Salmon Restocking Program
The Cromarty Firth Fisheries Board assisted by the Novar Fishings Partnership operate a small broodstock and hatchery program to help supplement salmon stocks on the River Alness and compensate for man-made obstructions preventing salmonid access to specific spawning areas.
This program has a number of components:
1. Broodstock Fishing/’Catch-up’
In late season or early November, a team of volunteers set about catching the broodstock through fly fishing. The target is to catch in the order of 10 hen fish and 5+ cock fish, which is usually achieved within a week. Once a fish is caught, it is tethered to the bank, and all fish are collected from the river at the end of each day and transported in an oxygenated tank on the back of a 4x4 to a holding tank at the hatchery.
In early December, or when the salmon are mature, the fish are stripped. Two hen fish are stripped of eggs into a single bowl (A), a cock fish is then stripped into the same bowl (B) and the milt and eggs mixed gently by hand. The eggs are fertilised almost immediately and left to stand for an hour or so (C), in which time they harden and become more robust. Once all the ripe fish have been stripped, the eggs are laid out in trays in the hatchery. All fish are returned alive to the River Alness after stripping.
Novar operates a small hatchery within the grounds of the estate. The eggs are laid out in trays, and any unfertilised eggs removed. Water supply and filtration in the hatchery is maintained through the winter months. If sufficient hen fish have been collected, there should be between 40,000 and 50,000 ova/alevins available for planting in the spring.
The planting phase of the program is carried out exclusively by the Cromarty Firth Fisheries Board. They have conducted habitat and electro-fishing surveys of the feeder burns throughout the Alness catchment, and have identified the best habitats for juvenile salmon, and those that are currently not used by salmon due to impassable obstructions to migration. These habitats are most likely to produce the highest number of smolts per egg as there is no natural spawning and no competition from wild fish. The most important planting site is the Allt na Seasgaic burn, which enters the main river on Beat 2, one of the most important spawning burns on the entire system, which is currently unreachable by salmonids due to a poorly designed road culvert. Planting generally occurs in March, either as eyed-ova or alevins depending on the habitat.
Related Videos from the SalmonQuestTV Channel on YouTube
All videos are in HD and best viewed in full screen at 720p HD setting, if your internet connection permits this.
|Underwater footage from the holding tank at the Novar Hatchery||November 2013||1 min 23 sec|
|Salmon eggs & alevins in the Novar Hatchery||April 2013||1 min 06 sec|