As the season slowly draws to its conclusion its once again time to review the Scottish salmon fishing season for 2018.
Although the River Tweed salmon fishing still has several weeks yet to run and sport can still be had on the southern rivers such as the Nith, Annan, Bladnoch and Border Esk, most other rivers, including the Tay, Spey and Dee have either closed already or have only up until the 15th October.
Regrettably, one word can summarise the 2018 season… “disappointing”. And its all down to one thing; rainfall, or to be more precise, the distinct lack thereof. Throughout the season the records were being broken; hottest temperatures, driest months, longest drought and lowest levels. The late snow in the spring had built up a store of potential melt water in the Highlands, but that was soon absorbed into the rapidly baking soil. And, as farmers were compelled to irrigate their crops, even more water was abstracted from wells and rivers and a multitude to ecological responses conspired to act against our sport.
The low, warm water triggered algal and weed growth that choked the smaller rivers and covered the stoney, gravelly bottoms of even the bigger rivers. Oxygen levels became depleted and insect life suffered. The occasional evening of active trout feeding was had, but in general the trout was notable only for their absence.
The salmon too had gone AWOL. With the water reaching the estuaries being not much more than a warm trickle, the returning salmon knew better than to enter the systems. Instead, they patrolled out at sea and at the estuaries’ peripheries, waiting for things to change. However, such forced prevarication is a dangerous thing in a sea over-populated by greedy seals and dolphins. These protected species had a gluttonous summer and damaged as many fish as they ate.
From a personal perspective however, there was one “star performer” worthy of special note. The extreme low water did little to dissuade the sea trout on the upper Spey from making an appearance and my beloved Kinchurdy beat had a great summer.
Such is fishing… too much of one thing or not enough of another! Bring on 2019!