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Spring on the North Esk

It was an inspiring morning, the first real day of spring, but more important it was the first day of the salmon season on the North Esk. Having suffered months of eternal rain and wind here we were in pleasant spring sunshine and a river as near to perfect height as I have seen it in February.

I met four gentlemen on the boat pool at Pert who had started fishing traditional deep swimming flies alas with no success but with fish showing in the pristine clear water they were about to try a lure in the deeper water and as I heard later they were to catch and release three fish in the afternoon. It was apparent then that fish were coming through the now breached Morphie Dyke with little obstruction as all fish taken had no marks on their bodies and the numbers showing was optimistic.

Having torn myself away from Pert I moved on upstream to Hugh Campbell Adamson's, Stracathro beat where they were again seeing fish but with no success. The river was in as good a state as I have ever seen it and I felt there were fish there to take and in late afternoon Hughie himself, with the help of a Sunray Shadow fished deep, took two nice first day fish and proved my thought correct.

Most of the other beats on the river were either not fished or had very poor returns.

This type of situation has to a large extent been the norm as the spring moved on and practically all the river beats up to Edzell were fishing well and all with a good head of fish. Kelts appeared to be few but surely they all made it back to sea very early on the high waters of the first six weeks of the year and only on the flats at Balmakewan held a reasonable for the first four weeks of the season.

To me it is obvious that the catch and release policy adopted by the Fisheries board now eight years ago was working and with the nets not fishing (compensated) till the beginning of May. Unfortunately the news that Usan Fisheries will net from the start of the season next year looks like a great opportunity missed, if not a recipe for disaster. This I fear is Usan's policy of conservation and good management of stocks has somewhere along the line been forgotten in the name of profit, this time to the cost of river proprietors.

Morphie and Canterland has new owners but I am reliably told it could still be bought at the right figure. They do not release catch figures but I got a very warm welcome at the hut late on opening day and found them still blank but as the days passed they to went into a period of good sport. I was able to get a close up view of the breach in the dam and as far as I could ascertain there was a fair passage there and no Atlantic salmon should have any difficulty in passing easily through.

Kinnaber downstream is also on the market and with it's great catch records of recent years and a new fishing lodge with sleeping and cooking facilities it should not be long on the market.

Fish are moving on up the river and Burn House had seven in a short week at the beginning of May and there are fish well up into Glen Esk.

Since its opening day in early May Loch Lee has given good sport with surprisingly good numbers of Artic Char taking the fly eagerly. Brechin Angling Club members had an excellent day from the bank and I look forward to trying it myself soon.

The best part of the spring to me has been something that is missing, the fungal breakouts which have devastated past springs in the Edzell area are totally missing and long may it remain. Lastly, Stracathro has just reported a seatrout of over five pounds in what appears to be a fair early run.

 

Westie