Summer 2013 will long be remembered

All over! Well did it ever happen? Esk district salmon fishers will long remember the summer of 2013.

Months of dry conditions kept any salmon or sea trout firmly in the coastal regions, and far too many fell to the nets of Usan Salmon Fisheries. I do not have the figures yet, but I am very well advised and will let you know at the earliest.

When the rains came, and curiously just as the nets came off, the rivers rose and good runs of fish started coming in (with some very big fish indeed) good sport was enjoyed, but as we so often get, the rain forgot to stop and we lost the last three weeks to flood conditions and millions of leaves.

The Scottish Mink Initiative is going through a period of change as the government’s three-year programme came to an end and the amended setup is taking over.

Responsibility or the Esk’s district has been taken over by the Esk’s Fisheries Trust, and local head Bailliff Nigel McMullen is taking on the local management.

Ann-Marie McMaster, who was this area manager, has been promoted to Project Co-ordinator, but will continue to look after the western part of her old area.

We on the South Esk have much to be thankful for to Ann-Marie, who led a very successful team of volunteers, and sightings of Mink are very very rare on the riverbanks.

Looking back at river matters of the last year, it is becoming more apparent to me that legislation prohibiting the extraction of gravel by farmers for road works etc. is fast becoming a problem as so much is being deposited on the lower reaches, raising the riverbed and that will increase the flood problem.

On the South Esk, many good salmon pools (for example, the Arun on the Kinnaird top beat) lie full of gravel giving the salmon nowhere to lie.

On the North Esk, we have the same situation on the Luther pool (where the River Luther joins the main river) – in this case a long stripe of gravel reaches downriver for 70 or so yards, spoiling one of the best fishing pools on the river, incidentally a great “spring lie”.

The build up of gravel for several miles upstream of Brechin is immense, and in the near future it will be in town. You cannot see it looking over the railings in River Street, but those of us who know the river all agree, and further upriver in the areas downstream of Cortachy, the next build-up is well on the way.

It has always been the way of the countryside to extract gravel for farm works and just maybe it should never have been banned. Back to Holyrood.

Tight Lines, Bill Balfour.