Wet summer takes toll on River Tweed catches from Coldstream to Berwick

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THE River Tweed has seen a fall of nearly nine per cent in the number of fish caught by rod and line this spring.

The River Tweed Commission reported a downturn from 3,061 in 2011 to 2,792. The organisation is blaming the fall on the summer’s wet weather, which, it says, has made fishing impossible in some areas.

A spokesperson for the commission said: “The drop on last season’s catch was due largely to the weather conditions – especially during June and July with continuous high water making fishing difficult at best and impossible in many places.”

“The 2012 figure is not transparent as several areas of the river that traditionally benefit from the Tweed’s spring run did not do so to such an extent this year.”

The spokesperson reported that from the beat from Coldstream to the sea at Berwick witnessed substantially lower returns than usual. He added: “The majority of the fish were caught in middle Tweed and the top half of the lower river.”

The five-year average for spring catch now stands at 2,269, up on the previous figure by 100 fish.

And with the last two seasons seeing the full use of the conservation technique catch and release, the rate of successful returns rose to 97 per cent.

Only 80 fish did not recover sufficiently to be able to be returned.

The catch and release statistic has risen significantly since 2003, when only 55 per cent of salmon caught on the Tweed were voluntarily released. The figure stood at 91 per cent two years ago.

Back in March, the River Tweed Commission’s annual report indicated that the Borders’ main water system had seen its second best year to date for catches, with more than 20,000 salmon landed.

More than three-quarters of the species were caught using rod and line. Sea trout also posted excellent catch numbers. But outgoing RTC chairman, Andrew Douglas Home, said in March it was possible that the reductions in offshore and in-river netting in recent years had allowed sea trout to predominate over the brown trout.

The 2011 trout season saw a number of large fish being caught in the spring, mainly on the upper Tweed and big tributaries. But as the season progressed, increased reports started to filter through about the lack of catchable brown trout.

However, the Tweed Foundation’s trout and grayling biologist, Kenny Galt, said at the time that the widely-held view that trout angling is not as good as it used to be predates, by many years, the recent improvement in salmon rod catches.