2021 season review

The season 2021 is now finished and will be remembered for low water and lack of rain from mid-June. Frequently through the season rain clouds headed for the Helmsdale catchment then veered past and fell on neighbouring rivers. Water was low by mid-summer. The compensation water behind Badanloch Dam was critical in preserving some flow on the 24 miles of Helmsdale angling water through to rain in late September.

Covid restrictions limited the amount of fishing to efforts by local anglers until the end of April. Fortunately in that time fishing conditions were good. Fishing on the private beats resumed its normal pattern in the last week in April. The rod catch for the season topped 1,000 fish which in light of the warm dry summer was reasonable. It was comforting at any rate that the Scottish government recognised, as Covid took a grip on the country’s well-being, that outdoor activity including fishing in rivers posed a lesser threat than meeting indoors.

The capture of broodstock for the Helmsdale hatchery continued in October and the requisite breeding fish were quickly caught. The DNA programme with the University of the Highlands and Islands to determine the effect of the hatchery programme on the migration continues and accumulates more evidence with every year.

Spawning is presently taking place and good numbers of pairs are visible in the upper

Looking forward to 2022 the Helmsdale River Board welcomes visiting anglers to its Open Days, starting on January 11th 2022.

Fishing will be open to all visitors without charge from Tuesday 11th January through to Monday 24th January. Angling will be by fly only and in accordance with government regulations all fish must be returned. The hooking of kelts in the tails of wider pools should be avoided if possible. If hooked, kelts should be played as fast as possible and returned.

The beat system is suspended for the Open Days and anglers may fish anywhere they choose.

Every angler must check in at the tackle shop in the Helmsdale high street, Glencoast. The
telephone number of the shop is 01431 821372, or: info@glencoast.co.uk.

Whatever travel and other restrictions are current will be adhered to and the event is contingent on government regulations at the time.

The opening ceremony, including the Sutherland Schools Pipe Band, will start at 10am. Anglers are asked not to fish before it finishes.

The Board looks forward to a good salmon and sea-trout migration in 2022 and an enjoyable time for all anglers in the Strath of Kildonan’s wild and beautiful scenery during the whole angling season.

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