Trial River Tay Salmon Season Extension
The salmon angling season on the River Tay and its tributaries currently starts on 15 January and closes on 15 October. On the rivers Earn and Eden, which are also within the Tay district, the seasons start slightly later but close on 31 October. Around 2010 it was felt that because for a number of beats the best catches of the season were often made in the last two weeks of the season, this may have meant that a greater proportion of the "autumn" run was occurring after the end of the angling season. Indeed, in some years, the run would appear to have continued at some level until into January on the basis of the numbers of silvery yet-to-spawn fish caught in January. On the basis of latening runs, it was decided in 2011 to review the closing and opening dates of the Tay season. This led to permission being sought from Scottish Ministers for a trial extension to the 31st of October for three years, commencing October 2011. This was granted, but was restricted to the main stem of the Tay only, from Perth up to Dalguise. It did not apply to the upper Tay or tributaries. The rationale for this was that autumn salmon are a distinct sub-stock of the salmon within the river and are thought to mainly spawn in the main stem of the river. The upper tributaries of the Tay mainly produce spring salmon and summer running grilse. It would not have been appropriate to conduct such a trial in areas which are dominated by spring salmon which are very close to spawning by the end of October. During the trial extension period, it was legal requirement that all salmon caught had to be released and appropriate methods only were used (i.e. no bait). Detailed information about each fish caught was requested from anglers. A condition of participation was that one third of the letting income derived was donated to the Tay Foundation to facilitate improvement and other projects throughout the entire district, not just those areas which are participating in the trial. This raised in 2011 £5,270 (the licence was granted end of August 2011 not giving enough time to sell the fishing, hence smaller number), 2012 £32,766, 2013 £35,592 and 2014 £28,735. Having completed the trial in October 2014, the Board’s priority was to decide whether to seek to make the extension permanent or otherwise. After debate, proprietors voted against seeking to make it permanent. Perhaps ironically, since 2016 late running autumn salmon have suddenly become scarcer. A detailed report on the findings of the trial extension is available here. Report here.