The Tweed Trout & Grayling Initiative (TTGI) commenced in 2005, with some specific grant-aided funding supplemented by support from the local Angling Clubs and Associations. It was set up to create self-sustaining management of the wild Trout and Grayling fisheries within the Tweed system by gathering information needed to advise the local Angling Clubs and Associations on the correct management of their Association waters. The Initiative relies heavily on volunteers to help gather this information and it is hoped that this will provide the anglers with the necessary tools to one day manage their Association waters themselves. As part of the TTGI, and Tweed’s ‘all species’ remit, the Tweed Foundation employs a dedicated Trout & Grayling Biologist. The Initiative is a flagship project and its management plan is designed so that it can be adapted to, and replicated on, other rivers throughout the country.
The TTGI incorporates various elements to help with its data gathering, upon which any management proposals can then be based:-
- Electro-fishing: Allows a long-term study of the Trout spawning burns within the Tweed system to be made. By comparing the results from the electro-fishing with information from a previous study carried out in the mid 1990’s, the Initiative will be able to identify Trout burns that are consistently producing low numbers of Trout. Electro-fishing is generally used to assess numbers of juvenile fish, however, it can also be used to catch adult fish in easily wade-able waters.
- Spawning Burns: Very little is known about the general condition of the Trout spawning burns within the Tweed system, so spawning burn surveys are one of the priorities of the TTGI. To survey the large number of burns within the Tweed system, the Initiative plans to train anglers in surveying techniques so that they can cover burns within their Angling Association waters. Obstacles to upstream fish movement are a major problem within Trout spawning burns, greatly limiting the productive capacity and nursery areas for juvenile Trout.
- Fish Traps: Fish traps are used to sample upstream Trout movement during their spawning runs. The traps (which only delay the Trout slightly) are placed within suitable spawning burns and provide valuable information about our Trout spawning runs and the balance between Brown trout and Sea-trout. The traps, which are only in operation during spawning runs, block upstream passage and use water flows to direct the Trout into cage traps, which are then checked daily. Trout are then measured, sexed, and have a scale sample taken from them before being released, unharmed, to continue their journey upstream to spawn.
- River Fly Life Surveys: Such surveys allow close monitoring of the food supply of Tweed’s resident Trout and Grayling, and also indicate the health of our rivers. At the start of the Initiative, 25 anglers from various Angling Associations within the Tweed system were trained in river fly life collection, indentification, and counting. Collection involves three minutes of ‘kick sampling’ followed by a minute of ‘stone washing’. These angler volunteers now take biannual fly life samples from within a given area and use microscopes and equipment at the Tweed Foundation to then identify and count the fly life for recording to add to the TTGI’s database.
- Grayling: The Initiative has enlisted the help of volunteers from local clubs to catch Grayling, which are then tagged and released. Recaptures of tagged Grayling give information on their movements and exploitation rates (i.e. the proportion of fish that are later recaptured by anglers). Tagging Grayling have a green Carling tag implanted just below the dorsal fin and the numbered part of the tag is always on the right hand shoulder.
If you catch a tagged Tweed Grayling, please inform the TTGI through the contacts page
The TTGI is also mapping Grayling spawning grounds in an attempt to assess their reproductive success. Grayling spawn in Spring and use fine gravel in the shallows at the back or side of large pools. During this time they become considerably less wary than normal and so when mapping is being undertaken it if often possible to get close enough to count individual fish.
- Photographic Surveys: Digital photographs are a simple, quick and cheap way of monitoring river habitat. A photographic record of an Angling Association’s waters provides a detailed baseline of what the river was like at a particular point in time, and re-taking the photo at a future date allows changes in river habitat to be assessed. Photographs should be taken from permanent features, where possible, so that they can be re-taken from the exact same position in the future - even if other features have altered.
- Competition Recording: The TTGI Biologist also used Angling Association competition catches to collect data on Trout and Grayling.
- Trout Log Books: Trout anglers are encouraged to keep and return an annual log of their catches, which greatly helps the data collection and information resource on what the fishing is like in different parts of the catchment. To keep a log book click here: there is a prize draw each season for everyone who keep a record of their catches as an additional incentive!