A year on Bemersyde Beat

February seems like a long time ago, when the water came up to the steps of the hut, leaving us repairing the gravel. Trees came down, including across the drive, but at least it made plenty of wood for the fishing hut and the house! With the river rising (and falling – thankfully) by as much as seven feet in a 24-hour period, there was little to be done except to clear up the damage. The second big swell at the end of the month did cause concern - up to seven foot on the gauge again - with fears that it might alter the river bed significantly enough to damage the redds from this year’s spawning as well as smolt and small par.

March began with floods again, but our first fish of the year came on 6 March out of the Cromweil at 13lbs for Mark Hansen on a black yellow tube. The water was two foot four and clear: finally! More trees came down across the drive by the end of March, although by that stage fishing was becoming a distant dream in any case. The girls and Ian started to spend more time working in Bemerysde gardens than on the river.

The rest of the spring was so hot and dry that there would have been little fishing in any case and with the drop in people visiting the estate, we had work on our hands controlling the wildlife! Spirits were boosted with the arrival of the beautiful new boat, but she would have to lie idle a little while until we were allowed to launch. By the end of April, the water was so low, we could see stones that hadn’t been visible for 20 years. We were doubly frustrated by Covid and the dry weather, but at least Bemersyde sits in such stunning scenery, enabling us to get out and see such beautiful things as the view to the quarry near Scott’s View and the Big Moss.

While our annual party to celebrate the winners of the Bemersyde trophy will have to wait, we were delighted to announce Jonathan Murray and Samuel Ackroyd as overall and junior winners for 2019. Jonathan landed his 35lber on a Calvin shrimp conehead in the Black Strand Pool at Fairnilee in November 2019 and Samuel caught his salmon on a Red Francis in Bemersyde’s Boat Pool in October 2019. We congratulate them on their catches and look forward to celebrating them in person as soon as is permitted.

And then it came, a glorious day at the end of May when we were allowed back on the river. It was hot and dry, but we were catching fish again. Moving into June, Nick Green had a nice fish out of the Boat Pool and new syndicate member Colin Halliday landed an eight-pounder out of the tail of the stream.

Fiona Brown was one of the first people to fish the River Tweed in Scotland after lockdown restrictions were eased and she was gracious enough to talk to ITV Border about the resumption of angling at Bemersyde. Sadly no fish for her that day, but she did land an eight-pounder out of the stream at the beginning of June. There was an extraordinary week at the beginning of the June for the fish just kept coming: five in three days, some more lost and one that got away as Ian was trying to tag it! After an extraordinary thunderstorm Alex Barclay caught two fish out of the stream and there was a super day at the end of June, with five salmon and one trout.

July started with great promise and, happily, a trout for Ian Farr‘s grandson, Alex, out of Woodside. By the second week of July the water was high and deep brown and we were only able to use the lower half mile of the beat, but we were still landing fish: 29 salmon and nine sea trout. We also saw the first grilse of the season.

Into August and there was a good rise of water. We were finally allowed to use the new boat and caught a couple of old spring fish going up to spawn out of the Boat Pool. There was a big excitement at the end of the month with the screening of BBC 2’s Gone Fishing with Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse and we were finally able to put an end to the speculation that Paul Whitehouse did, in fact, CATCH A SALMON!

By the end of August it was extremely wet, with flooding taking the levels up to nearly six foot on the gauge, but there were still some fish about to catch.

The start of September was a perfect illustration of how perplexing, pleasing and frustrating fishing is. One day the water was like beer, but we caught five salmon and one trout; the next day we had perfect conditions but didn’t land a single thing! The month progressed with some great fishing, including 15-pounders for Peter Abraham out of the Cromweil and for James Benbow out of the Dish.

The start of October began with low water and low expectations, but we had some super fish weighing up to 16lb. The torrential rain gave Ian sleepless nights and he was down at the boats at 4am at one point making sure they did not wash away as the water hit eight foot on the gauge. The rest of the month but brought some glorious fishing and a better autumn than had been seen for years.

ITV Border came back at the end of October to film for Border Life and All Around Britain, to talk about the rise in the popularity of fishing over lockdown: how good it is for body and soul as well as social-distancing in that you are well advised to remain more than two metres away from anyone casting in any case!

The fish kept coming. Some high waters receded and one week yielded 13 fish, including one tagged by Ian in July this year. The season was rounded off very nicely with a super fish from the Boat Pool for Alex Barclay weighing in at 17lb.

All in all, it has been a great season, with 139 salmon and sea trout caught here at Bemersyde. We have had more sea trout and a better autumn than in recent years and, given current trends we are anticipating a really good spring. Is it too much to wish for the right amount of rain at the right time?

To all of you who have fished at Bemersyde and who follow our page, thank you for your support. We wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas, a happy New Year and the very best for 2021.