I have been away for a couple of weeks on the Mull of Kintyre and to my favourite island Gigha.
My type of fishing is not very available there, but trawlers are always in view and, when it is too dark, you can hear the constant thump of their big diesel engines and see the powerful lights at the rear of the boats as they carry on what seems to be an endless search.
We cycled the length of Gigha and visited places we have wanted to see for many years, but we now realise that the island is and was dependant on the sea.
You find the sea at every turn and it is a busy place.
Ocean going yachts tie up in the bay regularly and they are from France, Spain and, of course, Ireland which is really quite close.
It is a magical wee island; somewhere every Scot should visit and experience the calmness, not to be found elsewhere.
Not many people know of my obsession with American Indian folk lore and I was thrilled to find a book on the subject in Campbeltown and even more thrilled with a Cree Indian proverb which I need to share with you:-
Only when the last tree has died,
The last river has been poisoned,
And the last fish has been caught,
Will we realise that we cannot eat money?
I thought of someone when I read this and to him I dedicate it.
It seems that the North Esk has been fishing its socks off while I have been away, with double figure returns on Upper Kinnaber, Stracathro, Pert and the Burn reported even though grilse seem to be in small supply and sea trout fail in any numbers
There has been steady sport on the South Esk but nowhere near the sport on its sister river. But, the time you read this the coastal nets will not be fishing and our river will transform, as it has done so in my years of recall, and we will enjoy a couple of months of the South Esk as it always should be.
I was talking to Donald Webster on my return and he has had several larger fish lately to 18 lbs, but he was keen to tell me that he is seeing a late run of grilse and that they seem to be in some numbers.
Like the North Esk the sea trout runs have not improved and I think we can now say that we are experiencing the same problem on all east coast rivers this year: a failure of the sea trout run.
I am sure that we will get many reasons proffered for this failure and that many hours of discussion will take place but I am afraid we do not have the answer and are a long way from understanding what is going on in nature.
By Bill Balfour.