Sutherland Fish Species

 

 

The following fish species can be found in the rivers, lochs and estuaries around west Sutherland:

 

 

Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar)

 

Healthy salmon populations are found in all of the major catchments in west Sutherland, although numbers are reduced compared to earlier records from the 1970s. As a result the catch and release policy is an invaluable fishery management tool for salmon conservation, encouraging a steady increase in stocks across the area.

 

 

Sea/Brown trout (Salmo trutta)

 

While the same species, sea trout migrate to sea after two to three years to feed while brown trout remain in freshwater. Trout can be distinguished from salmon by their smaller pectoral fins, red tipped adipose fin, less forked tail and spot markings below the lateral line.  Trout in general have very flexible life histories varying from ferox trout in deep lochs and brown trout in freshwaters to sea trout that only go to sea for one or two years then remain in freshwater and those that return to the sea.

Arctic Charr (Salvelinas alpinas)

 

Arctic charr are closely related to salmon and trout and are thought to be the first species to recolonise Scotland's freshwaters following the last iceage. Unlike the European populations, Arctic charr in Britain do not migrate and spend their entire lifecycle in freshwater. Living in deep lochs, these fish are common throughout the area but seldom take the fly.

 

 

Eel (Anguilla anguilla)

 

Common throughout the area, eels need no description and are of little interest to anglers. Unlike other fish in the area, the eel is a catadromous species migrating to the Sargasso Sea to spawn. Upon hatching it is thought that young eels drift towards the Gulf Stream before metamorphosing into glass (unpigmented) eels when they reach the European Continental Shelf.

 

Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus)

 

Not native to the area, minnows have been introduced in the past as live bait. They are small and occur in large shoals. Spawning is from May to mid July, with the alevin emerging after 13 or 14 days. They feed mainly on insects or plankton, and as such may compete with native species.

 

 

3-Spined Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

 

A small fish, it is of little interest to anglers and does not form a major food source for other fish species. Stickleback can be found in both fresh and brackish waters.

 

 

 

 

Flounder (Platichthys flesus)

 

A flatfish, more commonly associated with the marine environment, flounders are found in the lower parts of several rivers. They can undertake large migrations into freshwater, where they grow, but are seldom seen. Flounders breed in salt water.

 

 

 
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