River chiefs reveal fall in salmon and trout catches
River Tweed Commissioners have revealed that 2016 was a challenging year with a further drop in salmon and sea trout catches.
At its AGM, chairman, Mr DJ Dobie reported: “Rod catches were, again, at their lowest level for a number of years and could signal a fundamental shift away from the abundant grilse and autumn runs which have contributed a large proportion of the total rod catch in recent years.
“The norm may become an increased reliance on spring and summer fishing with significant consequences in terms of gross letting revenues achievable on the river as a whole.”
He said one consequence of reduced gross income is a pressure on the Commission to carefully consider the annual assessment levied on proprietors. At the same time, changing and declining fish stocks arguably require increased protection and further understanding to encourage a quicker recovery and to plan for the future.
Mr Dobie said: “It is clear, therefore, that achieving the correct balance between these conflicting pressures and securing best value from a reduced level of Assessment will be a challenge for the foreseeable future.
“Whilst we can theorise about long-term cycles and changing feeding patterns in the North Atlantic, there is no substitute for hard work on the ground.”
River Tweed Commission income 2016 was £757,598 (£867,249 in 2015). Total expenditure for 2016 was £633,141, leaving them with a surplus for the year of £123,255, salary costs falling from £267,125 to £178,594 as staff cuts were made.
On the plus side more 25lb+ salmon were caught than in recent years but overall salmon catches (8221) were down 7% on 2015 (8644).
Sea trout catches were disappointing in 2016 after two years of improved catches, the numbers were smaller than any of the previous 10 seasons, in all parts of the river. 2016 brown trout catch rates were similar to the previous 10 years with a slightly above-average catch of trout over 25cm.