Upstream fish passage in the Ythan tributaries (Kelly Burn which flows through the Haddo lake, and the Raxton and Keithfield burns) has become increasingly difficult over the years. Electro fishing in the period 1996 to 2011 found no juvenile salmon above Haddo lake, but small numbers were found below the lake on a number of occasions, most recently in 2011 and in 2014.
Following several surveys of the area including the Ythan and tributaries habitat surveys in 2012, information was collated in 2013 and the Ythan River Trust decided to investigate potential solutions to the fish migration problem. The Trust also completed a full dimensional survey over the 100m long site and a fish passability study on the two falls affecting fish migration.
The conclusion was that the upper weir would be unlikely to be a serious problem for salmon upstream migration, given typical autumn elevated water conditions – some minor alterations could be made to improve trout upstream migration. The lower fall study conclusion was that under typical autumn elevated water conditions the fall was unlikely to present serious problems for either salmon or trout.
In 2014 the Trust worked with Inverurie Precast Ltd to create pre weirs and existing weir modifications. The Haddo Estate provided free of charge, the 25 – 30 tonnes of rock and boulders required for parts of the work, and the Ythan District Salmon Fishery Board bailiff, Sandy Milne, assisted by volunteers, carried out the fish rescue procedure, to enable the north east outfall from Haddo Lake to be blocked off as part of the improvements.
Several organisations have been instrumental in making this project possible, firstly Aberdeenshire Council for their cooperation and provision of funding for materials etc, the Haddo Estate for providing access and boulders, Jim Adie and Inverurie Precast Ltd for provision of plant and equipment, also some of their staff time, SEPA for assistance in preparing the rather complex CAR Licence applications, the River Ythan Trust and their volunteers ,without them, and their input of over 400 man hours devoted to the project since autumn 2013, nothing would have been achieved.
The Trust now have confidence that salmon will, given typical autumn water levels, have access to a further 14km (9 miles) of useful habitat that has been almost inaccessible to them for at least 25 Years, perhaps longer.
The Ythan District Salmon Fishery Board is a member of Fisheries Management Scotland.
The River Ythan Trust is a registered charity
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) number SCO 41269