A combination of weather and low fish numbers in 2009 has made for a poor spring of salmon fishing in the lower reaches of the River Tweed.
Salmon have a five-year cycle – spending an average of two years in the river, three at sea, then returning to the river to spawn.
Because there were fewer fish in 2009 and it would be their babies returning this spring, there was always a likelihood tthat here would be fewer fish.
The mild, wet winter, also meant that the fish didn’t hang about in the lower reaches of the Tweed but moved upstream sooner. Fish catches from Kelso upstream have been good, but in the lower reaches fish have been scarce.
At Coldstream, Lees beat head ghillie, Malcolm Campbell, explains the salmon spring run.
“When the water is low and cold they tend to stay at the bottom end of the river; when the water is high and the temperature warm they move upstream quicker.”
The Lees beat figures bear out the low numbers in 2009 affecting salmon catches this year on the lower Tweed. In the 2009 spring salmon fishing season, 31 fish were caught and this year it was 27. In the intervening years catches were much better: 2010 - 56; 2011 - 93; 2012 - 113; and 2013 - 120. Malcolm, however, remains an ‘optimistic realist’ for a good autumn run.
The Tweed’s 100% catch and release policy ended on June 30, but with numbers low some successful fishermen have been putting them back.
“Dead fish do not spawn” says the Tweed blog, going on to say of one fisherman who returned a 12lb salmon to the river: “With that single act of generosity he potentially released the productive capacity of some 8,000 eggs in a scarce June fish for the future.”