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Tweed Salmon Fisheries

Close Time

Salmon fishing on the Tweed was closely regulated as early as the 12th century, during the reign of King William the Lion of Scotland.

Over the years, the length of the annual netting season has varied, in an attempt to improve the chances of the salmon reaching the upper waters to spawn.

Medieval Scottish kings imposed a sentence of death on anyone who broke the close time for a third time!

In the 16th century, the annual close time ran from Michaelmas (29th September) to Candlemas (2nd February). Anyone breaking this rule could be fined 6s 9d and have his coble and net confiscated. By 1849, the fine had risen to £10 and confiscation of net and coble.

According to Dr. Fuller’s “History of Berwick-upon-Tweed”, in 1799 salmon fishing began on 10th January and ended on 10th October.

Salmon-fishing on Sundays has always been banned. Originally, the weekly close time, or “slap” ran from just before midnight on Saturday to 6.00 a.m. on Monday. The start was later moved to 6.00 p.m. on Saturday and in 1987 it was brought forward again to 6.00 p.m. on Friday.

Extracts from contemporary newspapers relating to close time in Victorian times