The new salmon season is upon us and it would seem, at this juncture, that similar regulations will be in place to those of last year.
Returning to my last feature on the application made by Brechin Angling Club to the European Commision I would like to expand as follows:-
There will be total catch and release on a voluntary basis from February 16 until the May 31.
This should apply to in river fishings alone.
The coastal netting will not fish at all and which of course will be compensated.
After this netting will progress until the end of August, a period where the nets will kill all salmon caught - whereas the fishermen on the river will voluntarily continue with catch and release, which was over 80% last year.
There are other suggested restraints regarding size of salmon which must be returned and you should be sure that you are familiar with these regulations before fishing.
This is hardly a level playing field where commercial netsmen kill all and anglers return four in every five fish caught.
This, in an area with so fragile stocks such as we have in the South Esk, is unacceptable.
I have been on the riverbank of the South Esk every morning this month and have seen no sign at all of spring salmon.
There are a few kelts splashing around in the crystal clear water we have enjoyed since the snow melt off of two weeks ago.
There is no snow at all on the Grampians and this is a worry as we usually rely on its melt water to bring spring levels up to fishing levels in March and April.
If river levels continue as they are it will inhibit salmon entry into the river and we might find early weeks a bit of a struggle.
Trout fisheries which start later however should have a bonanza early in the season if conditions continue.
There has been little or no ice cover on Loch Saugh and other local waters and the fish should be finding that extra bit of food available.
I would expect to see some excellent over wintered fish eager to take the fly and that there will be more than usual.
It is a few years now since we have had such an easy winter and it shows no sign of change, but we must hope that we get a build up in the hills at least over the next few weeks in order that fish might enter the Esks.
By Bill Balfour.