HUGE salmon are being caught in the River Tweed – with the chance of even bigger fish being landed in the final two months of the season.
In line with a national trend being seen in most of Scotland’s waters, River Tweed anglers have enjoyed catching monster fish throughout the summer.
And although Nick Yonge of the River Tweed Commission could not confirm whether any Leviathans – fish over 30lbs – have been netted in the Borders like they have in the River Tay, he said the finale of the season which finishes at the end of November could reap even larger catches.
He told TheSouthern: “The next two months until the end of the season are crucial – if there is too much water or not enough it will affect the water flow which is important to salmon.
“But if the water level is right, the really big catches will hopefully be in the next couple of months.”
Mr Yonge explained that more fish that have been away at sea for two winters have returned to the River Tweed this year, instead of those at sea for one winter, known as grilse, which are usually in the majority.
“Because two-winter fish have been away for longer and have fed for longer they are very much bigger and that is where we have seen the change,” he told us.
“There have also been fish away for three winters coming back. Salmon go to sea to feed and produce more eggs, hence why the three-winter salmon are so big.
“We have seen a lot of fish 10lbs and over, but I have not heard of any at 30lbs.”
Speculation as to why the supersized salmon are returning to Scotland’s rivers include rising temperatures in the North Sea, which has forced the species further north to cooler waters, and as a result they have remained in the ocean longer.
Mr Yonge said the sizes and number of salmon in the Tweed this season will not be known until the New Year, ahead of next March’s annual Tweed Commission report.
And he cautioned that the river – which is estimated to contribute £18million per year to the Borders economy – is still not seeing the numbers of salmon it previously did.
“It is important to get these figures in perspective – overall the number of salmon catches by rod are very much reduced on 30 or 40 years ago,” added Mr Yonge.
“There has been a change this year which we and the fishermen are happy about, but undoubtedly Atlantic salmon is still not at the same healthy state as it was in the older generations.
“That is because we don’t have net stations now.”
The River Tweed Commission’s annual report for 2010 showed record-breaking statistics for salmon, with rod catches the highest since records began in 1947.