The opening of the River Tay salmon fishing season took place at Meikleour in Perthshire today, Wednesday.
The event was hosted by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB), Meikleour Fishings and Perth and Kinross Council. The 2020 season comes at a time of changing catches of salmon in the River Tay and in much of Scotland.
Iain McLaren, chairman of TDSFB, said: ‘Recently, salmon runs on the Tay have been changing, with a notable decline in smaller autumn fish being paralleled by increasing numbers of the largest age class of “spring salmon” in the early season, potentially offering anglers the chance of a ‘fish of a lifetime’ for less than the cost of a round of golf, even in January!
‘But with overall numbers down, like most salmon populations across the species’ range in the North Atlantic, we all have a responsibility to ensure that we maximise the chances of recovery.
‘Whilst most Tay salmon have been released back into the water by anglers over the past decade, we – the TDSFB – decided at our Annual General Meeting in December to recommend that anglers return all fish safely during the coming season, thus ensuring that as many salmon as possible are able to continue their journeys upstream to spawn the next generation. We hope that all anglers and proprietors will heed this advice.’
Dr David Summers, Director of TDSFB, added: ‘Many of the factors influencing our salmon numbers are essentially beyond our control but we are doing everything within our power to arrest those stocks in decline and to protect and improve stocks of both adult and juvenile fish whilst they are in freshwater. Among other things, this year we have produced more salmon eggs than ever, over 1.1 million, in our unique salmon hatchery and the increase in juveniles being produced in the River Garry, to which flow was restored only in 2017, is hugely encouraging.’
The opening ceremony to mark the beginning of the new salmon season was held at the Meikleour boathouse. The procession to the river was led by the Perth and District Junior Pipe Band, headed by Pipe Major Alistair Duthie. The traditional blessing (with a silver quaich of Glenturret Peated Edition Single Malt whisky) of the boat and river ceremony was performed by Councillor Dennis Melloy, Provost of Perth and Kinross.
Guest of honour Dougie MacLean OBE, the internationally renowned Dunkeld-based songwriter and performer originally famed for penning the chart-topping song and anthem Caledonia, made the first cast of the season after popping a magnum of Pol Roger Champagne.
Proceeds from fishing at Meikleour on opening day are being donated to the charity Angling For Youth Development.
A charity raffle was also be held with lots donated by tackle manufacturers Abu Garcia, Greys and Hardy as well as fishing vouchers from FishPal.