I've been reading about salmon farming, and the disastrous effect it can have on wild salmon populations. It's depressing. Farms sited in the wrong places, with the wrong management, can cut a wild population in half, by spreading disease, parasites (especially sea lice), chemical waste, and nutrient loading. Sorry to start in a such a gloomy vein. There seem to be so few fish going up the river this year. Perhaps I'm being alarmist. It may well be just the high water levels here masking their progress.
As it's getting to the end of the season for the salmon run I walked down to the weir again this morning to see if there were any fish still coming through. I'd checked the SEPA website, which reported that the river was at 0.7m. I've no idea what that means really, except that the angler I met the other day said 0.4m was ideal - so I knew I'd have to be lucky to see any. It had been another stormy night - rain cracking on the windows, blown by the stiff south-westerly, and keeping the water levels high.
By the time I ventured out the rain had cleared and the wind had dropped to a softer breeze, though the skies to the north were still low and dirty. Birds seemed to be taking advantage of the lull, scattering along the hedgerows as I walked past, too quickly for my untutored eye to identify them. Nice though, whistling and calling to each other like schoolchildren.
The river at the weir was calmer this time. The ocean rollers at its base had been replaced by fast-moving, foamy whirlpools and rapids. It was ten minutes before I saw a fish. A faint pattern appeared in the churning water - a line of lumpy ripples heading in the opposite direction to the flow. A grey, submarine shape sketched below the foam. It was there for two seconds at most before disappearing in the flume.
It was my only sighting. There may have been more - I didn't have time to wait any longer. That might be it then, four fish for the entire season. Some years it's been hundreds. I really hope it is because the river's been so high.
Note to self: find out more about farmed salmon - and only buy it if I'm sure it's OK for the wild fish. Advice welcome please!