Tight lines

The winter river is a cold drab place with the anglers gone and walkers infrequent, but as I check my mink traps every day, you begin to realise just what a busy place it is.

On Tuesday morning, I was surprised by a pair of swans zooming in over my head and landing in what I know of as a prime salmon pool to join the already pairing Mallard and scary pheasants on the banks.

What does worry me on the South Esk is the almost total lack of salmon redds in the lower river, something I dreaded happening but something I am not totally surprised to find.

I will say it again – this river cannot sustain the high level of nets in the estuary, and I am being proved correct.

I was talking to a Tweed fisher last weekend, and was enthralled at his tales of big, very big salmon running the Tweed late in the season and of a gigantic 50lb fish, much the largest fish for a lot of years.

It fits in perfectly with the 20lb plus fish that we saw at the end of the Esk’s season, and must point to these three sea winter fish finding good feeding grounds in the North Atlantic Ocean.

I was attending a meeting of the Scottish Anglers National Association (SANA) migratory fish committee, who at the moment are fronting a discussion on access on rivers, as they strive to find room for other sports, such as canoeing, rafting, etcetera.

They are looking for ways of sharing the space on a voluntary basis in an effort to stop the clashing of sports as “adventure-based businesses” are on the increase – especially on the River Tay.

They are pressing for some sort of association of these users to be formed in order that negotiations would be made much easier.

It is a delicate subject, but I am delighted to be involved in finding a way forward.

There is no further news on just what is to happen to the now considerable breach in the Morphie Dyke on the North Esk.

However, if it was left to anglers, the outcome would be a vote to help it on its way, and thus bring arguments going back decades to an end.

It has always been a temperature barrier to the considerable spring runs on the river and its demise would bring a lot more of the mid river beats into the spring fishing much earlier, as I have no doubt it was before the industrial revolution ruined so many of our prime salmon streams.

Brechin Angling Club, at their annual general meeting, voted in a new president, Kenneth Craig. He will have as his vice president, Barbara Anderson.

Remember all fishing widows, if you value your time when he is away fishing, it’s Christmas and all anglers want is more tackle, so off to the shop.

Tight Lines, Bill Balfour