The 2019 season on the Helmsdale ended with reasonable catches. From July the fungus, or saprolegnia, which had afflicted the returning salmon in May and June began to fade. This coincided with the water getting warmer. By September nearly all fish were clean and they returned to taking flies in the normal manner. There was evidence on many fish of recovery from the fungus earlier in the season.
At the end of the season the capture programme for broodstock salmon was completed faster than usual. The DNA work being done to assess the contribution to migratory runs made by hatchery fry is now being undertaken by the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness. Spawning conditions in the river in November 2019 were characterised by cloudy skies and high water. Therefore, unlike in 2018, very little in detail could be seen. It appeared that spawning was
satisfactory and considerable numbers of salmon were witnessed on the redds. By mid-November most spawned salmon had returned to the sea.
The Board welcomed two local schools to the hatchery to witness stripping eggs from hen salmon, fertilisation, and eggs being placed for the winter in the egg trays. This programme will continue through into next Spring when fry are returned to suitable headwater burns in the river
The Helmsdale River Board is continuing the tradition of making Open Days available to all anglers next year without charge. The season opens on Saturday January 11th 2020 and there will be the usual ceremony in the Helmsdale High St starting at 10am. Anglers are asked not to start fishing until the ceremony ends, which is usually at around 10.45am. The Open Days end on Saturday 25th January.
Fishing will be fly only. Anglers may fish anywhere on the river. Under government regulations all fish caught must be returned. Signing in by anglers can can be done at either the Belgrave Hotel or Glencoast, the tackle-shop in the High St. Anglers are asked to return any kelts caught as fast as possible for the sake of improving their survival chance when they reach the sea.