Spring Fish Counts!!

15 Jul

Northern rivers spring fish counts have recently been released by the Environment Agency, below are some preliminary observations:-

River Wear

Looking at the June 2020 figures of fish being counted through the Durham fish passes. It’s worrying to note that only 1186 fish were recorded which is substantially below the long term average of 1990 and even below last year’s figure of 1236 the worst year on record.

Ok, it’s early yet, but bearing in mind that netting in District 1 (Tweed to Tyne) stopped at the end of May, signs for a good season are not good.

River Tyne

Unfortunately, there are no numbers for the Tyne as the fish counter is out of operation.

River Coquet

The Coquets numbers are mixed 506 is not as good as 2019 (1236) but better than previous years so it’s too early to form an opinion as to whether the Coquets slow improvement is continuing. The Coquet, in particular, should be seeing some improvement as most of the remaining T&J netting operations are close to the Coquet estuary, but again these closed at the end of May.

Some rain and improved river levels would help. This year looks remarkably like last year, a dry spring and early summer and then a very wet autumn.

Time will tell!!

North East Fishery – Update.

18 Jun
Now that the netting season in District 1 is finished for this year, the Environment Agency on request has provided the following information:-
It appears that due to the present COVID 19 situation the EA does not as yet have access to the nets men’s logbooks and as such formal catch data may not be available till the end of the year. However, the good news is that for various reasons the EA does not anticipate a large catch of sea trout this year in District 1.
Anecdotal reports suggest the season was a poor one for nets men, partly due to temporary closures of fish markets, the reduced demand for sea trout as the hospitality industry was closed down, and the calm bright weather, which makes the nets more visible to fish, so they can better avoid them. The dry weather is also likely to have resulted in sea trout holding a little way offshore, waiting for a freshet to draw them into the estuaries.
Together with the shortened netting season reducing available fishing effort, these factors strongly indicate there will be a relatively small net catch of sea trout in District 1 in 2020.
* District 1 covers the coastal area from the River Tweed to the River Tyne.

Red Skin Disease

6 Jun

News from the Atlantic Salmon Trust:-

Reports of Red Skin Disease
Last year AST reported that there were accounts of small numbers of salmon caught in rivers across Europe, including Scotland, all exhibiting signs of a severe red rash and at times fungal infections (see here). It has been brought to the AST’s attention that this Red Skin Disease has reappeared in some areas. Following a major workshop in Norway last autumn, various laboratories have agreed to cooperate in tracing outbreaks of the disease and further analysing samples provided. Despite extensive investigations undertaken last year on retrieved specimens by the various fish health authorities, no attributable cause from an infectious agent has been established to date.

The AST asks that, when returning to the river bank, individuals stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any fish showing symptoms. If you do catch one of these fish, please do not remove it from the water and handle it as little as possible when removing the hook. Photograph the fish if you can and report the exact location of capture as soon as possible to the authorities (contact information provided on the AST website). Geographical coordinates for the position of capture from your smartphone would be particularly useful. It is also advised to follow normal biosecurity protocols and disinfect your fishing tackle, landing net, waders, and fishing jacket if they have come into contact with the fish.

At the moment this is for information only and the AST will share more news on their website & social media channels as it becomes available.

Fishing on the Rivers Tweed and Till.

13 May

Statement by RTC on the relaxation of the lockdown announced by the UK Government on Sunday 10th May.

Since the very first of the River Tweed Acts in 1807, the fishings on the River Tweed have been managed as a single unit notwithstanding the fact that the river rises in Scotland and reaches the sea in England. This arrangement has continued successfully to the present day with the management powers vested in the River Tweed Commission by virtue of the Scotland Act 1998 (River Tweed) Order 2006.

The UK Government announcement on 10th May changes matters since for the first time since 1807 from 13th May different rules will apply to fisheries in England as opposed to those in Scotland. The reason for this is that whilst the UK Government has eased the lockdown restrictions in England the position of the Scottish Government is that fishing is not allowed and also that travelling for anything other than work or essential purposes is not allowed.

RTC is in the process of obtaining clarification of its position from the Scottish Government, but understands that the effect of the two Government announcements on 10th May to be as follows:-

  • The portion of the River Tweed Salmon Fishery District which lies in Scotland remains closed for fishing.
  • With effect from Wednesday 13th May it will be permissible to fish in the portion of the River Tweed Salmon Fishery District which lies in England subject to social distancing measures being observed and the fisheries complying in all respects with the measures required to protect fishers, ghillies and all other persons using the riverbanks.
  • Travel in Scotland is still restricted and it is therefore understood that it will not be permissible to travel from Scotland to England to fish.

The decision as to the timing of relaxation of the current restrictions in Scotland remains a matter for the Scottish Government, but in anticipation of this occurring at a future date, RTC is in consultation with Fisheries Management Scotland (FMS) over the drafting of a protocol which will set down how fishing activity might be safely carried out during the currency of the pandemic. This will be published as soon as possible.

Editors note:-

This article confirms that at the moment subject to the agreement of the Scottish Government that anglers can fish the river Tweed from the English bank but not the Scottish and that the River Till is now fully open to fishing.