Next week sees the start of the River Tweed salmon fishing season and anglers are already planning their return to the river for what is euphemistically called the ‘Spring’ season.
This is often fishing in sub-zero conditions, up to the armpits in water, which quickly turns to ice in the rings of a salmon rod.
The River Tweed is known all over the world for its salmon fishing, with anglers coming from far and wide to fish it. Not only does it catch more fish on the fly than any other British river, but it also has a fascinating setting in the historic Border country.
A salmon protection group is calling on Scotland’s fisheries to follow the River Tweed’s example and operate a ‘catch and release policy’ this spring.
The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB), which represents Scotland’s 41 district salmon fishery boards, including the River Tweed Commission (RTC), is urging anglers not to kill any salmon by net or rod until at least mid-May.
The body, which has a statutory responsibility to protect and improve salmon and sea trout fisheries, fears some stocks this year may not be sustainable.
RTC clerk Nick Yonge said: “RTC fully endorses ASFB’s position,” adding RTC started its conservation scheme in 1998, banning the killing of any rod-caught spring salmon until the end of June and paying compensation to the river’s two net fisheries not to kill salmon until mid-June.
Mr Yonge said: “There simply are not sufficient breeding fish, from these early running stocks, to kill.
“The practice of ‘catch and release’ by anglers maintains employment and keeps the fishery open, while still conserving the fish. In some years, if it were not for the conservation scheme, our spring salmon stocks would not be self-sustaining.”
There were no plans to overturn the policy, although RTC keeps it under review in case stock levels change, he said.
Meanwhile, he disputed online agents FishTweed’s estimate that 14,000 salmon were caught last year, saying RTC’s official count is expected at the end of February.
We wish all anglers good weather and tight lines.