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Tweed Angling Code

for Salmon and Sea-trout
A guide to legal restrictions and good practice when fishing on
Tweed and its tributaries

[REVISED 2014]


Implementation of the Code
The Law
Tweed Rules
Handling Fish
The Need For Rules
General Conduct

Summary of the Tweed Angling Rules - Salmon and Sea Trout (pdf 94kb)


With more people fishing for salmon, and the many environmental pressures on salmon increasing, as well as exploitation continuing to make high demands on wild stocks, it becomes ever more important for the salmon angler to set a good example in standards of sportsmanship and in care for wild stocks, the environment, wildlife and fellow anglers.

The purpose of this code is to encourage such standards and to avoid behaviour which may bring the sport into disrepute.
This Code consists of two sections:

Section A Statutory regulations.

Section B Regulations to be imposed by beat owners including the Spring Salmon Conservation measures.

In addition there are advisory notes on handling fish and on general conduct.

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Owners, managers, associations and clubs should ensure that the principles of this code are applied to their beats and are expected to withdraw permission to fish from those who contravene Sections A and B.

Section A: The Law

Legal regulations contained in statute, a breach of which could lead to criminal proceedings.

  1. The season starts on 1st February and ends on 30th November.
  2. Salmon & Sea-trout fishing is prohibited on Sundays.
  3. Salmon & Sea-trout fishing is with artificial fly only before February 15th and after September 14th.
  4. It is illegal to sell rod-caught fish.
  5. It is illegal to fish without legal right or written permission from the beat's owner or his representative.
  6. It is illegal to use prawns or shrimps as bait throughout the catchment and throughout the year.
  7. It is illegal to use either worms (by any method) or lures with multiple hooks (other than a single double or treble, hook) at any time of year on the whole of the Ettrick and Yarrow and their tributaries; the whole of the main stem of the River Tweed downstream from the old road bridge crossing above the confluence with the River Ettrick to the coastal limits of the District of the Commission; and the lower reaches of the principal tributaries downstream of the confluence with the River Ettrick as follows: on the Gala Water, downstream from the Boleside road bridge; on the Leader Water, downstream from the Leaderfoot bridge; on the Teviot, downstream from the Kelso to St Boswells road bridge; on the Till, downstream from the Twizel Cauld; and on the Whiteadder, downstream from the Newmills Cauld.
  8. It is illegal to attempt deliberately to foul-hook fish.
  9. It is illegal to use any implement other than a net to land a fish.
  10. It is illegal to kill kelts, smolts and parr.
  11. It is illegal to kill unclean or unseasonable fish (which includes baggots, kippers and fish about to spawn or in the process of spawning) and deliberately foul-hooked fish.
  12. All caught fish (whether or not they are actually killed), excluding:
  13. a) kelts (any Salmon that have already spawned);

    b) in the Spring only, sexually mature Salmon from the previous year that have not yet spawned (i.e. full of spawn or milt);

    c) baggots and kippers

    must be recorded in the beat’s record book and the records retained for a minimum of five years.

    [Salmon in this context means Salmon or Sea-trout.]

  14. It is illegal to buy or sell wild salmon roe or to fish with any form of salmon roe.

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Section B: Tweed Rules

Regulations which the Commission expect beat owners to impose

  1. In order to minimise the risk of spreading Gyrodactylus salaris to Scotland, all anglers’ equipment which has been used outside Britain and Ireland within the preceding seven days must be cleaned either by:

    a) Drying at a minimum temperature of 20 C for at least 2 days, OR

    b) Heating for at least one hour at a temperature above 60 C, OR

    c) Immersing in a suitable solution. Virkon (at 1% solution); Wescodyne (at 1%); a 3% solution of common salt (Sodium Chloride) or a 0.2% solution of Sodium Hydroxide OR

    d) Deep freezing for at least 1 day.
  2. Anglers will be required to sign a Declaration to this effect and the Gyrodactylus Declaration form can be downloaded - please follow this link to the Gyrodactylus page

  3. Artificial prawns or shrimps should not be used.
  4. In order to help prevent deliberate foul-hooking, the following fly fishing rules have been agreed :-

    a) Maximum cast/leader breaking strain - 25lbs.
    b) Hooks or tubes should be properly dressed, ie with coloured body and a reasonable quantity of hair/fur/feather in proportion to the hook size - not a bare treble with a few feathers tied on.
    c) Maximum tube treble size - No 4.
    d) No weights or swivel devices that are not part of the body of the fly are permitted.
    e) Unless fishing with a floating line, casts should be made downstream of square with only a slow retrieve until the cast has been fished out.
    f) Unless fishing with a floating line, no retrieve, other than slow hand lining or reeling in to be made until the cast has been fished out.
    g) Continue to move steadily through the pool, normally at a rate of 1 metre between casts.
    h) All foul-hooked fish (fish not hooked in or around the mouth) should be returned..
    i) Anglers should be considerate to each other and remain at least 20 metres apart when fishing.
  5. The Tweed Spring Salmon Conservation Measures. The Spring season is defined as 1st February to 30th June inclusive. Total Catch-and-Release applies to the whole of the Tweed River system during this time. You should familiarise  yourself with these rules, which are laid out here before you start fishing.
  6. Guidance on Spinning There is a view that old Springers are more likely to be caught in low water after 1st July (when the Spring Conservation Measures end) by spinning. Rules for spinning are determined by individual beats.
  7. a) In clear water conditions, especially when the river is low, spinning should not be the method of first choice, nor should it be used excessively (i.e. more than half the time spent fishing).

    b) Where a beat has different owners on opposite banks, the owners should agree, and anglers should observe, a protocol which accords a general preference to fly fishing and includes that under most conditions fly fishers should have the opportunity to fish the water first, particularly at the start of the day.

    c) If proprietors wish to do so, they can restrict spinning on their beats to comparatively high and coloured water conditions, and perhaps especially in the period 1st July to 14th September (after which spinning is illegal) and when the Spring Measures are not applicable.

    d) Old spring fish, caught by any fishing method after 30th June, should be returned as they will have become coloured and increasingly mature.

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The River Tweed Commission expects all proprietors to implement the rules in Section B and to withdraw permission to fish from those who break them.

The rules have been carefully drafted to ensure their effectiveness  whilst minimising any disruption to the legitimate fisherman. We hope that the latter will understand the need for action and accept any inconvenience to them as their part in ensuring that the Tweed as a whole is sensibly fished.


Fish should be handled with extreme care, especially those that have been injured, or become exhausted whilst being played.

  1. Outside the period of the Spring Salmon Conservation Measures there are no catch limits, but anglers are expected to keep only fish which they can sensibly make use of.
  2. Fish to be retained should be promptly and efficiently dispatched with an appropriate priest.
  3. Fish to be returned should be released as quickly as possible, the hook being removed with suitable forceps.
    • Use a knotless net to bring the fish into the side of the River, if necessary
    • Do not take the fish out of the water
    • Do not hold a fish up by its tail or close to your body under any circumstances
    • Handle the fish as little as possible and as gently as possible: fresh scales come away from the skin very easily and allow infection and disease into the fish
    • Fish should be supported gently and upright in the water until such time as they swim away on their own
    • Anglers must allow the fish time to recover before letting it loose in the River; this may take a long time, and up to 30 minutes.

  4. Ripe/darkly coloured fish are not suitable for eating fresh or for smoking and should be returned. It is not possible to lay down precise criteria for determining what is a keepable fish. Common sense and discretion should be used, taking into account all the circumstances; for example a fish which was the angler’s first fish or his only fish for the week might be considered keepable whereas a fish in the same condition should be returned when fresh fish are plentiful. IF IN DOUBT, PLEASE PUT IT BACK!


The statutory responsibility for enforcement of Tweed law, as set out in Section A, has been vested in the River Tweed Commission by Parliament and is implemented by their bailiffs who have powers to prosecute offenders.

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Angling as a sport and recreation can easily be disrupted by external interference. Water space is in great demand, both from anglers and other activities, and therefore its enjoyment has to be shared. The following points should be observed by every angler.

    - if your fishing equipment has been used outside Britain and Ireland, it is vital that you clean and treat it in one of the approved ways described at Section B.1 in order to prevent any risk of spreading Gyrodactylus salaris to Tweed. 

    - observe the bounds of any beat to which you have been assigned.
     - give consideration to anglers on the opposite bank.
     - anglers fishing with spinners should give precedence to fly fishers.
    - make sure you can recognise kelts, baggots & kippers so that you can comply with the legal requirement to return them to the water.
     - acknowledge considerate behaviour by other legitimate water users.
    - follow the Country Code, particularly in relation to control of dogs, the risk of fires and fastening gates.
    - do not park vehicles so that they obstruct gateways or cause a hazard on the road.
    - avoid damage to the waterside or disturbance to wildlife; no tackle or litter should be discarded, particularly nylon which is a hazard to wildlife.
    - be safety conscious, wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid and eye protection, be aware of overhead electric lines, stop fishing in electric storms and wade cautiously.

    - support The Tweed Foundation and other organisations which safeguard your sport.

The Commission thanks the Salmon & Trout Association for permission to include some items from their own angling code, which is recommended as an excellent general code.

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