9 July 2018

The River Helmsdale is in the 8th week without rain. Days are mostly in full sunlight, although there has usually been a welcome breeze. Nights are sometimes cool.

Up until now the compensatory loch-water retained by the Badanloch Dam has provided a better flow in the river. But inevitably the long drought is taking its toll and catches have dropped significantly.

The fish counter shows that salmon, grilse and sea-trout are running into the river still, usually at night. It appears they enter the freshwater, find a deeper hole or a streamy run, and then remain doggo. The movement of fish over the fish-counter in May and June was good. Runs have been late but in larger numbers than last year.

The water heated to over 23 degrees on some days. This occasioned fungal problems with some fish showing white noses and behaving languidly. In recent days this appears to have reduced. To date there are only 2 known cases of deaths.

One ghillie witnessed an otter cornering a small salmon in a low-water pool, catch it in its mouth, and carry it up the bank and away.

When the rain eventually arrives it will be interesting to see how the salmon and grilse behave.

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