Global warming to blame as anglers delay salmon season
For more than 150 years, the start of Scotland's salmon fishing season on the river Tay has been celebrated in the middle of January.
But the apparent impact of climate change on spawning patterns has forced conservationists and anglers to postpone this year's official seasonal opening on sections of the waterway for two weeks.
For the first time in decades, salmon fishing in parts of Perthshire has had to be delayed because the fish, which begin breeding in earnest as soon as the first heavy frost of winter starts to bite, have been thrown into confusion by the mild weather.
"We've got a lot of fish in the river due to mild water temperatures but they have not had the big nudge from Mother Nature yet to get about their business," said John Monteith, head ghillie for the Newtyle beat of the river Tay.
"For the past four or five years, about 60 per cent of the fish caught on the opening day and subsequent weeks are fish that haven't spawned. It is clearly related to climate change and warmer water temperatures. We need a good hard frost to trigger the breeding season."
Mr Monteith is worried that starting the season too early could endanger fish stocks as the pattern of late spawning appears to have been repeated more than once over the past few years.
The last time fish spawned as late as this was in the early 1980s when considerable catches of spring salmon were recorded.
"There has definitely been a long-term change in the weather which has thrown the opening season out of sync," said Mr Monteith, who wants the Tay District Salmon Fishing Board (TDSFB) to bring the Tay into line with the Spey and Dee which traditionally start the season in February.
"To disturb fish when they're trying to reproduce is wrong," said Mr Monteith. "We need to protect spawning fish but if we allow fishing to start too early it is going to be detrimental to the long-term future of salmon fishing."
While other beats on the Tay are opening as usual, with a party at Kenmore on the upper Tay yesterday typical of the annual celebrations which surround the event, members of the TDSFB claim there is no reason to change the practice for the moment. "The Tay has some of the earliest runs of fish in Scotland," said David Summers, fisheries manager.
"Ever since the 1860s it has been felt appropriate to have a very early start to the Tay season."
According to the TDSFB salmon spawn at different times along the length of the river and in the greater part of the Tay spawning has usually finished by the end of November. It is only as fish progress farther down river that spawning appears to get later, often occurring around Christmas.
"As a board we have to consider the whole of the Tay catchment area, not just the experience of a particular stretch," said a spokesman. "However if it was felt there was an overwhelming case for change, we would look at the issue".
Anglers at Newtyle are being supported in their move by conservationists who point out that while January may be the traditional start of the Tay salmon season for anglers, the fish don't go by calendars but by the climate.
If anglers can't wait, it has been suggested that they might adopt a catch and release policy as practised on the river Dee.
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Alwaleed bin Talal: Saudi Prince to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
- 5 Mystery sea creature - with 'fur' and 'a beak' - washes up on remote Russian beach, baffling scientists
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck divorce: Memorable quotes from one of Hollywood's most scrutinised couples
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
Alwaleed bin Talal: Saudi Prince to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Luxury Jeweller and Accessories - Retail Sale...
£13676.46 - £15864.28 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Re...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Designer is required to j...
£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is a well establish...