Season 2015 ended with dry weather and the summer we had all missed. July was the coldest it had been in Scotland for many years. Catches have yet to be finalised but the river will end with somewhere over 1400 fish caught by rods, which although below average, is better than in 2013.
A larger number of salmon and grilse than normal showed signs of seal and dolphin damage.
Our support for local angling and communities has continued with a party of children from Helmsdale being successfully introduced by the water bailiffs to catching fish on the river at the end of the season.
Electro-fishing and the continuation of the Helmsdale’s excellent long-term database of survival of young fish in the system was hampered in the cool summer by high water and turbid conditions in the burns. Fewer sites than normal were counted and measured. Where it could be satisfactorily done, populations of young salmon were found to be healthy, in good numbers, and in fit condition.
Scale-reading will in due course provide a picture of the age structure of fish returning to the Helmsdale in 2015. This season the number of salmon over 20 pounds was higher than average.
Supplying broodstock for the hatchery will, as usual, be done by rod and line with the assistance of local anglers. Hatchery fish will all continue to be profiled for their DNA allowing the contribution of the hatchery to salmon migrations to be measured.