That’s it! The salmon season fizzled out with the Esks roaring down in flood and very little in the way of fishing going on.
Anglers have experienced the worst conditions for years as the lush growth of our summer produced more leaves on the water than anyone can remember.
The last few weeks produced some memorable fish with one of 28lbs at Pert, a fine 26lb specimen at Stracathro and two of 25lb, one at Gallery and one at Pert. And all returned.
Burn House had a fine day of 25 salmon (all but one returned) and on the South Esk Kinnaird and Finavon Castle had their best sport of the year.
The close season will see radical changes to what we are used to, as the Minister Paul Wheelhouse brings forward new regulations to the Scottish Parliament which will, if approved, bring catch and release of spring salmon to all of Scotland’s rivers and all netting banned for whatever the period of conservation is approved.
As it stands at present, the South Esk will have an extra month of conservation over all other rivers and for myself this is at last a recognition of just how fragile the stocks of our river are. I am sure there are many of my fellow anglers very pleased to see such measures being brought forward as that is what we have being calling for, for many years. I would like it to go further and ask for a total ending of all coastal and in river netting - there is no good argument for the harvesting of such fragile stocks.
The Wild Fisheries Review is being looked at by all national and local bodies and the reaction is as yet sparse. I myself am not sure that the extreme and radical content is totally required and I am also left with questions which, at the moment, have had no answer.
For example, the local Salmon Fisheries Board in recent years purchased on behalf of the area proprietors the netting stations from the mouth of the South Esk to St Cyrus; just what is going to happen to them? Also the South Esk Improvement Association handed over the netting stations in the basin and south to the Lighthouse at Scurdie Ness. These netting stations are closed down and we need to know that government will see this situation continue.
In the review the old devil called rod licences appears and it seems to be meeting the approval of the Association of Fisheries Boards and The Salmon and Trout Association. These national bodies seem to me to be very out of step with the majority of Scottish Anglers and they would do well to seek the feeling of their grass roots membership. The review also calls for attracting more anglers to Scotland and to encouraging more Scots to take up the sport. Putting further expense on such people before they even cast a line is not the way to go.
My impression at present is that the proposed bill is far too long and contradictory in its content to some extent and I urge all anglers to get a copy and respond to the government. One thing that is sure is that angling in Scotland will never be the same again.
Tight Lines ... Bill Balfour.
PS - Thanks to the many who responded to my last report on river safety, it was very satisfying.