Salmon and sea trout catches rise on Tweed

Fishing on the banks of The River Tweed
Fishing on the banks of The River Tweed
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Salmon catches on the Tweed rose by 40 per cent compared to 2012, the River Tweed Commission’s report on 2013 has revealed.

Despite the overall increase, the number of salmon caught by rod last year only went up by 12 per cent

In his annual report, chairman Douglas Dobie said: “A long cold spring yielded a spring catch close to the long-term average, clearly showing that the early runs are still fragile and vulnerable at any stage of the cycle, both in river and at sea.

“A dry summer, at last, produced low rod catches, but conversely the in-river nets did well and there is anecdotal evidence of high catches from the remaining North Sea drift nets.

“When proper rain did eventually arrive, the Tweed enjoyed a strong late run with exceptional catches in the upper river.”

He added: “A number of large fish were landed, including a cock fish estimated to be over 45lbs. It does add an edge if anglers feel there is a decent chance of hooking a fish of a lifetime.”

Trout fishing conditions were not ideal last year because of the cold April and May followed by an unusually warm summer and autumn and catches were well below the seven year average.

Bucking this trend though was the Whiteadder, Mr Dobie explaining: “This was mostly as a result of a very good May and September, as even the Whiteadder had below average catch rates in the months when the conditions had their biggest influence (April, July and August).”

A total of 20,316 salmon were reported caught last year – up from 14,566 in 2012, with over 5,500 landed by net on the river’s lower reaches; 75 per cent of the rod catch of 14,795 was returned to the river.

The report added: “The rod catch was higher than that of 2012 and although slightly below the five-year average, there are still only four years on record with a higher catch.”

The commission’s AGM was held in public for the first time this week following the Scottish Government’s announced changes to freshwater and coastal fisheries management.

One of the changes was for more open governance and while the Tweed Commissioners believe they already have a “robust and effective mnagement structure” commissioners decided that from 2014 the public would be invited to attend their AGMs. One member of the public attended Monday’s meeting.

Other proposed changes include introducing numbered carcass tagging throughout Scotland (including Tweed) by 2016. This helps accurate recording of legally taken fish and should significantly reduce the possibility of illegally taken fish reaching the market.