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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Foundation Primary Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are looking for Founda...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?