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River Management

The Nith District Salmon Fishery Board

The Nith District Salmon Fishery Board is constituted under the Salmon Fisheries Legislation commencing in the 1860s as subsequently amended and presently stated in the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003. The Board is empowered under the 2003 Act and other legislation to do such Acts as it considers expedient for the protection, enhancement and conservation of stocks of salmon and sea trout and the general protection and enhancement of the fishery itself.

The Board’s principle objectives are therefore to preserve, protect and enhance stocks of migratory salmonids in the Nith catchment and to preserve, protect and enhance the fishery.

The Board’s Function

The Board functions through a series of meetings convened throughout the year. Strategy and policies are considered to ensure the effective sustainable management of the resource for the future benefit of the proprietors of the salmon fishings in the River Nith Catchment. The Board’s policies are implemented throughout the catchment under the supervision of the Fisheries Director on a day to day basis.

To find out more about the day to day running of the Board click here.

Nith Catchment Fishery Trust

The Nith Catchment Fishery Trust/ is a company which has gained charitable status and has been formed to conserve and enhance all native freshwater fish and their habitats located within the inland and coastal waters of the River Nith catchment and the jurisdictional area of the Nith District Salmon Fishery Board. The Trust works closely with the Nith District Salmon Fishery Board to help achieve a more all encompassing level of conservation throughout the catchment.

The Trust is involved in a number of conservation initiatives including:

  • Habitat Schemes where sections of the watercourses are fenced off and planted with native trees to improve habitat for fish and aquatic invertebrates as well as stabilising the banks and reducing erosion. In future years, once the trees have become well established, the shading created from over hanging branches will help to stabilise the water temperature of the watercourse and help prevent burns from drying up during hot summers. These schemes also act as a buffer zone to the river, helping to decrease the run off of nitrates and chemicals from surrounding land.
  • Education is an important part of the Trusts objectives and the Trust run the Salmon in the Classroom project in a number of schools throughout the Nith catchment. The project is a fun, hands on method of getting children involved with fish and the work involved with conserving their habitats as well as teaching them about the importance of keeping rivers clean and healthy. Hopefully in the future, along with projects such as Fishing for Knowledge, this will help to get more youngsters involved with fishing as a recreational sport.
  • Research into the genetics of salmon and sea trout are being carried out by the Celtic Sea Trout Project (CSTP) and Focusing Atlantic Salmon Management on Populations Project (FASMOP). The Trust is assisting these project by taking genetic samples which will then be analysed and from which

Monitoring of fish populations

The Trust is responsible for monitoring the health of juvenile salmonid and other fish populations within the Nith catchment and conducts electrofishing surveys throughout the summer. This data will help when deciding on future management strategies for the catchment.


Invasive Non-native species and disease pose a threat to the Nith catchment and the Trust aims to raise the awareness of the threats posed by the introduction of North American Signal Crayfish and Gyrodactylus salaris to the Nith catchment as well as monitoring for their presence on a continuous basis. Read more on the biosecurity link in the river menu.

Nith Catchment Fishery Trust
37 George Street, Dumfries, DG1 1EB
Tel: 01387 740043

Nith Catchment Fishery Trust is a Registered Scottish Charity. Charity no. SC040908. Company no. SC366067. Registered Office: 37 George Street, Dumfries, DG1 1EB. Registered in Scotland


Fishing regulations

Statutory Regulations

Fishing seasons
Rod and Line 25th February - 30th November

Net - 25th February – 9th September

  • No fishing for salmon or sea trout on Sundays by rod and line

  • No fishing for salmon or sea trout from 6pm Friday to 6am Monday by net

  • No salmon to be killed within the Nith catchment

It is illegal to:

  • Breach of any of the above could lead to criminal prosecution, seizure of fishing equipment and vehicles.
  • Deliberately attempt to foul hook fish or to take fish which have been foul hooked i.e. those not hooked in the mouth.

  • Kill kelts, smolts or parr.

  • Take unclean or unseasonable fish being baggots, highly coloured, black or red fish and fish about to or in the process of spawning.

  • Sell salmon or sea trout which have been caught with rod & line.

  • Use natural shrimps or prawns on any part of the river upstream of the Kingholm Gates at the bottom end (tidal area) of the Dumfries Town Fishings.

  • Fish for any fish without written permission (or permit) from the beat’s owner or his representative.

  • Fish with any form of salmon roe.

  • Fish with a “fixed line.”

  • Use gaffs, tailers or knotted mesh nets. All fish caught must be recorded with the beat proprietor with the exception of:

  1. a)  Kelts, i.e. fish that have spawned.

  2. b)  During spring only, sexually mature fish that have not yet spawned.

Nith Voluntary Regulations

  1. The Board notes the existing voluntary catch and release practices for sea trout on many beats throughout the Nith catchment.

  2. The Board recommends that if sea trout are to be taken, the following guidance should be adhered to.

  3. All sea trout under 10” and over 3 lb must be returned.

  4. Sea trout retained should be limited to no more than 1 Sea Trout in any day.

  5. Barbless hooks be used when the intention is to Catch & Release.

  6. Foul hooked fish i.e. those not hooked in the mouth, must be returned to water.

  7. Ripe or darkly coloured fish should be returned to the water. If in doubt, RETURN it!

  8. Fish being returned to the water should not be handled by the tail or gills and should be released as quickly as possible. Remove the hook with forceps and return the fish facing upstream and gently support it until it swims away.

  9. Fish being retained should be killed as quickly as possible using a priest or appropriate instrument.

General Rules

  1. Respect boundaries between adjoining beats.

  2. Anglers must show permits, tackle and catch to Bailiffs, Police Officers or other anglers if requested.

  3. Anglers under 12 years of age should be accompanied by an adult when fishing.

Methods & Equipment

  1. Do not use sweep nets, ground bait or rod rests.

  2. Do not fish from trees, bridges, etc. or use assistance from anyone in such a position.

  3. The maximum permitted line breaking strain for all types of fishing should be 15lbs.

Spinning and Bait fishing

  1. Bait/spinner must be kept moving through the water at all times.

  2. The maximum permitted hook size for bait fishing will be No 4.

Fly Fishing

  1. Fly hooks or tubes should be properly dressed with a coloured body and a reasonable quantity of hair/fur/feather in proportion to the hook size.

  2. Anglers should not use weights or lead-core lines of any kind when fishing with the fly.

  3. No retrieve, other than slow hand-lining should be made until the cast has been fished out.

General Conduct

  1. Always fish in a sporting manner.

  2. Give consideration to anglers on the opposite bank.

  3. Fish down through pools in rotation, taking at least one full step between casts.

  4. Avoid unnecessary wading or any avoidable disturbance to the water.

  5. Always respect the environment, wildlife, other anglers and members of the public.

  6. Do not park vehicles so that they obstruct gateways or cause a hazard on the roadway.

  7. Remove waste nylon and personal litter from the river banks and parking places.

  8. Follow the Country Code. Always respect farm animals and crops.

  9. Do not light fires or allow dogs to roam free.

  10. Always be conscious of and alert to hazards and look after your own safety and the safety of other anglers.

Report strange goings-on immediately to: 
River Enforcement Staff - 07785 743663 
Police – 101


Beat conditions

Individual owners will also have their own individual conditions, such as the hours that fishing is allowed on that beat, what ghillies are provided (if any) and what fishing methods you can use.

FishPal booking conditions

This site uses the FishPal booking engine, you need to agree to FishPal's booking conditions

You will be given another opportunity to read all these conditions before doing any online booking, where you have to indicate your agreement to them. They will also be included in the joining instructions you are given when your booking has been completed.


An alien non-native species is a species which is not native to the local area / region or Scotland. The introduction of an alien species, either as a deliberate release or inadvertently through escapes can disrupt the natural balance of an ecosystem. Direct effects of an introduced species may include predation, habitat loss or augmentation, or competition for habitat and food resources. Indirect effects from alien species include the introduction and / or spread of diseases and parasites. Most non-native species are very difficult and expensive to eradicate or control once established.

Biosecurity issues are of increasing economic and ecological significance. According to a survey, 'An Audit of Alien Species in Scotland', conducted by Scottish Natural Heritage, there are approximately 1000 non native species present in Scotland and while most exist in small populations with little impact on native flora and fauna, a small but significant proportion of these non native species are invasive. Recognition of the importance of the prevention, control or eradication of non native invasive species, parasites and diseases local river catchments has resulted in Fishery Trusts across Scotland writing Biosecurity Plans to help address these concerns.

The Nith Catchment Biosecurity Plan is available to download from here. It is the aim of the plan to unite different organisations and the general public in the prevention and control of invasive nonnative species (INNS) and anyone who is interested in helping with any of these projects will be welcomed.

Anglers have a key role to play in identifying, reporting and ensuring they do not intentionally or accidently introduce or spread damaging alien species.

Any sightings or questions regarding Biosecurity please contact Debbie Parke at the Nith Catchment Fishery Trust on 01387 740043

Key species to be aware of

Fish - never introduce non-native fish species to any water without the appropriate licence. Introduced species can have a devastating impact on native fish stocks. Although now illegal, the loss or release of live bait by pike anglers has caused problems in some Dumfries & Galloway waters

Plants - key species of concern in Dumfries & Galloway include Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed. There are control programmes aimed at eradicating these species from the riparian zone of all the region's rivers. Please report to the Nith Catchment Fisheries Trust the presence of these species on any river banks. Great care must be taken not to accidently spread the seeds of balsam. For more information on identification and their control see tab labelled 'INN plants'

Invertebrates - North American signal crayfish are present in a few Dumfries & Galloway waters and causing extensive ecological damage. If you catch a crayfish please kill it immediately (there are no native crayfish in Galloway) and report to the Nith Catchment Fishery Trust.

Disease / parasites - Gyrodactylus salaris (GS) is a freshwater ecto-parasite that infects Atlantic salmon and some other salmonid species. The parasite is less than 1 mm long and infests the skin, fins and gills which eventually kills its salmon host. An infestation of GS in a river will threaten the existence of any salmon population. At the present time this parasite is restricted to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and some other Baltic countries but importantly has not yet occurred in the UK. There are various ways in which GS could be introduced into the UK, although the most likely route would be through water or fish from infected areas but there is also a risk from contaminated equipment from anglers and any other freshwater recreational activity (canoes, diving gear, etc). Always ensure you disinfect your angling equipment if you have recently fished abroad.

Invasive species

In 2010, a project to control Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) within the Nith catchment was launched. The project has focused on the control of invasive species of plants such as Japanese knotweed, Giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam, all of which were introduced into the Nith catchment as ornamental garden plants. Unfortunately, due to their invasive nature these plants have spread into the wild, often resulting in many of our native species being unable to grow, thus reducing the biodiversity of our river banks.

In the Nith area, as elsewhere, the most effective method to control Japanese knotweed and Giant hogweed is by injecting Roundup (Glyphosate) into their stems, with encouraging results.

Japanese knotweed

The treatment of Japanese knotweed started upstream of New Cumnock and systematically moved south, down the catchment, to Dumfries. This work will continue down through Dumfries and along the coast of the estuary. Treatment has also begun on the River Cairn.


  • Green cane-like stems with red specks that can reach up to 2 - 3m tall.
  • Heart shaped green leaves up to 120mm long.
  • Creamy white flowers from August to October
  • Roots consist of rhizomes that can reach up to 3m deep!

Control Options:

  • Applying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical such as Roundup ProBiactive is highly effective
  • Spraying - This should take place 4 times per year for a total of 4 years. The initial spraying should commence in May when the plant is 3 foot tall, and the final spraying should be in September just before the plant dies back for the winter. The two other sprayings should be within these dates during the summer.
  • Stem Injection - This should be carried out once a year for a total of two years. This should take place in August time when the plant is at its strongest to support the treatment. A follow up visit should take place to treat any stems missed.

Do's and Don'ts!:

  • Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Japanese Knotweed.
  • Never strim, flail, mow or chip Japanese Knotweed - pieces of stem as small as a fingernail can grow into new stems.
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.
  • Removal of plant material off site must be carried out by a licensed carrier


Himalayan balsam

Although Himalayan balsam is an annual plant it is considered to be one of the hardest invasive species to control, due to its explosive method of distributing its seeds for metres around. The Nith Catchment Fishery Trust, following research elsewhere, will be experimenting to see if by using dilute concentrations of Roundup to destroy the Himalyan balsam, native flora will be able to thrive.


  • Stems are sappy and hollow in pinky-red colour. They can grow to 3m, being the tallest annual plant in Britain.
  • Spear-shaped leaves with serrated edges. Dark green with a dark red midrib up to 150mm long.
  • Flowers are slipper-shaped on long stalks. They are purplish-pink and flower from June to August.
  • Seeds are white, brown and black. They are produced from July to October with 4 - 16 per pod that explode, throwing seeds up to 20 foot.

Control Options

  • Spraying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical such as Roundup ProBiactive is effective. This should be done when the leaves are fully out, but before flowering - typically in June
  • Cutting stems with a strimmer or pulling up hand before it flowers and sets seeds is successful. This grazing technique is highly effective.
  • Himalayan Balsam can be disposed of by leaving to dry out onsite or by burning.

Do's and Don'ts!

  • Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Himalayan Balsam.
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.
  • Do not touch the plant when loaded seed pods are showing - they will explode showering seeds. Be careful not to transport seeds to a new site. Seeds can be hidden in clothing or on your dog for example.

Giant hogweed

During 2011, all of the flowering Giant hogweed plants along the River Nith and Scaur were injected with Roundup, 52km of river bank. Giant hogweed flowers mature into seed heads with thousands of seeds each, which, once dispersed, can stay dormant in the soil for many years. This means that it is necessary to go back year after year and treat the newly emerging plants until the seed bank is exhausted.


  • Stems are hollow, green with dark or purple blotches and will grow up to 5m tall!
  • Leaves are dark green in a rosette with a jagged appearance and spiky at the ends. The lower leaves can be up to 1.5m long!.
  • Flowers are white with several hundred in large umbrella-like flower heads up to 50cm across, appearing from June - July.
  • Each flower will produce up to 50,000 seeds that are easily dispersed by water and can remain viable for up to 15 years

Control Options

  • Spraying with a commercial glyphosate-based chemical, such as Roundup ProBiactive is effective on Giant Hogweed. The plant needs to be sprayed once all the leaves are fully out, but before flowering. This is typically in June. Any re-growth can be sprayed later in the season. The plant should be controlled in 2 - 3 years, but will need future checking for any newly germinating seeds.
  • Cutting the stems before the plant flowers and sets seed is also an effective control option. This grazing-like method will stop the plant from producing seeds. This should be done for 2 - 3 years before achieving full eradication. Due to the health and safety issues with the 'skin burning' sap of Giant Hogweed, cutting should only be carried out by a qualified person.

Do's and Don'ts!

  • Never throw away or fly tip plant material or soil - under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of Giant Hogweed.
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) should be contacted before any chemical control takes place near water.
  • Giant Hogweed should not be touched without protective clothing as contact with the sap can produce painful skin conditions

What can you do?

The Nith Catchment Fishery Trust are keen to hear from anyone that has reports of Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam or Giant Hogweed locations near watercourses within the Nith catchment area.

Dumfries and Galloway Council are equally keen to receive any roadside location reports by calling the main switch board on 030 3333 3000.

The Trust is now running a 'River Guardian' volunteer scheme to encourage interested helpers to take part in this important conservation project within the Nith catchment. A limited number of training opportunities are available in order to develop a strong team of volunteers to assist with ongoing monitoring and control.

If you wish to find out more information, or want advice on controlling these alien plant species, please contact Debbie Parke at:

The Nith Catchment Fishery Trust
37 George Street

Tel. 01387 740043

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Catch and release

This is where a fish is caught but returned to the water to help preserve fish stocks. Many rivers make this mandatory at particular times of year so you should check the situation when booking.

This page is to give advice on best practice to increase the chances of the fish surviving.

Playing the fish

If you are 'playing' a salmon you can significantly help its chances of survival by applying the information below. It is worth bearing in mind that less than 7% of smolts return as spawning adults, therefore, it is vitally important that the angler who is planning to return his catch is able to tackle this with success and confidence.

Ensure your rod is strong enough to subdue a fish quickly 1 minute per pound weight is a reasonable suggestion for time for landing a fish. To avoid exhausting the fish it is prudent to use 15-20lb leader material where possible. Salmon are not renowned for being cautious about leader visibility. When playing the fish it is the anglers aim to move the salmon out of the fast current into quieter water and have the angler positioned slightly below the fish.

By being below the fish you are able to ensure the salmon is battling the current as well as the anglers tackle whereas if the angler is upstream of the fish the angler is fighting the current and the fish. The fight time is therefore lengthened, perhaps un-necessarily. Make sure you pick a safe place to bring the fish to land. Once the fish is subdued bring it quickly to the bank for hand or net capture.

Landing the fish

Research has shown that exposing a salmon to air for even a short period, for example to take a photograph, can significantly reduce its chances of survival. Keep the salmon in the water at all times. Do not at any time lift a salmon up by the tail as this can damage the tendons in the tail of the fish. Later in the season as the salmon nears spawning time, lifting a salmon by the tail can cause the egg sacs in females and milt sacs in males to rupture into the body cavity which can kill the fish in extreme cases thereafter. At all times support its belly whilst handling the fish in the water.

Use a large Gye-type landing net with knotless mesh which reduces damage to the fish's scales. It is wise to avoid beaching the fish as this again can remove protective mucous and scales from the fish which can lead to fungal infection. The salmon that is being returned cannot be gaffed or tailed by mechanical tailer, as both implements cause considerable damage to the fish and were used historically when fish were being killed by the angler, in the days before the catch and release initiatives, that are currently in place through out many river systems in the UK.

Always handle the salmon with wet hands, or put on soft cotton gloves which need to be wet, when removing the hook from the fish's mouth or body if accidentally foul hooked. This prevents removing the fishes mucous which is the fish's first line of defence against disease and parasites.

It is very important that the fish is kept in the water after being captured and the fish should be supported from beneath, with the hook gently removed either by hand or by means of long-nosed forceps or hook releasing tool. If a hook is deeply embedded and cannot be removed, the leader should be cut close to the hook, as fish released with the hook attached will generally survive, and try not to squeeze the fish too hard, and never hold it by the gills at all times.

Reviving and releasing the fish

After removing the hook, or cutting the leader and leaving the hook or fly in the fish, then we should ensure that the salmon will be supported in the water, facing into the current to allow oxygen uptake by the fish's gills, and given sufficient time to the fish for it to recover. Hold the fish gently until it is capable of swimming away strongly, you will know it is time when you feel it starting to pulse and kick softly. If you release the fish and it turns 'belly up' then quickly capture the fish and support it again for a while facing into the current to allow more oxygen to be absorbed. When the fish is being fought there is lactic acid produced in the muscle tissue which creates oxygen debt and the muscles cannot function adequately Indefinitely.

Avoid weighing the fish if at all possible and if you have to then weigh the net with the fish enclosed in it, a Maclean net is suitable for this. A tape measure or a marked off wading stick can also be used to take the approximate length while keeping the fish in the water.

Alternatively, to accurately measure a big fish capture, an angler can run a length of monofilament or fluorocarbon from a spool, measuring from the fork of the tail to the nose of the fish and tie a knot. Continue to run the mono round the girth of the fish and tie another knot. By cutting the mono just above the second knot the angler has a length that he/she can measure against a tape measure later. Ally Gowans has a calculator for predicting the size of fish which is available on the internet here.

I am sure anglers will find this advice most helpful. Perhaps one day beats may supply this information to visiting anglers on small laminated leaflets with beat conditions. Survival rate is greater at water temperatures below 20°C so be aware of the necessity to quickly subdue and return the fish during the summer months.

Survival chances of released salmon

There has been research carried out by a number of fishery trusts that has shown that the survival rate of salmon caught and released may be close to 100% when we apply the above guidelines and practice.

Spawning success and viability of eggs may be unaffected in salmon caught and released in late autumn using the above guidelines, and they can recover within twenty four to forty eight hours of being captured and are able to spawn successfully.

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