Fishing Law in Scotand

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Unlike England and Wales there is no national rod licence in Scotland.

Fishing law in Scotland falls into two categories:

1. Migratory fish - (salmon and sea trout)

2. Everything else (brown trout, rainbow trout, pike and all coarse fish, including grayling.

Migratory Fish

The law regarding salmon and sea trout is very strict and covers the whole country. All anglers must have written permission to fish - usually issued by the land-owner or a club. The law is enforced by Water Bailiffs who can demand to see your permit and in serious cases (poaching etc.) they have powers of arrest, entry and confiscation. Don't mess with them!!!!

Fishing for salmon and sea trout is not allowed on a Sunday.

Everything Else

What the rules are for other species gets complicated. It depends if the area you are fishing in is covered by a Protection Order or not. Protection Orders are designed protect the fish (to stop overfishing) and to protect anglers rights (to ensure public access). So it depends where you are fishing. If it is protected there should be signs about and if it is protected ... anglers are required to have written permission to fish- usually given by the land-owner or a club. Under the Freshwater and Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1976 it is an offence to fish without legal right or permission in any area covered by a Protection Order. The river Tay and many of its tributaries (Earn, Tummel etc.) are covered by such Protection Orders. Protection Orders are enforced by Wardens who have been appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland. They can demand to see the written permission and be given proof of identity. But unlike Bailiffs, Wardens have no powers of arrest or confiscation. But if you refuse to cooperate don't be suprised if the Warden calls for help from a Police Officer. You will then be given 14 days to produce your permit. In fact any angler who has a permit can ask to see another anglers permit.

If there is no Protection Order in place there is no legal requirement to have a permit and there is no law of tresspass in Scotland, however common courtesy and sense suggests that anglers seeks permission before entering someone elses land.. for example there could be chemical spaying of crops or shooting going on.

Please bear in mind that Bailiffs and Wardens are trying to protect the fishing for everyone. Most will be polite and helpful. They will have heard every ruse/excuse in the book before including:

"I didn't know you needed a permit"

"I have just arrived"

"I'm only fishing for trout"

"I will get a permit latter"

Don't even bother trying these excuses... they only wind them up! Trout fishing on the Tay is ridiculously cheap compared with down south. Poaching is therefore just not worth the risk

Other Rules

Trout and coarse fishing is allowed on Sundays.

The Salmon season on the River Tay is from January 15th to October 15th. This is extended on the Earn to November 5th.

It is an offence to disturb spawning salmon, their redds, eggs or young. In practice this means that all parr should be carefully returned and don't wade anywhere near redds or spawning fish.

It is illegal to fish with a "fixed line". The definition of a fixed line is somewhat blurred. A ledger rig could be seen as a fixed line. In practice it means that rods must under no circumstances be left unattended and proper bite indicators must be used (eg swing/quiver tip, monkey climber, buzzer bar or Optonic).

Foul hooking of fish (sniggering) is definitely no allowed! Virtually any sort of tackle can be used.. even a fly rod and fly! Serious attempts usually involve large trebble hooks. Do not get caught jerking a bait back.

As of March 1st 1999 prawn and shrimps are banned as baits in the Tay catchment area.

It is now illegal for anglers to sell rod caught salmon.


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