2017: It’ll be better next year?

27 Nov

If, like virtually every other salmon and sea trout angler you had a poor or very poor season in 2017, you may find some comfort in casting your eye over the article featured below. In many ways it highlights the total uncertainty that surrounds salmon and sea trout fishing and perhaps why, in a way,  it continues to be such fascinating pastime.

If you accept the theory behind the editorial, then it maybe far too early to try and sell your tackle on ebay!


Game Fishing; What Constitutes a Good/Bad or Average Season?

17 Nov

When trying to decide whether you are having a good, bad or indifferent season, it is quite natural to quiz other anglers to try and determine how they are doing in terms of the number of fish caught/ killed or returned.  Sometimes, if you are doing really badly you begin to question your own ability, the methods you use and of course your luck.  You then question whether or not there are actually any fish in the river, and believe quite naturally, if you are doing badly, that there not there, so what chance have you got?

Of course any self respecting game angler knows very well that to be successful you have to be in the right place at the right time, or at the very least, try and be in the right place at the right time.  But it doesn’t always work!

Confidence can be further undermined when the Environment Agency release figures showing that in the previous month when you caught 1, over 3,000 fish went through the fish pass counter, another body blow!  But that’s the nature of game fishing, it’s never easy.

So for purely guidance purposes, if you fish the River Tyne or Wear, and as a measure for both your own and the rivers performance you may find the following useful:-

Migratory Fish; Average Fish Counts on the River Wear.

The table below shows the combined average monthly counts for salmon and sea trout at the Environment Agency fish pass counter at Framwellgate Weir and Freemans Reach in Durham, between 1994 and 2017. The table excludes years-1994; 2004; 2005; 2006; due to incomplete information. The Freemans Reach counter became operational in February 2015.

Jan Feb Mar Apl May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Total
20 20 22 44 281 1,991 4,710 3,106 2,901 3,784 1,595 103 18,577

The spring (Jan – May) run total average is 387 fish.

The summer (Jun – Aug) run total average is 9,807 fish.

The autumn/winter (Sept – Dec) run total average is 8,383 fish.

The yearly average is 18,577 migratory fish.

Migratory Fish; Average Fish Counts on the River Tyne.

The table below shows the combined average monthly counts for salmon and sea trout at the Environment Agency fish counter at Riding Mill between 1997 and 2017.

Jan Feb Mar Apl May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Total
21 10 46 170 653 2,663 5,567 5,213 6,834 8,220 2,463 217 32,077

The spring (Jan – May) run total average is 900 fish.

The summer (Jun – Aug) run total average is 13,443 fish.

The autumn/winter (Sept – Dec) run total average is 17,734 fish.

The yearly average is 32,077 migratory fish.

These figures are not totally accurate due to technical problems associated with either the malfunction or maintenance of the respective counters at various times. They are however the only figures available and do give a general picture of the average stocks for both rivers over the last 20 plus years on a month by month basis. Figures that may change substantially should the North East Net Fishery be finally closed.


Source: Environment Agency Fish Counter Information.



Grilse or Salmon?

4 Nov

The following is an extract from a recent report issued by Fisheries Management Scotland. It has been added to this site as it mirrors the exact circumstances that have affected all northern rivers this year.


Fisheries Management Scotland has been made aware, of a much-reduced grilse run in this current season (2017).  This appears to be following a consistent pattern observed in recent years, and based on anecdotal reports, a number of rivers across Scotland appear to be showing this trend. Coupled with this observation there are suggestions of an increase in larger summer fish, and less fish running in the autumn period.

Whilst many rivers do not have long term catch data, where information does exist for some of the larger rivers including the Tweed, long-term trends have been researched on historical catch and meteorological data. This suggests that there are likely to have been similar long term changes in the past, and a characteristic of these changes are variations in the size and composition of the overall salmon stock. This has included major reductions in grilse abundance lasting several decades.

Possible Causes.

While it is difficult to attribute the current reduction in grilse numbers to any one factor, one theory that may explain the changes relates to possible large scale changes in the marine environment. In recent decades, there has been an increase in surface temperatures in the NE Atlantic and there have been widespread changes in the abundance and distribution of other marine species. There is some evidence to suggest that warmer conditions in the sub – Arctic may mean more salmon than grilse. If grilse have to migrate further to feed, they may not obtain sufficient food to mature in their first year. They may therefore delay maturing for a further year and return as salmon.  As there is also a genetic element to the maturation of salmon, a compensatory increase in salmon numbers may develop over a number of years, assuming of course that the assessment is correct and these circumstances continue.


The worrying aspect of this report highlights again the impact of the North East Net Fisheries on current and future stocks. In 2016 the nets killed over 18,500 salmon during the period June 1st until August 31st. On the basis of the Fisheries Management Scotland report, this is the very time when stocks are more likely to be in abundance (late spring and summer runs) compared to later in the season, (reduced autumn runs).

The impact of the nets on migratory fish stocks cannot be overstated.  Could this apparent change in migration patterns and the over exploitation by nets at crucial times be one of the major reasons why stocks are in decline? Only time will tell!

The future sustainability of northern rivers migratory fish stocks will depend on the Environment Agencies decision to either allow netting to continue or finally to stop it completely.

Concerned northern anglers await the decision.




Source: Fisheries Management Scotland


Cormorant Watch 2 – Website.

11 Oct

The Angling Trust has called on the government to do more to protect rivers and lakes from fish-eating birds.

In a letter to Fisheries Minister George Eustice, the Angling Trust is demanding a doubling of the number of cormorants licensed to be shot in England annually to 6,000. It also calls for the relaxing of the requirement for evidence that goosanders are damaging fisheries before a licence will be issued.

The Angling Trust says the new measures are needed to halt the decline in coarse and game fish in England, particularly endangered salmon and eels which are now at critically low levels nationally. Other species such as roach, dace, trout and barbel have also seen numbers fall in many rivers and lakes.

The letter coincides with the launch of Cormorant Watch 2 – a website where members of the public can record sightings of cormorants, goosanders, red-breasted mergansers and their roost locations.  Over 120,000 sightings of birds were recorded when the first edition of Cormorant Watch was launched in 2012, which helped the Angling Trust make the case for the introduction of Area-Based Licences (ABLs) for the lethal control of birds.

A single cormorant can consume up to 1Ib (500gms) of fish everyday the equivalent of between 8 and 10 salmon and sea trout smolts. So it is vital for the control of these predators that every sighting is recorded.

The Cormorant 2 website is accessible using the following link: