Fish Pass Fact File: Sabden

River: Sabden Brook

Length connected: 8.3 km

Area connected: 1.2 Ha

Completed: June 2017

Contractor: Bailey Contracts Ltd

Sabden Weir before and after photgraph.

Sabden Weir was an old stone-built weir on Sabden Brook which originally supplied water for the Sabden Print Works and may also have provided water to an earlier cotton mill in the late 18th century.

Having served its purpose, the weir stood redundant for many years. However, it continued to restrict the natural migration of fish species such as salmon and trout, limiting the amount of habitat available for spawning and impeding their population growth. Until now!

The creation of a natural looking rock ramp allows migratory fish such as salmon and eels to reach the upper sections of Sabden Brook. This is increasing the habitat available to them. The project has connected 8.3km of river and 1.2 hectares of habitat giving a boost to local wildlife.

As well as salmon, eels and trout, this project will benefit other species that depend on them, such as otters and kingfishers.

The response of the human resident of Sabden was hugely positive, but to find out how the fish feel about this we’ve been revisiting the area to look at fish numbers!

A mark- recapture study was carried out which involved capturing fish that were upstream of the fish pass with rod and line and electric fishing over a one day period. The fish were then displaced below the fish pass with the hope that the fish’s natural homing instinct would prompt them to ascend the fish pass.

A total of 41 fish were marked and displaced, of these 41 fish 13 were found to have returned upstream- including adult fish up to 31cm and this years’ fry down to 10.8cm. Another 8 of our marked fish were found in the weir pool. This means that over one day period we could only account for 21 of the 41 fish we moved downstream.