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Last week

(Last Updated: Monday 07 November)

There is one unresolved, unresolveable, bi-product of both red/black old fish and habitual catch and release (in that almost everything goes back in the river), which is that nobody believes recorded weights any more. This has not been helped by pictures published in the past of 26lbers that were clearly no more than 14lbs on a good day, or “soaking wet” as Malcolm would say.

Nobody is to blame and every circumstance is different, in that some estimates will be more accurate than others, but it is not helped by the undeniable urge of all anglers to catch a big one, hence the temptation, albeit unwitting, to err on the high side.

Then there is “rounding up”. Why is there a remarkable lack of 11 and 13lbers in our records, but a proliferation of 12 and 14 lbers? Estimates by boatmen will be much more accurate than those by fishers on their own, simply because boatmen see more fish and have had a chance to “get their eye in”. Some thought those landing nets with a weight/measuring mechanism would be the answer, but how many of these big fish are recorded via those, and even if they are, can you really accurately weigh a monster when it is thrashing around in the net, and all is hustle and bustle trying to get it back in the water asap? I think not.

My elder brother Simon, a very seasoned (and surprisingly good) fisher, who had seen a few before and whose “eye was in”, caught three big cock fish, in the days when they were silverier and when we killed everything, back in the 1980s. He thought each one was over 30lbs when he landed them, whereas in fact they weighed 27lbs, 28lbs and 29lbs, and caught in that order. He has never caught a 30lber. I strongly suspect that now all three would be recorded, by some, as over 30lbs.

Then there were the two cock fish caught by tenants and stored in our freezer. One was 26lbs and the other 31lbs, both correctly weighed. Because the 26lber was longer, every single person I asked, nem con, thought the 26lber was bigger than the 31lber.

Just occasionally you get the opposite (to exaggeration) problem, as when Mr Henry Lax caught a fresh salmon here at 49 inches long. The standard Tweed scale stops at 48 inches, or 42 lbs. We recorded it at 35lbs, with Mr Lax’s agreement, for fear of the dreaded disbelief by others. Boatman Paul Hume, who measured it accurately with his tape measure, said that he had only ever seen one that size before, when he was working on the nets. It was killed and properly weighed at 45lbs

So what to do?

All is lost, one fears, because recorded weights are nothing, of no value, if they are not accurate. As any good accountant will tell you, figures do not lie, but in this case they do. Just for now, at least until proper abundance of Atlantic salmon is re-established, the priority is to get that fish you caught back in the river unharmed. If that means inaccurate recording of weights will go on and there will be no further editions of the salmon Doomsday Book, does that matter?

We must be grown up about it. Whisper it quietly, but how many of those old spring balance weighing machines were inaccurate anyway, inevitably stretching and weighing heavy over time? Those old weights, weighed and recorded of dead fish in fishing records of yore, presumed to be accurate, but were they really?

Life is imperfect and unfair. Nothing can be done. So be it.

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Much to your relief, after another iffy season, a game of two halves but better (for some) than seemed possible at the end of August, these rambles are signing off for a month. More and more middle and lower Tweed beats do not operate in November now anyway, and after recent high water you would think most of the fish will be beyond capture by rods. Some say November fishing should be banned, but surely an unnecessary escalation as so many have stopped fishing voluntarily anyway? And how would you compensate those who have bought fishing timeshares in November and are in possession of some form of heritable right? Good luck with that. What about beats above Galashiels who never see a salmon until October; take away half their season?

The Spey has just reported (thanks to my watchful correspondent for that) and recorded a 2022 catch of 5,439 salmon and grilse, better than 2021 and close to its 10 year average. They make the point that by finishing at the end of September, they have the shortest of the big river (Tay, Tweed, Spey and Dee) seasons. The Tweed’s 2022 catch will be higher than that (also higher than our 2021 catch), but would it be, if we too stopped at the end of September?

Make of that argument what you will, but what does seem to be the case is that, despite a drought that was even more extreme than summer 2021, both rivers have done better both (a) than they thought they would, and (b) than last year.

Which is good news. There will be a final sign off season’s summary at the end of November in these pages.

Until then.

Andrew Douglas-Home
Author of A River Runs Through Me.

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Photographs 

River Tweed Museum in Kelso is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 12pm to 3pm

The Bemersyde trophy was awarded to Adrian Gotzeim at a luncheon at Bemersyde House on Thursday 22nd September.

Summer salmon caught on Milne Graden

20lb caught on Ladykirk, by Ros Westwood, 11th October.

Early October fish from Dryburgh Upper

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Bemersyde Trophy

Entries are now open for the Bemersyde Trophy for the best salmon landed on a fly on Tweed The winners of this prestigious award (senior and junior) will be invited to a presentation luncheon at Bemersyde House in 2023.

Previous winners of the senior award include Jim Reid, Shamus Jennings, Wayne Longstaff, Finlay Wilson, Craig Duncan, Andy Britton, Jonathon Murray, Janice Hogarth and current winner Adrian Gotzheim

Previous winners of the junior award include Jess England, Debbie Harris, Andrew Kitchingham, Debbie Harris, Harry Gotzheim, Samuel Ackroyd, Harry Brownlow and the current winner Sam Taylor

To be eligible for the trophy the fish must be caught on a fly in a sportsmanlike manner and be returned to the water. For more information and to enter this years trophy please contact the Bemersyde Estate office here.

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Prospects

If you catch a tagged fish then please take a note of the tag number, this can be made easier by taking a photo of the tag. To report a tagged fish please contact the Tweed Foundation on 01896 848 277 or the Head Fishery Officer on 07884 230 045.

Last weeks catches are at the bottom of this report.

Helpful Information

Tackle Shops and Outfitters on Tweed

Guides and Instructions on the River Tweed 

Where To Stay on Tweed and the surrounding countryside. 

Where To Eat on the river Tweed.

Fishing Permits for Tweed and its tributaries.

Get in touch:

We would like to thank the boatmen, angling clubs and beat owners on the Tweed system who have contributed to this report by providing their time and information as the weekly report would not be possible without your help and support. If you would like to share any interesting stories or pictures from your time fishing on the River Tweed for the purposes of this report, please feel free to contact us here. 

If you would like to find out how FishPal can market your fishery please contact us. 

Beat catches reported

(Last week)

Beat Catches
Lower Pavilion Salmon - 0, Sea trout - 1
Fairnilee Salmon - 2, Sea trout - 1
The Yair Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 0

 

 

 

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