The ASFB/RAFTS annual review has just been published giving details of the catch returns submitted to Boards and in turn to the ASFB for the 2014 season..
47 Rivers submitted returns for 2014 but the Irvine and Garnock returns are also included from the previous season (2013) due to their lack of Board and the way they report.
The full report will be available online for download shortly at http://www.asfb.org.uk/publications/ . Included in the publication are articles on the Wild Fisheries Review, Scotland’s counter network, river restoration and many other interesting topics and makes a very good read.
Of the 47 Rivers returning catch data included in the report, 46 included release rates. The average release rate of all those reporting was 73% in 2014, down 7% on the 2013 figure of 80% and the 2012 figure of 74%. This may be due to it being a poor season around Scotland and anglers taking their first salmon and then not catching any more. It really was a bad season for angling.
The Irvine & Garnock anglers returned 49% of salmon caught (in 2013) but of greater interest are the statistics from Board controlled rivers in Ayrshire.
The Ayr (in 2014) returned 35% of the reported catch.
The Doon returned 64%
The Stinchar returned 68%
and the Girvan returned 80%
The River returning the lowest percentage of their catch in Scotland was the Wick River which put back just 26% of their salmon.
The next poorest results came from the Ayr and then the Irvine (but that was 2013 data).
The Ythan came next at 60% closely followed by the Doon at 64% in 5th place.
The Stinchar came in 10th with their release rate of 68%.
While we do see catch and release rates improving in Ayrshire on the whole, the Ayr figure is extremely disappointing and concerning (considering the poor juvenile stocks in this catchment). Should anglers continue to kill fish at the current rate, ART warn that the Scottish Government may view this as unsustainable and ultimately ban any harvest of salmon by rods in future on the Ayr system. The Scottish Government is currently considering restrictions on killing salmon. Time is running out for the Ayr to address the killing and Government targets of 80% should be achievable but it will require anglers to change their attitudes but it may already be too late. Take a photo and leave your priest at home!
Ayrshire Rivers Trust who compile the returns for the ASFB on behalf of the boards are disappointed that in Ayrshire, there are 4 of the 10 worst performing rivers in Scotland (in terms of catch and release). Thankfully the Girvan is above the average with a very respectable 80%.