Does salmon fishing have a future?

I have a grandson and am beginning to wonder if he will ever be able to fish for salmon in the way that I have and in the way the generation before me did.  I can recall having conversations with Reg Rihgyni famed for the book he wrote about Grayling fishing and also “Salmon Taking Times”.  His generation seemed to have no issues with catching salmon they were in our rivers in abundance.  They lived in an era when most fish taken were killed.  I recall photos of a mornings catch lined up on a slab numbering dead fish in their dozens.  This I guess was back in the 1960’s and probably we could look in catch return books where  fish numbered hundreds for a season.

I was never able to experience this level of success, I started fishing for salmon regularly back in the eighties.  We had good days, a good day for us was maybe three fish, and yes sadly we behaved badly and failed to return them. Gradually the seasons appear to have become worse with fewer fish each year.  I fish regularly on a prime middle beat of the River Tay where I take a couple of weeks spread across the season.  I also always fish the fly no matter what the conditions and certainly never fish from the boat.  I would probably increase my returns for the beat if I were to spin or harl but put simply part of the attraction of the day for me is casting a fly.

My records for the two weeks indicate an average of six to eight fish each year, the twenty first century however has seen a decline and the last few years have seen this drop to three fish each year that includes two fish for one day.  Without a doubt there are less fish running our rivers  for a multitude of reasons.  Environmental issues not just in our rivers but also at sea, there are a whole host of issues why our salmon are declining.  These have been documented regularly by authors and every time you pick up an angling magazine there are articles about fish farming for salmon and how this exploits our wild fish.

Why do I salmon fish you may ask?  Well for me its probably about the process, I enjoy the environment.  The Tay is truly a majestic river in all its seasons.  Fish will run the river every month of the year there is little to stop their progress upstream.  I like the casting itself, casting in hope that I might get a tug, they say that the “tug is the drug” for me it definitely is.  For me there is pleasure to be had from wading down a river, casting to the best of my ability, if I catch a fish whilst doing so then I consider it a bonus.

BBC Scotland have today carried a feature on the national news program highlighting the plight of our Atlantic salmon.






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