Superintendent Annual Report - 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019

Forss House | Fishings | TimeShare

River Superintendent Annual Report 2022


The opening day was a much more social affair this year, with anglers and guests in good form. Everyone gathered in the car park at the hotel and were led off to the river by the piper. Once at the river i welcolmed those attending and wished them tight lines. Charles Ross, representitive of Wolfburn Distillery, toasted the river and wished us all good luck. Morven Coghill then cast the first fly in the Falls Pool. Several others then had a cast before we retired to the Forss House Hotel for bacon rolls, tea ,coffee or something stronger.

The first 6 weeks were not fished and week 7 was so bad, weather wise, that the anglers packed up early and left midweek. The river was off the gauge and the strath flooded.

Alistair Jappy, fishing for Tiffany Fraser caught the first fish on the Sea Pool on 11th April, a fine 8lb hen. Alistair followed this with a 14lb cock the same day, heaviest fish of the season. During week 8, Alastair and his brother William shared 7 fish. The following week there was 1 fish caught bringing the total for the month to 8. The water began to drop off and this was to be the start of another dry summer.

June saw 2 fish recorded following a slight rise in the water level. There was another fish banked but it was unfortunately foul hooked.

July saw 1 fish taken using stealth tactics on Graham's with a micro tube after a slight rise in the river.

ugust saw a slight rise in the river, which resulted in 3 fish in the book.

September started slowly but about the middle of the month the river started rising. This resulted in Dave Martin and Alan Lambert having 5 fish in 2 days. This finished their week nicely. The following week there were 3 fish in the book and a number of fish lost. This included the first fish of the year above the falls. The following saw 7 fish off the river and a nice rise in level.

October saw 12 fish off the river, which held in the region of a foot on the gauge. Only 1 of these fish came from below the falls.

Once again the summer was warm and dry with the river generally very low and warm, it was also quite windy for a lot of the time.

There was a total of 41 fish off the river, this season, about twice the number of last year. There were 14 salmon caught, all but 1 returned. This fish was bleeding profusely and despite valiant efforts could not be returned. There were 27 grilse landed and all were returned safely to the water. The fish were caught in the following areas:


Area Count
Sea Pool 6
Hut Pool 1
Grahams 1
Leans Pool 1
Leans Pool 1
Area Count
Lower Kermins 6
Corner Pool 1
Corner Pool 1
Byre Pool 5
Rock Pool 3
Area Count
Falls Pool 6
Falls Pool 1
Lower Wood 1
Donnies 4
Pinks 3
Area Count
Humpy Bridge 1
High Bank 1
Hallum 1
Potts 1
Stemster Bridge 3

I took 129 dead fish from the river this year a mixture of salmon and grilse, most of the Salmon were in the 8-12lb region. However there were three larger fish 2 of which were hens unfortunately. The first diseased fish was seen on 4th May and the first dead fish on the 9th May. There followed a period where 1 and occasionally 2 fish were found and removed these were all salmon. On the 13th June, I found 3 dead fish, this was followed by a peruid where the numbers increased(15th x9, 16th x4, 17th x7, 22nd x8). There were a considerable number of grilse in this number. Things quietened for a while with the odd fish or two being found. However on 15th July, I removed 38 dead fish from the river (24 grilse and 14 salmon). This was followed on 18th July with removal of 32 dead fish ( 22 grilse and 10 salmon). Then numbers began to reduce again with just the odd fish or two being found. Once the rain came the numbers of dead and diseased fish tailed off, none have been seen for a month or so. A fish was seen suffering in the Shallows on beat 4 and a dead fish was found at Broubster. These are the first confirmed diseased and deceased fish above the falls.

The annual electrofishing was carried out and the results were disappointingly low. The parr were large and in good condition, so will hopefully flourish. However there was a lack of fry but again they were bigger than usual. SEPA also carried out their own electrofishing with similar results.

I have carried our a variety of tasks on the river, Including, replacing the floor in the hut on beat 2, removing a tree from beat 3 and trimming back branches there, building and fitting another walkway, cutting back trees and bushes along the river bank, painting the hut on beat 3/4, trimming back the gorse on Humpy Bridge. I have carried out repairs to other walkways. I have also cut the grass in the areas I am able and carried out patrols to deter poaching or other unwanted activities on the river.

Forss House | Fishings | Timeshare

River Superintendent Annual Report 2021


The opening day was not its usual social event, partly due to Covid restrictions and partly due to the river being frozen. However a ceremony was held at the Sea Pool, with Robyn Speirs throwing the first fly of the year (her first time of fly fishing). Victoria Ross made the toast and poured a dram into the river. This was followed by hot chocolate and marshmallows.

February remained cold with freezing temperatures.

March saw some rain and on the 7th March, the river rose to a maximum height of 30 inches. On 13th March, Adrian Winchester caught the first fish of the season, an 8 lb hen from the Falls Pool. There were no more fish in March.

April saw a bit more action with three fish being caught. The weather was unsettled but there was frequently some water.

April saw a bit more action with three fish being caught. The weather was unsettled but there was frequently some water.

June, July and August, were basically a write off as the weather warmed, with temperatures reaching the high twenties frequently. The river never went above five inches and was frequently off the bottom of the gauge. There were bright skys and light winds. Fish were seen in the bay and some even attempted to get into the river, with varying degrees of success. No fish were caught.

September was initially poor but about week 32 we had rain and the river rose. The direct result of this was the second best week of the year, with four fish.

October saw six fish caught, three in week 33 and three in week 34. This included the first fish from above the falls, with one from The Potts and two from Hallum.

There were two periods when the disease showed up. Between 31st May and 21st June, I removed 49 dead fish from the river with the 13th of June being the worst day with 11 being removed. Then the disease appeared to disappear. During the first week of July one fish was reported to me but it was still alive and I never found it. The next week I had a fish reported to me, still alive and I never found it. It could have been the same fish as the previous week. There were no more reports of diseased fish until 29th July. Between 29th July and 9th August I removed 24 dead fish from the river. All of the fish were between the falls and below the Sea Pool. The majority of the fish in the first period were between 8 and 10 lbs, however there were a few larger fish and some smaller ones. The second period seemed to be more between 5 and 8lbs.

On 8th June, three scientists, from the Fish Health Inspectorate attended at the River and took samples of our juvenile fish. They took 48 juvenile salmon and 2 juvenile trout. These were disected and sent for analysis. Two adult moribund fish were also sampled, disected and sent for analysis. I have included two summaries compiled by the scientists at the end of this report. The results did not provide any conclusive results.

The fish were mainly from the Falls Pool. The results are as follows for the 22 fish caught this season;


Area Count
Sea Pool 2
Two Walls 1
Marsh 1
Lower Style 1
Run in to Brogie 1
Area Count
Byre 1
Rock 1
Hallum 11
Hallum 2
The Pots 1

There were 14 salmon and 8 grilse, 15 were hen fish and 7 were cock fish. Four were recorded as kept with the rest returned.

There was the usual electrofishing carried out along with additional sampling in other areas of the river. The sampling at Lythmore was disappointing, simular to the last two year's. There were other areas sampled and a site at Broubster gave better results.

There was the usual electrofishing carried out along with additional sampling in other areas of the river. The sampling at Lythmore was disappointing, simular to the last two year's. There were other areas sampled and a site at Broubster gave better results.

Fish Health Inspectorate Visit Report- Summary For Information Of Site Operator Visit 08/06/21

Results Summary
  • 148 juvenile Atlantic salmon and two brown trout were tested for the presence of listed disease and to conduct a general health screen.
  • Fin samples from F1 - F150 were tested for the presence of Gyrodactylus Salaris, the result of this test was negative. Forty seven G. Derjavinoides were identified, by QPCR, on the fins of 24/150.
  • Kidney and spleen material from F1-90 were inoculated onto appropriate media for the isolation of bacteria.
  • Plesiomonas Shigelloides, was the most predominant bacteria observed (29/90) with Aeromonas Sp. (with characteristics most similar to A. Sobria) also obser9ved at a slightly higher level (7/90) than other bacteria. The bacteria identified were most likely of environmental origin.
  • The growth observed was overall light to moderate and very mixed, suggesting that the bacteria identified would not be implicated in the health of the population.
  • Histopathological examination of tissue samples from F01-100(parr) revealed very minimal gill pathology and one fish displayed some epitheliocystis (F98). Additional screening by QPCR identified Candidatus Piscichlamydia Salmonis and Candidatus Clavochlamydia Salmonicola.
  • Several fish exhibited Coccidian Sporozoites and Meronts in the intestine but with no inflammation associated. Myxosporidiosis is likely incidental.
  • Histopathological examination of F101 to F150(fry) revealed very minimal hepatitis and peritonitis. Several fish exhibited different parasites (nemetode, trematode metacercariae, coccidian sporozoites and meronts in the intestine with no inflammation associated). These parasites are commonly found in wild salmonids.
  • Salmon Gill Poxvirus was identified using real-time PCR (pPCR),(F2,14 and 73).
  • The results indicate that there was no evidence of underlying health issues in the juvenile population that would be implicated in the reduced recruitment levels recorded. It is unlikely that the pathogens identified would be implicated in the health issues affecting the spawning population.
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Case Detail

  • The Fish Health Inspectorate have received reports of spring-run adult salmon in the River Forss displaying clinical signs of disease since 2019. Diagnostic samples taken from 5 fish in 2019 failed to isolate a specific causative agent. In 2020 additional reports were received however, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions no further investigative work or sampling could be conducted. Juvenile recruitment data indicate a significant reduction from 2018 onwards. Reductions of juvenile recruitment can be an indicator of the presence of disease. Therefore a 150 fish sample was organised on 2020, to test for the presence of listed disease and also perform a general health screen on the population. however due to weather conditions and further travel restrictions this was delayed and completed over a two day period beginning on 8th June 2021.
  • One hundred and forty eight juvenile Atlantic Salmon and two juvenile brown trout were caught using electrofishing equipment over a 400m stretch of river starting at ND05767 63941 and terminating at ND 05594 63679. Of the 150 fish sampled no clinical signs of disease or gross pathology was observed.
  • Two moribund adult salmon with clinical signs of disease were removed from the river for further examination and subsequent diagnostic sampling. A separate report will be issued detailing the results of these tests.

Samples


Fish Number Location Stage Origin
F1-F14, F51-F100 River Forss Parr Parr
F15-F50, F101-F150 River Forss Fry Parr

Results

    Bacteriology

  • kidney and spleen material from F1-F90 were inoculated onto appropriate media for the isolation of bacteria.
  • The following bacteria were isolated:

    • Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, two isolates 2/90 and2/90
    • Flavabacterium Sp. three isolates 1/90,5/90 and 1/90
    • Pseudomonas Fluorescens two isolates 3/90 and 2/90
    • Plesiomonas Shigelloides, four isolates 29/90
    • Aeromonas Sp.(Sobria), three isolates 7/90
    • Ochrobactrum Anthropi, one isolate 4/90
    • Flavobacterium Psychrophilumn, one isolate 1/90

    Following observations made during histopathological examination,QPCR analysis was performed on gill tissue from F98. The following pathogens were identified.

    • Candidatus Piscichlamydia Salmonis;
    • Fish Number Endogenous Control Cp Value Cp values Required result (PCR)
      F98 24.84 38.87/ 38.27/ 40.11 positive
    • Candidatus Piscichlamydia Salmonis;
    • Fish Number Endogenous Control Cp Value Cp values Required result (PCR)
      F98 24.84 31.24/ 31.40/ 31.28 positive
    • The samples tested negative for Candidatus Branchiomonas Cysticola and Candidatus Syngnamydia Salmonis.
    • Virology

    • Tissue samples were tested for segments of nucleic acid indicative of the presence of the pathogens specified below using real-time PCR (qPCR)
    • Salmon Gill Poxvirus (SGPV)
    • Fish Number Endogenous Control Cp Value Cp values Required Result (PCR)
      F2 18.77 32.27/ 31.82/ 32.03 positive
      F14 20.10 37.06/ 37.37/ 36.07 positive
      F73 19.18 32.27/ 32.10/ 32.16 positive
    • The remaining fish were negative for SGPV
    • Samples tested negative for Infectious Haematopietic Necrosis Virus (IHNV), Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus (IPNV), Salmonid Alphavirus (SAV), Viral Haemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSV), Piscine Reovirus (PRV) and Piscine Myocarditis Virus (PMCV).
    • Parasitology

    • Fins were collected to determine the presence of Gyrodactylus Salaris using light micoscopy and molecular techniques (PCR).
    • No Gyrodactylus Salaris were detected on the samples examined.
    • Forty Seven Gyrodactylus Derjavinoides were identified by QPCR on the fins of 24/90 fish.
    • Tissue samples were tested for segments of nucleic acid indicative of the presence of the parasites specified below using real time PCR (qPCR).
    • The samples tested were negative for Neoparamoeba Perurans (AGD) and Paranucleospora Theridion.
    • Histology

    • Tissue samples of gill, skin, skeletal muscle, heart,pyloric caeca, pancreas, hind gut, liver, spleen and kidneys were taken from F91-F100. The tissue samples were fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin.
    • Hustopathalogical examination revealed the following: Gill; very small focal areas of hyperplasia (F91), five small focal areas of necrosis of the lamellae vessels (vasculitis), some cellular inflammatory infiltrate (F94) and several basophilic epithelial inclusions (likely epitheliocystis). F98 displayed very mild cellular inflammatory infiltrate in the gill filament.
    • Skin and muscle

    • very small area of cellular inflammatory infiltrate on the adipose tissue between the red and white muscle (F98).
    • Heart

    • Within normal range.
    • Gut and Pyloric Caeca

    • some coccidian sporozoite stages(F94, F96, F99) and meronts (F97, F98, F99) embedded in the intestinal folds. No inflammation noted. F94 &F100 also had some nematodes (likely Anisakid parasites) present within the gut. F95 no pyloric caeca in section.
    • Pancreas

    • Within normal range. F95 not in section.
    • Liver

    • Three small local areas of sinusoidal congestion(F91)
    • Kidney

    • Some dilation of the lumen of renal tubes and some exhibited presence low intensity local intratubular myxosporidiosis with early spore formation and no host. response (F93, F95, F97, F98, F99 & F100). F100 also displayed some occasional tubular dilation. F94 not in section.
    • Spleen

    • Within normal range.
    • F101-F150

    • The bodies of F101-F150 were fixed in a 10% neutral buffered formalin.
    • F101-F117

    • The fish did not display tissue alterations on the different organs, however F05 & F107 displayed some meronts embedded in the intestinal folds, F13 exhibited one foci of inflammatory cell infiltration on the liver and F5 displayed mild, diffuse vacuolation (macrovesicles) of hepatocyte (liver).
    • F118-F150

    • The fish did not display tissue alterations, however:
    • F123 & F124

    • displayed a trematode parasite within the intestinal lumen, F126- displayed some focal hepatic vacuolation.
    • F123 & F127

    • Eye displayed trematode metacercariae. F128, F138 & F142 exhibited adipose tissue surrounding pancreas with local inflammatory cell infiltration and haemorrhage. F144 - some coccidian sporozoite stages.
    • Results Summary Òf Two Adult Moribund Fish

    • When conducting a statutory 150 fish sample of juvenile salmonids in the Forss River, two moribund adult Atlantic Salmon with clinical signs of disease were observed and removed from the river for further examination and subsequent diagnostic sampling.
    • Tissue material was inoculated onto appropriate media for the isolation of bacteria. Flavobacterium Psychrophilum, which is known as a primary fish pathogen was observed at a significant level in fish 152. Aeromonas sp. (Likely A. Sobria) was overall the most predominant bacterium observed in both fish. Although there were primary and opportunistic fish pathogens identified, the highly mixed nature of the growth observed would not suggest they would be implicated as primary pathogens
    • A significant level of fungus like growth was observed on plates taken from the lesion material of both fish, this was confirmed as being Saprolegnia Parasitica by DNA sequencing.
    • Histopathology examination revealed mild bacterial branchitis in fish 152 and the presence of some parasites within the gut and the kidney, which are commonly found in wild fish.
    • Salmon Gill Poxvirus was identified from both fish using real time PCR (qPCR).
    • Fin samples were tested for the presence of Gyrodactylus Salaris, the result for this test was negative. A single Gyrodactylus Derjavinoides was identified by qPCR on the fin of 152.
    • Two Anisakis worms consistent with Anisakis sp., were observed free in the musculature around the vent opening.
    • Whilst a number of pathogens were identified from the samples taken, a specific causative agent has not been identified. The evidence suggests that the cause of the morbidity observed would most likely be the external lesions and associated secondary opportunistic infection with Saprolegnia Parasitica, however the cause of the lesions in the first instance cannot be determined.
    • Case Detail

    • The Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) have received reports of spring run adult salmon in the River Forss displaying clinical signs of disease since 2019. The results from diagnostic samples taken from 5 fish in 2019 did not identify a primary pathogen. In 2020 additional reports were received however, due to Covid- 19 travel restrictions no further investigative work or sampling could be conducted by FHI. Juvenile recruitment data, received by FHI in September 2020, indicate a significant a significant reduction from 2018 onwards. Reduction of juvenile recruitment can be an indicator of the presence of disease, therefore a 150 fish sample was organised in 2020 to test for the presence of listed disease and also performing a general health screen of the population. Due to the weather conditions and further travel restrictions this was delayed and completed over a two day period beginning on the 8th June 2021.
    • Whilst conducting the 150 fish sample, it was reported that moribund adult salmon had been observed downstream. On inspection of the river two were observed, the first at ND03450 68688 and the second at ND03583 68659. Both were removed from the river for further examination and subsequent diagnostic sampling and added to the statutory sample that had been taken.
    • Both fish were moribund and lethargic and F152 appeared anorexic. Both fish had haemorrhaging on the throat, ventum, the base of the fins and also on the flanks. Lesions were also present on the flank, head and fins of both fish with fungus-like structures also evident.
    • Internally F151 had a pale heart and a grey and granular kidney, while both fish lacked fat on the pyloric caeca and displayed spenomegaly.
    • Samples

    • Samples were collected from two fish according to the table below;
    • Fish Number Location Stage Origin
      F151 River Forss ND 03450 68668 Adult Wild
      F152 River Forss ND 03583 68659 Fry Parr

      Results

    • Bacteriology: Kidney, gill, spleen and lesion material from F151 and F152 were inoculated onto appropriate media for the isolation of bacteria.
    • The following bacterial was isolated from fish F151.

    • Aeromonas sp. (likely sobria) (kidney, spleen and lesion)
    • Flavobacterium sp. (spleen, lesion and gill)
    • Kocuria sp. (kidney)
    • The following bacteria was isolated from fish F152 .

    • Flavobacterium Psychrophilum (lesion and gill)
    • Aeromonas sp (likely sobria)(kidney and lesion)
    • Flavobacterium sp. (spleen)
    • In addition to the bacteriua identified, fungus like structures were observed on plates taken from lesion material from both fish, this was identified as Saprolegnia sp. by light microscopy, samples and sequencing confirmed this to be Saprolegnia Parasitica.
    • Virology

    • Salmon Gill Poxvirus (SGPV);
    • Fish Number Endogenous control Cp values Reported Result (PCR)
      F151 20.02 23.52/ 23.52/ 23.6 positive
      F152 19.88 23.79/ 23.83/ 24.0 positive

      The samples tested negative for Infectios Haematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHNV), Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis Virus (IPNV), Infectious Salmon Anaemia Virus (ISAV), Salmonid Alphavirus (SAV) and Viral Haemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSV). 

       

      Parasitology: Fins were collected to determine the presence of Gyrodactylus Salaris using light microscopy and molecular techniques (PCR). 

      No G. Salaris were detected in the samples examined.

      A single G. Derjavinoides was removed from the fin of F152 and identified by(qPCR).

      A sample of vent was collected to determine the presence of parasites. Two white Anisakid worms, consistent with Anisakid sp., were observed free in the musculature round the vent opening. 

      Gill tissue samples were tested for segments of nucleic acid indicative of the presence of parasites using real-time PCR (qPCR).

      The samples tested negative for Neoparamoeba Perurans (AGD) and Paranucleospora Theridion.

       

      Histology: Tissue samples of gill, skin, skeletal muscle, heart, pyloric caeca, pancreas, hind gut, liver, spleen and kidney were  taken from F151 and F152. The tissue samples were fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin. 

      Histopathological examination revealed the following;

      Gill; Presence of aggregates of  bacteria free among the lamellae and colonizing the lamellar surface. The bacteria shows affinity to the hypertrophic chloride cells (F152). Some bluntness on gill filament (F151).

      Skin and muscle: some individual muscular fibre degeneration(F151 &152).

      Pancreas: with in normal range.

      Gut and pyloric caeca: Presence of Cestoda parasite within the gut lumen and Nematoda resembling Aniskid parasites (F152). Hindgut with some congested folds (F151).

      Pancreas; Within normal range

      Liver; Within normal range.

      Kidney; Some dilation of the lumen of renal tubes and some exhibited presence low intensity focal intratubular myxosporidiosis with early spore formation and no host response (F152). F151 displayed local areas of reduction of haematopoletic tissue.

      Spleen; Foci of haematopoietic tissue reduction (F152)

       

       

       

Forss House | Fishings | TimeShare

River Superintendent Annual Report 2020

Forss House Fishing River Superintendent's Annual Report 2020
  • I'm sure everyone who attended the opening had high hopes for the season to come. However a Global Pandemic was to create a very unusual and restrictive year. The national lockdown prevented people travelling and social interaction was restricted. This prevented any fishing on the river through most of March, April and May.
  • The fishing began with the start of June, when local owners and anglers were allowed a bit more freedom, travelling any distance was still frowned upon. Our first angler spent a week fishing without success but due to the lack of activities by other people, saw otters on eight occasions. As the number of people on the river increased the otters became more reclusive but evidence of their activities was frequently seen on the bank.
  • The following week saw the river at 2" and the first fish, caught on the 9th June, weighing in at 3 to 4lbs. The lucky angler was Peter MacGregor, who was presented with a bottle of Wolfburn Whisky at the Falls Pool on 13th June. This week proved to be the 2nd best week of the year.
  • On 18th June I was informed that fresh fish had been seen in Loch Shurrery. Fishing continued with some success but a lot of fish were rising to the fly but not connecting.
  • Week 21 saw the river rise to over a foot in height and a lot of fish were seen moving, however there was not the catch that was expected, fish to 10lbs were caught though.
  • During week 23, I arranged for a freshet of water from Loch Shurrery, although this stirred up the fish it did not improve the fishing. A lot of fish relocated further up river and fresh fish were seen to enter the river. The river quickly dropped back to the low levels prevalent for most of the summer. There was rain during the summer and some of it was heavy but the showers were isolated and didn't impact on the river much.
  • Week 29 saw the annual electro-fishing by the local Fishery Board, unfortunately for the second year running the numbers of fry and parr are lower than usual. This is quite worrying and inquiries into the problem are being hampered by the pandemic and now by high water levels.
  • Week 32 saw the best week of the season with 22 fish being caught including the heaviest at 12lbs. This fish was caught by Martin Harrison, who also caught the larger proportion of the total for the week.
  • The end of week 33 saw rain arrive and have an effect on the river with week 34 having good to high levels of water. Colin Liddell took a 90 second video showing at least 10 fish negotiating the falls. However despite the water levels the fish still proved elusive. Week 34 saw good to high levels of water in the river, with it being off the gauge in the Brogie Pool. A few fish were caught but it was not as productive as it should have been through no fault of the anglers. A lot of fish were seen however with activity on the falls.
  • The total number of fish caught this season was 51 with the heaviest being caught by Martin Harrison a fish of 12 lbs. This was a larger number that it looked like it was going to be, broken down as follows; Beat 4 produced no fish but some of our intrepid anglers saw fish there; Beat 3 produced 2 fish but again other fish were seen there; Beat 2 produced 25 fish and Beat 1 produced 24 fish. There were 5 fish reported as being killed but 4 of these were heavily infected with disease.
  • The disease was present again this year but I am informed it wasn't as bad as last year, it was still bad though. there has been regular contact between the local Fishery Board, the Government's Fish Health Inspectorate and ourselves. There was initially conflicting information regarding what to do with the diseased and dead fish. It was felt that some of the ill fish could recover but with the mortality seen obviously not all did. There was also the issue of removing fish from the river, eventually I spent a period of time removing dead fish from the river and disposing of them. The restrictions due to the pandemic and now the high water levels have prevented much more that reports and photographs being submitted. There are plans for the Fish Health Inspectors to come up at a suitable time with a view to taking samples.
  • Work was carried out on the banks of the river with a good amount of time spent strimming. Some work has been carried out on the far bank of the river with some vegetation cut back on the following pools, Rock, Falls and Lower Wood but more is required. A hand rail was put on the new walkway between the Long Pool and the Corner Pool and some of these walkways were repaired. Some of the trees opposite this area were also cut back but again a job in progress. The mouth of the river was completed and the main flow is now restricted to the west side of the beach. A memorial plaque for Gavin Anderson was erected on the gable end of the bothy.
  • The season has not been too successful for a number of reasons, mainly the often severe restrictions we have been put under due to this Global Pandemic. However the dry summer with bright conditions did not help either, with the river being below the gauge for a considerable period of time. Fish were still seen to sneak into the river during this time though.
Forss House | Fishings | TimeShare

River Superintendent Annual Report 2019

  • River Opening The river opened as usual on the 11th February, with around 20 owners and guests being piped to the Falls Pool by local piper Alasdair Miller.
  • The river was toasted by Mark Westemoreland, Brand Ambassador of The Wolfburn Distillery in Thurso. The Distillery were kind enough to sponsor this year's event and also provided a bottle of whisky as the prize for the first fish of the season to be caught and released by a rod owner and also for the largest fish of the year. The first cast of the River was made by Kate Newham, after which coffee and the traditional bacon butties were very kindly provided by Forss House Hotel.
  • Despite some fantastic water levels in the early few weeks of the season, the river was barely fished and we had to wait until Monday 1st April before our first fish was taken from the Falls Pool by owner Mike Shepley.
  • From then on in, things became rather difficult with our water falling away and bright brassy conditions which did nothing to help us.
  • By the end of week 13 the gauge was showing zero and only another 8 fish had been recorded in the return book.
  • Worse was to come when it became apparent that we had diseased fish in the system along with the many other rivers in Scotland and further afield. A heartbreaking sight, the majority of these spring fish were well over 10lbs and some over 15lbs. The Fish Health Inspectorate from Marine Scotland attended the river on the 4th July and 5 live samples were obtained from the Falls Pool. The results from the laboratory concluded that all the fish had various abnormalities, the only consistent thing present in all fish being Salmon Gill Pox (a naturally occurring virus).
  • As we went into August the diseased fish became less and less obvious and fortunately by the end of September just the very occasional fish was observed with signs of ill health. No positive conclusions have yet been established as to the cause or source of this disease.
  • Fishing Facts and Figures From weeks 1-20 a total of 31 fish were caught with 15 returned (48.4%).& A breakdown of Beats/fish is as follows with numbers returned and percentages. Beat 1-19 12 returned 63% Beat 2-83 53 returned 63.8% Beat 3-26 26 returned 100% Beat 4-25 25 returned 100% Our total for the 2019 season was 153 with an overall percentage returned at 75.8%.. It's good to see a healthy overall return figure but slightly disappointing that over half of the spring total were killed.
  • The biggest fish of the 2019 season was caught by Chris Ramus at 18lb from Byre Pool (safely returned).
  • Electro Survey After last year's low water levels and subsequent sporadic spawning, it comes as no surprise that the fry count was down on previous years. Coupled with the disease issue of this year, Rod owners should therefore think very carefully before dispatching fish in the coming season.
  • Poaching Activity Two potential poachers were discovered about to spin the Falls Pool in week 20 and were “advised to leave”. They were reported to Thurso Police who have since put a marker on their vehicle.
  • A new section of walkway was installed downstream of Long Pool in the early part of the year, replacing the section that had been displaced by the landslide in the previous year. The bank at the Falls Pool where holes had developed due to spates were concreted, as were the steps leading into the Bothy door. Wire netting was replaced/renewed as necessary at various locations throughout the Beats. The shed roof at Humpy was repaired, re-felted and also the main structure painted. In addition to the normal grass cutting work, next year's work will include cutting back shrub/tree growth downstream from Lower Wood. The ivy at the Falls (a fly magnet apparently!) and other vegetation which impede casting will be cut back and further repairs to the Falls Pool bank will be necessary. The bothy will also require a lick of paint.
  • Summary

  • A difficult year for everyone concerned. Many Rod owners understandably made the decision not to make the journey because of the diseased fish and those that did, decided at an early stage, to either abandon the week or chose to do other things. Although most owners turned up to fish the last few weeks of the season, the fish which were plentiful were stale with very few fresh fish about. The high water temperatures made even connecting with these older fish extremely difficult even though the water levels were ideal. All things considered, our total of 153 for the season isn't too bad especially when you factor in the weekly angling effort which rarely exceeded 50%.