Salmon Run on the Whiteadder

A flaming red spray fired from the lashing tail as the fish struggled to escape into deeper water

The summer of 2011 proved to be a problem time for the salmon fishing on the the Borders river Whiteadder. Essentially a spate river the Whiteadder needs water to allow the fish to surmount several 'caulds' or weirs. While the lower Tweed fished it's socks of eventually producing one of the best ever salmon fishing seasons, our 'Whittie' fish were held back by low water.

Salmon off course will push on, regardless, towards the end of the season when the breeding urge overpowers the need for caution. So it came to pass that walking the dog seemed to be more productive, luckily as it happened with my camera to hand. The cauld at Hutton acts a significant barrier to running fish but is not unbeatable to determined fish.

While Bonnie demanded that I chucked sticks for her (will she never tire) I approached the cauld and found several fish attempting the central flow where there is a break in the barrier. Below the cauld there is a shallow concrete apron, water barely 4 inches deep so it came as a surprise when a fish rolled in what turned out to be a pothole in the apron. What a fish! A blood red spray of rich sand laden water lashed from her tail as she grounded against the cauld wall exposed in her full autumn glory.

Trapped by the shallows the fish spent the next hour or so trying to escape back to the main stream giving me some rare opportunities to photograph her until at last she braved the shallows and returned to the main pool.

It never ceases to amaze me what salmon will attempt when the late season urge is upon them. The only real way forward during daylight was the small gap in the middle of the cauld. I guess the big lass lost her away ending up in the shallows.

A few weeks later conditions changed and the spate came, with the spate came the fish, lots of fish and for me personally my season was saved with some fine back end fish coming to the net. Meanwhile, a mile up stream from Hutton at the SEPA station fish were busy running.