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  1. Scotland
  2. Esks
  3. Catch and release

Catch and release

It is a criminal offence to retain a salmon or grilse prior to 1st May under The Conservation of Salmon (Annual Close Time and Catch and Release) (Scotland) Regulations 2014. 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. 

Rivers North Esk and South Esk 

  • In view of the current fluctuating runs of salmon and sea trout, the Board strongly recommends the return of all fish throughout the season, especially in the Spring until 15th June. 

River Bervie and River Lunan 

  • Under the Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) Regulations 2016, all salmon caught in the River Bervie and River Lunan must be released. The Board strongly recommends the return of all sea trout throughout the season. 

All Rivers 

  • The Board recommends that the use of single or double barbless hooks be used to secure the safe release of fish. No treble hooks should be used. 

  • All fish handling should be kept to a minimum to prevent damage to the fish. Knotless landing nets with a small mesh size and a shallow, wide bottom should be used where possible. Inappropriate handling of fish can lead to greater risk of infection from bacteria and the fungus Saprolegnia. 


These recommendations may be updated and to keep up to date with policies on the North Esk, South Esk, Lunan and Bervie please check the Esk Rivers Fishery Board's Website.

Release the fish in the water.

Helpful tips.

  • 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
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