Worry over lack of spring salmon

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Six weeks or so into a new salmon season and all anglers in the area of the South Esk are ”appalled”, “worried” or whatever at the almost missing spring run of salmon.

Have no doubt, the South Esk spring run was considered as one of the great sporting opportunities in Scotland and as such commanded huge sums of money even by today’s standards.Yes, very few anglers pay today on any river what the Upper beat of Kinnaird commanded 50 years ago.

Catches this year are around 25 fish in six weeks for the whole river, all returned by worried anglers. Fifty years ago the river would have given up around 1,500 salmon in the same period (all killed).

Figures such as those would command calls from governments all over the globe if it was a stream in some remote and sparsely populated country. But, the South Esk is not there. The South Esk is on our doorstep in Brechin. Sometimes in our houses and help is denied.

What has gone wrong? I am asked this every day of my existence. What should I reply

My best response is that people who have the power to take action simply do not listen. People in the Scottish Parliament have no interest in the ways of our countryside and no respect for the fish which swim in our rivers.

Just how much revenue has been lost to the Strathmore valley in the last 50 years? It must, by now, be a vast amount and the value of our fisheries decimated.

It is high time our local representatives, elected to care for our environment, sat up and took notice.

How many times I have made this plea I have lost count of, but I am, and will, go on until notice is taken and the appropriate action taken.

I have fished the North Esk a few times this season and although there are fish to catch (and release) they are but a few compared to years past and those who value this river would do well to take early notice. It has been suggested to me on many occasions that anglers should meet and discuss the situation and approach the responsible authorities as a body and I think that time is upon us.

Is there someone out there willing to take up the cause? I am sure they would get a massive response from the huge numbers who talk to me.

The Brechin A.C., exhibition continues in the Town House and I would commend it to anyone, not only anglers.It offers a fascinating insight into the sport in our area over the last 150 or so years and some of the exhibits illustrate the not so legal side of fishing. In a word “fascinating”. Get along soon.

Trout fisheries are now all open and some good sport is being enjoyed despite the very cold water. This is likely to be the norm for some time as the Grampian Mountains are heavily covered in snow and it might well be well into June before the last on the back slopes melts.

This week will see the first of the Glenesk competitions of Brechin Angling Club and I can assure you it takes a very hardy soul indeed to be ready to cast a line on the river at 6 a.m.

The trophy for the successful angler over two days of fishing is the Steel Cup which is well over 100 years old and one of the club’s proudest possessions.

Tight Lines,

Bill Balfour