Bleak picture of Tweed salmon fishing

Fishing on The River Tweed in Kelso.
Fishing on The River Tweed in Kelso.

Salmon catches on the River Tweed last year saw another fall to 6,129, with 1,083 caught by rods in the Spring run.

The River Tweed Commission’s 2018 annual report confirms the figures and in his final chairman’s report before stepping down from the role after seven years, Douglas Dobie, said: “With 2018 seeing another year of low salmon and sea-trout catches, this will inevitably lead to fewer rod days let in advance and pressure on rental levels.

“It is a bleak picture, and the RTC has had to respond positively to very challenging circumstances.

“Fishing conditions, coupled with lack of fishing effort – especially early on in the season, made it difficult to assess how many fish may have entered the river, and sea survival certainly impacted on the catch.

“Our stocks of salmon, sea-trout, brown trout and grayling need increasing levels of protection at all stages of their life cycle.”

Mr Dobie highlights the impact of the growing numbers of predatory birds such as goosanders and cormorants as a significant factor, adding that the commission is working to address this.

“Whilst a decline in fish stocks, particularly migratory, is unlikely to be attributable to a single cause, the RTC is doing all it can to lessen the impacts.

“Predation is now recognised as a very significant problem across Scotland. The RTC and Tweed Foundation are working to address this problem. We are joined in this by other river boards and trusts, Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Fisheries Management Scotland. With numbers of Atlantic Salmon now in major decline in many areas, more support and change to the licensing system is required to strike a better balance between protected species.

“The dramatic decline in salmon catches has resulted in a loss of confidence, anxiety and anger at the present position leading to a polarisation of views often sustained by an unconscious bias towards only listening to like-minded opinions. Everybody involved should be working to find a consensus, not discord, restore trust and to maintaining the Tweed’s international reputation for management based on sound evidence and sound science.”