LETTER: Anglers do not damage salmon stocks

I HAVE never set out to be a mouthpiece for disgruntled anglers in Galloway but I am regularly approached by anglers with serious points to make. I must state at the outset that I have never caught a spring salmon in my life and I have had a season ticket on the Cree since 1968.

No-one is more focused on the wellbeing of salmon than I am. During the 1970s, I attended extramural courses for two years under the tuition of Professor Derek Mills at Edinburgh University.

During this time I became a founder member of the Scottish branch of the Institute of Fisheries Management. Dr Mills, among his many other accomplishments, was the gentleman who founded the Atlantic Salmon Trust.

Jamie Hyslop states in his letter (The Galloway Gazette, February 10) that worm anglers, even with the latest restrictions, still have 15 weeks in which to fish. Nothing could be further from the truth. It would have to rain every second day to keep the water above the spinning marks.

I know in some summers it feels this is the case but in others we can go five or six weeks with no rain. This means fly anglers have 195 days to fish the Cree while a bait angler can be lucky to get between 10 and 15 days.

In one infamous season the water in the Cree had dwindled until it was barely flowing, salmon had congregated in a few of the deeper pools and foul hooking became so rife that the Newton Stewart Angling Association had to ban all river fishing. The foul hooking was all done by anglers fishing teams of flies.

It was brought up at the association’sw last AGM that certain factions want shrimp fishing to be allowed. Fishing with shrimp is banned in Scotland. It would appear that some anglers on private stretches of the Cree have jumped the gun. People walking the river after a flood have seen pieces of shrimp being washed down. If Mr Hyslop thinks someone who deliberately breaks the law of Scotland will return his catch to the water, he is naive.

Sea-trout fishing has been virtually non-existent for years, and, if the angling press is to be believed, the culprits are sea lice from farmed salmon cages. Perhaps all the west coast river boards should concentrate their ire on the salmon farms rather than pick on anglers who have virtually no effect on fish populations.

It is not all doom and gloom for spring salmon, however: my good friend Wullie Laurie, sadly no longer with us, told me the fish of the 2011 spring run were the biggest he had ever seen in the Minnoch. He had seen greater numbers in the past but last year fish of up to 20lbs were taken.

If preserving salmon is the main object of river boards, why were 20 large fish allowed to batter themselves to death in cages set to catch brood fish for the River Bladnoch hatchery?

John Livingstone,

Legerwood, Newton Stewart.