Monday, January 20, 2014

Salmon Fishing Scotland Tay, Perthshire, Scotland Opening week Report 2014.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Tay, Perthshire, Scotland Opening week Report 2014.

The river Tay opened last Wednesday undeterred by the dreich conditions, scores of anglers flocked to the banks of the river Tay 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 is invaluable.

There were opening day events throughout the Tay district with the larger ceremonies taking place at Dunkeld and Kenmore. At the Dunkeld Hilton Hotel the First Minister, Alex Salmond formally opened the river and 7 year old Jimmy Stewart performed the symbolic first cast in front of a large enthusiastic crowd after Tay chairman Bill Jack had raised all the issues and introduced the new season on the mighty river. The ceremony was organised by the Hotel in conjunction with the Dunkeld and Birnam Tourist and Angling Associations and was supported by the Tay Foundation. A large crowd witnessed the event with television coverage by the BBC and STV news plus double page articles in the national press.

Opening week highlights.
First Minister Alex Salmond performed the official ceremony in Dunkeld and took the opportunity to make a major announcement.
He revealed that the Scottish Government would be carrying out an independent review of wild fisheries management in Scotland.
This comes just days after the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) called for a moratorium on killing spring salmon until May in a bid to conserve stocks.
He revealed that he had commissioned Andrew Thin, the outgoing chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage, to chair an independent review of the management of salmon and freshwater fisheries to ensure they are “robust, sustainable and fit for purpose in the 21st Century.”
Mr Salmond said: “We are committed to supporting and protecting Scotland’s famous and valuable salmon and freshwater fisheries.
“This review is about looking forwards, not backwards. “I am sure everyone with an interest in salmon and freshwater industries and their sustainable future will want to engage with Andrew Thin and the review process in a productive and cooperative way and I would encourage them to do so.”
Dr Alan Wells, policy and planning director for the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards, welcomed the announcement. He said: “In Scotland, we are in a very fortunate position of having salmon entering our rivers in nearly every month of the year.
“During the Parliamentary passage of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Act a number of questions relating to funding, salmon conservation, exploitation and management were identified as being key issues to be covered by the review, and we look forward to engaging with this process in a positive and constructive manner.”
Mike Metcalfe, general manager at Hilton Dunkeld House said, “We are delighted to host this fantastic annual celebration which involves so many local organisations. Perthshire is one of the country’s premier fishing locations and the River Tay is famous across the world for being Scotland’s biggest river. The River Tay is a huge attraction for guests coming to stay at the hotel and it is a privilege to be involved in supporting this event.”
Provisional figures released today have revealed that the total salmon catch on the Tay last year was 10,241, slightly above the average for the previous ten years. The catches between February and June were above average with the February catch the highest since 1995, the March catch the highest since 2006 and the May catch the highest ever since records began in 1952.
David Summers for the Tay fisheries board explained: “The summer months of July and August saw a notable decrease but that reflected the very hot weather experienced during that period, which was not conducive to fishing. September catches were also below average overall, though they were very good on some lower Tay beats, because upper reaches and tributaries did very poorly under continuing drought conditions. October catches were complicated by the trial season extension.
“The greatly improved spring catches may have partly been a consequence of favourable fishing conditions – low water levels and low temperatures which prevailed in February to April, but not in January – but that was not the sole reason. Spring salmon counts at SSE’s fish counter at Pitlochry Dam on the River Tummel, for example, turned out to be the highest since the late 1970s.”
River Tay chairman, Bill Jack said: “Our great hope for 2014 would be that the European Water Framework Directive is finally implemented and that the River Garry - by any measure the most important river affected by abstraction in the whole of Scotland - is restored at last. This would be the most significant event affecting the Tay system since the building of the major hydro schemes in the late 1950s.”

In a second opening ceremony, further upriver also in dreich conditions, scores of anglers flocked to the banks of the River Tay to mark the opening of the salmon season on January 15. At Kenmore, Perth and Kinross Provost Liz Grant performed the traditional opening ceremony, which has been held there since 1947. Serenaded by the Vale of Atholl Junior Pipe Band, she led the march of anglers to the river bank and was joined by general manager of the Kenmore Hotel, Ross McEwen and BBC Radio Scotland present, Mark Stephen.

Farlows opening at Stanley.
The Opening day saw around 8 spring salmon landed from various parts of the river with the largest being an 18 pounds fish from Dunkeld House caught by Mike Elgea with the aid of Jim Ferrie. This was the winner of the Redford Trophy for the heaviest salmon caught and safely released from the River Tay on opening day.

Calum McRoberts caught a 17 pounds beauty on Newtyle earlier in the day and was pipped at the post. Other opening day fish were caught at Stobhall, Taymount, Pitlochrie pool, Upper Scone and Luncarty. It was a good start considering the horrible weather and a rising river by afternoon.
In the first few days the catches were spread out due to the recent mild weather. Upper Kinnaird got their season off to a good start with 2 salmon in a day for

Louise King under the guidance of Jock Monteith including a superb 21 pounds early run spring salmon. Dalguise also got off to a good start with 2 fish on Thursday with Gordon Stewart catching an 8 pounds fresh fish on a devon and John Cameron landing an estimated 20 pounds salmon on the fly from the Guay pool. Dalmarnock opened with a 13 pounds salmon from the boat on a Tay lure.
The Dunkeld House beat had a great week after the First Ministers opening visit landing a salmon on all four days. Mark Cockburn from Fishpal caught the second fish, a superb 15 pounds beauty on a vision 110, Kerr Brooks then had a 17 pounds fish on Friday and then on Saturday Tom Harland caught his first ever salmon on his third cast assisted by Jimmy Lapsey. Tom was so excited he was unable to carry on fishing, so elected to go back home to the pub!
Most beats were reporting catching several Kelts and few unspawned fish that was good news. Hopefully all the water we have had will not ruin all the good work the fish have achieved by successfully spawning.
The beats around Stanley had reasonable openings as well but will now be preying for much colder conditions to slow the fish down over the next couple of months. Stobhall and Taymount got off to good starts. Taymount had 4 with John Lessels and

Alex Graham both landing 2 each up to 16 pounds. Ian Kettles caught a 15 pounds fresh salmon on the Catholes and Fred Richardson caught an opening day fish from Pitlochrie pool on a Toby fishing with the Farlows party as the celebrated the Tay opening all the way from London. Upper Scone also encountered an opening day fish from Aitken Head. Fishponds caught their first fish from Benchil Green for a delighted

Mark Dawkins and Dougie Wangert caught a 9 pounds fresh salmon on Luncarty.

The Spring Salmon fishing was well and truly underway after all the excitement of opening day’s celebrations. All in all it was a truly memorable opening so let us hope the season lives up to every ones expectations.

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 to be included in the reports.

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