Little gives me more pleasure than to look back at the contrast between the condition of the river when I bought it in 1997 and its condition now. Dunbeath estate is a working highland estate employing 20 people, some full time, some seasonal, all of whom are local to the area. A small part of our income derives from paying guests who come from all over the UK and beyond to enjoy fishing in the undisturbed natural habitat of the river. An even smaller part comes from the Angling Club, but that’s not what it’s there for. It exists to bring the community into our affairs, to encourage children to go out with a parent and experience at an early age the excitement of watching salmon run, to get people interested – and, to be frank, to eliminate the poaching that was the scourge of the estate under previous owners. (When I arrived there was talk of 900 fish being caught in the nets every summer.)
Launching the Club was one of the first things I did, with the great encouragement, let me say, of Mac (Henry) Young, the Head Water Bailiff, with Billy Milne and Alan Grant also as Bailiffs. It has up to twenty members. We meet once a year in April to discuss the previous season’s results, bank maintenance, croy restoration and any other points of improvement that have occurred to members during the Long Dark Hours.
Thanks to an excellent system of record-
The Angling Club
At the outset (I think it was at our very first meeting), we split the river into three beats but this showed itself to be something of a nonsense since the river is essentially a spate river and all the pools come good at roughly the same time. So now we have just one rule, that no one should hog a pool but must move on if anyone else turns up.
One of the most important duties of Club members is to report catching any farmed salmon (none so far) or seeing any diseased fish (for instance with Gyrodactylis salaris or a heavy sea louse load). The potential for disease to enter the system is a constant worry to all involved with the river.
There are other rules beside the no-
1997 total catch 0
2012 total catch 270
Morven & Maidens Pap in the distance
“The Atlantic salmon is a flagship species. If it doesn’t have the right water quality, the right water temperature and the right spawning grounds, it won’t enter the river. While it depends on the river, so does the river depend on it for an annual ingress of nutrients. It’s as simple as that. A salmon river without salmon is a dead river and who wants that? So you could say that it compels us to behave as we should behave and I for one am delighted by that.”
Owner, Dunbeath Estate.
Going forward, our primary aims are to re-
Dunbeath Water -