A fish rescue undertaken by the Clyde River Foundation has saved 40 fish from a reservoir near Helensburgh and salvaged some valuable broodstock for Howietoun fish farm.
The rescue was carried out as part of a major programme of works by the owners of the reservoir, Scottish Water. A footbridge across the reservoir collapsed earlier this year and it was decided to remove the bridge and a valve tower for safety reasons. Scottish Water required ‘dry access’ to the reservoir and requested help to transfer the fish before the reservoir was fully drained.
On a fine Friday in May, a team from the Clyde River Foundation pulled a 150m trawl net across the reservoir. The net – its bottom weighed down with lead weights – was dragged across the the reservoir to corral the fish so they could be moved into holding tanks. The rescue effort took a total of six hours to complete, extremely hard work and was not without an element of drama.
Because the Foundation team were wading in the water in drysuits to move the net, the reservoir water was cloudy with disturbed sediment.
“Although we knew there were fish in the reservoir, there was no sign we were going to rescue any throughout most of the process,” said the Foundation’s Caroline McGillivray, who coordinated the fish transfer. “It was only until the final few minutes of the trawl that we began to see the fish splashing around in the net.”
The single trawl netted 40 fish, mostly trout of a decent size and weighing a total of approximately 60lbs.
The fish rescued from the Helensburgh reservoir were stocked with fish from Howietoun Fishery which experienced a major set back to their hatchery last year due to an algal bloom.
The original plan had been that we would transfer the fish to an adjacent reservoir, with the help of the Clyde River Foundation,” explained Mr Alan McWhirter, Scottish Water’s project manager. “But, after contact was made with Howietoun fish farm, it was agreed that the fish should be taken there and we are very pleased that everything went so well.”
Howietoun’s Brown Trout Manager Iain Semple was delighted to receive the fish.”I am greatly indebted to Helensburgh Angling Club who have kindly donated the fish back to us as brood-stock and also the entire team at the Clyde Foundation. The fish have settled in well and were feeding by the following day. We look forward to stripping them this autumn and will supply fish back to Helensburgh Angling Club in due course.”
There are few things that go even better than according to plan – and this was one,” said catchment manager Dr Willie Yeomans. “Not only did we rescue 60lbs of fish, but we have helped supply Howietown with some good quality broodstock for their hatchery.”
Locals have been encouraged to steer clear of the reservoir until the works are complete – many walkers, dog-owners use the area. Scottish Water plans to complete the works by early August 2012.