Concern over South Esk river

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Returning yesterday from an extended caravan trip through the Borders, Yorkshire Dales and latterly Scone, I arrived expecting to find the South Esk full of salmon and fishing well.

This is the usual situation in the week after the coastal nets at Usan and Lunan Bay come off, but you can imagine my dismay to find the river still devoid of salmon and anglers still getting very little sport. I have been in agreement with many who truly love this river that the uncontrolled netting of recent years would ultimately put the viability of the salmon in doubt.

The term “conservation level” has been used by many but now it is becoming a fact that we must face rather than something that might be faced in the future. You might ask, what do we do when we are faced with fact the same as we now face?

I am sure that all bodies local and national must come together and bring all to a halt (Netting; Angling; Research and Management together with bodies such as SANA and S&TA). Only a concerted effort from all involved will persuade the Minister and Scottish Government that we have a problem here in Angus. I will admit most other east coast rivers are having their worst year probably ever, but the South Esk is in need of greater care and immediate action.

I will not even try to suggest what the answer might be as I think that we must listen to the opinion of many and hope that a true and workable answer might emerge.

I did spend a day on the West Water last week in the hope there might be a salmon on my favourite Brechin AC beat but again the lack of fish was apparent to the extent that I saw not a single fish rise all day. On the plus side the river was holding a very large population of three inch brown trout, many of whom will descend next spring to the sea and return as sea trout.

At this time of year salmon should be on such upper river beats preparing for the approaching breeding season. Yes something is wrong and this was of course was in the North Esk system.

I have hoped that this day would never arrive, but you can only report on what you can see and all I speak to on the riverbank are seeing very little and many nothing.

On the bright side, what a year this has been for the Kingfishers. I have seen them on every visit to the riverbank and many more than |I can remember on my long association with the riverbank. Their vivid flash of blue simply makes you smile and wonder at nature.

Tight Lines, Bill Balfour