Fishing tips and practical information

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Get up-to-date information on Scotland's fishing river levels, catches and local services while you're on the move.

  • Close up of a fisherman’s fishing rod and reel by the River Annan
    Fishing on the River Annan
  • An instructor teaches a woman fly fishing on the River Tay
    Learning to fish on the River Tay
  • Close up of an angler's homemade flies at the Sawmill Pool on the River Nith
    Homemade flies by the River Nith
  • Anglers fishing from a small boat on Punds Water, mainland, Shetland
    Punds Water on the mainland, Shetland

Scotland offers some of the best freshwater and sea angling in the world and with fishing all year round, there is something for every fisherman. Find more information about fishing seasons, permits and conservation issues about fishing in Scotland.

Permits and licences

To fish in Scotland you do not require a rod licence from the government or environment agencies. The costs and rights to fish in various waters are controlled by landowners, fishing associations, angling clubs and commercial fisheries.

This means you require a separate permit to fish each individual water, sometimes even for different stretches of the same river.

Remember to check your permit and any literature provided by the proprietors as this will stipulate what bait and methods are allowed, as individual fisheries and rivers sometimes impose restrictions on these areas, either all year round or at certain times of the season.

Closed season

Scotland’s salmon fishing season varies from river to river but you can usually fish successfully between 11 January to 30 November.

The official brown trout season runs from 15 March to 6 October, however, some rivers in Aberdeenshire and the Highlands do not open until the 1 April.

There is no legal closed season for rainbow trout, grayling, coarse or sea fishing, although some fisheries do not operate in winter. You should always check the season dates on your permit before you start to fish.


Fishing for salmon and sea trout on a Sunday is strictly prohibited. However, it is not illegal for other forms of fishing and most still water fisheries operate on Sundays.

Fishing for brown trout on a Sunday is legal but is frowned upon on some rivers.

Keeping fish

In Scotland it is a criminal offence to sell your catch of salmon or sea trout, so you must always return your fish to the river unless you intend to eat it.

In the interests of conservation, many rivers run a catch and release policy or impose limits on how many fish you can take for yourself. There are no legal restrictions for other types of fishing, but some fisheries may impose a limit.

To help get the best out of your fishing trip, check recent catches and river levels.

For further information and advice on fishing in Scotland request a free Fish in Scotland Brochure or visit the Fish in Scotland website which includes details of instructors, guides and ghillies who are on hand to help.

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