Fears have been raised over the future of salmon fishing on the Tweed – and the financial benefits it brings to the area – after the relentlessly hot weather we have been recently blessed with has led to drastically low river levels.
On his Tweedbeats online blog on Sunday, June 8, Andrew Douglas Home wrote: “After yet another boiling week, Tweed salmon fishing has all but ceased. The river is at, or even below, summer level, and the afternoon water temperatures down here at Coldstream are consistently in the mid 70sF.
“Just 27 salmon and 5 sea trout were caught last week, making 1,030 salmon and 254 sea trout for the year to date.”
He went on: “At a time when salmon numbers in Scotland are low anyway, it is a pretty disastrous situation for everyone connected with the salmon fishing industry; fishermen and women for spoiling their annual Scottish fishing holidays; ghillies and boatmen for having endless poor, even blank, fishing weeks to endure; proprietors for now (most probably) having a fifth poor fishing year in a row; and tackle shops, hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, self catering accommodation, petrol stations ... you name it ... because they are financially much worse off, some in vulnerable, often remote, rural communities, for what has been happening to our salmon fishing of late.
“Is it a crisis? Well, if not, it is not far from it.”
Luke Comins, Tweed Forum director stopped short of calling it a crisis, saying: “Yes, things are pretty dire on the fishing front just now; not just here, but all over Scotland.
“However, we have had plenty of dry summers in the past and the Tweed fishery has endured just fine. It should be noted that it wasn’t long ago that the Tweed was largely unlet over the summer as people focused on the stronger spring and autumn runs and more reliable fishing conditions.
“The big difference is that this dry spell comes on the back of a poor spring, and a drastically-reduced autumn run last season, so the ‘crisis’ that Andrew refers to is less about the heat wave, and more about long-term trends in salmon numbers across the North Atlantic.”
However, Fay Hieatt, clerk of the River Tweed Commission, said that although anglers are tending to stay away from the river due to the conditions, the salmon in the river will not be adversely affected.
She said: “Biologically, nothing inside the Tweed catchment has altered.
“Salmon in the Tweedn system will continue to breed.
“This long spell of dry weather is affecting the fishing ... and we could do with some more rain to freshen it up.
“The present conditions are worrying in terms of angling and business, but not in terms of the salmon stocks.”