17 June 2014

We are now half-way through the summer and the first grilse and early sea-trout have arrived. So far the season has been just below average in terms of catches. In May 180 were caught on the private beats against an average of a little over 200. Around a dozen salmon have been around the 20 pounds class. The Helmsdale has always been a river where beginners have a decent chance of a first salmon and yesterday that happy accomplishment was logged once more.

The water in mid-June has become quite warm. Recent weather has been overcast and rainy with fluctuating levels. Midges started in the second week in June. Fish runs over the counter have been steady.

Research work on habitat commissioned by the Forestry Commission on the nearby River Halladale has had to be put back to a later summer session owing to fluctuating water levels.

The Board has signed up to participation in a future survey of the damage done to young migratory fish by sawbill ducks.

The local angling association is starting construction of a fishing-hut on the Lower Helmsdale, a project to which the Board has contributed assistance funding.

Several forestry projects in the catchment of the Strath of Kildonan are planned or presently being done. All of them involve the removal of pine monocultures planted at a time when forest planning was crude and unmindful of the needs of fish. In all cases the re-plant plans involve a smaller area of trees, and a mix of hardwood species which will assist improving water quality and slowing down run-off. The Board has been a consultee in these projects and is confident that long-term benefits should accrue.

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