Cod and ling on the line for Hebridean anglers this year

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The 2017 Fishing season is in full swing now and fishing has been pretty good for saltwater anglers in particular.

The West Side has produced decent catches of Haddock, Cod and Ling.

The Butt of Lewis has been producing excellent fishing when weather and tides permit. I think there has even been a slight improvement on the Minch side of the island where hooking the odd Cod and Ling is now a real possibility.

So things are looking a bit brighter from a sea anglers perspective.

As far as brown trout are concerned the season started with very poor condition trout but now trout have improved in condition and it is well worth a cast for trout with a decent bag a distinct possibility.

Superb Trout of 3lb to 4lb and even 5lb have been landed on bait and spinner over the season so far, although the location of these catches, has been kept under lock and key with typical fisherman stealth.

To be honest I have not cast a line for Salmon this year but it is something I hope to do in the next couple of weeks.

I have to admit I detect local angling enthusiasm is on the wane as far as fishing for these now rare and elusive fish is concerned. Because of the strict rules and regulations now in place I’m afraid salmon fishing has become a lot less attractive prospect for anglers who still see a prize catch as an opportunity to provide a tasty meal, not just an opportunity to share a picture on social media, before releasing their prize catch back into the water.

Sadly estate workers and angling clubs will tell you stocks have become so low on most local rivers that the numbers are half what they were even last season and last year was a poor season.

It is particularly worrying the Creed system is producing very little fish and “no fish produces little interest” and a lack of new anglers taking up the sport has a knock on effect on all who rely on a decent run of Salmon to make a living.

To be honest I see very few young anglers taking up the sport in comparison to when the Creed was producing good numbers of fish after a successful re stocking programme a number of years back.

Another worrying trend is the numbers of tiny fish being caught, some estate workers estimating a large number 2lb fish being caught?

One local angler I spoke to has had 8 salmon this year and 7 of them were under 3lb.I wonder if it would be a good idea to take scale samples from these fish to verify where they have really swam around in the waters of the Faroe islands or not?

I appreciate there are other factors involved in the demise of salmon numbers not least the inability to cull seal numbers and parr eating birds and not every system would enjoy the same success rate but the reality is very few rivers are doing well anywhere that do not have a decent hatchery re stocking programme.

However despite the growing concern there is still nothing quite like the sound of a screaming reel with a summer grilse stripping line and leaping out of the water in front of you and it is still worth a visit to local estates that provide daily permits such as Barvas, Garynahine, Gress and Fideach, who all do daily permits for salmon and sea trout fishing at very reasonable prices, and I would also encourage a visit to the Creed especially when it is in spate and certainly have a go on Loch Clachan and Ois which will always hold fish at this time of the season.

Remember the annual Dolly Duncan Cup 26th Aug at Loch Fhir Mhaoil 8am.

It’s time to dust down the salmon tackle and persevere.

Tight lines this September!