When to fish
In normal conditions both the Esk and Liddle are fast flowing. The upper Esk is a series of fast streamy runs, glides and slow pools. A single handed rod is adequate for fishing in this area and wading in the rocky streams is not too difficult.
Below Langolm many of the banks are wooded with indigenous hardwoods and conifers growing down too or overhanging the river. These tree lined sections can make casting a fly interesting and the ability to roll or spey cast off either shoulder is essential to effectively cover the lies in the fast streams and pools.
Wading is generally good but care should be taken when fishing the pools as many are very deep with rock shelves, and an ill-considered step can lead to an early bath. Anglers are strongly advised wear an inflatable wading jacket and to use a wading stick at all times.
A 10-foot #7 single-handed rod, and floating line with a series of sink tips or a full intermediate line is adequate for sea trout fishing. Recommended flies for sea trout fishing are the Black Pennel, Grouse and Claret, Mallard and Claret, Peter Ross, Teal Blue and Silver and the local flies Whaup and Yellow, Langholm Silver, Thompsons Terror and the Border Belle.
Given the right river levels sea trout of 4 to 7lb can be present on the opening day of the season on 1st April. Runs gradually increase during the summer months and normally peak in August through early September. Average weight of sea trout is 1.5 to 2.5lb with a few larger specimens up to 10lb.
A 14- or 15-foot double-handed rod with a floating line and a series of sink tips should cover most situations for salmon fishing. Recommended salmon fly patterns are Blue Charm, Munro's Killer, Willie Gunn, Cascade, Allys Shrimp, GP, Garry Dog, Silver Stoat and the local fly the Brown Turkey.
The size of fly depends on water height, water clarity and time of year. In normal heights in the summer, size 8-10 low water doubles should suffice. In the autumn size 6 low water doubles or 0.75- to 1.25-inch plastic or aluminium tubes could be a better option.
In common with all the rivers that run into the Solway Firth fish enter the Esk in the early part of the season and small numbers are caught, no doubt due to low angling pressure, on the English section of the river. Given good river levels runs of salmon/grilse begin to increase from late May/early June through July. Both the Esk and Liddle can produce fish in the high teens and larger 20lb plus fish are taken in September and October most seasons.
Although spinning and bait fishing is allowed, beats on the middle and upper river prefer rods to fish the fly. Some beats do allow spinning on a falling spate, or when the river is carrying colour.
Irvine house boat pool.
Upper Esk includes the White and Black Esks, the Meggat Water, and the main stem of the Border Esk above Langholm. The upper reaches of the streams that form the river are spawning areas but there is some fishing on the lower parts of these waters. Fishing is available on the White Esk (White Esk Fishings), on the Black Esk (Tanlawhill Beat) and on Meggat Water at Westerkirk and Westerhall. The Esk and Liddle Fishereies Association (ELFA) have fishing on the left bank of the Esk from the Craig/Potholm march to a point opposite the Craigcleuch Burn on the right bank and then both banks to Langholm. There are 15 named pools on this stretch of water.
In general terms the middle Esk is the river from Langholm downstream to Scotsdike on the right bank and the mouth of the Liddle Water on the left bank. The ELFA has fishing, 13 named pools, on the left bank from Langholm to Crannelholm upstream of Irvine House, and on both banks from Byerburnfoot, 19 named pools, to just upstream of Bells Weir below Canonbie.
Below Langholm, Broomholme House have 1.5 miles of fishing on the left bank. There are 2 three rod beats each with 7 named pools.
The Buccleuch Estate lets fishing on four beats from Broomholme downstream to Byerburnfoot. These are Irvine House (Middle & Lower), Gilnockie Tower and the Hollows beat. There is a number of excellent pools on these waters which include the Carrot Beds, Boat Pool, Coopers Stone, Fossil Beds, Tower Pool, Caul Pool, Shortsholm Brig Pool and Chapel Pool. The Estate has two fisheries below Canonbie on the Willow Pool and the Cauldron Beats.
The lower Esk runs from the Scottish/English border on the river's right bank at Scotsdike and the left bank at the mouth of the Liddle Water to the tidal waters of the Solway Firth.
On the left bank from Liddle mouth to a point opposite Scotsdike, Moat Fishings have the Willow and Cauldron pools. Below this, Netherby Estates have double bank fishing from Scotsdike to Kirkandrews suspension bridge. The estate also has two short stretches on both banks below the bridge let to private parties.
From the estate's boundary, Westhall Fishings have double bank fishing including Glingerbank to just upstream of Longtown Bridge. Above and below Longtown Bridge, Oak Bank Fishings have day ticket water.
The last beat on the river is the Tinnings Water which ends at Metal Bridge. Being close to the tide this water can at times be affected by high Spring tides.
On the English side of the border the salmon season begins on the 1st February each year and Sunday fishing is allowed. Upstream of Scotsdike and Liddle mouth on the Buccleuch Estate fishings the salmon and sea trout season begins in April and there is no Sunday fishing. (1st May to 31st August sea trout fishing is allowed till 03:00am on Saturday night/Sunday morning.)
The Liddle Water and the River Lyne
The Esk and Liddle Fisheries Association have fishing, 43 named pools, on the north bank of the lower Liddle upstream from the confluence with the Esk to Bankhead. At Newcastleton the ELFA have fishing, three pools, on the north bank at Kershopfoot, then double bank from above Kershopfoot Bridge - 11 pools - to Greens Bridge at Newcastleton. The fishing continues as single bank - 7 pools - through the village to a point upstream of the Black Burn then double bank up to Sandholm. The River Lyne enters the Esk upstream of the tidal limit and it is mainly a trout fishery.
The Dead Neuk pool Cannonbie.