Legal requirements

Fisheries legislation can be a bit of a minefield but here the salient points to be aware of.

Permission to fish

Please be sure to get the correct permissions before you go fishing, as otherwise you may be commmitting an offence. For salmon & sea trout, it is a criminal offence (the state can prosecute you) to fish without written permission from the owner of the fishing rights, or his agent. For trout, it is a criminal offence to fish without permission where there is a Protection order in place, or where a loch is in single ownership. In all other cases, it is still a civil offence (the owner can prosecute you). For other types of freshwater fishing it is a criminal offence to fish without permission on a single ownership loch and a civil offence in all other cases.

Here are links to the main fisheries acts & regulations:
Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003)
Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007)
The Conservation of Salmon (Prohibition of Sale) (Scotland) Regulations 2002)
Wild Fisheries Review 2016
For fishing in the sea, by boat or from the shore, no permission is required.


Unlike in England, you do not need to have a fishing licence from the Government. The only exception to this is the Border Esk which flows into England and is therefore considered to be an English river for legal purposes, hence you need a licence for it. The opposite is true on the Tweed, where the English part is considered to be Scottish for legal purposes, so even there you do not need a licence.

Closed seasons

Salmon and trout fishing on rivers are subject to a close season during which it is illegal to fish. These vary from river to river. The earlist salmon river to open is the Helmsdale on January 11th and the latest to close is the Tweed on 30th November. However most salmon rivers open on 1st February and close sometime in October. River trout fishing dates are 15th March to 6th October but many fisheries do not let outside the period from 1st April to 30th September.

There is no legal close season for rainbow trout, grayling, coarse or sea fishing, although some fisheries do not operate in the winter.


For salmon or sea trout fishing in Scotland, Sunday is a closed time and it is illegal to fish then. For other fishing, it is not illegal and most commercial stillwater fisheries operate on Sundays, although many river fisheries do not.

Keeping fish

In Scotland it has recently been made a criminal offence to sell a salmon or sea trout, so always put your fish back unless you intend to eat it yourself and then only do so if the conservation rules of the river allow it; see the Wild Fisheries Review for categories Wild Fisheries Review 2016 in which some categories are mandatory catch and release, and others recommend C&R! There are no legal restrictions on keeping other fish types although many fisheries will impose limits.


The requirements vary according to species being fished for and the area of Scotland in which you are fishing. Fishing is legally restricted to rod and line only, but many rivers have extra legal restrictions, such as the Tweed where you can only fish by fly for much of the season. Other rivers have conservation codes which mean that fishery owners will ban the use of spinners, prawns, worms etc for all or part of the season. If you are intending to book through this, or any other FishPal powered website, you will always be asked to read and agree to the conditions relevant to that fishery, before being allowed to proceed.

Brown trout season

All river systems:
15 March to 6 October inclusive

Please note that some fisheries choose to remain closed until 1 April

Salmon & sea trout seasons

*Click on links for specific regulations

River systemStartEnd
*Annan28 February15 November
*Avon11 February30 September
Awe11 February15 October
*Ayr11 February31 October
*Beauly11 February15 October
*Bladnoch11 February31 October
Borgie12 January30 September
Brora1 February15 October
Carron E. Ross11 January30 September
Carron W. Ross11 February31 October
Clyde11 February31 October
Connon26 January30 September
*Cree1 March14 October
*Dee1 February30 September
Deveron11 February31 October
Dionard11 February31 October
*Don11 February31 October
Doon11 February31 October
*Eden5 February31 October
*Esk (North)16 February31 October
*Esk (South)11 February31 October
*Findhorn11 February30 September
*Fleet1 May31 October
Forth11 February31 October
*Hebrides1 February31 October
*Kirkcud'shire Dee11 February31 October
Helmsdale11 January30 September
*Luce25 February31 October
*Ness15 January15 October
*Nith25 February30 November
Oykel11 January30 September
Shin11 January30 September
*Spey11 February30 September
Stinchar25 February31 October
*Tay15 January15 October
*Tweed1 February30 November
*Urr25 February30 November
Wick11 February31 October
Ythan11 February31 October

Gyrodactylus salaris

Prior to arrival in the UK, anglers travelling from areas which are not designated as free from the parasite Gyrodactylus salaris must take precautions to ensure that their equipment is not contaminated. For further information please click here (696 Kb PDF) .

Gyrodactylus salaris

Gyrodactylus salaris parasite

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