Fishing Stories

Dr Aileen McLeod opens the salmon fishing season on the River Tay at Dunkeld

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform underlines Scottish Government’s ongoing commitment to manage, conserve and develop the wild fisheries

Environment minister Dr Aileen McLeod opened the salmon fishing season

Highland Perthshire was the focus of traditional Tay Salmon Fishing Season opening celebrations on Friday.

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Dr Aileen McLeod did the honours in Dunkeld, while Provost Liz Grant was among the VIP guests at Kenmore.

The Dunkeld ceremony, which took place on the Tay at the Hilton Dunkeld House, was organised by the hotel in conjunction with Dunkeld and Birnam Angling Association, the Dunkeld and Birnam Tourist Association and the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce and supported by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB) and the Tay Foundation.

Dr McLeod said: “It is great to be here to make the first cast of the salmon fishing season on the Tay.

“Scotland is recognised across the world as the destination for salmon and freshwater fishing.

“Game and coarse angling is worth more than £100 million to the Scottish economy, and supports almost 3,000 jobs, which shows the importance of maintaining and enhancing the quality of our rivers and fish stocks.

“I plan to launch the next stage of the wild fisheries reform programme shortly, which will confirm this Government’s ongoing commitment to manage, conserve and develop our wild fisheries.”

William Jack, chairman of the TDSFB, added: “I am delighted that the Minister has accepted the invitation to open the Tay salmon season.

“The Tay is the first of Scotland’s big salmon rivers to open each year and we really appreciate the Minister’s interest in this great occasion.”

He continued: “Salmon angling on the Tay is not just a pastime enjoyed by many from all walks of life but is also a significant contributor to the local economy in this area creating many jobs for ghillies and in the hospitality sector and is rightly deserving of Government support.”

Dr David Summers, Director of the TDSFB, continued: “There is particular interest in the Tay this year as our ‘spring’ catches have been tending to increase in recent years following a period of decline.

“For example, last year preliminary figures indicate 2,100 salmon were caught by the end of May, of which 94% were released alive, making it one of the best Mays in recent years. The 836 reported in June was the second best ever since reporting started in 1952. The number of larger salmon returning to the river also seems to be on a rising trend, as evidenced by this year’s Malloch Trophy winner.”

At the Dunkeld ceremony Dr McLeod presented the FishPal Malloch Trophy – for one of the largest salmon caught by an angler on a fly and safely returned during the year in Scottish waters – to the 2015 winner. The successful angler was Tom Buchanan from Barrhead in Glasgow for a 35 lb salmon caught on the River Lyon (a major Tay tributary) in Perthshire.

The Kenmore event was attended by Provost of Perth and Kinross Liz Grant, three times World Speycasting Champion Scott Mackenzie and Mark Stephen, presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Out of Doors’.

The official opening, which took place outside the Kenmore Hotel, began with anglers and well-wishers from all over Scotland gathering in Kenmore Village Square.

Provost Grant then led them and the Vale of Atholl Junior Pipe Band down to the banks of the River Tay to carry out the ‘blessing of the boat’.
Scott Mackenzie then made the first cast of the day to herald the official opening.
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