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River Management

Esk & Liddle Improvement Association (ELIA)

The Border Esk and Liddle rivers have long been a popular destination for visiting sea trout and salmon enthusiasts.

Throughout its history the catchment has provided excellent sport for anglers and in 1863 the Esk and Liddle Fisheries Association was established to encourage local angling at a low cost.

This Association was replaced by the Esk and Liddle Improvement Association (ELIA) which has a wider remit.

The objectives of ELIA are to:

  • represent the views of the riparian owners and users of the river
  • promote best angling practice and angling generally
  • conserve and protect the riverine environment

Galloway Fisheries Trust provides fisheries expertise and assistance to ELIA to help them deliver their objectives - this working arrangement has been in place since 1996.

More information:-

For more on joint ELIA/GFT projects go to:

Border Esk Barrier Project

Fisheries Trust Projects


Recent ELIA projects

  • buying out net fishing rights
  • delivering education projects to local primary schools
  • completing habitat works to address bank erosion
  • erecting many kilometres of stock proof bank side fencing
  • cutting back of overshading conifer trees
  • allowing sea trout and salmon access over previously impassable
  • man made barriers on 4 different waters
  • delivering the Celtic Sea Trout Project on the Border Esk
  • undertaking of a barrier assessment survey of the White and Black Esk catchments




Fishing regulations

Although regarded as a Scottish river, for fishery purposes the Border Esk system has been under English legislation since 1860 and the Environment Agency is responsible for the fisheries on the river. The Environment Act of 1995 requires the agency to carry out its functions on all parts of the river.

Further to this, section 25 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 requires that the Agency regulate fishing throughout the area of its responsibility through the licencing system, and section 39 applies the act to the whole of the river including the Scottish part.

On April 1st 2005 the EA licence system came into effect, and ALL anglers must now have an appropriate and current EA license before they begin to fish.

The Border Esk and Eden will be 100% catch and release for salmon throughout the season, with a season long limit of 4 seatrout per angler on the Esk, 2 seatrout per season on the Eden. This bylaw will last for 10 years. Current.

The salmon season opens on 1st April and continues until 31st October. 

The sea trout season commences 1st April and runs until 31st August with good conditions, fish in the 4 – 7lb class are usually present at the start of the season. Peak months are June and July The average weight of the main runs is usually 1.5 to 2.5lbs with a few larger fish up to 10lbs. In the interest of conservation all fish over 3lb MUST BE RETURNED.

 Invasive species

Invasive species





Beat conditions

Individual owners will also have their own individual conditions, such as the hours that fishing is allowed on that beat, what ghillies are provided (if any) and what fishing methods you can use.

FishPal booking conditions

This site uses the FishPal booking engine, you need to agree to FishPal's booking conditions

You will be given another opportunity to read all these conditions before doing any online booking, where you have to indicate your agreement to them. They will also be included in the joining instructions you are given when your booking has been completed.



An alien non-native species is a species which is not native to the local area / region or the UK. The introduction of an alien species, either as a deliberate release or inadvertently through escapes can disrupt the natural balance of an ecosystem. Direct effects of an introduced species may include predation, habitat loss or augmentation, or competition for habitat and food resources. Indirect effects from alien species include the introduction and / or spread of diseases and parasites. Most non-native species are very difficult and expensive to eradicate or control once established

Biosecurity issues are of increasing economic and ecological significance. According to a survey, 'An Audit of Alien Species in Scotland', conducted by Scottish Natural Heritage, there are approximately 1000 non native species present in Scotland and while most exist in small populations with little impact on native flora and fauna, a small but significant proportion of these non native species are invasive. Recognition of the importance of the prevention, control or eradication of non native invasive species, parasites and diseases local river catchments has resulted in Fishery Trusts writing Biosecurity Plans to help address these concerns in their local areas

Anglers have a key role to play in identifying, reporting and ensuring they do not intentionally or accidentally introduce or spread damaging alien species.

Any sightings or questions regarding Biosecurity please contact Galloway Fisheries Trust

North American Signal Crayfish - picture courtesy of Keith Kirk

North American Signal Crayfish - picture courtesy of Keith Kirk

Key species to be aware of

Fish - never introduce non-native fish species to any water without the appropriate licence. Introduced species can have a devastating impact on native fish stocks. Although now illegal, the loss or release of live bait by pike anglers has caused problems in many UK waters

Plants - key species of concern in Dumfries & Galloway include Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed. There are control programmes aimed at eradicating these species from the riparian zone of all the region's rivers. Please report to the ELIA the presence of these species on any river banks. Great care must be taken not to accidentally spread the seeds of balsam. For more information on identification and their control see tab labelled 'INN plants'

Invertebrates - North American signal crayfish are present in a few Dumfries & Galloway waters and causing extensive ecological damage. If you catch a crayfish please kill it immediately (there are no native crayfish in Galloway) and report to SNH, ELIA and GFT.

Disease / parasites - Gyrodactylus salaris (GS) is a freshwater ecto-parasite that infects Atlantic salmon and some other salmonid species. The parasite is less than 1 mm long and infests the skin, fins and gills which eventually kills its salmon host. An infestation of GS in a river will threaten the existence of any salmon population. At the present time this parasite is restricted to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and some other Baltic countries but importantly has not yet occurred in the UK. There are various ways in which GS could be introduced into the UK, although the most likely route would be through water or fish from infected areas but there is also a risk from contaminated equipment from anglers and any other freshwater recreational activity (canoes, diving gear, etc). Always ensure you disinfect your angling equipment if you have recently fished abroad.

Japanese knotweed


  • Green cane-like stems with red specks that can reach up to 2 - 3m tall.
  • Heart shaped green leaves up to 120mm long.
  • Creamy white flowers from August to October
  • Roots consist of rhizomes that can reach up to 3m deep!

Control options:

Applying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical such as Roundup ProBiactive is highly effective
  • Spraying - This should take place 4 times per year for a total of 4 years. The initial spraying should commence in May when the plant is 3 foot tall, and the final spraying should be in September just before the plant dies back for the winter. The two other sprayings should be within these dates during the summer.
  • Stem Injection - This should be carried out once a year for a total of two years. This should take place in August time when the plant is at its strongest to support the treatment. A follow up visit should take place to treat any stems missed.


Do's And Don'ts!:

Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Japanese Knotweed.

Never strim, flail, mow or chip Japanese Knotweed - pieces of stem as small as a fingernail can grow into new stems.

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.

Removal of plant material off site must be carried out by a licensed carrier


Himalayan balsam


  • Stems are sappy and hollow in pinky-red colour. They can grow to 3m, being the tallest annual plant in Britain.
  • Spear-shaped leaves with serrated edges. Dark green with a dark red midrib up to 150mm long.
  • Flowers are slipper-shaped on long stalks. They are purplish-pink and flower from June to August.
  • Seeds are white, brown and black. They are produced from July to October with 4 - 16 per pod that explode, throwing seeds up to 20 foot

Control options

  • Spraying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical such as Roundup ProBiactive is effective. This should be done when the leaves are fully out, but before flowering - typically in June
  • Cutting stems with a strimmer or pulling up hand before it flowers and sets seeds is successful. This grazing technique is highly effective.

Himalayan Balsam can be disposed of by leaving to dry out onsite or by burning.

Do's And Don'ts!:

Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Himalayan Balsam.

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.

Do not touch the plant when loaded seed pods are showing - they will explode showering seeds. Be careful not to transport seeds to a new site. Seeds can be hidden in clothing or on your dog for example.


Giant hogweed


  • Stems are hollow, green with dark or purple blotches and will grow up to 5m tall!
  • Leaves are dark green in a rosette with a jagged appearance and spiky at the ends. The lower leaves can be up to 1.5m long!.
  • Flowers are white with several hundred in large umbrella-like flower heads up to 50cm across, appearing from June - July.
  • Each flower will produce up to 50,000 seeds that are easily dispersed by water and can remain viable for up to 15 years

Control options

  • Spraying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical, such as Roundup ProBiactive is effective on Giant Hogweed. The plant needs to be sprayed once all the leaves are fully out, but before flowering. This is typically in June. Any re-growth can be sprayed later in the season. The plant should be controlled in 2 - 3 years, but will need future checking for any newly germinating seeds.
  • Cutting the stems before the plant flowers and sets seed is also an effective control option. This grazing-like method will stop the plant from producing seeds. This should be done for 2 - 3 years before achieving full eradication. Due to the health and safety issues with the 'skin burning' sap of Giant Hogweed, cutting should only be carried out by a qualified person.


Do's And Don'ts!:

Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Giant Hogweed.

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.

Giant Hogweed should not be touched without protective clothing as contact with the sap can produce painful skin conditions

What can you do?

GFT are keen to hear from anyone that has reports of Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam or Giant Hogweed locations near watercourses within the Nith catchment area.

Dumfries and Galloway Council are equally keen to receive any roadside location reports by calling the main switch board on 030 3333 3000.

If you wish to find out more information, or want advice on controlling these alien plant species, please contact CIRB Project Officer, Neil Dalrymple on 01671 403011 or Email Us.





Catch and release

This is where a fish is caught but returned to the water to help preserve fish stocks. Many rivers make this mandatory at particular times of year so you should check the situation when booking.

This page is to give advice on best practice to increase the chances of the fish surviving

Playing the fish

If you are 'playing' a salmon you can significantly help its chances of survival by applying the information below. It is worth bearing in mind that less than 7% of smolts return as spawning adults, therefore, it is vitally important that the angler who is planning to return his catch is able to tackle this with success and confidence.

Ensure your rod is strong enough to subdue a fish quickly 1 minute per pound weight is a reasonable suggestion for time for landing a fish. To avoid exhausting the fish it is prudent to use 15-20lb leader material where possible. Salmon are not renowned for being cautious about leader visibility. When playing the fish it is the anglers aim to move the salmon out of the fast current into quieter water and have the angler positioned slightly below the fish.

By being below the fish you are able to ensure the salmon is battling the current as well as the anglers tackle whereas if the angler is upstream of the fish the angler is fighting the current and the fish. The fight time is therefore lengthened, perhaps un-necessarily. Make sure you pick a safe place to bring the fish to land. Once the fish is subdued bring it quickly to the bank for hand or net capture.

Landing the fish

Research has shown that exposing a salmon to air for even a short period, for example to take a photograph, can significantly reduce its chances of survival. Keep the salmon in the water at all times. Do not at any time lift a salmon up by the tail as this can damage the tendons in the tail of the fish. Later in the season as the salmon nears spawning time, lifting a salmon by the tail can cause the egg sacs in females and milt sacs in males to rupture into the body cavity which can kill the fish in extreme cases thereafter. At all times support its belly whilst handling the fish in the water.

Use a large Gye-type landing net with knotless mesh which reduces damage to the fish's scales. It is wise to avoid beaching the fish as this again can remove protective mucous and scales from the fish which can lead to fungal infection. The salmon that is being returned cannot be gaffed or tailed by mechanical tailer, as both implements cause considerable damage to the fish and were used historically when fish were being killed by the angler, in the days before the catch and release initiatives, that are currently in place through out many river systems in the UK.

Always handle the salmon with wet hands, or put on soft cotton gloves which need to be wet, when removing the hook from the fish's mouth or body if accidentally foul hooked. This prevents removing the fishes mucous which is the fish's first line of defence against disease and parasites.

It is very important that the fish is kept in the water after being captured and the fish should be supported from beneath, with the hook gently removed either by hand or by means of long-nosed forceps or hook releasing tool. If a hook is deeply embedded and cannot be removed, the leader should be cut close to the hook, as fish released with the hook attached will generally survive, and try not to squeeze the fish too hard, and never hold it by the gills at all times.

Reviving and releasing the fish

After removing the hook, or cutting the leader and leaving the hook or fly in the fish, then we should ensure that the salmon will be supported in the water, facing into the current to allow oxygen uptake by the fish's gills, and given sufficient time to the fish for it to recover. Hold the fish gently until it is capable of swimming away strongly, you will know it is time when you feel it starting to pulse and kick softly. If you release the fish and it turns 'belly up' then quickly capture the fish and support it again for a while facing into the current to allow more oxygen to be absorbed. When the fish is being fought there is lactic acid produced in the muscle tissue which creates oxygen debt and the muscles cannot function adequately Indefinitely.

Avoid weighing the fish if at all possible and if you have to then weigh the net with the fish enclosed in it, a Maclean net is suitable for this. A tape measure or a marked off wading stick can also be used to take the approximate length while keeping the fish in the water.

Alternatively, to accurately measure a big fish capture, an angler can run a length of monofilament or fluorocarbon from a spool, measuring from the fork of the tail to the nose of the fish and tie a knot. Continue to run the mono round the girth of the fish and tie another knot. By cutting the mono just above the second knot the angler has a length that he/she can measure against a tape measure later. Ally Gowans has a calculator for predicting the size of fish which is available on the internet here.

I am sure anglers will find this advice most helpful. Perhaps one day beats may supply this information to visiting anglers on small laminated leaflets with beat conditions. Survival rate is greater at water temperatures below 20°C so be aware of the necessity to quickly subdue and return the fish during the summer months.

Survival chances of released salmon

There has been research carried out by a number of fishery trusts that has shown that the survival rate of salmon caught and released may be close to 100% when we apply the above guidelines and practice.

Spawning success and viability of eggs may be unaffected in salmon caught and released in late autumn using the above guidelines, and they can recover within twenty four to forty eight hours of being captured and are able to spawn successfully.


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