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River Management

Dee District Salmon Fishery board

The Dee District Salmon Fishery Board is the statutory body tasked with protecting and enhancing stocks of salmon and sea trout across the district. The district encompasses River Dee and the neighbouring of the Carron and Cowie rivers.

This Board has been recognised as being at the forefront of fisheries management in Scotland with an established track record in innovative conservation and enhancement policies.





The River Dee Trust

The River Dee Trust is a community-based charitable company, set up in 1998 and tasked with the following aims and objectives:- Improving our knowledge of the ecology and associated fish stocks of the River Dee so that practical improvements can be made to the biodiversity and management of the River.

Our work is guided by the principle of how we can better understand and improve the River so that we may look after it for this and future generations. To achieve these aims the River Dee Trust must raise sufficient funds so that these works can be achieved to the highest standard. With your support, we will be able to meet our aims and continue looking after the Dee and the surrounding area, for many years to come.


Fishing regulations



A. The season will run from 1st February to 15th October up to Aboyne Bridge. Above Aboyne Bridge the season will close on 30th September.

B. Salmon and Grilse: Prior to 1st April it is a criminal offence to retain a salmon or grilse. By law any salmon or grilse that is severely injured or damaged, dies or is killed before this date must be returned to the river. After 1st April there should be 100% catch and release for the entire season.

Sea Trout (inc. Finnock): There should be 100% catch and release for the entire season.

C. At the beat's discretion spinning is a permitted option for the whole river between 1st February and 15th April. In addition spinning is permitted in August and September from the top of Maryculter Beat downstream. It is recommended that fly fishing should always be given a fair try in preference to spinning. Note spinning is not permitted anywhere in October. No more than 1 hook per lure to be used.

D. It is recommended that all hooks should be barbless or crimped. No treble hooks should be used.


E. On the Dee after 1st April all severely injured or damaged fish should be handed to the proprietor. This applies to all beats.

F. On the Cowie and Carron it is illegal to kill a salmon or grilse throughout the entire season. This is due to the Scottish Government classifying these two rivers as Category 3 under the terms of the 2016 salmon conservation regulations.

G. Irrespective of the date of capture all fish handling should be kept to a minimum to avoid damage and stress. Guidelines on how to do this are available on

H. It is illegal to sell rod caught wild salmon or sea trout.

I. All anglers are requested to disinfect waders and landing nets prior to fishing to prevent the introduction of Gyrodactylus salaris and other diseases to the Dee. Further information is available at

J. All pink salmon must be killed, retained and reported to the River Office on the 24-hr number, 01339 880411.

Remember, the Dee DSFB needs the vital help and support of all Proprietors, Ghillies and Anglers to realise the twin objectives of sustaining and enhancing the river’s fish stocks and maintaining a viable, thriving fishery.




Keeping the Dee safe from disease, parasites and non-native invasive species is vital for the wellbeing of the river, the fish populations and other wildlife it supports. One of the key tools with which the Board protects the river and its stock of Atlantic salmon and sea trout is the control and management of Biosecurity.

What is Biosecurity?

Biosecurity is most commonly considered to be a series of measures aimed at preventing the introduction and or spread of animals, plants, pests and diseases and parasites, including non-native species.

Inadvertent introductions of animals, plants, pests and diseases and parasites can go unnoticed until the point that treatment is no longer an option. Therefore, the prevention of introduction is the most effective way to protect our river.

Simple techniques which anyone can employ, such as checking equipment for any plant materials or animals, cleaning or disinfecting equipment and clothing, and simply allowing clothing and equipment to dry out can all be considered biosecurity measures.

What’s at risk?

The River Dee is renowned as being one of the best fishing destinations in the world and we want to protect our river and fish stocks. It is vital that our biosecurity measures are consistent with the rapidly evolving environment within which we live, to reduce the risk to the Dee and its fish stocks.

We need biosecurity to become a routine part of the Dee experience and we need your support to do this. Anglers and ‘other river users’ on the River Dee must consider biosecurity the next time they are using equipment or clothing that has been used elsewhere other than the Dee and not been cleaned, disinfected or dried.

What can you do?

The best information how to practice biosecurity measures will come from your ghillie, if that doesn’t apply then please follow the Check Clean Dry Campaign and Stop the Spread.

You can also get your kit disinfected at one of two biosecurity stations on the Dee. Use these links for Google Maps directions:

TwinPeakes Flyfishing at Milton of Crathes

The River Office, Mill of Dinnet

We also have facilities at the River Office to clean other river users’ equipment such as canoes and paddleboards.

Thank you in advance for helping to protect the Dee and our fish stocks.

For more information please e mail [email protected] or contact the river office.




Catch and release

Catch and Release has been common practice on the Dee for many years and our anglers have a good track record for safely releasing fish. It is important that every fish returned alive to the river is given the best possible chance to survive until spawning time.

Salmon mortality from catch and release fishing is low, and this is a valuable tool in salmon management. However, catching a fish has many consequences which can have lethal and sub-lethal effects. The key to minimising these effects is to practice good fish handling measures.

The combination of equipment choice, hooking duration, air exposure, and handling time all result in capture stress. The aim of this guidance is to minimise stress.

Handling effects

The direct consequences of taking a fish from water include:

  • Gill collapse – Resulting in less oxygen entering the bloodstream which will ultimately end in suffocation.
  • Eye strain – Salmon and trout do not have eyelids and so raising them out of water can damage the eye and is also highly stressful.
  • Gravity effects – When out of water, the fish’s body and internal organs are no longer supported. Take care to hold the fish horizontally and support the fish so that it doesn’t damage the spine, bones or internal organs. If the fish kicks out of your hands it may be damaged and will certainly be a stressful experience.
  • Skin damage – Damage or scale and mucus loss from nets, dry hands, dropping or placing the fish on the bankside could result in an infection and can stop the fish from reproducing.
  • Temperature change – There can be a big difference between water and air/skin temperature and a rapid change temperature will cause stress.

Anglers can have an impact on salmon offspring too, as a fish that exhibits high amounts of stress – from handling and/or temperature – may then produce fewer or smaller offspring or have lower egg survival and disease tolerance.

In short, how a fish is caught and handled has a direct effect on its survival and also the next generation. Minimising stress by following best practice will have a real impact on the number and quality of fish emerging the following spring.

Best practice

Minimising the time fish are removed from their natural environment must be the goal, and there are numerous studies that suggest air-exposure should ideally be limited to under 10 seconds during the whole catch and release procedure.


  • Use barbless, circle hooks and a line weight heavy enough to bring the fish in quickly.
  • Minimise time played and bring the fish in quickly.
  • Use a suitable, knotless net to avoid skin damage.
  • Handle the fish as little as possible and only with wet hands.
  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible – Total air exposure during the whole process should be under 10 seconds.
  • Photograph fish in the water or lift just for just a few seconds – holding correctly (below the pectoral fins and on the tail wrist).
  • Keep the fish in the water facing upstream to help it recover – don’t pump the fish.
  • Allow the fish to recover fully before releasing – the fish should be able to maintain an upright position and respond gently touching at the tail.


  • Play the fish unnecessarily.
  • Place the fish on the bank.
  • Take the fish out of the water longer than completely necessary.
  • Lift the fish far from the ground (in case you drop it)
  • Treat it rough (bear hug, by the gills, by the tail etc.)

Fishing at 18°C and above

The stress effects from handling can be further compounded with increasing temperature. As water temperature increases so too does the fish’s oxygen demand and energy consumption.

Fishing in water temperatures exceeding around 18°C becomes increasingly stressful to the fish and is linked to decreased immune function and increased susceptibility to fungal infections.

Adult Atlantic salmon have increased risk of mortality at around 20°C. When temperature remains above 20°C for 24 hours fish are unable to repair the damage caused by thermal stress and at this point catching has a noticeable negative impact on survival.

Anglers have a direct impact on whether salmon survive thermal stress. If fishing in warm water (18°C or more), risk of mortality from poor handling is much greater.

Make sure:

  • Fishing site is appropriate – aerated riffles, rapids.
  • Play the fish firmly and avoid a long fight.
  • Fish early in the day.
  • Do not lift fish out of water at all – choose fishing site so that this is possible.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust has produced an excellent guide to good catch and releases practice, including a film which shows how it is done. Click Here



For more Dee specific information, please take a few moments to read the Conservation Code


  • Use strong tackle
  • Play the fish quickly
  • Always use a knotless net
  • Keep the fish in the water at all times
  • Never lift a fish by the tail
  • Use long-nosed forceps or a hook releasing tool to gently remove the hook