Salmon fishing: proposed river gradings for 2023 season

Seeking your views on the proposed river gradings for the 2023 salmon fishing season.


Changes from the 2022 assessment 

The assessment for the 2023 season has followed the methodology developed in previous years. No new rivers or groups have been added for this year’s assessment. 

While the methodology has not changed for the 2023 season, the assessment has been made using the most up to date data available from fish counters and catch returns from the 2021 fishing season. Both the 2020 and 2021 fishing seasons were affected by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic which inevitably led to a reduction in “rod-effort” and the numbers of fish caught. 

Although it is not possible to fully account for the complexity of the pandemic and its impact on rod fishing, local information was used to develop methods which allow its impact to be accounted for in stock assessments for each river or group of rivers. This ensures that the outcomes of the assessment are based on the best available information. A paper on methods for accounting for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adult salmon stock estimates in Scotland was published by Marine Scotland Science in 2021. 

Proposed river gradings for 2023 

A summary is available

You may also check the proposed 2023 grading for individual rivers, or more detailed information for any of the rivers

The overall position, and the net effect of the various changes is summarised in the table below: 

Category 

2018 

2019 

2020 

2021 

2022 

2023 

(Proposed) 

28 

48 

36 

36 

37 

29 

21 

30 

34 

35 

35 

31 

122 

95 

103 

102 

101 

113 

The detailed changes for the coming year are: 

One river system rises one grade from the previous year and will no longer require mandatory catch and release: 

  • Abhainn Eig   

​​​​Twenty systems fall one grade, including thirteen rivers which will become mandatory catch and release fisheries in 2023. These are:  

  • River Ailort  

  • River Bladnoch SAC 

  • River Clyde 

  • River Creed 

  • Soval Estate  

  • Forss Water 

  • Water of Girvan 

  • Kinloch River 

  • Water of Luce   

  • River Moidart 

  • Lealt River 

  • River Stinchar 

  • Ullapool River   

As in previous years, we propose that River Leven (Dunbartonshire), assessed at grade 1, should be awarded grade 2 status to reflect the lower grading of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in the catchment – Endrick Water; and   

The River Teith SAC is assessed at grade 1 while the Forth is a grade 2. However, the situation is complicated by the overlap between the areas (the Teith SAC extends into the River Forth) and we again propose that we should use the lower of the 2 grades for both areas, as we did for 2022. 

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