A brace of salmon for the equinox

These bulletin blogs represent news about Finavon and the South Esk, and my views as a riparian owner. They are not the views of any other organisation, nor are they designed to promote the interests of any individual or organisation other than Finavon Castle Water and factors affecting the fishery.  Tony Andrews

With the river purling down after two days of serious thaw in the hills, the expected spring run is appearing, albeit in dribs and drabs. My guess is that with all this water, gradually warming up in air temperatures of 15C plus, the salmon will soon be in the upper river. I see that a fish was caught yesterday at Inshewan, and Bill Balfour told me of an absolute beauty (18lbs) caught at Upper Kinnaird on Saturday.

We had two fish today: a trim little seven pounder in Willows and a cracking 10lbs fish to Ian Ingledew in the Marcus House Pool – his first spring salmon! The week is shaping up well with a lovely clean snowmelt to draw new fish into the system.

We are now putting rods on the Water each day, which is something we have not done in March for years. In other words, the fishing effort at Finavon is about to ratchet up a few clicks, and, provided water levels remain good, we should continue to catch salmon. If we were to reach 10 fish by the end of March, it would be a sign to me that the spring run is far from dead, and that is something I have felt might be the case for some time, without the benefit of evidence I admit. The fact is that you won’t see catches if there’s no-one fishing, and catch statistics are based on rod-caught salmon. It’s a Catch 22 situation, but perhaps even more zany than that excellent book!

One other point about the South Esk. We are told by SNH that our freshwater mussels (one of the species targeted by the SAC status) are in trouble. Why is it then that, after the winter floods every year, there are masses of shells of these molluscs of all sizes (ie ages) scattered along the riverbanks? My guess is that the big beds of Margaritifera margaritifera (the biological name of the freshwater mussel) have been missed by the SNH field staff. If I were guessing, I would say that there are plenty of these molluscs in the stretch of river between Justinhaugh Bridge and the A90 bridge at Finavon. Why else would we see such copious quantities of spent shells each spring?

All this – the guess work applied to measuring spring salmon stocks and to the abundance of the freshwater mussel – indicates to me that no-one, least of all our decision makers, has much of an idea of the biological inventory of the South Esk. Not a good basis for decision making: it needs to improve.

TA 22/3/2011

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