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  3. When and where to fish

When to fish

Length of season

The North and South Esks have a season extending from the 16th February until the end of October with fishing available from Monday through to Saturday (no Sunday fishing). The length of the season reflects the opportunity to catch salmon right from the opening day

Spring fishing

Spring salmon are evident in the middle and lower beats of both rivers from the opening day. Whilst it is possible to spin, there is ample opportunity to fish the fly. Milder winters coupled with major improvements in the dykes at Kinnaird (South Esk) and Morphie (North Esk) have resulted in early springers penetrating further upstream in recent years. Given reasonable water conditions, springers are well distributed throughout the middle beats by the end of March. The runs tend to increase as the season progresses, with good fishing in April.

There has been an increase in salmon entering the river in May but this tends to be summer fish as evidenced by scale reading.

Summer salmon fishing

In May, runs of large multi-sea-winter salmon ascend the river offering exceptional sport throughout the river during May and June. Excellent fishing can be obtained at reasonable cost.

May also sees the start of the sea trout runs and here the South Esk comes into its own with sea trout moving gradually through the system. Fishing through the long summer evenings is an experience second to none. The early runs of sea trout tend to be the largest with fish of several kilos being caught.

Thereafter, the runs of sea trout increase in number but are of a smaller size. These fish can be caught well upstream on angling club water. Permits are easily obtainable.

Hot on the heels of the sea trout are the beautifully formed grilse. Nothing can beat the appearance (not to mention their eating qualities!) of these young salmon with iridescent scales fresh from the sea. In terms of numbers, these take over from salmon and ascend the river quickly even in fairly low water to provide sport throughout the system.

Kinnaber North Esk.

Autumn fishing

From early September large multi-sea-winter fish enter the rivers. These fish typically range from 7 - 12 kilos and are a major incentive for anglers. This run continues throughout October but by then many resident fish are into their spawning livery and should be returned if caught. Autumn for the middle stretches is the most prolific time and with many fresh fish available, these beats can offer exceptional sport amid spectacular scenery.


Where to fish

North Esk

The majority of springers are caught on the lower and middle beats. Once the weather warms in the spring, fish can be taken at the Loups of the Burn. However, the upper beats really come into their own in late spring or early summer.

Grilse begin to run in May and move through the system quickly. The peak run is in July which, given reasonable angling conditions, can result in catches throughout the river. Although not famed for its sea trout, this species can provide interesting night fishing during the early summer.

The autumn fish spread throughout the system given favourable weather conditions. One of the most beautiful tributaries is the West Water and this provides a variety of fishing from the late spring onwards. It is famed for sea trout and grilse.

South Esk

The improvements to the fish pass at Kinnaird have benefited the beats immediately above it. While Kinnaird is the beat to fish in the early part of the season, springers are now being caught in the middle beats such as the Brechin Castle Fishings. It is not long into the season before upper beats such as those at Airlie are worthy of serious attention.

Sea trout are the jewel in the South Esk's crown. Large sea trout begin to enter the system in late April followed by substantial runs of smaller fish. These gradually move through the system providing exciting opportunities for sport in the middle and upper beats.

By this time salmon are well up the river and grilse are also ascending in prolific numbers and angling club waters (Montrose, Kirriemuir and Forfar) offer excellent value for money from the late spring onwards.

North Esk at Edzell

Like the North Esk, there are large runs of very late grilse together with large salmon and these can congregate in the lower beats fished by Montrose Angling Club and Bridge of Dun.

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