Salmon and Sea Trout Fishery Statistics updated

Jimmy Stewart casting the first line to the start the salmon fishing season. Photo By Scottish Government (Flickr)
Katharine Johnston

Scotland’s Chief Statistician has published the salmon and sea trout fishery statistics updated to include the 2021 season. 

The Salmon and Sea Trout Fishery Statistics publication for 2021 is based on data collected and collated by Marine Scotland. The time series began in 1952. Catch and release data were first recorded in 1994. In 2019, detailed rod effort information was collected for the first time and in 2021 information on released net-caught fish was collected for the first time.

The publication provides a summary of rod and net catch for the 2021 fishing season. It is based on returns from proprietors, occupiers or agents of salmon and sea trout fisheries throughout Scotland.

The statistics for the 2021 season are a summary of the data from 1,951 forms returned from 2,155 forms issued (91% return rate). Catches for the previous 10 years have been based on return rates of forms between 92% and 94%.


Reported rod catch of salmon (35,693) is the lowest since records began, and 75% of the previous five-year average. Catches have decreased from a high in 2010 and the 2021 records are consistent with a general pattern of decline in numbers of wild salmon returning to Scotland.

Trends in rod catch vary among individual stock components. Reported rod catch of spring salmon has generally declined since records began and, although generally stable in recent years, 2021 spring catch was 66% of the previous five-year average. Reported rod catch during the summer and autumn months was generally increasing up to 2010, but has declined since.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic complicates comparisons with previous years. Rod fishing effort was low during the spring of 2021, when stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions were in place, compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

Of spring salmon captured by rod, 99% were released, as were 95% of the total rod catch. These are among the highest proportions of catch and release reported since records began.

Reported retained catches for the fixed engine, and net and coble fisheries, were the second lowest since records began.

Fish reported as being of farmed origin represented 0.08% of the total catch.

Sea Trout

Total reported rod catch of sea trout (12,636) is the lowest since records began, and 77% of the previous five-year average, although the impact of the coronavirus pandemic complicates comparisons with previous years. Sea trout catches have fluctuated around a general trend of decline since the 1960s.

Of reported rod catch, 87% were released, the third highest proportion since records began.

Reported catch for both the fixed engine and the net and coble fisheries were amongst the lowest recorded by either fishery since records began.

Official statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics