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Tweed Salmon Fisheries

The Salmon Catch

Salmon catches on the Tweed were at their highest in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

in the 1760s, Thomas Pennant wrote:. ‘The capture of salmon in the Tweed, about the month of July is prodigious. In a good fishery a boat-load, and sometimes two, are taken in a tide. Some few years ago, there were above 700 fish taken in one haul. But from 50 to 60 is very frequent.’

In 1816, some 300,000 salmon were caught in the Tweed and in most years until the 1850s annual catches totalled over 100,000 salmon and 60,000 sea trout. The Hallowstell fishery alone recorded catches of over 16,000 salmon and as many as 9,000 sea trout in some years.

At that time, most of the salmon was exported by sea to London.

By the end of the 19th century, the annual catch had dropped to around 25,000 salmon and 20,000 sea-trout. This was due partly to pollution with dyes and other by-products from the textiles mills higher up the Tweed. Stocks were also being depleted by the fleets of steam trawlers operating off the Northumberland coast.

Extracts from contemporary newspapers relating to the Tweed salmon catch in Victorian times