Low river levels will prove a barrier for returning salmon

River south esk

River south esk

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This is the week salmon anglers on the South Esk wait for every year. The week those deadly nets at Usan leave the scene and normality returns to the river.

As I have said before, a whole new river opens up before us, a river full of fish, fish which are free to return to the river of their birth free of the nets which so many die in every year.

This year is, however, different. They are faced with a river so low as to hinder their passage upstream, but they will try and will get there.

They are in one way lucky if the fact that they do not have a major waterfall (Loups) such as we see on the North Esk to navigate a way over and believe me the fish trying to get to Glen Esk and Glen Lethnot on the North Esk system will face real barriers if we get no rain soon.

The Esks have fished rather slowly over the summer, but those willing to fish with smaller flies, mainly of the dark variety seem able to get a reward for their persistence.

Talking to anglers on all the rivers they have been favouring flies like the Black Pennel and Stoats tail, old favourites that you can’t go wrong with.

I fished the upper West Water a few days ago with a talented lady fly fisher from the Midlands of England and left totally impressed by her skills learned on the chalk streams of the south.

In very little water she fished light tackle upstream into what rough water we could find and her Klinkhamers dry flies were readily accepted by around 10 small brownies. I must admit to getting one or two with my wet fly downstream method, but I have learned a lesson and will be trying something different next year.

I took a young friend from Norwich to the South Esk some weeks ago and we instilled the rudiments of salmon fishing into a very keen pupil. He returned to Brechin last week and with help from Ken Mackie we introduced him to the skills of fly fishing on Rescobie. Like anyone on his first trip fly fishing is a difficult skill to learn, but he improve greatly over the day and if we had not had a snarl up on his reel he would have had a fish.

Ken and I had three fish each for around eight pound for the three we were well pleased. I have not fished Rescobie for some time and I must admit that the fishing was first class but I have never witnessed such an acreage of weed on the loch as they have at this time.

Anglers who I talked too cannot understand why after having purchased costly weed cutters why it is not being deployed and I would tend to agree as the boats out were constricted by the meagre amount to clear water available. Still I will return soon as my river angling days have been few.

In Dumfries a few weeks ago I had hopes of a day or so on the Annan or Nith but there it is the same old story, low water, no rain.

I wish all Brechin anglers well this week as they should be among the first to see salmon return to the river and maybe we will get some sport as the season nears it’s end.

Tight Lines, Bill Balfour.