The River Tweed Commission has published its 2017 Annual Report including catches for the season.
With an overall Salmon catch of 7,003 (8,221 in 2016), 2017’s catch was down by 15% on the previous season. 6,577 Salmon (7,680 in 2016) were caught by rod and line and 426 (541) by net; 83%, 5,487 fish, of the total rod catch was returned (85% in 2016).
Tweed continued to catch more Salmon than any other river in the UK although the downward catch trend continued, as it did elsewhere; this was not helped by the lack of angling effort on the river at times, which may have depressed the catch still further. The early months of Spring did not produce many fish but, for the first time on Tweed, the catches during the summer months of 1 June to 31 August (2,700) were practically equal to the autumn season of 1 September to 30 November (2,712). Fishing in September was better than last season with 1,159 caught (887, 2016), but the last two months of the season showed a 38% drop on 2016 (2,510 in 2016; 1,553 in 2017). The November catch in 2015 and 2016 was low but consistent (603, 2015; 609, 2016) but this season dropped to just 374. There was a large-scale collapse of Grilse across the whole of the UK.
There were many reports of earlier spawning, with fish in the Upper Tweed seen pairing up in October and, in some areas, September. In some instances that contributed to the lack of angling effort in the back end, with some fisheries closing earlier so as not to cast over spawning fish or redds.
Whilst angler reports of less fish in the river were widespread, that was not borne out by the results from The Tweed Foundation’s fish counter on the Gala Water – monitoring a summer stock – and which had recorded 1,100 fish moving upstream, indicating that egg deposition would be well in excess of requirements. The Tweed Foundation’s annual monitoring of the juvenile stocks also confirmed that the headwaters and smaller burns were stocked to capacity in 2017, a recovery from the extremely depressed results the previous year.
Lower and Middle Tweed catches continued to fall, with a marginal increase continuing on the upper river as in the previous two seasons. The tributaries caught few fish, and remained in line with the five-year average figures.
The 2017 Sea-trout catch was 2,594 (1,671 in 2016), of this 1,939 (1,280 in 2016) were caught by rod and line and 655 (391) by net; 62% (57% in 2016) of rod caught Sea-trout were returned. Following a poor year’s catch the previous season, 55% more Sea-trout were reported in 2017, which also represented an 12% increase on the 2015 figure (2,323).
Brown trout catches were variable, with no overall trend in the 2017 season, although all catch rates were within the usual range recorded by the Tweed Trout & Grayling Initiative over the last 12 years. The Upper Tweed catch returns showed average catches for 25cms+ Brown trout, lower for smaller sizes, but with catches of larger trout (40cms +) well above the average. The general view from the Lower and Middle Tweed was that it had been a poor season, although this was not entirely supported by the data gathered: analysis of the Middle Tweed returns for the season showed that catches of +25cms Brown trout were fractionally above average. The Lower Tweed catches were a little below average, but still notably higher than three recent years. Whilst many anglers commented on the poor fishing conditions in the first half of the season (when the best catches are usually expected), the returns suggested that on the few occasions when conditions were favourable, some good catches were made.
The RTC Annual Report 2017 includes the Chairman’s Report and further information about the Commission’s work during the year, together with catch and trend graphs.