CCTV saves a sea trout’s life


Last year at this time, we were up to our armpits in snow and an unbelievably Arctic winter was just getting going. This year it has been one of the mildest Novembers on record and our wildlife just doesn’t know where it is.

At the weekend a Melrose reader sent me a picture of a daffodil in bloom in his garden, which is three months early, and I was photographing a foxglove in bloom in my garden, which is more than three months late!

Such anomalies will continue until we get our first really cold spell, when things will soon sort themselves out.

On Saturday, I braved the howling gales for a walk up the riverside, to Murray’s Cauld on the Ettrick. There was a good flow of water and although the best of the salmon run is now over, I decided to stand for a bit and see if anything appeared worth photographing. Sure enough, in the corner where I stood at the bottom of the weir, there was a few fish trying their luck, so I got my camera out.

After several missed opportunities due to my slowing reactions, I was about to pack in, when there was an almighty smack at my feet. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I looked down and saw a huge fish thrashing about on the stones. It had launched itself upwards with such force that I think the wind must have caught it and blown it sideways on to dry land.

It was a good two and a half feet long, in perfect condition and I think it was a sea trout.

Now here was a situation. I glanced around and there was no one about. Should I stuff it down my trouser leg and head for home or do the decent thing? As I deliberated over my dilemma, I took a couple of pictures of the writhing fish, which was edging ever closer to the water, so I had to make my mind up fast. One voice in my head told me what a tasty treat it would be with Christmas approaching and another said the poor creature was heading upstream to breed and to think of all the unlaid fish eggs which would result if I took it.

I gazed skywards for divine intervention and it was then I saw an apparition which guided my actions. I gently lifted the fish and returned it to its watery domain.

What was the sight that led me down the path of righteousness?

It was the CCTV camera on a pole overlooking the scene, which was probably beaming live pictures back to the Salmon Viewing Centre at Philiphaugh Sawmill!