Scotland’s salmon fishing season opens tomorrow (Monday) with enthusiasts determined to cast off the image of salmon fishing being a sport for only the elite.
The River Tay will be among the first of Scotland’s freshwater rivers to open for the 2012 season, with hopes high amongst people from across all walks of life in Scotland for a strong yield of catches akin to last year’s bounty.
Angler Miranda Lindsay of the Taymount Mains Estate has represented Scottish Land & Estates on the Scottish Government’s Freshwater Fisheries Forum. She has been fishing the Tay since 1985 and represents a growing number of women who enjoy the sport. Miranda is hopeful the season ahead will attract even more newcomers:
“Fishing is certainly no longer the preserve of the wealthy or a male elite in Scotland. Much of the River Tay is available to fish for no more than £20 to £30 per rod per day at certain times of the year with rods available on the fishscotland website and through local tackle shops. It is also possible to obtain fishings through the local angling clubs and a sport that was once seen as only for the privileged or upper classes has very much become a sport to be enjoyed by all – kids included.
“The support of Scotland’s landowners and estates is pivotal to the continued success of the thriving fly fishing industry. They should be congratulated for making available and properly managing thousands of miles of picturesque fishing beats across the country each year to maintain and grow the sport.”
Angling forms an important part of business income for many Scottish landowners with rivers running through their property. Its growing popularity and relatively low management cost make it an ideal form of diversification for those with medium to large landholdings looking to bolster their income.
Scottish Land & Estates’ Head of Policy Sarah-Jane Laing commented:
“The value to the Scottish economy of freshwater angling is enormous – the best estimate is some £100 million worth of annual output, which supports around 2,800 jobs and generates nearly £50 million in wages and self-employment income to Scottish households*. This money makes a contribution to a huge range of rural businesses, not just the beat owners themselves but also the traders in fishing equipment and boats, ghillies on the river, tackle shops, fishing huts, safety equipment, as well as to local hotels, catering businesses and so on.”
The fishing season begins at different times on different rivers due to the variations in timing of the runs of salmon up the river. Historically, the runs of fish have changed over the seasons and it is not uncommon for the dates to change. The River Tweed season for instance begins two weeks from now and other rivers across Scotland likewise have their own season launch.
A seasoned Scottish fly fisher who actively helps kids get involved with the sport is Eoin Fairgrieve, who lives near the Tweed. He said:
“The importance of maintaining and enhancing numbers of returning Atlantic salmon to our rivers in Scotland cannot be over emphasised and estates help ensure this happens through hard work year-round. The economic value to Scotland of visiting anglers is considerable and thankfully our river systems are very well managed with sustainable conservation practices. Such policies help to make sure that visitors return our rivers each year and also future generations of anglers can enjoy our wonderful sport.”
“Salmon fly fishing has now become a sport open to all, including women and children. Where boats are used the elderly and more infirm anglers are able to continue well into old age. Increasingly provision is also being made for disabled anglers. As well as the thrill of the catch, fly fishing also offers relaxation, fun and fresh air in some of Scotland’s most beautiful settings.”
* SNH report 398, 2010: Assessing the economic impacts of nature based tourism in Scotland