Skip to content

Minnows found in Loch Clair (River Ewe system) for first time

Posted: Thursday 22 November, 2012 @ 10:37:33

Loch Clair, at the top of the A' Ghairbhe; and a minnow taken from the loch.

The Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) has steadily extended its distribution within the rivers and lochs of Wester Ross over the past 10 years. Minnows were recorded for the first time in the rivers Kanaird, Dundonnell, Gruinard, Little Gruinard and Shieldaig (by Loch Torridon) between 2004 and 2009. Within the River Ewe system minnows are thought to  have been present in Loch Maree from the early 1990s.  In 2005, minnows were recorded by WRFT fish survey teams  in Loch Maree and within the Kinlochewe River near Kinlochewe, but not further upstream in the A' Ghairbhe or in lochs Clair or Coulin.

In November 2012, minnows were found for the first time in Loch Clair by Coulin Estate keeper Simon Stewart. With many shallow, weedy areas above Loch Clair in tributary streams and Loch Coulin, minnows may become a major component in the ecology of the freshwaters of the area. Minnows may compete with juvenile trout and salmon, and are known to eat the eggs of Arctic Charr (Ron Greer, pers comm.). However, trout are know to eat minnows and there are many loch-river systems in Wester Ross where minnows are present, including the rivers Kanaird and Carron, where there are still sizable runs of sea trout smolts. 

Investigations are ongoing to learn more about how minnows affect trout and sea trout fisheries, including monitoring at the MSS Shieldaig project.