Salmon Fishing Closing Report 2000

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Millennium Season on the Tay is one to remember

The closing of the salmon fishing season on the River Tay was celebrated in style at the Kenmore Hotel on Saturday 14th October. The millennium season on the Tay has been highly significant. For the first time in three years the River Tay had a good grilse run during the summer months. Grilse are salmon that have only spent one winter at sea. Robert McIntyre the Ghillie in Kenmore had one very special evening when he caught and released five grilse in the space of 20 minutes. Bob described it as the best fishing he had ever known. No sooner had the fly hit the water than he was playing another fish. The return of the grilse in good numbers indicates that the decline in the Tay salmon populations may have been arrested suggesting that runs of multi sea winter salmon for the coming season may also improve.

According to the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board fish counts from monitoring stations across the whole system were higher during 2000 than for recent years. Fisheries managers also report good numbers of parr (juvenile salmon) in the river and that the smolt run (juvenile salmon migrating the sea) was excellent in the year 2000. Many beats have even doubled their catches over the previous season.

These improvements can be partially attributed to the earlier buy out of the Tay estuary netting stations by the Tay Foundation, thus allowing more salmon to spawn naturally. But this is not the whole story. The Tay Board is encouraging anglers to show more restraint during difficult times and rods have responded well. A voluntary catch and release scheme introduced this year has gained momentum. Some beats now put back as many as 60% of fish caught. The Burnbane/Delvine Beat even returned a fresh salmon weighing 40lbs! A pilot scheme called "Passport to the Redds" for the tagging and releasing of salmon was also introduced during the millennium season. Anglers who caught a tagged salmon were asked to return it immediately to the river.

Catch and Release of Tay Salmon

John Mitchell Managing Director of Normark Rapala returns a Tay salmon on the Point Beat of the River Tay.


40lber Returned Safely at Burnbane/Delvine

Report by Duncan Glass (the ghillie):

"The recent high eater and unsettled weather has John MacKerral worried he would arrive to find the river un fishable for his last day' s salmon fishing on the Burnbane/Delvine Beats of the River Tay".

"On the morning of the 11th October he arrived to find the water clearing and running at three and a half feet. He started the day fishing the fly in the new pool at the tail of Sparrowmuir and landed a 16lb hen fish which he returned safely to the river. After lunch he was fishing opposite the spot where Mrs Ballantyne landed her 64lb salmon 78 years ago alomost to the day when his silver Toby spoon was taken by a monster fish. He shouted for the boatman to take him aboard to play the fish from the boat. After a lengthy struggle following the fish downstream to the Burnbane Pool, it was decided to try to land the fish from the bank. After around an hour the fish was landed and weighed 40lbs. and its length was over 4 feet. The massive cock fish was then released unharmed to the river, hopefully to bring more 40 pounders to the river in future."


Anglers raise £10,000 to help the Tay salmon

It is not however a time for complacency. These are early indications and anglers and fisheries managers must not drop their guard if the improvements are to be maintained. The gala closing event and dinner at the Kenmore Hotel, which was hosted by Hello! Magazine was followed by an auction at which £10,000 was raised for the Tay Ghillies Association. This charity has been leading the charge for the creation of a new salmon hatchery for the Tay. The Association has already helped the Tay Board to build a brood stock holding facility designed especially for spring salmon. This facility was inaugurated earlier this season with 30 adult salmon being kept in safety for the hatchery project. The generosity of the guests and anglers from Hello! Magazine will now ensure that the hatchery project is brought to fruition.

It clearly demonstrates the commitment of anglers and friends of the river to further protect and improve their sport and an important part of Scotland's natural heritage - Salmo Salar, the Atlantic Salmon. This generosity and dedication, together with the wide range of initiatives now underway allows us all to look forward to the coming seasons with growing confidence.


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