Fishing in the Border country

The River Tweed and its tributaries, which wander from side to side of the EnglandScotland border, promise some of the best game fishing to be had in either country.

The River Tweed, which for much of its length forms the boundary between England and Scotland, comes under the jurisdiction of the Tweed Commissioners, along with its tributaries which include the Till, Teviot and Jed. No rod licence is needed to fish the Tweed and its tributaries, and no close season for coarse fish exists.

The Tweed, for many anglers the queen of salmon rivers, holds a big head of coarse fish in its deep, clear waters. Dace and gudgeon, roach and perch are all present, and grayling have long been an established species. With over 100 miles of waterway between its source at Tweed Wells to the fortified harbour of Berwick, it provides plenty of room for anglers along its grassy, tree-lined banks.

In 1980 the three-year experimental ‘New Protection Order’ came into force on the River Tweed. Its effect is to prohibit anyone from fishing the river without first obtaining the necessary permit. Welcomed by local angling organizations, it is expected to be made permanent and extended throughout Scotland following the trial period.


In the town of Peebles, a popular angling centre, there is a mile of trout water available on £1 season tickets and two miles of town water for salmon anglers at £3.45 day. The salmon season here is from February 21 to November 30 each year. Permits are available from Ian Frazer (Sports) Shop in Peebles, where salmon tickets are also issued at £8 a rod per day for private beats, and at £6 per day for 9 miles of Peeblesshire Association waters. These tickets must be booked in advance and only 20 a day are allowed on Association waters. Trout fishing permits for 26 miles of fishing on the main river, plus three miles of Lyne water, cost £1.50 a day, £6 a week, or £9 for two weeks. Visitors can obtain a £30 Monday to Friday tourist salmon permit from the hotel at which they stay. Spinning and maggot fishing for trout are banned.

The Gala Angling Association also caters for visitors with £1 day, £2 week and £4 season permits for 10 miles of fishing near Galashiels, good trout water with the odd bonus grayling to 3lb. This water runs from Galafoot down to Walker Burn but a few short private sections split it up. A map is issued with each permit and shows clearly where the angler can and cannot fish. This water is restricted to fly fishing only with no Sunday fishing. Fishing permits can be obtained from G & A Turnbull’s tackle shop, Bank Street, Galashiels, Selkirkshire.

Four miles of trout fishing are covered by the permit for St Bos wells and Newton A A waters issued from Mr Law’s electrical shop, Main St, St Boswells. This permit costs £1 per day, £3 per week or £5 for the season: another excellent fishery. Fishing is with fly only until May 1 after which worm is also allowed. There is no Sunday fishing and no spinning permitted.


Another popular centre for anglers is Kelso, where the River Teviot J joins the Tweed; the junction pool is o one of the most famous salmon | beats on the river. There are .. : miles of fine trout and grayling fishing covered by the Kelso AA permit on both banks downstream from Kelso Bridge. Costing £1 a day, £3 a week or £6 a season, these are available from local tackle dealers. Fishing is restricted to fly-only on the main river; the permit also allows fishing on AlA miles of the north bank of the River Teviot where spinning and bait fishing are permitted after June 1. No Sunday fishing is allowed.

At Coldstream, day tickets can be purchased from the ‘Water Wat-cher’ on the bank on the north side of the river. These cost 80p and allow anglers to fish between the mouth of the tiny River Leet at the head of the town, and the road-bridge. Dace abound in the shallow mouth of the Leet, while grayling to 3lb are found in the downstream shallows where the river bends. Just above the roadbridge is the ‘Big Slack’ offering unique sport.

Big roach shoals feed in its depths and late autumn and winter provides huge catches with many fish to 3lb. The river is wide here, so long casting is necessary at times, though in flood conditions the shoals seek the slacker close-in swims. This section is badly affected by weed in summer. Sunday coarse fishing is allowed.

The Ladykirk and Norham Angling Association water is primarily shallow over a sandy bed, but with five miles of fishing the visitor here has a good choice of swims. Norham village, on the English bank, is reached by the A698 from Berwick-on-Tweed, and two hotels in the village sell Association permits at 75p a day, £2 a week or £5 for the season, excluding salmon fishing. These are the Victoria Hotel, Tel (0289) 82237 and the Mason Arms, Tel (0289) 82326.

At Horncliffe the river becomes tidal. The village backs on to a cliff high above the river, and the view takes in an island upriver. This ‘ marks the start of free fishing which continues down to the estuary. Deep pools alternate with gravel shallows. The pool immediately below the cliff offers pleasant mixed fishing sheltered by a natural windbreak. Coarse fish mingle with trout, but coarse anglers generally prefer to travel a mile or so downstream to where the Union Bridge spans the river. The deep pool just below this wooden planked chainbridge runs off round a narrow bend. Big hauls of roach and dace have been taken from the deeper right bank of the pool on float fished maggot presented over groundbait. The fish vanished for three years but are now on the increase again. Access to both Horncliffe and the Union Bridge side road is from the A698.

Tweed and tributaries

The River Tweed has many tributaries. The lower ones are of most interest to anglers although the usually smaller upper streams hold plenty of small trout and on some the fishing is free. Many fine sea trout run up the River Till, lowest tributary into England. It is a mainly shallow, sandy-bedded water fed from the Cheviot Hills. Its trout are generally small; its once prolific roach shoals are now almost nonexistent, but there is a good head of grayling present. The autumn run of sea trout, however, does include some really heavy fish.

Ford is the main angling centre for visitors. Downstream of Ford Bridge the river’s left bank is preserved for match-bookings by angling clubs, while upstream is the Ford & Etal Estates water—a short stretch on the left bank and 2VA miles on the right bank up to Redscar Bridge. Permits at £2 a day, £10 a week (no Sunday fishing) are issued by the Estates Office at Ford village, the Post Office, the Head Keeper at Ford Kennels, or on Saturday mornings only from the bailiff who is on the roadbridge from 8am to 11.30am. Telephone bookings can be made on Crookham 224. The permit allows fly, worm fishing and spinning. Access is from the WoollerColdstream road.

Though the lower river loops round the Tillmouth Park Hotel, and the A698 crosses it in a deep valley before the Hotel entrance, the hotel no longer controls the fishing. But they do have three miles on the main River Tweed and issue permits (with priority to residents) for both game and coarse fishing. Coarse fishing is allowed on Sundays.

The River Teviot rises on the Roxburgh-Dumfries border and tumbles two-thirds of the way across the country parallel with the main Carlisle-Berwick road for most of its length.

In its upper reaches, it is a most pleasing, bubbling river with numerous rock pools and gravel runs. Hawick Angling Club controls over 50 miles, good for trout and for record size grayling and offers day tickets at £1, week tickets at £2.50, and season tickets for £5. The permit also allows fishing on four lochs (which hold mainly coarse fish), but you will need a separate £1 day ticket. Sunday fishing is allowed, though a special permit is needed at Ancrumbe Bridge, obtainable from Chesters Estate.

At Jedburgh, midway between Kelso and Hawick, the river is wider and caters for salmon rods, trout and grayling seekers and coarse anglers. Fine roach inhabit the deeper pools. Day tickets are £5 for salmon, £1 for trout, and can be bought from the Gun Shop or Shaw’s Newsagents in Jedburgh, and cover 2Vz miles of water. Bait fishing is allowed. Salmon rods can start early here—the season opens on February 1 though it is fly fishing only for the first two weeks, after which spinning is permitted.