My annual return to Southesk Estates is over for another year, and much like recent years, it proved difficult. I did however on my third cast of the first day hook and land a 17 lb salmon on a trout rod after a battle lasting over 40 minutes.
I took a Park Shrimp, purchased from Somers of Aberdeen, who in my opinion supply some of the best salmon flies in the north east.
The Esk continues to disappoint as a river, and as we had the rise in water levels twice in a week, all that happened was that the fish on the beat moved on upriver, and the fish in the sea did not arrive.
Some day when sense prevails the people with the power will realize the damage this river has taken and is taking from the Usan nets.
Over the past month, I have lost count of the calls from people who have witnessed large numbers of fish being taken by the nets at Usan, just as near to the river mouth as they can be set and so close to shore as to block the way past.
By the way, quite a lot of these people who have ‘phoned me are readers of this column and are not anglers. The returns on FishEsk this week report eight salmon and 16 sea trout taken, the bulk of which have been returned by the anglers.
In all, about 60 salmon were radio-tagged this spring at Montrose and on the Kinnaird Upper Beat by the MSS Dept in Ferryden, and of those only two are in the higher reaches of the South Esk. Most of the others have gone downstream and can no longer be registered by the counters.
It will be very interesting to see if these fish re-enter the river or if they have already fallen to the coastal nets, or indeed if they have run other local rivers.
After the rain, I will be looking to the upper reaches of the West Water, as I would expect there was enough water to at last let fish pass over the Loups west of Edzell and bring these fish-starved areas in to production.
There are many good pools on the upper river, however, it is difficult for members of the public to get permits as estates retain fishing for themselves and their grouse shooting customers.
This is an unfortunate situation – however, if you are in the area, remember that for a modest fee you can join Brechin Angling Club, who have extensive fishing available on the Westie.
I have been very pleased this summer to walk the river bank of the South Esk for several miles above and below the town and witness the wildlife in the area returning, particularly the mallard ducks.
The Government mink trapping scheme has been a success beyond my wildest dreams, and talking to Donald Webster, the river keeper on Kinnaird last week, he confirmed my sightings and said he had not seen a mink for about nine months.
He has been personally responsible for trapping a very good number below the town and my trap when it was left to work below the town also did well and has saved the Sand Martin colony on the south border of the town for two years now after being decimated by Mink.
Above the town where I have been working for the last two years, I have been very successful and was complimented by a local resident only last month on the regeneration he was seeing on his doorstep. I am still concerned not to see the return of the Moorhen, but a noted country man said only last week they will find their way back, and I look forward to that day.
Tight Lines, Bill Balfour