River Ruel Improvement Programme

Purpose of Grant

Freshwater habitat and riparian zone improvements on the River Ruel.

Project Description

The River Ruel is one of the few significant salmon and sea trout fisheries still actively operating in Argyll & the Isles. The Ruel is a typical spate-fed river located some 15 Km west of Dunoon on the on the Cowal Peninsula. The river has some 12 Km length of fishable water and has a heritage of providing angling amenity to the local community and visitors alike. The river and the fishing in the catchment are generally managed by the River Ruel Improvement Association (RRIA) in partnership with the owners of fishing rights, riparian owners and the Dunoon and District Angling Club which owns and leases some of the fishing beats on behalf of its 150 members.

Recent studies carried out have identified a clear pathway for the RRIA to follow with the aim of improving the spawning and juvenile fish nursery habitat which have been affected by multiple factors including water abstraction, forestry and farming activities. The RRIA therefore aims to engage all parties in reducing and mitigating for the effects of these activities on the fish habitat.

Fish and fish habitat surveys conducted by Argyll Fisheries Trust (AFT) have found that the recruitment of young trout and salmon is being affected by the large amount of fine sediment in the riverbed. A geomorphological survey (2017) found that this caused by the amount of soil being eroded from riverbanks due to the loss of bankside trees and trampling and poaching by livestock.

The Association have engaged AFT, specialist contractors, and our volunteers (2018-2021) to begin works on tree coppicing that has helped to maintain root structures of the remaining trees and utilize woody debris to protect the remaining trees that were being undermined. This work also improved bank cover for fish. In 2022 they began work on reducing the severe bank erosion through green bank revetment (GBR) works and stock fencing. This work was partly funded by the Wild Salmonid Support Fund.

RRIA now wish to engage AFT to continue and expand this important work Program of GBR, Fencing, and tree management over a two-week period in 2023 to include severely eroded riverbanks downstream of the programme of works carried out in 2022.

The RRIA will oversee the finances and general management of the project in partnership with AFT who will coordinate the day-to-day work on the river by its staff and the contractors. RRIA will monitor the GBR and make any repairs needed over time. They will also work with the landowner to promote the regeneration of the bank vegetation that will provide the longer-term bank protection needed to keep the riverbed free of silt. AFT will also undertake fish surveys in the area and we will help keep a record of the spawning fish numbers over time with redd counts within and outside of the work sites.

Click here to download the January 2023 progress report.


A grant of £10,000 was awarded towards the project from the fund.

Project Details
River Ruel Improvement Programme
Funding received: