FOR A long time, few would have disputed the reputation of the River Tweed as Britain’s best salmon fishery. In recent years, there has been a reduction in the number of salmon returning to the Tweed, particularly towards the back-end of the season. However, it remains one of the most productive rivers in Scotland.
Early season usually offers the best value for money, and the Tweed offers a good chance of a fly-caught springer. Similar to the Tay, fresh fish should enter the system throughout the course of the year. As the weather warms towards May the number of fish in the river grows and water height plays a vital role in determining whether the middle or lower river will have the best sport. Fresh fish are often caught on the middle and upper beats when the water level is high. Traditionally, the Tweed has been at its fishproducing best during the cooler days of autumn. It is at this time of year that prices for prime beats rise towards £1,000 a day. In the last few seasons, the autumn fishing on the Tweed has been disappointing. It remains to be seen whether this is a blip, or the start of a trend towards more prolific spring and summer runs. No doubt the Tweed will bounce back next season to cement its title as the top river in Scotland.
Most of the sea-trout caught in the main river are taken during the day by salmon anglers as nightfishing is not usually permitted. The River Till, however, is a renowned sea-trout fishery where night-fishing is possible, and can prove to be extremely productive from May into June and July.
In terms of brown trout fishing, the River Tweed is one of the best places to target large, wild fish. Every year trout in the 3lb class are caught regularly, with one or two that push the scales considerably further. A few years ago a nine-pounder was taken on the fly. This productivity is due to prolific fly-life – hatches can be exceptional – which supports a high population of fish and allows them to grow rapidly. In spring, daytime fishing is the order of the day while those heady summer evenings give rods the best chance later in the year.
In addition to monster trout the Tweed also contains specimen grayling, with fish up to 4lb caught in recent years. The grayling fishing begins in the autumn and continues throughout the winter on the upper river and key tributaries such as the Teviot.
The ultimate prize: a Tweed salmon comes to the net.