. There are some good trout being caught at the moment but there has been little sign of the good afternoon rises expected at this time of the year with many of the fish being caught have been caught on wet fly, nymphs and bugs. The salmon fishing has also been slow following a number of good spates, there has been the occasional fish getting caught as well as a few early sea trout, most of which seem to be getting caught on the lower reaches and this should improve towards the end of the month.
As we progress into May and provided the temperatures not only begin to climb but they also get a bit more stable there should be an improvement in the afternoon hatches with blue duns and olive uprights coming off. This should be enough to get the larger trout rising consistently and as we reach the end of May the evening rise should begin.
Sea trout numbers in the river should increase over the course of this month and again provided things start to warm up a bit it will be worth a go in the evening with the fly towards the end of the month. Two seasons ago there was a good run of late spring or early summer salmon depending on your point of view. These fish came into the river towards the end of May and into June and provided we have the water there is no reason why this couldn’t happen again, last season there were good numbers of salmon coming into the Annan during good water in June with the peak of that run happening during July.
This Saturday the River Annan Trust will be holding another one of its trout days. The meeting place is the Cafe 91 in Lockerbie at 8.30am
added: 7th May 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
My friend, Fred Woodward, wrote 'The Scottish Pearl in Peril in its World Context' which was published by Diehard in 1993 (ISBN 0 946230 27 7) and, although currently out of print, is in my view the best...
introduction to the life of this fascinating mollusc. He asked me to write the Foreword to his book, which I quote below because the context of the Freshwater Mussel FWM (Margaritifera Margaritifera) is perhaps more relevant today than it was then, largely because of increasing public awareness of its ecological importance.
Fred Woodward worked at the Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow in a team of distinguished natural historians and biologists. In that capacity he became a member of the European Invertebrates Survey and of the Bern Invertebrates Specialist Group, among other influential roles, including fellowship of the Linnaean Society. I remember Fred talking about the importance of the freshwater mussel and its relationship with juvenile salmonids, especially Atlantic salmon parr. At that time he was drafting the guidelines for the EU's Habitat Directorate, which ultimately led to EU legislation to protect the FWM.
Why are freshwater mussels (FWM) important?
My own interest in Margaritifera Margaritifera stemmed from living on the banks of the River South Esk in Angus, which was famous for the quality of its FWM pearls. In the 1980s it was still legal to collect pearls by opening up the shell of the living mollusc, invariably killing it in the process, and occasionally finding a pearl inside. South Esk FWM pearls were highly sought after, so much so that the late Queen Mother was given a necklace of a selection of the purest irridescent and graded pearls.
Quite often we would find heaps of opened shells beside the river, with dead mussels rotting and stinking in the summer warmth. It was obvious to me, even before I met Fred Woodward, that the plundering of the river's stocks of FWM could not continue if they were not going to become extinct.
Hence, when Fred asked me to write the foreword for his book, this is what I wrote:
"The freshwater mussel is a biological indicator of the health of our rivers. It is also the prized quarry of pearl fishermen, and in Scotland there is a common right to fish for them. There are few such privileges given to the ordinary person, above the rights of the riparian owner, and it is significant, as public access to Scotland's wilderness areas is now a major political issue, that we now know that this practice is no longer sustainable, if the Scottish pearl mussel is to survive.
Traditionally the pearl fisher killed every mussel in the search for the elusive and valuable pearl. It is this, in the context of the longevity and slow growth of Margaritifera Margaritifera, which made it obvious to Scotland's small group of professional pearl fishers that they needed to devise a method which did not involve killing the mussel. This they succeeded in doing by developing tongs which prise open the shell-halves sufficiently to allow inspection and removal of a pearl from the mussel's mantle without harming it. Unfortunately, it was impossible to communicate this method to the much larger number of amateur pearl fishermen, and it therefore became necessary to introduce legislation in 1989 to protect the animal by making it illegal to kill them, or interfere with them in any way.
Fred Woodward is the champion of Margaritifera Margaritifera. His interest in its natural history, its exploitation by man since pre-Roman times, its global context and the politics needed to ensure its survival, are the subject of this book. His main concern is for the mollusc's wellbeing, and yet he manages to introduce an elegaic sympathy for the Scottish group of professional pearl fishers, Bill Abernethy, Peter Goodwin and the McCormack family. It is well worth reading Peter Goodwin's book, 'The River and the Road - Journal of a Freshwater Pearl-Fisher' (Hale 1985 ISBN 0 7090 2341 3) which describes the lives of pearl fishers, an activity which sadly but understandably no longer exists.
The 1992 Rio conference on the global environment highlighted the issue of biodiversity, and it is therefore important that each threatened species has its champions. Fred Woodward's commitment is much more important than championing the cause of a single species however, because his holistic approach has much in common with the Scottish biologist and philosopher, Patrick Geddes, in the way he invites us to think globally and act locally. Margaritifera Margaritifera is more than yet another threatened species or biological indicator; ultimately it is a measure of our commitment to sustaining our environment."
Since 1993 the EU has introduced Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protect fragile species such as the FWM. Because of the mollusc's relationship with juvenile salmon, which are hosts to the FWM's larval parasite (Glochidia), it is the relationship between the two species which has become the target of EU conservation efforts. In salmon rivers where the freshwater mussel still exists, SAC status is predicated on the wellbeing of both species in that particular ecosystem - the freshwater catchment.
TA on 6/5/2013
added: 19th Apr 2013
posted by: Michael Fearns
Some excessive rain has resulted in the Annan being in and out of the fields over the past week but today it is beginning to fall in and clear with the lower reaches being a spinning water and by tomorrow...
the upper and middle beats I would expect will be fishable with the fly for trout and the lower beats should be fishable with the fly for salmon. Earlier this week there were two salmon caught from Newbie before the water came up again, Chris Leach from North Yorkshire had a nice 11lb salmon and Don Smith also had a similar sized fish at the same time. Now that we have some water I would expect most of the lower beats will fish of the back of this spate and there is no doubt that there are a few fish about.
added: 4th Apr 2013
posted by: Michael Fearns
After many weeks of dry and cold weather the Annan is very much at summer level without the summer weather, the only rises in water we have seen recently have come from snow melt when the afternoon temperatures...
have managed to rise above freezing for an hour or so but this has done nothing to improve the fishing.
Bugging for grayling in the lower reaches of the river is still worth a go although it is starting to get close to spawning time for the grayling.
There has been very little in the way of hatches with only a few small and large dark olives hatching during the afternoons and very few if any fish are interested in coming up to them. The march brown hatch is yet to happen and is likely to be very dense when it does, a warmer wind bringing warmer temperatures and a bit of rain to lift the river and we should see a rush of march browns coming off over a fairly short period. The weather forecast for the weekend is suggesting that we will see warmer south westerly winds by the weekend and there could be some badly needed rain as the winds change from the north and east.
Salmon fishing on the lower reaches should resume again if we see a rise in water, fresh fish were seen earlier this week on the Cleughhead beat but the conditions have not been good for a while now and angling pressure has been almost none existent.
The 13th April sees the start of the River Annan Trust trout days which will be run the same as the winter grayling days. The meeting place is cafe 91 in Lockerbie at 8.30am. for any more details contact Nick or Michael on 01576 470600
added: 25th Mar 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
Tony Andrews explains the thinking behind the new AST strategy:
Following the ground breaking SALSEA project, AST has refreshed its strategy to encompass the whole lives of Atlantic salmon...
and sea trout in all their habitats, at sea and in fresh water.
The purpose of AST’s new “Three Pillars” strategy is to break down the formidable task of understanding and managing diverse Atlantic salmon stocks with life spans of 3-8 years and migrations over many thousands of miles. The strategy addresses survival issues in fresh water, where human intervention is at its most effective, in inshore waters where manmade obstructions to migrations are increasing, and in the deep ocean where our role becomes one of monitoring, rather than control.
The link between the three ‘pillars’ is of course the salmon. The extent of the salmon’s range is best grasped by dealing with the three habitats separately. This makes it easier for example to recognise that what we learn from the ocean impinges directly on what we can do in fresh water, or that improvements to safe passage of smolts through coastal waters have a direct impact on numbers of returning adult fish. The “Three Pillars” concept therefore focuses on the whole life cycle of Atlantic salmon….
PILLAR ONE: The Ocean
Salmon are Ocean fish and members of the pelagic family of sea fishes. They use fresh water to lay their eggs, and the rivers of the north Atlantic basin are where young salmon grow to become big enough to go to sea. The Ocean provides Atlantic salmon with migration routes and feeding areas, where they grow over one, two, three and sometimes four sea winters, before returning to their rivers of birth to start the cycle again. We know from ICES reports that the abundance of Atlantic salmon continues to decline and that the condition of returning adults from parts of the northeast Atlantic Ocean gives rise for concern over their ability to reproduce successfully. The AST’s work is focussed on understanding the causes of the decline in abundance and condition and, wherever possible, finding ways of mitigating this trend.
Major changes are taking place in climate, ocean currents, temperatures and weather systems. Salmon migrations are probably being interrupted by trawlers in search of other species of pelagic fish. It is quite likely that many post-smolts may be inadvertently killed without anyone knowing. At present we do not know if this is happening and, if it is, which stocks are being damaged, nor how serious that damage may be.
AST ACTIONS. We will find out the extent of inadvertent by-catches of post-smolts, and take action to prevent it continuing. We are in discussion with European pelagic fishing fleet representatives and the European Commission about the possibility of establishing ‘safe corridors’ for post-smolts at the time of annual migrations.
Atlantic salmon from unknown stocks are being killed as part of a ‘subsistence harvest’ by commercial netting in the west Greenland fjords. Archives of scales from salmon caught in the Faroes and Greenland coastal waters and current genetic mapping show that they come from eggs laid by European multi-sea-winter salmon.
AST ACTIONS. Continuing genetic mapping and sampling tell us which fish from which regions/rivers are using which part of the Faroes area and Greenland coast. We will be able to negotiate through NASCO a reduction in killing salmon in specific fjords, where our fish are shown to feed. This issue will become acute if either Greenland or the Faroes were to return to a full commercial harvest at the end of the current agreement.
Working with ASF in Canada & USA we will develop new methods of tracking salmon at sea. New technologies, such as static and floating arrays, pop-up tags, radio and pit tags for locating and transmitting data enable real time sampling to take place at sea and in coastal waters. We will disseminate our findings in an international symposium in 2014/15.
Availability of the salmon’s prey species varies throughout the North Atlantic. West of Iceland there is generally a greater abundance of prey than in the NE Atlantic. We need to understand better where salmon are doing well at sea, and where they struggle to survive. That knowledge will enable fishery managers to focus on conserving fragile populations within a river’s stock.
AST ACTIONS. We will persuade governments to include salmon (and sea trout) in their pelagic sea fish surveys. At present salmon are often treated as freshwater fish. If, as a result of continuous monitoring, we have a better understanding of the abundance of prey species in particular areas of the ocean, we will be in a position to predict future return migrations, thus giving the fishery manager ‘on the riverbank’ timely information to set levels of exploitation for future seasons.
PILLAR TWO: The Coastal Zone
Inshore waters are where human influence and potential disruption to migrations of salmon and sea trout are at their greatest. Yet we know little about migration routes, and even less about what happens to salmon and sea trout smolts (and migrating kelts) when they are most vulnerable in the days after they have left fresh water.
Shallow coastal waters are subject to the vagaries of climate change and extreme weather in ways that the deep ocean is not. Concentrations of predators are attracted to estuaries as smolt migrations exit their rivers. Our ignorance of what happens to these little fish, as they swim out of fresh into salt water, is compounded by the effects of new engineering technologies, including the oil industry, as well as ‘renewables’, such as offshore wind farms, tidal barrages, sea bed turbines, wave generators, with their associated undersea transmission cables. Effluents from farms, domestic sewage solvents, and industrial pollution are concentrated along our coasts, especially in estuaries. Sea trout tend to stay close inshore and are therefore exposed more than salmon.
Aquaculture and mixed stocks coastal nets.
In sea lochs, off islands and in coastal waters of the Scottish west coast salmon aquaculture has, increasingly over the last forty years, had a detrimental impact on stocks of wild salmon and sea trout, particularly on post-smolts, but also in fresh water* (see below).
Salmon and sea trout returning to the coasts of Scotland and England continue to be killed indiscriminately by the few remaining mixed stocks fisheries.
•Migration routes of outgoing smolts. Identify coastal ‘choke points’ by using tele-tracking methods developed by our partner in USA and Canada, the Atlantic Salmon Federation. Produce a comprehensive list of threats to survival & prioritise preventive or remedial actions in light of what is achievable.
•Understand levels and causes of smolt mortality Obtain support from partners, public and private sector.
Outcome Identification of routes & choke points will provide baseline data for planners when assessing coastal projects and ensure that sensitive sites are protected, and migratory salmonids given safe passage.
•Impacts of ‘accidental by-catch’ (See Pillar ONE above)
Outcome: Increased post-smolt survival from reductions in by-catch leads to increased numbers of returning adults.
•Impacts of renewables. Research possible impacts of different forms of energy generation and transmission. Assess risks and explore possible remedies. Obtain support and provide data for planners and lobbyists. Solutions strategy must include improvements in EIAs. Monitoring new developments.
Outcome: Ensuring that post-smolt migrations of Atlantic salmon make safe passage to the Ocean.
•Survival of post-smolts. Working with GWCT, ASF and others, obtain data on survival and causes of attrition of post-smolts in estuarial and adjacent coastal zones. Analyse causes and possible solutions. Prioritise and seek support for implementing remedies.
Increased understanding of behaviour of post-smolts and juvenile sea trout in inshore areas
This leads to management actions to provide safe passage to enable post-smolts to migrate to marine feeding areas.
•Predation. Assess proportional risks from predation (human, piscine, avian & mammalian) including potential damage from invasive species (e.g. gilt-head bream & bass) & recommend possible remedies (e.g. where RSPB & others do not pose insuperable vetoes).
Reduction in some predation allows more smolts to reach the sea.
Reduction in human exploitation allows more spawners into rivers & increases natural recruitment.
•Salmon farming. Working with RAFTS and government scientists continue to build data on risks to indigenous salmon & sea trout stocks on a site-by-site basis. Build on existing AST sea lice policy to persuade the industry and government regulators to develop systems of management to protect post-smolts. Continue to encourage development of new salmon farming technologies, especially in different forms of close containment.
A sustainable salmon farming industry will cause minimal damage to wild fish stocks.
In the meantime, while current open-cage practices continue, promote risk analysis (e.g. MIAP) to prioritise the most productive areas, achieve realistic constraints and remedial actions to prevent damage to threatened stocks in designated high risk locations.
•Mixed stocks exploitation. Use existing data (e.g. MS 2012 data from South Esk Tracking Project, decision of Westminster Government to phase out Mixed stocks fisheries, and Scottish MSFWG report of 2010)to support NGO lobby groups to put pressure on government to phase out mixed stocks coastal netting, as is now happening in England. In international fora continue to highlight Scotland's isolated position in the community of north SAtlantic salmon countries (NASCO)
Obtain new data through genetic analysis, tagging, radio tracking and mapping to show effects of mixed stocks coastal netting on salmon and sea trout survivors, and the effect this form of exploitation has on rivers with unknown or fragile populations, especially of early-running salmon.
Use these data to persuade governments, and, if required, EC directorates, to achieve regimes of sustainable exploitation.
The end of indiscriminate killing of returning adult fish in coastal nets (the 5% survivors) will enable fishery managers to understand stocks and to manage them effectively.
Survival of genetically diverse populations will ensure survival of distinct catchment biodiversity.
PILLAR THREE - The Freshwater Environment
AST recognises that catchment-based monitoring, measuring, enhancement, restoration and maintenance work done by fisheries trusts is the key to natural smolt production. The 2008 TWG Restoration Guide (See AST weebsite www.atlaticsalmontrust.org)
There is also an important role for AST in providing an overview and filling the gaps in knowledge. By raising awareness of issues such as flows, the role of small streams, the efficacy of stocking, the welfare of sea trout populations and stock assessment, AST provides support to biologists and managers on riverbanks. With the perspective of the whole lives of salmon and sea trout AST is well placed to support our partners in their work, to initiate new research and communicate results to decision makers and fisheries managers.
AST’s approach to supporting the fresh water sector is to use its well- tested process of
a) Bringing stakeholders together for conferences on an identified key issue (e.g. stocking, flows)
b) Workshops to develop actions identified by the conference
c) Developing priorities for development & funding
d) Designing projects, assembling human and financial resources
e) Leading or participating in project implementation, or acting as advocate where needed
e) Communicating results to stakeholders for action
f) Monitoring, evaluating and communicating outcomes.
Dissemination of data from ocean monitoring should eventually lead to reliable ways of predicting abundance and quality of future migrations to help managers monitor and adjust exploitation in context of conservation levels (CLs).
Outcome. A Stock assessment toolkit, which takes account of the whole life of salmon and sea trout, should enable managers to take decisions in real time so that exploitation levels can be adjusted in advance of or within a season, as opposed to a year later, as happens now.
Seatrout: mobilising stakeholders.
Building on the Cardiff ST conference of 2004, AST’s Bangor workshop of 2010 and the results of the 3 Interreg North Sea, AARC and Celtic projects, and working with the Wild Trout Trust, continue to promote research and good practice leading to better understanding, anadromy, genetics, and the range of habitats, of the lives of sea trout.
•Practical guidelines for fishery managers on maintaining sea trout diversity and enhancing quality and abundance.
•A national sea trout archive (literature, scales, tissue samples) on-line & in partnership with the wild salmonids sector.
•Co-ordinating outcomes of the various sea trout projects in Ireland and the UK leading to a sea trout conference in 2014.
•Build on 2012 Carlingord Small Streams Workshop to improve understanding of the role of small stream in sea trout recruitment.
Freshwater habitat for wild salmon and trout. Following the Flows Conference of 2009, the Pitlochry workshop of 2010 and the Carlingford small streams workshop of 2012, work towards a better understanding of the importance of flows for recruitment and survival in the context of river catchments.
Outcome. Improved habitat management (= more naturally generated smolts) throughout river catchments, employing skills of stakeholders, including volunteers.
Stocking. November 2013 Stocking conference (IBIS and AST) in Glsasgow (See Home Page) will reopen the debate on the controversial issue of using stocking in fishery management. All sides of the debate will be represented with a view to developing a consensus on when stocking can be effective in restoring a fishery.
AST seeks clarity on when the stocking option should be used.This is important as increasing numbers of managers want to understand the risks; in effect we aim to provide a SWOT analysis on stocking.
In the context of experience of fishery managers, and data from geneticists and biologists on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea, we would like an agreed position on when and when not to stock.
This summary was written in February 2013 and will be updated. I believe it has a value in showing how the collective thought processes of the AST team have developed over the last two years.
Atlantic Salmon Trust
5 February 2013
added: 24th Mar 2013
posted by: Atlantic Salmon Trust
Beaver introductions: some personal thoughts.
[i]Tony Andrews, who is chairman of the South Esk Catchment Management Partnership and Chief Executive of the Atlantic Salmon Trust, welcomes the...
reintroduction of the European beaver, while asking that rural managers be permitted to control their populations when they threaten ecosystems or the rural economy. He argues that a balanced approach to management, guided by science, is the key to good decision making.[/i]
The European beaver is a large rodent herbivor whose home is the aquatic environment. It inhabits lakes, or makes beaver ponds in slow moving streams by building dams and flooding upstream areas.
The beaver is an attractive rodent, about the size of a cocker spaniel. They are herbivorous, love water and usually build their lodges beside rivers or lochs, using trees which they have felled as building materials. Sometimes they build dams across slower flowing sections of small and medium size burns. Beaver activities can change ecosystems, in some instances damagingly so. Personally, I like beavers, but only in the right context. For example thinking of context, hedgehogs, loveable as they are, really shouldn’t be present on islands where rare ground-nesting birds breed.
Beavers in mediaeval times were valuable for their skins, as food, and as a source of medicines. Much of Scotland was then natural forest or marshland. Today Scotland has less natural woodland than nearly every other country in Europe. Although the value of the animal is now different, beaver meat is a particularly healthy alternative to the processed offal of contentious origin we buy in our supermarkets. The food option is a real one if beaver populations expand sufficiently to require culling, as happens with red and roe deer.
Terrestrial ecologists argue that reintroducing beavers is good for biodiversity and natural regeneration of river catchments. But our countryside has changed from 400 years ago. Natural riparian woodlands are a rarity. Agriculture depends on well drained land. In our rivers migratory fish are returning from the ocean in massively reduced numbers, and they need every square metre of breeding space available. I acknowledge the ecological value of certain sites to reintroduce this long-extinct species, but I believe we need to have a clear exit plan if beavers are to take a place again as part of our natural fauna.
Beavers are secretive, twilight, animals, which suggests that not many people will see them. Charming though they undoubtedly are, they can be very destructive if populations expand into areas of the countryside where their tree-felling and dam building activities affect the local economy or fragile ecosystems.
Salmon stocks have declined by over 60% in the last forty years, and sea trout numbers are also under pressure. Threats to stocks will become serious if beavers damage spawning and nursery areas. Beaver ‘engineering’ activities in sub-catchments will obstruct access to spawning locations. They will also inhibit regeneration of the freshwater mussel, which depends on salmon and sea trout to re-populate the upper catchment.
Felling riparian trees on the banks of shallow tributaries will open up shaded areas to the heat of the summer sun. As summers get hotter and droughts more severe, water temperatures are likely to become lethal to young salmon, as has already happened in some rivers in France and Southern England. Riparian woodlands provide protection against high water temperatures.
Large numbers of migrating salmon and sea trout smolts will concentrate in the pools above beaver dams making them very vulnerable to predation. A river’s ability to regenerate its salmon and sea trout stocks is entirely dependent on the numbers of smolts that reach the sea. Beaver activities will reduce that output, which in the case of the South Esk could spell disaster for both species, not to mention the threatened freshwater mussel.
‘Accidentally’ introduced beaver families have already colonised the Dean Water, a tributary of the Isla in the Tay catchment. It is a short walk from the upper Dean to the Lemno Burn in the South Esk catchment. As a river already struggling to conserve its salmon and sea trout stocks, it is important that beavers are controlled and not permitted to damage a catchment whose biodiversity is already fragile.
Tony Andrews 23/3/13