The statistics show that 86,655 salmon were caught in 2011, 97 per cent of the five-year average. For sea trout, following a long period of decline, catch levels were eight per cent up on the five-year average, to 24,049.
For Scotland as a whole, total reported rod catch of sea trout (retained and released) for 2011 is 24,049. Despite declining for much of the period since 1952, the catch in 2011 increased by eight per cent compared to the previous five-year average.
Over the time series as a whole, broad scale geographic differences are apparent in the sea trout fisheries. Overall catches from west coast rod fisheries have declined while those on the east have shown no clear trend. In 2011, total rod catch for east coast fisheries increased by 12 per cent compared to the previous 5-year average, while west coast fisheries showed little change. It is important to note, however, that there is likely to be considerable variation at finer scales.
The proportion of the total rod catch accounted for by catch and release has shown a general increase since records began in 1994 and accounted for 66 per cent of the catch in 2011.
Catch and effort for both fixed engine and net & coble fisheries remain at historically low levels. Fishing effort in both net fisheries was the fourth lowest since records began in 1952. Catches for fixed engine and net & coble fisheries were three per cent and two per cent of the maximum recorded in the respective time series.
Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said: As the film Salmon Fishing in the Yemen premiers in cinemas, a rare spotlight is cast on the role of Scottish fisheries scientists and their work to preserve and protect our iconic wild salmon.
In collaboration with anglers, our network of scientists and biologists are having success in combating declines in salmon numbers returning to Scotlands coasts, as demonstrated by the continued high rod catches during the 2011 season.
The practice of catch and release is very important and I applaud fishermen for their efforts, particularly for the critical spring salmon when release levels for rod caught salmon were over 90 per cent.
Salmon and trout fishing in the Highlands and throughout Scotland is part of our heritage and provides a real draw for tourism and a boost for rural economies. Im determined to ensure it will remain so for many generations to come.