River Tay salmon fishing season gets under way

media captionNearly 7,000 salmon and grilse were caught on the Tay in 2012

The 2013 salmon fishing season has got under way with a ceremony on the River Tay.

William Jack, chairman of the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, said catches of spring salmon rose in size to more than 12lbs last year, compared with 10lbs a few years ago.

It is estimated that nearly 7,000 salmon and grilse were caught on the Tay in 2012.

The board has adopted a policy of 100% catch and release for spring salmon.

A ceremony to mark the opening of the season, organised by the Dunkeld and Birnam Tourist and Angling Associations, with the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB), the Tay Foundation and the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, took place at the Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel.

Heavier fish

A piper led anglers to the riverbank, where drams were shared before the fishermen's boats - and the water - were blessed with a dousing of whisky.

Mr Jack said: "It is pleasing to note that numbers of large spring salmon, for which the Tay was always celebrated historically, seem to be recovering.

"2012 saw the highest average weight of spring salmon in the Tay since 1987. The average weight is now over 12lbs, compared to 10lbs a few years ago.

"Starting five years ago we have seen a sustained resurgence with many more spring fish in the high teens and twenties of pounds and 2012 was the best yet."

He said the introduction of catch and release had more than likely played a part in the improved figures.

Mr Jack added: "Before the advent of catch and release all big spring fish caught by anglers were killed.

"Now they are able to continue their journeys upstream to spawn and help produce the next generation. It is vital that we retain our spring conservation measures so that this recovery continues."

Fishing managers are said to be expecting a good opening day with the river running at a good height following less rain and far colder weather.

The biggest salmon caught with a rod in the UK, was landed on the River Tay. Georgina Ballantine reeled in a 64lbs fish in 1922.

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