Sir – What has irked me and inspired me to put pen to paper is a couple of things in relation to the way things have changed over the years to the point where our grandfathers, if they were to suddenly appear, would believe they were living in a police state.
Bonar Bridge has very little to offer in comparison to the days before the Dornoch Bridge by-passed it and it is only thanks to dedicated community volunteers that the place is kept alive.
It is pleasant, therefore, to see the odd youngster or tourist stop near the bridge and get out their fishing rod for what is an innocent and pleasurable pastime.
What is not enjoyable viewing, however, is when the bailiffs decide to interfere to the point of getting the police involved over what ought to be every person’s right.
A neighbour of mine, and long time resident of Bonar, was recently approached in his own front garden and told to stop fishing with a worm; he was then informed that the official bailiffs would arrive which they duly did. Unfortunately for them, though, their interpretation of the law was incorrect. The fact is that it is OK to fish in tidal waters which in this case would mean as far up as Rosehall, with non-vertebrae bait, of which a worm is, for anything except salmon or sea trout.
Our grandfathers would be astonished to learn that those with money and ignorance have completely and utterly altered the balance of the way things used to be.
They would be raging about the demise of almost every type of sea fish around our island nation coastline due to the crass and complete mismanagement by politicians in London.
They would be spitting feathers for instance to learn that almost every salmon net station has been bought out by wild fish interests, putting men out of work but worse, causing a vast increase in the population of a natural and extremely efficient predator which used to be kept in check by these nets men.
Hydro schemes also have proved equally effective in almost completely blocking access to spawning grounds despite expensive fish ladders and lifts and tagging operations.
Some river trusts are enjoying the most abundant angling season since records began.
Others however affected by problems already mentioned are thrashing about looking for others to blame and in so doing they are continuing to spout untruths and lies for instance about sea lice from salmon farms.
In 1983 I was briefly an angling ghillie on loch Maree. The guests and ghillies bemoaned the lack of salmon and sea trout at that time on what used to be an iconic fishing destination. There were no salmon farms on loch Ewe until 1986 which the tributary from Maree ran to.
There were however seals in loch Maree in 1983 – I saw them. There has also been continuous and unrecorded introductions of trout by river boards almost everywhere since the late 1800s. Trout are carnivorous and will consume eggs, alevin, fry and smolts depending on their size.
So my suggestion is this:
To the river boards, make sure your employees have their facts right and are not there to justify their own existence. Build a rapport with other stakeholders, discover the real problems and instead of considering them to be too large to tackle, think outside the box and do not misinform the public about anything; we live in a more enlightened age and the days of the educated robbing the illiterate, while not gone, are hopefully decreasing.
To my fellow traveller, know the law, question everything and don’t believe the propaganda.
2 Carron Place,