With only a few days left for the consultation on tagging of salmon and the buying of a tag if you want to take a fish it would appear that there is very little agreement within the angling bodies in Scotland.
Having attended a few meetings on the subject, just who would administer such a situation is totally unclear. Would it be a Government office, Salmon fisheries boards, proprietors or any other competent authority, no-one seem to be willing to take this on board.
As for what the rules would be for anglers and for the Netsmen also seems a long way from agreement. I find myself in a situation of difficulty as do many of my contacts throughout the land and much as I agree that the system must be in place by next season I fear that much work needs to be done in order to get this legislation right first time, it simply has to work.
The reports from the mid river beats on the North Esk are nothing short of exciting following on to the worse year on record throughout Scotland in 2014.
Hugh Campbell Adamson has seen his Stracathro beat fish very well with some exceptionable catches as well as some exceptional fish. Above him Neil Stephenson who manages the Burn Estate fishery reports first class sport through March, reaching 19 salmon and fresh fish still running in.
Downriver at Gallery manager Neil Anderson reports 11 salmon, which is 90 per cent up on last season and owner Mr Henderson was one of the successful anglers. David Swanston at Pert, although I last talked to him two weeks ago was also enjoying the benefit of the considerable stock which has entered the river this season. One must say that it would appear that the free passage for salmon through the breached Morphie has been a major factor in the success of these mid river beats.
A word of warning may be in order however as this situation is not unique and only three years ago it ended in disaster. At that time in early May the fungal infection which seems to happen in the waters around Edzell happened and several hundred fish died in a short period. It did not happen last year thankfully, but in recent history this not yet understood fungal infection has been a real problem for the river, I would encourage anyone who sees a fish in the river with a sign of infection to report it to the bailiffs immediately. I sincerely hope that call will not come and that the many good spring salmon, mainly females carrying eggs will be spared on their way to the streams of upper Glen Esk.
The South Esk at last has spring fish and Kinnaird has enjoyed some really good sport and more anglers are returning as news spreads.
I must remind you that all salmon caught have been successfully returned to the river as required by the law and I hope to hear of this being carried forward into the rest of the season.
Tight Lines, Bill Balfour.