C&R newsPaul Young, the well-known Scottish television actor and presenter, opens the salmon fishing season on the Tay at the Hilton Dunkeld House tomorrow (15 January). A ceremony, organised by the Hilton in conjunction with Dunkeld and Birnam Angling Association, the Dunkeld and Birnam Tourist Association and the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce and supported by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB) and the Tay Foundation, will mark the start of the 2015 season.

The riverside reception by the Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel is open to all from 9 am and the formal opening of the river, accompanied by music and pipers, takes place at 9.30 am, with the first cast being taken by Paul Young.

William Jack, chairman of the TDSFB, said: “The new season heralds an important milestone in the protection of early-running spring salmon. New Scottish Parliament legislation, which came into effect on January 9, requires that all salmon caught by anglers prior to April are released back into the water. This will make little difference to the majority of anglers, who already adhere to the Tay Conservation Code, as in the last five years over 90 % of the salmon caught before April have been released. Now that releasing fish during this period is a statutory requirement, we look forward to consistent conservation up and down the system.”

Mr Jack continued: “It is encouraging to note that the provisional figure for salmon reported caught on the Tay by anglers to the end of March in 2014 is the highest since 1986. It is fair to assume that catch and release in the last few years has contributed to this improvement. It is vital that we retain our spring conservation measures, and the new legislation will help formalise this.”

Dr David Summers, Director of the TDSFB, added: “We have been greatly encouraged by the improvement in spring salmon catches in the last couple of years, so there is a great sense of anticipation as to what the spring fishing of 2015 is going to be like. The new conservation measures are widely welcomed by anglers and ghillies and will not affect this enthusiasm. Quite the contrary.”

Mike McDiarmid, President of the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, commented:

“I am delighted that so many people gather to celebrate this jewel in Perthshire’s crown – a major contributor to the local economy. Perthshire is one of the country’s premier fishing locations and the Tay is famous across the world.

“Fishing is a key tourist attraction for visitors from across the UK and overseas and this helps support Perthshire’s economy and jobs, particularly in remote and fragile areas that may otherwise struggle to survive in today’s tough climate. Fishing is often perceived as a traditional pursuit of a select few, when the reality is that a growing number of people from all walks of life – of all ages – are participating in, and enjoying, this activity. Furthermore the public are now coming to realise the value of country sports, including fishing, and associated land management practices.”

On January 15 anglers compete for the Redford Trophy (on display at Crockart’s of Bairgowrie), awarded for the biggest spring salmon caught and safely released on the main river.