Publication - Factsheet

About coarse fisheries, game fisheries and sea angling

Information on the extensive range of world renowned fishing opportunities attracting anglers from communities across Scotland and further afield.

About coarse fisheries, game fisheries and sea angling
Types of fishery

Types of fishery

Game Fisheries

  • Rod Fisheries for Salmon and Trout: anglers have fished with rod and line in Scotland for hundreds of years. The number of anglers has increased in recent years and the sport continues to grow.
  • Net Fisheries for Salmon: net Fisheries include the traditional methods of fishing for salmon: net and coble, and fixed engines, such as bag nets and stake nets. Drift-net fishing for salmon off the coast of Scotland was prohibited in 1962, and the ban remains in force. The net fishery has declined in recent years, with the number of nets deployed now only about one-third of that recorded a decade earlier.

Today, the opportunity to fish for salmon and sea trout is highly prized, and the high level of demand is reflected in the price. While fly fishing is the most popular method, bait fishing, where allowed, may be equally if not more effective under certain circumstances. Anglers often restrict their methods to those that make the salmon less easy to catch, and many now practice catch and release. Fly fishing is also the usual method of fishing for Brown trout, although many people also use worms as bait.

Rod fishing for salmon is prohibited on a Sunday, and annual close times vary across the country, but are usually from the beginning of November until the middle of February.

There is no weekly close time for fishing for Brown trout. The annual close time extends from 07 October until 14 March, and applies throughout Scotland.

Fishing for Grayling: Fishing for grayling is a popular sport, especially during the annual close times for salmon and trout

Coarse Fisheries

As a result of the widespread distribution and abundance of game fish species, there has been less of a tradition of angling for coarse fish in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK, although the popularity of this branch of the sport is growing.

According to the Scottish Federation for Coarse Anglers, there may be as many as 20,000 people in Scotland who fish for coarse fish, about 1,000 of them specialist anglers who target particular species. The number of coarse anglers is estimated to be increasing at 2-4 per cent per year. Permit prices vary, but may cost as little as £10 per day in some places. There is an expanding interest in pike fishing in Scotland, especially by visiting anglers from other parts of the UK. There is also an increasing interest in fishing for cyprinid fishes, particularly carp, tench, rudd and roach. Most species of coarse fish are concentrated in the south west of Scotland, the Central Belt, Loch Lomond and the Perthshire lochs.

There are no weekly or annual close times for fishing for coarse fish in Scotland.

Still Water Fisheries

There are put-and-take fisheries for Rainbow trout throughout Scotland, the fish usually being supplied at catchable size by fish farmers. Prices vary, but a day's fishing can cost as little as £5 to 10. In recent years, many ponds have been created to support these fisheries. There are also numerous examples of lochs containing populations of wild native fish that have been stocked with Rainbow trout.

Recreational Sea Angling

Sea angling takes place right around Scotland’s coasts, and can be a 12 month sport for the very keen and hardy. Our diverse coastline provides many peaceful uncrowded angling areas and safe sheltered waters for those fishing from the shore and by boat.  A combination of low equipment start-up costs, low ecological damage and absence of licence fee means it is easily accessible for participants of all ages. VisitScotland has lots of information for those looking to explore new places to fish.

Fisheries for Eels

Fishing for eels by any method is now prohibited in Scotland without a licence from Scottish Ministers, under a freshwater fish conservation regulation introduced in 2009, as the principal measure of the Scotland RBD Eel Management Plan.

In the past, fisheries for yellow eels were generally sporadic or peripatetic, principally due to the slow-growth rate of Scottish eels which limits potential for exploitation. Glass eels were also latterly exploited on a small scale chiefly for export to the European aquaculture market, while the last of the known silver eel fisheries closed in 2005.