Fight for South Esk to continue

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Since I last reported in late December we have seen the rivers rise to levels not seen since 2002 and have seen damage to riverbanks at levels I have never witnessed before.

Naturally in Brechin we concentrate on the Inch and River Street and so it should be. I do hope these people who represent us in councils etcetera, wake up to the fact the street needs protection and that it happens in the next 12 months.

I can assure you the damage to banks and fields above the town and indeed right up into the glens is unbelievable and that vast amounts of silt and gravel is about to descend into River Street on its way to the sea in the instance of more high water.

The costs to landowners on both the Esks and waters like the West Water, Cruick and Lunan are going to be massive and this includes Hugh Campbell Adamson who had his house at Stracathro seriously effected.

Worrying many of the fishery managers and anglers is the undoubted damage done to the salmon and sea trout redds.

All but a few will have been washed out and a very serous number of eggs will be in the sea.

It will be a year or two before the seriousness of the situation is truly apparent but I have yet to meet an angler who is optimistic.

While this was happening The Atlantic Salmon Trust, whose patron is Prince Charles, called for Usan Fisheries (the largest mixed stock fishery left in Scotland) to be closed down “as a matter of urgency”. I am not to go into their argument as I have been calling for this on the exact same grounds for many years as I am sure you are all aware.

Please, however, do not hold your breath as I can assure you that there is so much ignorance of the situation in the corridors of power in Edinburgh to last for many years before the penny drops and they start to shout “What has happened to our salmon and sea trout?”, and I for one will be there telling them “I told you so!”

Why public bodies like our local council and Scottish Parliament choose to ignore serious situations such as this rural area is experiencing has always amazed me, as one would think that they would be only too pleased to give the very best of service to their constituents while instead they seen to thrive on aggravating the people of the area incessantly.

I do implore you all to wake up get on with what needs to be done and protect the people who choose to live and work by our riversides and to take very seriously the perilous state of salmon stocks in the South Esk.

Finally, I had a telephone call from probably the most senior of all Kirriemuir anglers, who has fished the South Esk in that area since he was able to hold a rod and he told me he has never seen so few salmon spawning in his considerable lifetime.

He had heard that I was considering slowing down my fight for the river as I approach my 70th year and I have already done so, leaving the Angling Club committee after 40 odd years, but after this appeal from someone I hold in very high esteem I have decided to fight on.

In what capacity, I am not sure, but I am already committed to the Scottish Anglers’ National Association Migratory Fisheries Committee for the foreseeable future and who knows what else.

Tight Lines in 2013,

Bill Balfour