Fewer salmon and trout were caught in Scotland's rivers last year.

28 escaped salmon among Scotland’s lowest recorded rod catch last year

A total of 28 salmon believed to be of farmed origin were reported caught by anglers in Scotland’s rivers last year, according to newly released figures from the Scottish Government.

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The reported rod catch of salmon during the 2021 season (35,693) is the lowest since records began, and 75% of the previous five-year average. The suspected farmed salmon made up 0.08% of the total.

Salmon catches have decreased from a high in 2010 and the 2021 records are consistent with a general pattern of decline in numbers of wild salmon returning to Scotland.

Total reported rod catch of sea trout (12,636) last year is also the lowest since records began, and 77% of the previous five-year average.

Last year's rod catch of salmon was the lowest on record. Click image to enlarge. Graph: Marine Scotland.

Reduced fishing effort

For both salmon and trout, comparisons with previous years are complicated by the Covid epidemic. Rod fishing effort – the number of anglers and the amount of time they spent fishing – was low during spring 2021, when stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions were in place.

Nonetheless, the general decline in the numbers of salmon and trout being caught continued.

Just 12,636 sea trout and finnock were caught last year. Graph: Marine Scotland.

Of spring salmon captured by rod, 99% were released, as were 95% of the total rod catch. These are among the highest proportions of catch and release reported since records began.

Of sea trout caught by rod, 87% were released, the third highest proportion since records began.

The figures are taken from the Scottish Government’s Salmon and Sea Trout Fishery Statistics publication for 2021, based on returns from proprietors, occupiers or agents of salmon and sea trout fisheries throughout Scotland, which is collected and collated by Marine Scotland.