Another year of low Spring salmon catches

Salmon fishing on the River Tweed at the Lees beat at Coldstream.
Salmon fishing on the River Tweed at the Lees beat at Coldstream.

The numbers are in for the River Tweed salmon Spring catch - and while it is a drop on last season’s catches it’s not the lowest in recent times.

A report on the River Tweed Commission site by Tweedwriter gives an update of the spring season to June 30.

“The overall reported catch by rod and line was 1,083 salmon. While this represents a further drop on last season when 1,843 fish were caught, it is not the lowest spring catch in recent times: the early 1990s saw catches of a little over 800 fish.

“Fishing conditions, coupled with less fishing effort, have had a significant impact on the total figure recorded, compounded by a range of other factors – connected to conditions at sea and long term changes in run timing.

“2018’s five-year average is 1,831, a drop of 11% on the figure to 2017.

“All areas of the river suffered much poorer catches, with Lower and Middle Tweed – where traditionally most springers are caught – catching just over 50% of last year’s figure.

“The Tweed spring catches graph shows the long-term catches for spring since 1970, when the autumn run on Tweed became dominant, and the spring season switched to being the smaller component,” states the report.

“It may be significant that the 2018 spring catch has dropped to the level of the poor years of the previous 5-year cycle seen in the 1970s and 1980s when it appeared that there were not enough fish to fully spawn the next generation – one bad year led to another five years on.

“However, that only happened because 70-80% of spring salmon at that time were five years old; the make-up of the stock is now very different, with more variety in age classes.

“This poor level of returning salmon has been reached before, and bounced back the following year.

“What happens next is therefore crucial.

“If overall environmental conditions are still the same as in the past there will be a lift in numbers, as after previous bad seasons – but, if these fundamental conditions have changed, a second (or more) bad springs in a row may occur.

“The last couple of seasons have shown that the change is towards summer fish which is why the dry summer Tweed is now experiencing has been so poor for fishing.”