Sunday, February 5, 2017

Salmon Fishing Scotland the Importance of Catch and Release of Atlantic Salmon in Scotland.

Salmon Fishing Scotland the Importance of Catch and Release of Atlantic Salmon in Scotland.

The salmon season has started on the Tay in Perthshire, Scotland in recent weeks. Atlantic salmon stocks are relatively low so the importance of Catch and Release is vital to continue our enjoyment of this superb sport for the future. Currently on the Tay this is being achieved by anglers with odd exceptions still not understanding the concept properly. We are encountering better spring runs and catches in recent seasons, which may just be down to the majority of anglers returning salmon over past seasons. Thank you to all anglers who have returned their spring salmon to maintain our sport for the future, it is vitally important and is a great contribution by individuals who care for their sport and the river. Well done!

To back this up the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards have called for zero exploitation of salmon before mid-May. In a recent radical policy move, the ASFB are advocating that no salmon be killed in Scotland – either by nets or rods – before May 15th. Alasdair Laing, Chairman of ASFB, said: “Numbers of returning adults are so low that some stocks of spring salmon are close to, or below, being self-sustaining; the earliest running fish are the most vulnerable. It is a well-established management principle that breeding fish should not be killed where a stock is threatened or vulnerable. On that basis it is the ASFB recommendation that no fish should be killed before May 15th. Where local evidence demonstrates that additional protection is required, District Salmon Fishery Boards (DSFBs) may wish to maintain a zero exploitation policy for a longer period. Over recent years very high levels of catch and release have been achieved during the spring, largely through voluntary policies and we are encouraging all DSFBs to ensure that their conservation policies reflect this position”.

Spring salmon are a very precious resource on the Tay and we need to do all we can to conserve them for the future.
These are some helpful facts from the Atlantic Salmon Federation to follow to enable you to pursue this successfully.

How to SAFELY Release a Salmon
“The best method of releasing a salmon is to leave it in the water
and touch nothing but the hook with fingers or pliers.
“Whatever the method, care combined with speed, will give the fish the best chance of survival.”
Lee Wulff, Atlantic Salmon Journal Winter 1964/65

• Use barbless or pinched hooks
• Retrieve your fish quickly; release it immediately
• Keep the fish in the water
• Use rubber or knotless cotton net, if one must be used
• Cut the leader if necessary
• Remove the hook carefully
• Hold the fish gently in natural swimming position, facing upstream until it revives
• Don’t pump the fish. That is, don’t move the fish back and forth in the water.

On the Tay system there is a lot of boat work and releasing fish from boats in the river is not recommended and is bad practice, the fish is out on the water for an excessive time and they do not recover fully. Whenever possible net fish at the bank out of boats to give them every chance of survival. Minimal handling of spring salmon is vital for their recovery as they burn from handling and inevitably cover with fungus and die. Think of the fish and not what is easiest for you. Every salmon is vital for our river.
This is an example of a salmon that has been released and died due to bad handling.


How should hooks be removed?
Very Carefully

In quiet water, bring the wild salmon quickly within reach. Leaving the salmon in water and without squeezing it, remove the hook carefully with pliers or thumb and forefinger. If a net must be used, it should be rubber or knotless cotton. If necessary, cut the leader near the fly and spare the fish.

The Science of Live Release
“Peer-reviewed science supports live release as a proven and effective conservation tool.”
Dr. Fred Whoriskey,
ASF Vice-President, Research & Environment

Studies in North America and Europe have shown live release works, and in some instances Atlantic salmon have been angled 2 and 3 times.
Science has shown that virtually all Atlantic salmon will survive when released, as long as the angler uses the proper techniques, refrains from angling in overly warm water, and does not overplay the Atlantic salmon.
Like athletes sprinting on a track, Atlantic salmon build up lactic acid in their muscle tissues when they are being played.
The Key is Oxygen – The fish need oxygen in order to recover and continue their journey.
To recover, Atlantic salmon need:
• careful handling by the angler to reduce stress
• to remain in the water where they can breathe and reduce the oxygen deficit in their tissues
• to be held in an upstream position for water to flow more easily across their gills

How to Photograph a Release
ASF appreciates anglers and guides who develop the skills of taking fantastic images with the fish held IN the water, not out of it.


Salmon Fishing Scotland - By Robert White

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