IT’S THE dry season for news. Those  summer holiday dog days when newspapers up and down the land trawl through the cuttings and weekly newspapers for a useful story to follow up and fill all those gaping empty column inches.

River Lochy salmon

ALL ROUND PERFECTION: Richard Allen's 21-lb fresh-run River Lochy salmon fell to a size 8 gold-shank Cascade double on the Croy pool

So readers of The Times – at least those who still pay to read it  – might be forgiven for giving more than a second glance at a story yesterday which suggests that Scotland’s rivers have all but dried up making them “virtually uninhabitable” to fish, especially precious salmon.

The story reported that anglers are finding it “nigh impossible to reel anything in, and of those fish that are found, some have had their bellies rubbed raw by the gravel of the river bed.” It quoted river owners in Angus and Kincardine bemoaning the poor water levels and went on to extract an anodyne comment from a hapless VisitScotland official who said: “We hope that this situation doesn’t detract from anyone’s enjoyment of their trip to Scotland.”

There may have been some spluttering into Home Counties breakfast teas at the prospect of having to forego one’s spot of salmon fishing next month if the situation doesn’t improve. But the reality, as anyone with access to a river bank, or even an internet browser, can see is somewhat less hysterical.

Robert White’s Tay Salmon Fishing Blog acknowledges tougher conditions in the catchment last week but still records 65 salmon and 11 sea trout compared with 98 the previous week. On the Tweed, the Paxton netsmen had their best day of the season on July 12 with over 100 fish on the tide – mainly sea trout, but still more than 20 salmon.

On the west coast the Snizort on Skye has had a very productive start to the season  according to Derek Dowsett – and delivered four salmon in quick succession earlier this month to my occasional rod-wielding companion Richard Allen, the best a 9lb hen fish. Allen struck again on the Lochy last week with a memorable 21-pounder. The Inverness-shire river, far from being under dire threat from salmon farming plague, as some would have it, recorded “perfect running conditions for summer salmon and grilse”. John Veitch reported seven caught on Monday, three on Tuesday, three covering Wednesday and Thursday . . . and so on. A total of nine salmon and 13 grilse – all in excellent condition.

Returning from a trip to the western isles of Scotland on Sunday, I had to agree it was impossible not to see, as Veitch noted, that virtually all the spate rivers were in perfect condition for migrating fish.

Is The Times taking on the tabloids? Is this the quality of reporting the ‘top people’s paper’ readership will want to pay for?  Their staff really should get out more  . . .

Advertisements