In an autumn of wind, rain and snow the dry warm summer of 2022 seems a long way off. The Helmsdale with the aid of compensation water released from Badanloch dam managed to maintain catches throughout the year. Intermittent light rain helped to freshen the flows even though river levels did not markedly rise all through the summer.
The rod catch for the season was around 1300 fish, a considerable increase on 2021. The grilse run was believed to be stronger than in the two previous years.
Spawning took place before heavy rain had arrived and good numbers of spawners were seen in every part of the catchment. With eventual high water in mid-November spawners were swept to sea and few kelts were found in backwaters and bays.
Looking forward to 2023 the Helmsdale River Board welcomes all anglers to its Open Days starting 11th January.
Fishing will be open to all visitors without charge until Monday 23rd January. Anglers must sign in at the tackle shop Glencoast in the High St giving their addresses. Angling is by fly only and all fish must be returned.
The hooking of any remaining kelts must be avoided where possible. Kelts are potentially multi sea-winter returning fish, the most valuable component of the stock. They need all their strength of the enormous migration ahead.
For the Opening Days the beat system is suspended and anglers may fish anywhere they choose. Fishing above the Falls on beat 6, however, is not permitted. No early salmon are likely to have got that far anyway. The river below the Falls constitutes the major part of the fishing.
The opening ceremony, complete with piping, will take place at 10am on the 11th. Anglers are asked not to commence fishing until the opening cast has been taken by a local angler.
The Board looks forward to a good salmon and sea-trout migration in 2023 and wishes all anglers an enjoyable time for the forthcoming fishing season.
16th December 2022.