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(Last Updated: Monday 18 September)

Anyone who thought that the very hot and sunny first week of September had ruined the fishing just for that week, was wrong. For all beats below Rutherford, the floating weed last week, a result of the previous one’s heat and sun, made fishing all but impossible, unless you like removing weed from your fly after every cast.


There is something odd about the geomorphology (I know, look it up) of the main stem of Tweed, in that it changes at Rutherford. Above Rutherford, no or very little of that disgusting green slimy stuff, but below there became worse and worse the further downstream you go.


Maybe it has always been this bad in previous years, but the blooming of that floating, light green diaphanous stuff, together with some darker green, almost mossy, much tougher weed, impossible to shake off, was very dramatic. Even when the water temperature dropped for 64F to 54F after one very cold night, it was bad and a small lift in water levels on Friday night made fishing in the lower beats all but impossible on Saturday.


As for next week, it is all change, a reasonable rise in water of three feet yesterday (this is being written on Sunday)  may well be the precursor of others, as the forecast is for low pressure, wind, rain and cool, in other words, highly autumnal. That weed has been washed into the North Sea  (or lies rotting on the riverbank), so at least the river environment will dramatically improve from the soggy green mess that it has been. Looking at it yesterday, at the height of the flood, you felt sorry for the fish having to live in the solid stream of rotting greenery coming down into their faces. Some may even have decided to go back into the sea, what the netsmen used to call “downcomers”.


As for the fish, whereas there were plenty showing in the pools below Kelso, will they take advantage of the extra water to go much further west towards Teviot, Ettrick, Upper Tweed and their spawning beds? Will there be anything coming in from the sea to take their place when it all calms down?


Those are the $64,000 question.






Some say these pages over-obsess about numbers, or the lack thereof, usually from those who think that what is happening to our salmon is normal and cyclical, that it has all happened before and that it will all come good if you give it time. In short, they think it is much ado about nothing.


They are, of course, profoundly wrong. They point to the end of the 19th century for validation, late Victorian times, when there was indeed a decline in numbers (and the Victorians built hatcheries in an effort to compensate), but nothing like what we are experiencing now. Back then, 150 years ago, there were 84 netting stations on the Tweed, and I can find nothing that shows them reducing hugely in numbers, let alone going out of business en masse. In short, there were enough salmon to keep them going, even in the bad times.


Now we have just one net, it catches around 500 salmon pa, operated on a part time basis. What would the other 83 nets employing over 400 people, full time during the season, be doing? Correct, they would be doing nothing because not one of those nets would now be viable.


I don’t know what more proof the naysayers want that we are in new, uncharted territory for our Atlantic salmon, and 2023 is almost certainly going to reach a new low, both Scotland and UK wide, in the numbers of salmon caught. Some will try to blame rod fishing conditions, but with the exception of a hot, dry June and one hot week in September, conditions both in the spring and summer have been unusually benign.


The brutal truth is that there have been very low numbers, historically and Scotland-wide, of salmon this year, saved slightly and latterly, by an unexpected number of grilse in what we have been told is a salmon, as opposed to grilse, era. The spring was poor, the summer average, and the autumn, well, we will see.


But you won’t take many bets on a good one.






Which brings me to the denial of seal killing licences for rivers in Scotland, on the basis that, like the Tweed, they are rated as Category 1,  ie no need for special conservation measures. By and large, applications for killing seals are limited to 2 or 3 seals a year, and only for those few seals that stray well upriver and will not move; 2 or 3 pa is hardly a number destined to dent an overall Scottish seal population of 160,000+.


This is, of course, nonsense, as stocks of Atlantic salmon in all rivers are at historically all time low levels, not only that but even here on the Tweed there are clearly concerningly low levels of early spring and late autumn fish, and the seals could be well eating them as well as the more numerous, and less endangered, summer fish. The consensus on the Tweed is that our spring fish require Category 3 protection (quite possibly our autumn fish as well), but it is difficult for Marine Scotland who cannot/will not give unique conservation statuses for the different salmon stocks within the same river system.


One strongly suspects political expediency behind such decisions, rather than any real concern for seals per se. I hear that the Americans will not buy our farmed salmon if the fish farmers are allowed to kill seals around their cages; could it be that wild fisheries are being denied licences to kill remarkably few rogue seals that come upriver (and will not move) to save the fish farming industry and their sales to the USA?


The ultimate irony, when you consider the damage fish farms have done, over many years, to wild salmon populations, and their rivers, on the Scottish west coast and elsewhere.




Amid much talk of those nasty alien Pink/Russian inspired salmon coming into our rivers, there have been reports of Pinks in other rivers, but not many so far on the Tweed.


If you do catch one, the advice on what to do with it is included in the RTC’s The River publication of May 2023 which can be found here


Don't forget to keep tagging #fishpal and #fishpal_fishing on facebook and instagram to have your images included in these reports.

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.

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:- Bemersyde Estate, Melrose, Roxburghshire, TD6 9DP

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
Horncliffe Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 0
Ladykirk Salmon - 4, Sea trout - 0
Milne Graden Salmon - 5, Sea trout - 0
Tillmouth Salmon - 7, Sea trout - 0
Lower Birgham Salmon - 2, Sea trout - 0
Birgham Dub Salmon - 5, Sea trout - 0
Hendersyde Salmon - 7, Sea trout - 1
Upper Makerstoun Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 0
Rutherford Salmon - 5, Sea trout - 0
Dryburgh Upper Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 0
Bemersyde Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 0
Drygrange Salmon - 0, Sea trout - 1
Tweedswood Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 0
Lower Pavilion Salmon - 4, Sea trout - 0
Boleside Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 1
The Yair Salmon - 3, Sea trout - 0
Ashiestiel Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 0
Traquair Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 0
Kailzie Salmon - 1, Sea trout - 4


Milnegraden Aug

Milnegraden Aug

Magnificent grayling for Californian Kirk. Better than Alaska!

Magnificent grayling for Californian Kirk. Better than Alaska!

8 year old Will Willis with a fresh fish out of the Ferry at Lower North Wark, caught on a black and yellow tube.

8 year old Will Willis with a fresh fish out of the Ferry at Lower North Wark, caught on a black and yellow tube.

Tiptoe reports a good start to August with 2 sea trout caught in pool 2 ( the long Flats)

Tiptoe reports a good start to August with 2 sea trout caught in pool 2 ( the long Flats)



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