Fly fishing rod

2021 rod catches for Kyle Rivers near lowest on record

Northern Lines by Dr Keith Williams

For ghillies and river workers alike, the final days of salmon season on the Kyle Rivers represent a curious blend of relief and regret. Relief that they will soon be enjoying a well-deserved rest, and regret that another year of fishing is about to pass in memory.

Dr Keith Williams.

2021 is unlikely to be watched with much affection, marred as it has been by a chronic lack of precipitation. Many fishermen who visit our rivers regularly have failed to find the river in good condition on one occasion.

However, a welcome rise in water levels at the end of September will increase the final totals for the various beats. Based on my own recent experience, salmon have always proven difficult to catch with the persistence required of the fisherman. The fish picked up the fly in a frustrating way without holding onto it tightly. Fortunately, in a brief flurry of activity, a small male salmon attached itself to the fly, allowing me to admire its deep red coloring before being released to continue on its way.

This fish, it turns out, will be the last entry from local rivers in my fishing book, where I have dutifully recorded my catch of salmon and sea trout since childhood. It’s nice to sit in front of a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, flip through the pages and, ideally with a warming libation in hand, remembering fish and notable outings.

There is, however, another more trivial but important reason for keeping catch records. Owners of salmon and sea trout fishing are required by law to submit declarations to local fisheries boards and Marine Scotland, a Scottish government agency.

This data in turn is used for several purposes, including categorizing individual rivers which will ultimately decide whether all fish should be returned or if there is a fishable surplus. Requests will be sent out soon to request feedback to be submitted and the collation process will begin.

Until the recent late burst, there was a risk that rod catches for the Kyle area were the lowest since official data collection began in the 1950s, but luckily I think a new nadir will be pretty much avoided.

In the absence of accurate fish counters, rod catch data is all we have to estimate abundance – although ghillies have a strong idea of ​​what is present and has gone through their particular rhythm.

Hopefully the blame for the poor catches this season lies in the drought conditions.

Dr Keith Williams is the Director of Kyle Fisheries.

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