Time for discussion.....

Ronald Sutherland

As a Fishing Tackle shop owner in Helmsdale I continually get asked by anglers from all over the world via the shop and email etc "can I fish on the Helmsdale river"
My answer is always "yes, on the Association water only".
The Fishery Review is soon to consult apparently on the setting up of new Fishery Management Organisations to replace and update the current Fishery Board management system which has been in place since the 1800s. Now is time to revisit the rodding arrangements on the Helmsdale river and bring the rotation up to date and fit for purpose in today's society.

People ask "how many rods are available on the Helmsdale river"
I say - 12 visitor + approx 70 local on 1 mile of tidal water
They say - what about above the Association water?
I say - 12 rods on 23 miles of water
They say - can I fish there?
I say - no
They say - why not?
I say - because we are not permitted to fish there.
They say - who is stopping me fishing there
I say - the landowners
They say - why?
I say - because there are no rods available
They say - what do you mean no rods available
I say - there are no rods for sale.
They say - why not
I say - because each beat is limited to 2 rods
They say - why only 2 rods
I say - because the landowners say so
They say - so no local consultation on the matter
I say - no
They say - is there room for more rods
I say - landowners don't think so
They say - do you think so
I say - yes
They say - but there is room on the Association water for 72 rods
I say - obviously
They say - that does not add up
I say - I agree
They say - can the owners count
I say - I would assume so
They say - so how do 12 rods divide into 23 miles and 72 into 1 mile
I say - because the landowners say so
They say - but that's not fair
I say - they think it is obviously
They say - what do other locals think
I say - they are not supposed to think
They say - what do you mean
I say - we get what we are given
They say - but that's Kinda mob rule is it not
I say - it's not, the Scottish Govt are labeled the control freaks
They say - what do you think
I say - it's a bit of both, there are no winners.
They say - are the estates making a profit
I say - no
They say - how do you know this
I say - because they say so in various docs/media
They say - do they charge for fishing 12 rods
I say - yes, handsomely
They say - do they charge enough for fishing 12 rods
I say - I would assume so.
They say - why are they not making a profit then
I say - I don't know, maybe they have big bills
They say - do they make an income from other activities, stalking, farming etc
I say - yes
They say - why do they not increase income by letting more rods fish on the river.
I say - I don't know
They say - is there demand
I say - there is a very long waiting list
They say - well they should add more rods then
I say - they don't want to
They say - why not
I say - they don't want to
They say - why not
I say - because they don't want to make money obviously
They say - that's just stupid
I say - I agree
They say- how much would another 2 rods per estate generate
I say - approx £100,000 per estate
They say - you gotta be kidding
I say - no
They say - it's a no brainer
I say - obviously not
They say - are these people sane
I say - I don't know
They say - so estates don't currently make a profit
I say - apparently not
They say - well whats stopping them adding more rods
I say - I don't know
They say - have you asked them
I say - yes
They say - what was their answer
I say - they said it would upset their current clients
They say - are they running their estates as a business
I say - I don't know but it would appear not
They say - so they are happy not making money
I say - obviously
They say - why
I say - because they see themselves as custodians of the land not businessmen maybe
They say - what!!
I say - they say they are not here to make money.
They say - well that's ridiculous
I say - they say they do not run their estates for commercial gain
They say - how do you know that
I say - because a report commissioned by the proprietors says so
They say - where does it say that
I say - in a "Report on the economic affect of salmon fishing on the river Helmsdale" 2012 page 5 para 6 view here -
They say - so the landowners have said on the record that they do not run their estates for economic gain
I say - yes
They say - well that's unbelievable
I say - yes it is
They say - how much would 12 extra rods generate for the local economy
I say - approx £1,000,000 (1 million) including £600,000 from extra fishing lets and the obvious significant knock on effect from local spend including accom, shopping, dining, ghillies etc etc
They say - what do you base that figures on
I say - the figures are based on an Economic survey of the Kyle of Sutherland rivers by Glasgow Caledonian Uni in 2007
They say - so you think the Helmsdale river has the ability to possibly generate an extra 1 million for the economy and not harm fragile salmon stocks
I say - yes, the survey stated 7 years ago that the 5 Kyle of Sutherland rivers generate almost 4 million for the local economy (page 3 table 1)
They say - WOW can I see the survey
I say - yes you can view it right here -
They say - so what are they waiting for
I say - I don't know
They say - they should add 12 more rods to the rotation asap
I say - yes that would be welcomed
They say - does the river operate on full catch & release
I say - almost with possible full c & r legislation as soon as 2016
They say - so no detrimental effects to salmon stocks from extra killing
I say - no, not if fish are handled properly.
They say - really, so what are they waiting for
I say - I don't know
They say - why don't they trial more rods for a year or two
I say - I don't know
They say - do you think this would work
I say - yes absolutely, there are more than 50 rods permitted to fish on the middle Dee on 15 miles of river double bank as just one example, we currently have 12 rods fishing 24 miles.
They say - so the Helmsdale is very exclusive
I say - it's beyond exclusive, it is stuck in a time warp and therefore makes no money as landowners have already stated.
They say - would adding more rods create more jobs locally
I say - yes, 6 more ghillies and more seasonal staff in hotels local businesses and on estates etc
They say - how would you integrate 12 new rods
I say - we have 12 beats, 6 below falls and 6 above so 2 rods start above and 2 down and swap beats at lunchtime.
They say - sounds simple
I say - yes it is
They say - would there be enough room for the extra rods
I say - yes absolutely
They say - what if there is no water
I say - there is always water
They say - why
I say - we have a dam with in excess of 3 billion gallons of compensation water
They say - so you have the luxury of extra water on tap if required
I say - yes
They say - awesome! Landowners should therefore add extra rods.
I say - yes that would make sense and re-invigorate the area
They say - yes it would so they better tell their clients that they will have a new rotation system on the river soon
I say - yes they should, they are the owners and run the fishing.
They say - do you think the current clients will be angry and leave
I say - no they will get used to it and end up covering more water, they will not give up their fishing on the Helmsdale, no chance,
They say - maybe overall rod prices could decrease slightly if more rods were introduced
I say - that could happen
They say - more beginners and kids could be introduced into the sport
I say - yes
They say - well thats good then isn't it
I say - yes very good
They say - well that will probably lead to more fish getting caught
I say - yes probably
They say - so that means more anglers will be happy
I say - yes a win win situation, more employment, more benefit for the local economy and estates, more salmon getting caught, all good
They say - can I put my name down for 2 rods please
I say - watch this space.......

Lets open this debate properly - I have added this to the "river rodding discussion" in the Helmsdale River Forum. I think the area deserves it...simply sign in with an email address and username and you have instant access - this is sure to be a very hot topic so get stuck in but do not forget, this is all for the good of the river and the area.



No 3 off

Ronald Sutherland

The week is getting better - Kildonan Ghillie Martin Grant has landed No 3 from Salscraggie pool once again. The sea-liced fish weighed in at around 11lbs.

Colin Armer, Brora, has caught the second fish of the season from Salscraggie pool beat 1. Colin was fishing Achentoul rods and the bar of silver weighed in at a healthy 12lbs. The fly was a red & yellow conehead home tie from Colin on a 2" tube.

We are still on a buy 3 get 1 free on all flies. This great offer will run all through the spring and it is going great gunns so stock up before we run out of your favourite flies!

2014 was one of our most successful years since Helmsdale Co was formed 15 years ago. With out a doubt the internet is where you need to be as business and the international market is where it's at as we are seeing more and more anglers heading abroad to satisfy their fishing needs. The UK is still a strong market but a tad in limbo and we predict it will remain so unless salmon numbers bounce back this year and re-energise the sector.

New fly designs, additional brands & popular accessories have helped us grow year on year and our customer data base is now into 5 figures. We pride ourselves in a quality personal service over the much bigger tackle companies as we feel we need to get to know our customers and that they feel there is an experienced person answering their call - not a call centre or robot. We see this as one of the big keys to our success and cannot thank our loyal customers enough.

We have given up the Post Office wing of our business feeling that after 3 years, it was not right for us, due to a National Government Network Transformation programme, it simply had to go, but, it certainly helped expand our local client base by showcasing our full range of products to people that otherwise would not have visited the local "fishing" shop.

Fulling Mill salmon flies are going from strength to strength worldwide due to our continued engagement with the company and more flies and ideas are in the pipeline. Our Helmsdale Co fly brand remains our premium range and we also have a good selection of Caledonian flies. We have flies for everyone and prices and offers to suit all pockets. This year we will be expanding our saltwater and freshwater predator range of lures as well as adding more hooks from market leader Mustad. Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit fishing is gaining popularity globally as is bass, pollock & seatrout fishing on the Uk coastline.

On another note we are witnessing major developments on the fishery management front which are sure to affect our business in the long term. The distinct possibility of Sunday salmon fishing is in the air for the first time. Sunday is the busiest recreational day of the week for families generally so the area is sure to welcome more anglers fishing for salmon & seatrout, however, a national Rod License (if introduced) may hamper day trippers by adding a significant cost. Hopefully any rod license is graded in some way. There are many other recommendations as a result of the recent Freshwater Fishery Review, some of which are set to re-write the whole fishery management framework. This has mixed appeal as there is sure to be much more bureaucracy involved stretching Boards & Tackle shops to the limit with carcass tagging systems and licensing docs etc etc. We have some great chat about all this on the Helmsdale River Forum right now, just sign in with an email address and username to check it all out and take part.

On the local fishing front, all is quiet. Absolutely nothing is happening anywhere. Junction pool on the Tweed is the only place producing the goods with over 40 springers accounted for in the opening 2 weeks.

Thank you for your continued support and here are a few recent pics from our shop.

The latest waterproof jackets from Loop , Simms, Vision, Snowbee etc

Top reels from Loop, hardy, Vision, Shakespeare...

All the rocket launching line technology from Loop, Mackenzie, Carron, GaelForce, Scientific Anglers & Rio

The top nets from Fastnet and weigh nets from Mclean

Waders from Simms, Vision, Scierra, Ocean & Snowbee

All the sinking tips and leaders required

A large range of fly-tying materials with the superb Foxy Tails now onboard.

All the bits & bobs, flasks, flyboxes, rod holders, waterproofing spray, shooting pellets etc etc

Salmon rods of all prices from Loop, Mackenzie, Guideline, Greys, Shakespeare...

Pop in for a chat next time you are in the great to see you!



And so it begins...

Ronald Sutherland

And so it begins!

The latest government consultation on the possible introduction of carcass tagging and a license to kill salmon in Scotland. View it and reply here -

Because of the nature of the topic (anglers will want to interact on the subject) Please sign into the Helmsdale river forum on the left hand side of this page where I have started a new thread laying out exactly how I think this latest Government proposal will unfold. I am basing my comments on the fact that I believe these measures are probably going to get the nod. This is set to be a HOT topic! Signing in is easy and like any other Forum, just make up a username and password and you are instantly in - there are currently 76 users.

There were no fish reported from the river last week but as usual, the river was very lightly fished. However, springers are getting caught on the Dee, Tweed, Tay and I heard of a first from Loch Ness.

Our "BUY 3 get 1 FREE" spring fly fly offer is going very well. If you have not yet taken advantage of this offer please do asap while stocks last. Once we are out of certain flies, we are out Cool



Unsettled conditions hampering fishing.

Ronald Sutherland

Don't forget we are still in a "buy 3 get 1 free" mode on all flies throughout the spring. So far we have had gmajor takeup on this cracking deal which means you are getting top quality flies for real good prices so long as you purchase in multiples of 3, this does not have to be the same fly either, mix and match as much as you like and we will add the free flies based on your order. Get stuck in as we have some amazing new flies on offer - check out the "Hot new RS flies" category.

Please also feel free to bid on the Archie Foundation fishing lots on the last fishing report or my personal facebook page, some interesting lots there and all for a great cause, Well done to Dawn Cowie for organinsing. Bids close Feb 28th and if you want to be called during the actual Auction on the night please leave a contact number with us.

The river was all over the place last week as water levels and temperatures fluctuated almost daily. Kelts were the norm once again for the few hardy rods that ventured out for a cast. Generally we are blasted down the glen by North Westerlies but as you can see from the pic below, we have a blizzard closing in and working up the river for a change from the North East, not the most pleasant conditions!

The tail end of Kilphedir pool looking as magestic as ever was dropping fast and running around 3ft when the photo was taken.

Good luck to all who are fishing opening days tomorrow...