Clubs and owners should remember that they must legally provide the Board and Marine Scotland with catch data from the season just closed. This should include all salmon and sea trout (including whiltling/finnock) caught on the Ayr system in 2018. As the river was Category 3 this year, no fish should have been killed but if for any reason some were, these should be clearly listed as killed. It is helpful if these returns are submitted quickly as otherwise, it just costs the Board money and time to pursue missing statistics.
That means two returns, one to MSS at Montrose and the other should be sent to the DSFB’s Clerk at Ayr (details are on the forms that each owner/club receives).
It is these catch returns that the Government uses to set the categorisation and conservation status of the river in the following year. This is based on the 5 year catch average. Consequently any under reporting or not reporting will only lead to the river achieving lower status than it otherwise might.
For 2019, the conservation status has been proposed at Category 2 level, meaning that a limited number of salmon may be taken. However, with that comes responsibility that the Board must continue to improve conservation on the river. Killing more than an occasional salmon won’t be acceptable and while individual clubs set their limits, it is down to anglers to put as many salmon back as they can to ensure there’s adequate salmon spawning each year. The Board will issue a new updated Angling Code of Practice for 2019 in due course.