Chances are that whenever you hear someone talking about going on holiday to Scotland, they’ll invariably be heading straight for Edinburgh or for the Highlands. However, there’s a great big bit in the middle called Perthshire, extending from the Southern Highlands down to the Central Belt. The region boasts a fantastic mix of castles, forests and a whole host of outdoor activities. One of the most popular activities is fishing and it’s easy to get involved, whether you’re a veteran angler or have never before cast a rod in anger.
So, grab your fishing gear: your fishing reels, rods, bait and waders and head for Big Tree Country, as the region is sometimes known. For fishing, you obviously need water and Perthshire provides big time. In addition to boasting many lochs, the River Tay is the longest river wholly in Scotland, flowing 120 miles from Ben Lui, through the centre of the country and then out into the North Sea between Dundee and Perth on the east coast. It terms of fishing, it is famous for its Atlantic Salmon.
Salmon fishing season runs from 15th January to 15th October and you should always book your visit in advance. Note that there is no Sunday fishing allowed in Scotland. In order to maintain stocks of salmon in the river, it is split into fishing areas known as “beats” and limits are placed on the number of anglers (“rods”) that can fish on that beat per day. People known as gillies are stationed on the river to ensure that these limits are enforced.
However, although they have a slightly police-like role, gillies are also your best friend when fishing. They will help show you where best to fish, what bait to use and some will be willing to give you a bit of training in the art of salmon fishing. Not all will, though, so make sure you know exactly what to expect from your gillie before you arrive. Mention if you’d like help if you’re a relative beginner and they’ll be able to tell you whether they are able to accompany you. If not, ask for the details of a recommended coach nearby and check that it is OK that they accompany you on your day’s fishing.
Be aware that for the first half of the reason, you are required to throw back any fish you have caught, and this is generally good practice to maintain levels of salmon in the river. The Tay also has a stock of both brown trout and sea trout but the latter should always be released. More information and guidance on this can be found here.
If you do decide to head to Perthshire on a fishing trip, if you’re extremely lucky, maybe you’ll beat a 91-year-old British record. In 1922, Miss Georgina Ballantine hooked the largest ever rod-caught salmon, weighing in at a hefty 64lbs (that’s more than 29kg!), on the River Tay. Good luck!
Image by Tour Scotland Photographs used under creative commons licence