In May, I was lucky enough to have a placement working with SAMARCH on the river Frome. I went into this placement with little experience working with fish and little knowledge of how we can monitor fish populations. Under the guidance of Will Beaumont, I soon gained an understanding of the aims of the SAMARCH project and why it is important to collect data.
A rotary screw trap is used to catch the salmon and trout smolts as they move downstream towards the sea. Every half an hour throughout each night we checked the trap and carefully processed the fish, recording measurements of length and weight, and taking scales from tagged individuals for genetic analysis. I learned that the smolts depend on environmental cues to trigger their movement, waiting until the water warms and the river flow is increased by a hard rain. Some nights we only caught a dozen smolts, but on the Saturday conditions were ideal and we got over 240 salmon and about 70 trout! That kept us busy.
It was rewarding to get hands-on experience with these species and develop my understanding of the research methods. Thanks to SAMARCH and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust for this valuable opportunity!