LOCAL fishermen fear they will cast their final line into the waters of the River Tweed with the threat of a popular Peeblesshire beat being privatised.

The Crown Water beat, which runs from Manor Bridge downstream on both banks to a point opposite Haylodge in the town, has seen many an angler over the last 50 years wading into the river hoping to feel the tug of the line and reel in salmon as their prize catch of the day.

But the picturesque sight of the fisherman, waist deep in these waters could soon be a thing of the past, as Live Borders, which manages leisure facilities, has rejected the offer to renew the five year lease from Crown Estates.

Permits were issued by the Gytes leisure centre and offered as local season, visitor season and day permits.

Kenny Annand who is a member of the Peeblesshire Trout Fishing Association said that the loss of this beat will deprive many local and visiting anglers of the opportunity to fish for salmon locally.

“It is a very attractive bit of water with many good pools and streams for salmon fishing.

If we lose this beat it would leave only one very small stretch available to local anglers. This is known as The Town Water. This beat is actually owned by the people of Peebles, but it does not provide much in the way of good fishing. It runs from a point opposite Haylodge to the line of the old railway bridge just below Fotheringham Bridge.”

The whole of the Tweed is made up of individual beats, with the majority either let to syndicates or let on a daily basis with prices varying from £20 per day for off season on some upper beats to over £1000 per day on prime middle river, in peak season.

The Crown water is thought to be the only beat where season permits are available on the Tweed.

Kenny explained: “It would be a tremendous loss to Peeblesshire if this beat ended up being led to a private syndicate, as whoever takes on the lease, has first refusal on its renewal every 5 years. So it is highly unlikely that it would ever be offered to us again.”

A spokesman for Live Borders told us: "Live Borders opted not to renew the licence as the number of users each year no longer justified the renewal fee. There are alternatives for local anglers either side of the patch of river with the hotel owning at least x1 licence."

And so the town of Peebles, that ironically has three salmon on its coat of arms, could be about to lose its salmon fishing altogether.

“Salmon fishing on the Tweed, like every other river in the country has suffered a bit of a down turn over the last five years,” said Kenny. “ No-one knows for certain the exact reasons but like all natural populations, salmon numbers have fluctuated since time began.”

In 2010 the Tweed had its record year, with 23,000 salmon caught. Since 2014 the numbers have fallen rapidly with only 5644 caught in 2018.

But despite the low numbers, the Tweed was still the most productive salmon river in the UK.

Kenny added: “Many anglers tend to look back with rose tinted specks and think it was always much better in the past. Historic catch records show that is not the case. It is highly likely that the numbers will increase again, just like they have always done.”

The Crown Estates are keen for this beat to be kept available to locals and initially offered the lease to Peeblesshire Trout Fishing Association.

But due to the recent sad passing of their secretary Peter Reith, the committee felt they couldn’t take on the responsibility.

In a last ditch attempt of saving this popular salmon fishing haunt, it is hoped to reel in support from the community with a view of forming a local salmon fishing association or club.

“Unless we can get enough people interested it potentially means the loss of fishing forever,” said Kenny. “The Tontine Hotel has very kindly offered to sell the permits if we can make this work.”

Any interested parties can contact Kenny Annand on 07712045364 or email tweedfisher@hotmail.co.uk