Salmon catches on the up
Salmon angling in Scotland continued to improve in 2006, with the amount caught by rod and line the fifth highest since records began in 1952.
A total of 85,901 salmon and grilse were reported caught throughout the year, with 47,471 - 55 per cent of the total catch - being released, the highest number on record.
Sea trout fisheries, however fared less well, with the total angling catch of 20,675, of which around half were released, was second lowest on record. The total caught and retained by anglers (10,063) was the lowest on record.
Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment said:
"Although we must not be complacent, the recent upturn in salmon catches is very good news.
"Salmon fishing is very important to Scotland, and angling supports around 2,000 jobs in rural communities.
"Our scientists are investigating why thin grilse appear to be particularly prevalent and are looking into concerns about the number of fish returning with inflamed vents.
"The situation with respect to sea trout remains a cause for concern, particularly on the west coast. We are working to understand the possible causes."
Other points of note are:
Catch and release of spring salmon, at 5,912, was also the highest on record and represented 66 per cent of the total taken by anglers.
Both netting effort and catches were down compared with previous years. Netting effort figures in both the fixed engine and the net and coble fisheries were the lowest recorded in the time series. The net and coble catch of salmon and grilse was the lowest since records started, while the fixed engine catch was the third lowest.
A feature noted by many anglers in 2006 was the large number of thin grilse caught. Scientists at Fisheries Research Services report that these underweight grilse were recorded at fisheries throughout Scotland, and throughout the summer months. Analysis of their scales indicates that growth was reduced either during the period when the young salmon emigrated to sea or, more likely, during the first few months of their life in the sea.
10,612 trout were released after capture, was second lowest on record, and the total caught and retained by anglers, at 10,063, was the lowest on record. Rod catches on the west coast in 2006 were particularly poor, being only 51 per cent of the average for the preceding five years.