As some of you may be aware smolts (young salmon) have begun their migration and there is a smolt trap currently operating during the hours of darkness at Abercamlais above Brecon. The National Resources Wales (NRW) team operating it are hoping to capture 100 smolts and fit them with radio transmitters. Receivers have been positioned along the length of the river and into Newport Bay. These receivers will monitor the progress of the tagged fish on their journey down river and should show where they are being exploited or lost.
Many believe smolts are particularly vulnerable to predation by Fish Eating Birds (FEBs), especially in these times of low flows. As a club we have been asked if we could help provide evidence that this is true i.e. are the FEB’s having an impact on the smolt run?
The smolts often hold at “pinch points” where a weir or obstruction hampers their progress. It is thought that Bullpit Meadow at Crickhowell , Monument Pool on Red Barn and the ancient salmon weir at Trostre provide such pinch points. The smolts will rest in the calm water above the turbulence waiting for conditions to improve.
As a club we have been asked if we could help monitor the presence of FEB with support from the British Trust for Ornithology, NRW and WUF.
We plan to monitor the river at three locations:
- Crickhowell Bridge
- Red Barn
- Trostre Weir
At each location one person will monitor the chosen spot whilist a second will act as control about half a mile or so distant. If birds are present at the obstruction but not at the control point it would suggest that the birds are gathering to exploit the smolts where they are easier pickings.
The best time to monitor is at daybreak when the birds begin their feeding activity. Sun up is currently about 6.00 am. However monitoring at any time will add data. It is planned to carry out the survey well into May. Obviously if we get a big rise in water it should help the little fishes on their way.
A simple calendar has been set up to help co-ordinate our support. Fortunately only two people are needed at each location otherwise birds may be scared away.
This is a real chance to help formulate policy for the river system. If anglers assumptions are proved then a licence for control could be granted.
So please don’t be shy or overawed by the calendar. If anyone can give a couple of slots or more it would really be appreciated. Family and friends are more than welcome as well to help.
More details on the exactt locations and methodology can be obtained from Simon Jones firstname.lastname@example.org who has e-mailed all members the details.
Thanks for your help.