The annual Earlston Grayling Competition was fished on the Middle Tweed on Saturday by 49 Grayling anglers from around the UK. The catch and release competition is organised by the Earlston Angling Association and has been running for over 20 years. The 2018 champion was Mike Cordiner with 14 Grayling, second place was Billy Davidson (10) with Grant Gibson in third (6). Mike was presented with the ELM trophy in the Black Bull in Earlston at the end of the competition and is the first angler to win the competition in back to back years.
As with each year the catch data from the competition is donated to the Tweed Foundation to provide information on Tweed Grayling stocks. The 2018 average catch rate of 1.8 Grayling per angler is slightly below the competition average of 2.1. However the catches per fishing beat could only be described as “patchy” with one of the 15 beats fished providing over a third of the catch and a number of beats providing nil returns. One of the benefits of having over 20 years of catch returns is that it has shown that Grayling numbers go through “peaks” and “troughs” based on natural variations in survival of year classes. The catches may be below average at present but the competition returns have shown that numbers can recover very quickly with one of highest catch returns on record (4.3 Grayling per angler in 2013) coming immediately after one of the lowest (1.1 Grayling per angler in 2012). The catches also show that decent fishing can still be had even in the below average years and one of the features of the 2018 catches was one of the highest recorded numbers of large Grayling over 45cm.