Salmon fishing season begins on River Tay

Ghillies at the River Tay Ghillies have been asked not to keep anything they catch to conserve stocks

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The salmon fishing season has been formally opened on a swollen River Tay.

Heavy rain has limited angler's chances at the start of the season. But the event was marked by a flotilla of boats gathering downstream of Dunkeld Bridge.

The first cast was taken by Finance Secretary John Swinney.

Last year new restrictions were put in place to conserve stocks. Anglers were told to return every salmon caught before June, and afterwards to limit themselves to one male salmon a day.

This was the first time fishermen on the Tay had been asked to return their catches and the policy seems to have paid off.

The rod catch for 2010 was more than 11,000 - a 50% increase on the year before.

The board said this reflected greater numbers of fish in the Tay, especially in late summer and autumn.

Local ghillie Archie Steele said fishermen had accepted the change in culture.

"If you put a hen fish back in the river and she's got 5,000 or 6,000 eggs that's an awful lot of young fish that have got a chance to survive," he said.

"I think the more we do it the better. The majority of people accept it now."

Iain Kirk told the BBC the start of the season was an exciting time.

"It's just a buzz," he said.

"We get phone calls leading up to the start of the season: what are the conditions like, what's the weather like, do you think there will be any fish there?

"It's all ifs, buts and maybes. It's a real buzz for young and old."

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