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South Esk Report December 2013.

Having been raised on the banks of this wonderful river on Lord Southesk’s estate at Kinnaird I have watched the good times, the scourge of UDN and the present lack of salmon and particularly Sea Trout from the bonnie banks of the “Soothie”.

The South Esk year has not been one of the memorable seasons, rather a worrying place to be; if the truth is to be told we who hold this river close to our hearts just do not know what to do next. The river is an area of special conservation for the Atlantic salmon and the Freshwater Mussel, the latter relying on the salmon as a host in the early period of it life cycle, however those with whom its ( the conservation order) management are failing in the biggest way possible and pleas to the Minister and the Scottish Government go unheeded.

The spring was so cold but a few fish did make it up the river by the end of February some success came the way of the few hardy souls who ventured onto the banks. With the netsmen being paid not to fish the first six weeks and a rule of total catch and release we were maybe beginning to get somewhere but Usan Salmon Fisheries have now said that they from 2015 will revert to fishing the spring run thus wasting years of effort and a not inconsiderable amount of river proprietors money.

Summer was a real summer with no rain and sunshine endless sunshine, the banks of the river bloomed the like of which I have not seen before but it made the angler suffer. Summer salmon failed to enter the river and then the Sea Trout runs failed miserably and blank days and weeks were common. Angling club stretches at Brechin and Kirriemuir were lightly fished and produced little, even the night angler saw very few Sea Trout and so it went on for endless weeks. I did enjoy the first half hour of my week in early August an the Kinnaird middle beat hooking a 17 pounder on my third cast but I and my three friends fished the rest of the week for two miniscule sea trout.

Autumn saw the first of the years rain and a few short runs of late salmon did enter the river and some sport was had, notably several very big fish on beats throughout the river.

Huge mounts of money are being ploughed into the habitat of this river by the Trust and much work is also going on beneath the surface by the Fisheries Board in a determined effort to regenerate this river and its iconic fish, but without everyone involved in the river giving their all and exercising restraint I fear!