River Tweed salmon rod catches reach record level
Salmon rod catches on a Scottish Borders river last year were the highest since records began in 1947.
The River Tweed Commission (RTC) said the figure of 23,219 for the waters in 2010 was "unprecedented".
The record year came despite a poor spring season on the 97-mile river when anglers were asked to put salmon back for conservation purposes.
RTC chairman Andrew Douglas-Home said some "almost perfect fishing conditions" had helped improve catches.
Mr Douglas-Home claimed criticism of the conservation moves had faded as angling improved along the river during the season.
He said he believed the numbers could be a record for any North Atlantic salmon river.
"Some will say it is because we fish harder, that we have a longer season than anyone else, that the average size was smaller than in the 1980s," he said.
"I have heard it all before and most of it is just not true.
"Even if the Tweed had little more than a three-month season (like many Russian, Norwegian and Icelandic rivers) from say mid-August to November, we would still have broken all records."
Mr Douglas-Home said that the sea trout and salmon runs had been aided by the weather.
He said: "Whilst it is clear that the runs were exceptional, rod catches were helped by almost perfect fishing conditions right through to the last day of the season.
"By the end of April the river was almost at summer flows and such rain as did fall over the summer itself did little to increase flows until the early autumn.
"With moderate rain throughout the autumn very few rod fishing days were lost to high water and this allowed the fish to spread throughout the system allowing most main stem rod beats to have larger catches, many of which were records."
In their annual report the Tweed Commission said that 31,321 salmon were caught in 2010, more than double the 2009 figure, of which 8,102 were caught by nets and 23,219 by rod and line.
The spring rod catch, to the end of June, of 1,445, was better than the 1,147 of 2009 but was still low compared with the recent average catch.
However 91% of fish were returned under the spring salmon conservation measures.