Salmon Fishing Medicine
By Jock Monteith 10th May 2018
The 'highs & lows' of Scottish salmon fishing add to its unpredictable fascination and ever since I can remember that has been the case. While many Scottish rivers are experiencing a down turn on returning adult salmon numbers some rivers are enjoying the return of much bigger fish.
Scottish Wild Salmon Stocks
Sure I'll agree that salmon numbers these days whether it's the compartmentalised Spring, Summer or Autumn run you're trying to work the 'stats' on are truly in the hands of the Gods. The reality of this is they always have been and isn't it amazing how any of these beautiful fish still show up when everyone & their dog is out in hot pursuit of them! A wild salmon in my opinion shouldn't turn up just to please an angler or even at all if it chooses not to and don't forget these facts alone play a big part of the thrill and achievement of catching one when they do cooperate. I don't ever recall guarantees being given in Scottish salmon fishing and I do wonder if this 'instant gratification' modern day society has over stepped its mark into the natural world which doesn't understand the 'buy now pay later' concept!
Flawed Salmon Catch Statistics
The thing that cracks me up more than anything is how these flawed catch 'stats' that don't focus on angling pressure seem to have much more relevance among the general salmon angling community than the presentation of their Ally Shrimps! For goodness sake Scotland is it the lack of sunlight or the dodgy diets that transforms the entire angling community into the biggest bunch of doom merchants just because the 'Big Yin' upstairs decides to send the Tay considerably bigger Spring fish this year instead of the regular more plentiful little stuff! More fool you if you've allowed your head to go down as nothing is more effective for 'not' catching salmon and keeping fishing guests away than negativity!
The Average Size Of Tay Spring Salmon
Take Dunkeld House on the Tay as an example this year and you'll see that the 'catch stats' are down but there's no reference to the boat 'water coverage' ratio compared to other seasons. There's no reference to the temp or water heights which are the only things of relevance to salmon and there's no reference to the fact that only 3 of the 19 perfect Spring salmon caught on that Tay beat have been under 14lbs. I hear however that most of the ghillies have been on to the Samaritan's hotline complaining bitterly that domesday has finally arrived! I can assure you that domesday hasn't arrived for wild Atlantic salmon but it may well have done for the current management structure.
To Drive The Industry Forward
The reality of the current entire Scottish salmon fishing industry is back to what I mentioned earlier and that is it's in the hands of the Gods and the business of 'micro' rear view mirror management! Until the management structure is changed and run entirely by 'proven' track record salmon stock regenerators nothing is going to ever change. Restocking any salmon river system is child's play however trying to stay ahead of the scientific research of the ocean is costly and time wasting 'jobs for the boys' guesswork at best. Surely to goodness there's enough common sense out there to know that focussing efforts on things than can be achieved and that will most definitely make a difference is the only way to proceed during lower stock periods where a boost is required or where finances are limited and therefore must be effectively prioritised.
The Ultimate Oceanic Atlantic Salmon Survey
Why not let the release of 100,000,000 'wild' reared 'genetically intact' smolts into the 400 plus Scottish rivers tell you what's going on at sea as a measuring tool via adipose fin clipping or micro tagging? How exciting an oceanic survey would that be for everyone and don't tell me this can't be done as this plan could be 'conceptually' drawn up on the back of a fag packet! Let each river either invest in their own outdoor ranching ponds or build a mega smolt ranching facility for all Scottish rivers to utilise. Keep these genetically intact fry & parr outdoors in their own ponds with 2 independent water sources & don't ever show them a lightbulb. Build flowing water irrigated ponds to keep them fit, let them feed naturally and even throw in a small predator so they quickly learn how to become Jimmy Johnstone!
Scotland's Rivers Are Screaming For Action
There's so many potential beneficiaries within the entire Scottish rural economies that this is nothing more than a conceptual IQ test! If you want more salmon in the rivers then significantly increase your wild smolt outputs and watch what happens! What's happening at sea which we currently have zero control over I believe is 'primarily' just basic commercial theft that some satellite observation would quickly solve! There's an old common sense analogy that states if you throw enough mud at the wall then some of it will stick! If you're in Scottish salmon fishery management and a flicker of doubt or 'it cant be done' comes into your head on the above suggestions then I'm sorry to advise that you're in the wrong job!
Special River Tay Moments
Back to the River Tay for a moment though. The 2 perfect fresh run Spring salmon that were caught yesterday at Dunkeld House by anglers who are oblivious to the current Scottish salmon stock guesstimate were out there trying while many others on the Tay were not. They say you've got to be 'in it to win it' and well done to Colin Thomas & Garry Simpson for defying the odds with their fly rods yesterday and even managing to have our 'Salmon God' arrange some distant pipe music too for the 17 pounder battle! For these 2 River Tay salmon fishers yesterday will never been forgotten and if they ever did then they could be reminded of the video fight footage on Facebook!
A True 'Sleeping Giant' Of Global Fishing Dominance
So where are we with all of this? My advice would be put up or shut up! Stop moaning there's no salmon about even if you're correct on the flawed stats face of things as nothing's going to change until that massive 'negative' thunder cloud of Scottish ghillie & angler 'voodoo' is realigned & converted into the 'nuclear tipped' lightening strike that is now fully required to ignite the 'walking dead' management of the Scottish salmon rivers and the detached Government officials that are even less motivated than our guys! Wake up and look at the magic surrounding this industry and recognise it's a true 'sleeping giant' that I firmly believe is now finally ready for it's early morning double espresso!
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