Friday, January 19, 2018

Salmon Fishing Scotland Tay, Perthshire Salmon fishing report for Opening week 2018.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Tay, Perthshire Salmon fishing report for Opening week 2018.

The river Tay opened on the 15th January in slightly milder conditions for this winter after a warmer Sunday putting river levels on the rise, scores of anglers flocked to the banks of the river to mark the opening of the salmon season with great publicity in the press and on television. The various issues and activities appeared on Television, Radio and Press giving the river extremely high exposure that was invaluable with the major announcement of asking anglers to only take occasional fish when applicable in the season with an increasing emphasis on conservation. It has been a reasonably quiet start to the season so far.
There were opening day events throughout the Tay district with the larger ceremonies taking place at Meikleour and Kenmore. At Meikleour the Tay Board official opening took place with Perth and Kinross Provist Dennis Malloy and Claire Mercer-Nairn formally opening the river with the symbolic first cast in front of an enthusiastic crowd made by UK and international fishing guide Marina Gibson after introductions from Tay interim chairman Iain McLaren who raised all the issues and welcomed the new season on the mighty river. The ceremony at the Meikleour on Monday morning marked the official start of the 2018 season. It was organised by the Tay board in conjunction with the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce. A good crowd witnessed the event with television coverage by the BBC and STV news plus double page articles in the national press. Anglers attending the event raised over £1140 for Angling for Youth Development.
This was the article in the local Courier newspaper written by Jamie Buchan.
Fisheries bosses have announced tighter conservation laws at the start of the 2018 salmon season.
The traditional toast of “tight lines” was made by anglers at colourful ceremonies up and down the River Tay.
But Monday’s celebrations were marred by new figures suggesting the Tay’s worst salmon season since records began.
The river has experienced a marked declined in amounts of grilse, young salmon that has returned to fresh water after a single winter at sea.

Grilse are a traditional mainstay of fishing from July onwards. The river’s salmon catch between July and October was 3,196 compared to an annual average for this period over the previous 10 years of 6,502.
The Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board is taking action to address the plummeting numbers and has asked anglers not to keep any fresh-run fish caught in the summer months.

Interim chairman Iain McLaren said: “There is little doubt that we are experiencing a period of major changes in the Tay’s salmon runs. It is the board’s responsibility to act whenever necessary to protect and conserve our valuable wild salmon stocks.
“Accordingly, after due consideration and in line with the precautionary principle, we are introducing new restrictions or limits on the number of fish that anglers may kill in the summer and early autumn.”
He said: “Previously, we advised anglers not to keep any fish at all in the spring and no more than one fresh-run male grilse per day after June 1.

“As that could add up to a significant number over the season, we are asking anglers now to keep no more than the very occasional fresh-run fish during this period — unless of course, there happens to be a sudden recovery in grilse numbers this year.”
On the plus side, early running spring salmon are getting bigger. The mean weight of fish caught between January and March last year was 12.8lb.

That’s nearly 3lb heavier than the average weight at the turn of the millennium and suggests that the majority of salmon entering the river in the first three months of the year have spent three winters at sea, when previously two winters was the norm.
Comparable average weights to those recorded early last year have not been seen this consistently since the 1960s.
The new season was launched in traditional style at Meikleour boathouse, by Kinclaven Bridge.
The blessing of the boat and the river with a quaich of Glenturret whisky was performed by Perth and Kinross Provost Dennis Melloy.
Renowned UK and international fishing guide Marina Gibson had the honour of taking the first cast.
In a second opening ceremony, further upriver also in cold conditions, a large crowd of anglers and local residents gathered at the Kenmore Hotel in Perthshire before a pipe band led them to the water’s edge where they waited for the season to be officially opened. Scott McKenzie, poured a dram into the river before the fishing got under way.
The pouring of whisky is a symbolic gesture to keep the salmon “in good health”.
Farlows from London had come up to fish the first couple of days at Stanley and organised a good opening day ceremony with retired fishing director Brian Fratel fronting the celebrations. Joe Hardy, owner of the Tayside Hotel in the village blessed the water with whisky.

The Opening week saw odd spring salmon registered in the best conditions for years on the river after the rise on the opening day in cold weather and fish were spread throughout the river. Hopefully with more settled conditions over the week to come a good few more spring salmon will enter the river and be landed to get our season off to a flying start. The opening day saw only a single fish registered from Loch Tay with the main river by and large unsettled due to a quick rise in river levels Fish n’ Trips recorded a superb fish from opening day weighing 21 pounds.
As the week went on other fish were caught. On Stobhall Jock Miller caught a very fresh 19 pounds fish on the second day from Linn Head in the boat with Bob Campbell.
Cargill also had an older fish on the same day in the Garden Pool landed by Stewart Scott weighing 12 pounds. Ballathie got off the mark with a fish of 14 pounds caught by Martin McKenzie on a Vision from the boat. Then on Friday George McInnes braved the heavy snow and landed a superb 17 pounds beauty.
John Dewar landed a cracking 16 pounds fish from the boat at Glendelvine later in the week.
The Spring Salmon fishing was well and truly underway after all the excitement of opening day’s celebrations. It has been a slow start so let us hope the season lives up to everyones expectations over the coming weeks and months. Tight lines!


Salmon Fishing Scotland - By Robert White

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 22nd January 2018.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 22nd January 2018.

The Salmon fishing season is well and truly started now on the mighty Tay in Perthshire, Scotland and we have been encountering some very cold conditions and winter weather over the last week and prior to the Opening day. This has settled the river back to normal levels. We have had good settled conditions over the last week and that looks like continuing overall but there is a milder spell coming next week for a few days. On the opening week several anglers braved the elements in pursuit of that magical spring salmon. The cold weather hopefully will give a greater chance of producing some sport and some early "Bars of Silver" if you are prepared to brave the elements as any fish progress slowly through the system.
Currently the river is running at a good height for the time of year (just under 3’ on the Ballathie gauge).
The weather is to remain reasonably settled over the next few days but then turn a bit milder towards the middle of the week. Colder conditions certainly benefit the river at this time of year slowing the spring salmon run down and giving everyone a chance to catch as they run up the river slowly. The milder weather forecast may give us more water and would have encouraged salmon to run the river. Colder weather will settle the river back to a good level and make ideal spring fishing conditions. The water temperature was cold at 36 degrees Fahrenheit or 2 degrees Celsius but mat rise slightly if we get some milder days. These are typical temperatures for this time of year. Hopefully there might be a chance of a fresh fish anywhere in the river. There will no doubt be quite a few kelts about on many beats and possibly some later run fish, which have yet to spawn. Should you require guidance on salmon identification in early season please see this link for some help.
As to methods, in settled conditions fishing by any method should be slow and deep with large lures to catch the elusive Tay Springer. Harling is also a favoured method in early season but be warned wrap up well or it will not be a pleasant experience.
Tackle recommendations for fishing the Tay throughout the season.
Fly Rods.
The Tay is a large river especially when running at a normal level and even in lower levels you are fishing another river within the mighty one so therefore a 15 foot fly rod for a 10 weight line is certainly minimum requirement for much of the season. Do not come under gunned. In some parts of the river where it is especially wide even longer rods are used. It should be noted however that it is better to cast a shorter controlled line than try to cast out with your capabilities and have the lines end up in a mess and decrease your chances.

Fly Lines.
In early season when the water is cold you need to cast larger flies and get them deeper in the water to fish them slowly. There is a tremendous choice on the market nowadays which can be quite confusing to many anglers. Any type of Skagit line that can easily cast a 15 foot sinking leader of various depths is a good choice especially to the less experienced. Iflights and a tip of choice attached are another good bet as these lines enable you to cast a longer line than normal with ease. For more experienced anglers, there are a vast array of shooting heads of different sinking abilities available as well. These tactics can be used in late season as well when the water starts to cool down.
Once the water temperature starts to climb by April then tactics change to mainly floating lines and sink tips with much smaller conventional flies. Again, the choice of lines is incredible from longer belly Spey lines to shooting heads. If you go to shooting heads, then it is important to choose a good shooting backing as line management can be a big issue casting longer lines on a river such as the Tay.

Spinning Rods.
Rods.
You should have a minimum of a 10 foot rod for casting baits of 20gm to 60gms.
Line.
A main line of 20 pounds in nylon or 30 pounds in braid. You should use a lesser poundage far a cast such as 15 pounds so if you get caught up on the bottom you do not lose a large part of your main line.
Baits.
Tobies from 18gm upwards. Toby Salmos are very popular in 30gms. Conventional weighted Devon’s are good especially in the Spring. Rapalas and Vision 110’s are very effective and of course Kynochs are popular for harling.
What flies should I take?
In early season bigger flies such as Tube Flies, Temple Dogs and Monkey type flies up to 2 inches in body length and larger conventional patterns in 4’s and 6’s in lower water are required. A point of note is that a lighter Tube such as an aluminium or plastic body is far easier to cast than brass. Current line technology enables you to get these lighter flies to the correct depths. Ask your ghillie for tip advice on the day.
As river temperatures rise to a more conventional approach then a size range in your box should be from 6 in higher water to 12 in lower water and even smaller on exceptionally low conditions. Cascade type patterns seem to be the most popular and recently feeler flies have come to the fore. It is always worth a go with a Sun Ray type fly with a long wing whether casting normally in colder conditions to stripping it fast in warmer water.

Finally, you are reminded that the Tay's policy for January – 1st April 2018 is that all spring salmon must be released, i.e. the Tay has a policy of 100% mandatory release of all salmon caught under the new Scottish Government Statutory Conservation Regulation. Spring salmon are a scarce and precious resource. Please preserve both them and the long term future of your sport by following the release of salmon as it is a now legal requirement during this period even if a fish has died. The Board's bailiff team will be enforcing this new legislation.
When releasing salmon please try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible to give them every chance to recover prior to release. Releasing fish from boats in the river is not recommended. Further information on the policy and good release practice.

If you have any news or pictures of catches or experiences on the Tay and you would like to share them please email me on robert.salmonfishing@googlemail.com to be included in the reports.

Salmon Fishing Scotland - By Robert White

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for the Tay, Perthshire, Scotland Opening Day 2018.

Prospects for the Tay, Perthshire, Scotland Opening Day 2018.

There are now only a few days until the river Tay opens its salmon fishing season for 2018 on Monday next week. The excitement is building slowly with anticipated large crowds expected at Meikleour and Kenmore for the public opening day events.
The salmon fishing season on the River Tay will be opened at the Meikleour Fishings Boathouse on Monday 15 January. A ceremony, organised by the beat in conjunction with the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce and supported by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB) and the Tay Foundation, will mark the start of the 2018 season with guest of honour Marina Gibson performing the symbolic first cast.
The riverside reception by the Meikleour Fishings is open to all from 9 am and the formal opening of the river, accompanied by music and pipers, takes place at 9.30 am. All anglers are welcome to fish Upper Islamouth for a £10 donation to Angling for Youth Development.
Expect a major announcement at this event to benefit the river for years to come.
“It is great 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.

Some clips from last years opening ceremony.
William Jack, former chairman of the TDSFB, commented last year: “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.
Dr David Summers, Director of the TDSFB, added: “There is particular interest in the Tay this year as our ‘spring’ catches have been tending to increase in the last 5 years following a period of decline. The number of larger salmon returning to the river also seems to be on a rising trend.”
Anglers enjoying their first casts last season.

At Kenmore a traditional opening of the salmon season on the River Tay will also be held with a parade of fishermen to the river bank with the Vale of Atholl Junior Pipe Band, the 1st cast of the season will be made to mark the opening of the River Tay and a speaker will wish the anglers 'tight lines' for the season.

Currently the river is running around 3 feet on the Ballathie gauge with a colder weather forecast. Colder and more settled weather is now with us giving the river a great chance of producing some good sport and some early "Bars of Silver" on the opening day and beyond.

A superb Tay bar of silver.
On the first day of the season anglers will be competing for the Redford Trophy, for the heaviest salmon caught and safely released from the River Tay on opening day was first fished for in 1986. It was named after the late Ian Redford of Errol, the then co-owner of the Newtyle beat who tragically died the year before.
The angler who lands the biggest salmon on the day will not only be presented with the Trophy but will receive a £250 tackle voucher courtesy of James Crockart & Sons, the famous Blairgowrie tackle and gun shop.

Anglers who land a witnessed opening day springer should contact Crockarts at 01250 872056 by no later than 5 p.m.

The weather is to be cold and settled as the week goes on. The water temperature is typical for the time year just around 38 degrees Fahrenheit or 3 degrees Celcius, this could change by the end of this week with colder weather forecast. The temperature may come back further with the colder forecast during the week ahead but any salmon that are running may be spread throughout the system after some slightly milder conditions prior to the opening day giving everyone a good chance for the coming week. Hopefully there might be a chance of a fresh fish anywhere in the river. There will no doubt be quite a few kelts about on many beats and possibly some later run fish, which have yet to spawn. Spring salmon identification help for those not sure about the different types of fish in the river at this time of year.

As to methods, in settled conditions fishing by any method will have to be slow and deep with large lures to catch the elusive Tay Springer. Harling is also a favoured method at this time of year but be warned wrap up well or it will not be a pleasant experience.

Finally you are reminded that the Tay's policy for January – 1st April 2018 is that all spring salmon must be released, i.e. the Tay has a policy of 100% mandatory release of all salmon caught under the new Scottish Government Statutory Conservation Regulation. Spring salmon are a scarce and precious resource. Please preserve both them and the long term future of your sport by following the release of salmon as it is a now legal requirement during this period even if a fish has died. The Board's bailiff team will be enforcing this new legislation.
When releasing salmon please try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible to give them every chance to recover prior to release. Releasing fish from boats in the river is not recommended. Further information on the policy and good release practice.


Salmon Fishing Scotland - By Robert White

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Salmon Fishing Scotland Why is the Tay a great place to catch a spring salmon?

Salmon Fishing Scotland Why is the Tay a great place to catch a spring salmon?

The Tay is a superb destination to catch spring salmon as it has the strongest run of any river in Scotland plus the quality of salmon caught surpasses other rivers through its shear volume. The Tay produces larger salmon which has been evident over the last few springs. Fish in the upper teens, twenties and even the odd thirty pounds spring salmon are landed.
The spring period from January to May continues to be a positive part of the season, in 2017 the spring catches interestingly outscored the autumn yet again. The catch is becoming a more prominent part of the fishing season. This confirms the trend starting on the Tay 5 years ago with much better spring fishing. We are continuing to see the start of a change in the cycles as in the past and it would have been unthinkable in recent years that there would be more spring salmon caught than autumn fish. Further evidence of this phenomenon was a strong June ending the 2017 spring run. There is no reason that 2018 cannot be on the same lines, expectation and anticipation continues to be high.
Early in the season in cold water largely determines the catches with the beats around Stanley performing best such as Fishponds, Upper Redgorton, Upper Scone, Benchil, Pitlochrie, Catholes, Burnmouth, Taymount and Stobhall then as the water warms up the emphasis changes to the middle river in the Dunkeld area, Murthly, Kercock, Meikleour, Islamouth, Cargill and Ballathie as the fish have more energy to travel further without stopping and the fish spread. Also at this time the Tummel starts to see action with fish travelling up to Pitlochry Dam. The Tay always has enough water as it is the largest river by volume in the country and salmon run it every day of the year.
The river offers boat and bank fishing on most beats and there are daily rods available throughout the river. Famous early pools spring to mind such as Aitken Head, Horsey, Wash House, Pitlochrie pool, Back Dam, Little Head, Slap, Burnmouth pool and Linn pool on the lower river in the Stanley area. The middle river offers the Ash Tree, Rock pool, Cathedral Stream, Ferry pool, Cotter, Tronach, Garth, Boat pool, Cottage pool, Islamouth, Castle and the Long Head, all iconic names associated with the Tay. Whether you prefer to fly or spin on every beat they can accommodate your demands and the ghillies are there to help and guide you. It is a large river but in early season you do not have to cast a long way as the fish creep up the edges and tend to be in quieter water.
Popular hotels to stay in the area are the Tayside Hotel in Stanley, Ballathie House, The Meikleour Arms, Murrayshall Hotel, Scone and the Royal Dunkeld Hotel.

As to methods, in settled conditions fishing by any method should be slow and deep with large lures to catch the elusive Tay Springer. Harling is also a favoured method in early season but be warned wrap up well or it will not be a pleasant experience.
Tackle recommendations for fishing the Tay throughout the season.
Fly Rods.
The Tay is a large river especially when running at a normal level and even in lower levels you are fishing another river within the mighty one so therefore a 15 foot fly rod for a 10 weight line is certainly minimum requirement for much of the season. Do not come under gunned. In some parts of the river where it is especially wide even longer rods are used. It should be noted however that it is better to cast a shorter controlled line than try to cast out with your capabilities and have the lines end up in a mess and decrease your chances.
Fly Lines.
In early season when the water is cold you need to cast larger flies and get them deeper in the water to fish them slowly. There is a tremendous choice on the market nowadays which can be quite confusing to many anglers. Any type of Skagit line that can easily cast a 15 foot sinking leader of various depths is a good choice especially to the less experienced. Iflights and a tip of choice attached are another good bet as these lines enable you to cast a longer line than normal with ease. For more experienced anglers, there are a vast array of shooting heads of different sinking abilities available as well. These tactics can be used in late season as well when the water starts to cool down.
Once the water temperature starts to climb by April then tactics change to mainly floating lines and sink tips with much smaller conventional flies. Again, the choice of lines is incredible from longer belly Spey lines to shooting heads. If you go to shooting heads, then it is important to choose a good shooting backing as line management can be a big issue casting longer lines on a river such as the Tay.
Spinning Rods.

Rods.
You should have a minimum of a 10 foot rod for casting baits of 20gm to 60gms.

Line.
A main line of 20 pounds in nylon or 30 pounds in braid. You should use a lesser poundage far a cast such as 15 pounds so if you get caught up on the bottom you do not lose a large part of your main line.

Baits.
Tobies from 18gm upwards. Toby Salmos are very popular in 30gms. Conventional weighted Devon’s are good especially in the Spring. Rapalas and Vision 110’s are very effective and of course Kynochs are popular for harling.
What flies should I take?
In early season bigger flies such as Tube Flies, Temple Dogs and Monkey type flies up to 2 inches in body length and larger conventional patterns in 4’s and 6’s in lower water are required. A point of note is that a lighter Tube such as an aluminum or plastic body is far easier to cast than brass. Current line technology enables you to get these lighter flies to the correct depths. Ask your ghillie for tip advice on the day.
As river temperatures rise to a more conventional approach then a size range in your box should be from 6 in higher water to 12 in lower water and even smaller on exceptionally low conditions. Cascade type patterns seem to be the most popular and recently feeler flies have come to the fore. It is always worth a go with a Sun Ray type fly with a long wing whether casting normally in colder conditions to stripping it fast in warmer water.
The Tay in Perthshire is a prime spring salmon fishing destination so why not give it a go?



Salmon Fishing Scotland - By Robert White

Friday, December 22, 2017

Salmon Fishing Scotland Tay, Perthshire Salmon Fishing Review 2017.

Salmon Fishing Scotland - By Robert White

Salmon Fishing Scotland Tay, Perthshire Salmon Fishing Review 2017.

Tay Salmon Fishing Review 2017.
The river Tay in Perthshire, Scotland has had a disappointing but interesting salmon fishing year by modern standards as the FishTay web site have reported only around 3500 Salmon and Grilse being caught for the 2017 fishing season. There was yet again effectively no autumn run. It must be said that salmon fishing catches are no longer easily achieved with this situation being mirrored right across the north Atlantic sea board due to problems at sea with a continued increase in Smolt mortality that is out of the rivers control. There is very interesting and outstanding documentary “Atlantic Salmon-Lost at Sea” which gives you an insight into the problems and is well worth a watch if you get a chance to see it. In terms of the salmon and grilse catch, the 2017 season total shows an 46.5% decrease on 2016 on catches declared so far and a 49 % decrease on the 5-year average for FishTay beats. It should also be noted that there were no catches in the last 2 weeks of October for the last three years due to the extension fishing being stopped in 2014 halfing the October catch effectively and making the 5-year average worse. The figure of 3500 is not a final catch figure for this either as there are a number of areas that do not report on Fishtay.

Catches reported per month through the season were as follows Jan 17, Feb 64, Mar 266, Apr 412, May 378, Jun 421, Jul 510, Aug 580, Sep 580 and October 292. The spring period from January to May continues to be a positive part of the season although the early run was disappointing this past year, but interestingly yet again it outscored the autumn continuing to show a swing towards the spring period. The early spring was steady but weaker confirming the spring proportion of the catch on the Tay is continuing to increase year on year with this year’s catch being 32 % of the total. We are continuing to see the start of a change in the cycles as in the past and it would have been unthinkable in recent years that there would be more spring salmon caught than autumn fish. Further evidence of this phenomenon was a steady June ending the 2017 spring run. The summer period including June to the end of August decreased by 35 % on a stronger 2016 which was disappointing but represented 43% of the total Tay catch. The run seemed only to last until mid-August. The autumn period was not good and fell back on 2016 with no real run to speak of, September to October showed a 75 % decrease on 2016 in reasonable conditions. The Grilse run was poor again pointing to an improving Spring. Another aspect of the catch was the continuation of larger multi sea winter salmon being caught throughout the Tay system in the 20 to 30 pounds’ class, which the river has been famous for over the years and possibly is a consequence of fish that are surviving spender longer at sea.

To provide some context it should be said the 2017 salmon rod catch were extremely disappointing compared to 2016 apart from another reasonable spring and early summer however no run to speak of in the autumn from Mid-August again sent alarm bells ringing with the spring continuing to outscore the autumn. Hopefully there will be improvements to come in 2018 but the question should be asked why and has the autumn run disappeared for the foreseeable future due to cyclical change? The spring was again the big plus despite being much weaker but most believe that was a blip compared with the previous 4 years which is already creating massive interests in spring fishing for 2018 with much anticipation after this year’s autumn failing. The summer was reasonable with the end of the spring run and a steady July to mid-August but the autumn was more difficult throughout the river with a distinct absence of a run possibly due to the north Atlantic problems in the sea and this year we could not complain about a lack of water which is more worrying.

Thankfully we have a hatchery at Almondbank to help, this maybe something to further develop for the future with all the weather extremes being thrown at us in recent years. After the season was completed a concerted effort was put into place to catch brood stock for the Hatchery.
The Bailiffs with the help from the Tay Ghillies Association, both financial and in person managed to get the maximum number of salmon required form various areas of the river to fill the hatchery. A far greater number of eggs, young fish and parr will be stocked out in the system next year and more fish will go into the Kelt reconditioning unit which must be a big positive for the system.
Well done all concerned.
Another big positive this past year has been the rewatering of the river Garry after some 60 years which was hailed at the 2017 opening at Meikleour as a major milestone in salmon conservation. Spawning salmon will have access following a landmark agreement. A section of one of the Tay’s most important tributaries has now consistent flows restored after decades of very extensive water abstraction. Ten miles of the River Garry - much of it clearly visible from the A9 - which has been essentially dry since the mid 1950s, will run again, promising major benefits for adult salmon spawning and juvenile production. Bill Jack, chairman of the TDSFB, added: “This most welcome news is a milestone in salmon conservation. “Some ten miles of the main river and seven miles of tributary will once again be capable of producing salmon. “We estimate that this is likely to produce an additional 1500 adult, predominantly spring, salmon returning to the river annually. “It is difficult to envisage any other single project that would benefit salmon in the Tay system as much as this will. We are very pleased to have been able to work with SSE and SEPA to a successful conclusion.”
The river has had a poor year with odd positives but everyone expects a lot more so every effort must be made to take the river forward to the levels of the past and put the mighty Tay in its rightful position of being the premiere salmon fishing destination in the world. The river has had another reasonable spring run and catch this season, which may just be down to the majority of anglers returning salmon over the past seasons and the stocking program. Thank you to all anglers who have this season returned their salmon and spring salmon to maintain our sport for the future, it is vitally important and is a great contribution by individuals who care for their sport and the river. Well done! It should be pointed out there are several beats that do not report catches on the FishTay website and the full rod catch for the River Tay in 2017 will be a bit higher than shown on the FishTay website.

This part of the report came from Tay Board annual report written by D Summers.
The 2017 Tay salmon angling season opened on Monday 16 January. The preceding few weeks had been largely dry and, although there had been higher water around Christmas and New Year, the water level on the 15th, at just under three feet, was relatively low for the time of year. However, the river rose a foot or more overnight but, being only due to melted snow, the water had not coloured and the river was still perfectly fishable.
Some eight spring salmon were caught on opening day. Three from Loch Tay, two from Meikleour, one from Lower Farleyer, one from Taymouth Castle and one from Dunkeld House. That latter fish, a 19 pounder, won Robert Harvey the Redford Trophy for the largest opening day fish off the Tay.
Shortly after opening day, the Tay rose to nearly five feet but the rest of January was relatively dry for the time of year. By the 31st the level was down to about two feet. Catches had not lived up to early hopes and water was hoped for. An initial estimate is that a little over 20 fish may have been caught in January which is likely to be a bit below the recent average.
The Tay rose on 1 February and reached about 7 feet on 5 February. Further rain later on saw February end with the highest level of the season, over 8 feet. At the time of writing this report, catch returns have not been received from all beats. However, 65 fish were reported for February on the fishtay website against a five year website average of 123. As fishtay now includes most of the main beats on the Tay, the final total will not be much higher. The final tally will be well down. While that will be so, the proportion of fish weighing well into the teens of pounds or even higher appeared to be higher than usual and not that many fish under 10 pounds appeared to have been caught. What was caught seemed to have been dominated by 3SW fish. 2SW appear to have been relatively scarce.
March saw higher water levels. The Tay averaged about four feet throughout, with a number of rises, but no big floods. Indeed, 2017 proved to be free of major floods. While there was some snow inland and some frosty nights, there were also unseasonably mild periods and spring appeared a little ahead of normal. After a slow start, the fishing did pick up and 279 salmon were reported on the fishtay website for the month, but still below the recent fishtay five year average of 354. As in February, larger fish still seemed to be a major component of catches, including four fish reported as being in excess of 30 pounds.
The distribution of the catch was also different from usual. For example, the Stanley area usually fishes as well as anywhere in March, but in 2017, catches were well down in that area. However, catches at Cargill, Islamouth and Coupar Grange on the Isla were well over their March averages. Fish were caught on Loch Tay but not to the extent of some recent years. It would seem that a generally milder winter / early spring created conditions not normally seen until April and fish just passed through the Stanley area rather than stopping.
April started with a rise to over four feet, but then was a very dry month, ending with the Tay running at under one foot. As in March, the catch reported to fishtay was down on the five year average, 413 compared to 518. Given fishing conditions in tributaries were poor due to low water, fewer fish than usual are likely to have been caught on those tributaries beats that do not report to fishtay.
Again, because of the low water, some Tay beats did very badly but others did well. For example Ballathie and Cargill did better than normal but Islamouth did very well with 85 for April. Because of the conditions, it wasn’t clear at the end of April whether the lower catches overall were due to a poorer run or not. However, by this time in the season, the number of 2SW did appear to increase and the proportion of 3SW fish, among catches of fresh fish, was declining.
The dry conditions of April continued into May and, by mid month, levels were down almost to drought conditions in some of the tributaries. Salmon with Saprolegnia fungus were in evidence, not only in the River Ericht, but even in the main River Tay also. SSE started to get concerned that it might not be possible to maintain the statutory minimum compensation flow from Pitlochry Dam because of falling water levels in Loch Ericht. That would have been something that had never occurred at this time of year before. However, in the second half of the month, things changed slightly. A little rain did stop the river at least from falling any further until a few days into June.
Only 378 salmon were reported on fishtay for May compared to a recent average of 635. The very low water may have contributed partly to the reduced total. However, with fish heading for the Ericht held up in the main river, Islamouth continued to fish well, totalling 100 for the month. That, and the fact that considerable numbers of fish were seen running the weir in Blairgowrie on small rises late in the month, indicated there may have been a reasonable run of fish heading for the Ericht. On the Tummel, more fish had passed through the Pitlochry counter by the end of May than in any year since 1978. That was probably a reflection of warmer water temperatures allowing the run through earlier. When fish get through Pitlochry quicker and earlier, catches in the Tummel go down.
While starting off with Tay levels under a foot, the weather broke about a week into June. The Tay then ran around three feet for a period, but the latter half of the month saw levels settle again. 410 fish were reported on fishtay for June, but that was again down on the recent average.
In July, the Tay’s level would have normally been thought of as having been on the low side, had it not been for the very low water earlier. The base level of the river generally remained between one and two feet, with a few rises. But July proved to be the only month of the season where the fishtay catch, at least, was close to its recent average. Because the water was generally low, the best of the July fishing was in the lower river but most middle Tay beats below Dunkeld had a hard time in July.
August was a wetter month. The Tay ran between three and four feet for most of the latter part of the month. But, while the increase in flow might have been expected to spread fish out, there did not appear to be a great influx of fresh fish to take advantage of it. In a number of recent years the summer grilse run has not peaked until August but this year grilse did not seem to appear in any abundance at all. Many of the fish caught appear to have been salmon, many of which were colouring up. The same thing happened in 2016, but in 2017 the process seemed to commence a few weeks earlier with relatively few fresh fish after July. 566 fish were reported on fishtay for August while the recent average is 818.
Like August, September had no significant dry period. Tay levels generally fluctuated between two and four feet, creeping up towards the end of the month. But, while some days were hampered by conditions, water levels were not excessive as they sometimes can be at this time.
However, irrespective of the conditions, the pattern established in August continued to play out. Very few fresh fish appeared to enter the Tay, neither grilse nor salmon. Colouring salmon appeared to make up large part of what was caught, even on the lower Tay. This was reflected in the fact that 561 fish were reported on fishtay for the month compared to a recent average of 1196.
October also saw several bouts of rain and, on a few occasions, the Tay rose to over five or six during the half month to the end of the Tay season. However, in the last week of the month, which saw the close of the season on the Earn and Eden, levels had settled back somewhat. However, even in October there was no sign of any significant late run of fish. Coloured salmon provided most of what fish were caught. 286 were reported on fishtay against a five year average of 1587, although that includes several years of the trial season extension.

To sum up the season, with 3324 fish reported on fishtay, it is possible that the full final total might not reach 5000, which would make 2017 the poorest angling season in terms of reported catch since the 1950s. Then, of course, angling effort was probably lower on many beats and many nets were operating in the estuary and on the coast. Therefore, the total run of fish returning to the coast in 2017 may have been lower than in the 1950s, perhaps even the lowest recorded.
The Tay was not the only river to be so affected in 2017. In fact the problem appears to have been widespread. Possible reasons for the poor grilse run seems most likely that the problem, once again, is a marine one.

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