A procession of pipes and drums through Kenmore at the east end of Loch Tay marked the start of the 2008 salmon season on the River Tay. Anglers arrived from across the country, hoping for a bumper year, after 2007 proved to be one of the worst years on record.
“We hope this year will be better than last year,” said angling expert Alastair Gowans. “Last year we had a real problem with drought, especially in the later months of the year. A lot of rain early on, and then no rain, and so fish didn’t come up in the same numbers later on.”
Catches in 2007 were down by half on some beats – worrying news for a sport which generates millions of pounds for the local economy. Some experts believe global warming is to blame, but another factor could be an increase in hungry seals and dolphins in the Firth of Tay.
To help preserve stocks, tough new restrictions were placed on anglers. Previously, they were allowed to take home half of all the salmon they caught.
In 2007, the limit was just a single fish. Also, from June onwards, anglers were also banned from taking female salmon and fish over 15lb.
“This is now the norm,” said Dr David Summers of the Tay Fisheries Board. “On the River Dee, for example, they put 90 per cent of the fish back all season. The Spey it’s over 70%, and in England and Wales it’s actually the law that you have to put them back before 15 June.”