The Spey Fishery Board is now able to declare that catches of Salmon and Grilse for the 2020 season have amounted to 5,622, in comparison to the 5,090 caught last year. That equates to an increase of over 10% compared with the previous year. Considering that there was almost no fishing for two months, and in many cases, three months of a seven-and-a-half-month season, that is a very positive result for the River. The total also included a more significant run of Grilse (which are Salmon that have spent only one winter at sea before returning to the River) than had been expected, with just over 2,200 Grilse being caught in 2020. This also bodes well for multi-sea-winter salmon returning to the River next year.
The Spey Board is also able to report that 987 Sea Trout were caught during the season, which is lower than would have been expected. That said, the most prolific months for Sea Trout catches on the Spey have historically been June, followed by July. This year, the COVID lock-down restrictions were eased on the 5th June, but only for local anglers, and the hospitality sector was only permitted to re-open from the 15th July. So, there were no visiting anglers for three-quarters of the most prolific time for sea trout to be caught in the Spey catchment and we suspect that this is a significant reason for the reduction.
Anglers have also continued to respond positively to the voluntary Conservation Policies that are in place on the River Spey, by returning even more fish caught than ever before. Throughout the season, 98% of all Salmon and Grilse caught were released, as they were last year, together with the 91% of sea trout. Last year, 86% of sea trout were released to spawn. The Board is grateful to all of the proprietors and especially the ghillies, whom it recognises have played such an active role in persuading so many anglers to continue to support the policy.