River South Esk

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The River South Esk rises in the foothills of the Grampian Mountains in Angus, flowing down through Glen Clova and on into Cortachy.

The river meanders through Inshewan and Craigeassie before passing under the A90 at Finavon, down to Brechin and through Kinnaird before discharging into the Montrose Basin, after which there is a short stretch of river at Montrose and Ferryden before the river meets the North Sea. The river drains a catchment of 218 square miles and runs for 49 miles from headwaters to sea.

The River South Esk is home to internationally significant populations of Atlantic salmon and the Fresh Water Pearl Mussel, for both of which the River South Esk is designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the European Union (EU) Habitats Directive.

Fishing the South Esk.

While Kinnaird is the beat to fish in the early part of the season, springers are now being caught in the middle beats such as the Brechin Castle Fishings. It is not long into the season before upper beats such as those at Airlie are worthy of serious attention.

Sea trout is the jewel in the South Esk’s crown. Large sea trout begin to enter the system in late April followed by substantial runs of smaller fish. These gradually move through the system providing exciting opportunities for sport in the middle and upper beats.

By this time salmon are well up the river and grilse are also ascending in prolific numbers and angling club waters (Montrose, Kirriemuir and Forfar) offer excellent value for money from the late spring onwards.

Did you know?

‘Grilse’ are those fish that that spend only one year at sea (usually around the Faroe Islands and southern Norwegian Sea) before coming back to Scottish rivers. Grilse reach 2 to 3kg in weight.