Latest news in Tight Lines

I HAVE just returned from the Scottish Anglers National Association’s (SANA) AGM and, for the first time in a few years, I am very upbeat about the future of the association.

I welcome the appointment of Donald Forbes as president. He is well know and, having been raised at Dunkeld he is familiar with the River Tay. He has also represented Scotland in the trout fishing international team. His wide field of knowledge will be of great value in the next few years.

Of great interest to our local club will be the news that the Scottish Youth team has returned into the fold of SANA and the problems of sponsorship of previous years is now put at rest. It has also brought the Orkney Association back into membership. It was nice to see so many handshakes after the meeting and it was obvious that all were pleased to leave their problems behind.

The triennial election of the Esks Salmon Fisheries Board was held last week and the successful upper proprietors elected were SouthEsk Estates, Airlie Estates, Glen Ogil Estates, Gallery, David Laird, Brechin Angling Club, and Richard Milne. The lower proprietor is Martin Stansfeld. Further adoptions will be made later in the month.

We are looking forward to the start of a new salmon fishing season and with very little in the way of observation possible in the river to go by we will start the season in hope.

With the river at such high levels and at very low temperatures observation has been impossible and I, who am on the river most days, have seen no sign of moving fish and indeed no sign of kelts moving downstream.

One thing we do know is that the river has changed a lot since last season and ‘lies’ will have changed also. On the South Esk there is a vast amount of gravel and small stones moving downstream and huge amounts are just on the boundaries of Brechin.

Another big flood will see this move down into the town water and will cause undoubted problems. It is becoming more apparent that recent legislation with regard to ‘in river works’ is in some way to blame.

Farmers and landowners have in the past been allowed to remove gravel, etc., for road works, but now they have to go through a complicated and costly application for permission, with no guarantee of a successful outcome.

This is now appearing to be a case of legislation going too far, and the river which always has, and always will, be a route for gravel, etc., will now convey it all into places like River Street in Brechin, although in time it will pass on, on its way to the sea.

All these changes to our river will make it an interesting start to the season, but with the very poor runs of spring salmon of recent years I am afraid I have not got any great hopes.

Tight Lines, Bill Balfour