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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Edinburgh
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    Lightbulb Humiliating Climbdown by Tay District Salmon Fishery Board

    In what must surely be regarded as an embarrassing loss of face, the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board, through their lawyers, this week agreed to pay the sum of 6,000 and expenses to an angler who, at the instance of Board bailiffs, had been charged with offences relating to the possession of salmon wrongly characterised been "unseasonable".

    More than twenty years ago the High Court of Justiciary, sitting in Edinburgh, defined the limited circumstances in law in which that word could be applied to a fish of the salmon kind. The fish has to be on the eve of spawning.

    The angler in question had been one of a party of anglers who had taken the fish from a beat of a Tay tributary in mid-September. The Board's own website suggests that salmon only begin spawning in October. Indeed, one of the three distinguished judges hearing that earlier case, Lord Cowie, a well-known angler as well as a former rugby international for Scotland, pointed out that a fish bearing some signs of redness may nonetheless be a good autumn fish. In other words a fish whose flanks are turning red is not ipso facto unseasonable. Of course, as Lord Cowie pointed out, most anglers will return a fish in an advanced state of redness because the quality of the fish for consumption will have deteriorated, a remark which all sensible anglers will endorse.

    In this case the two fish in question were undoubtedly good autumn fish, and after lawyers for the angler sent a long letter to the procurator fiscal disputing the charges and explaining the applicable law, the prosecution of the angler was abandoned. The angler, a highly-regarded and skilful fly fisherman from England, had been put to considerable inconvenience and expense and, after consulting with his lawyers, had sued the Board. It appeared to these lawyers that the Board's own bailiffs had beeen ignorant of the appeal court's decision as to the meaning in law of the word "unseasonable" when they prompted the police to charge the angler with the offences, despite the considerable antiquity of the decision. The owner of the fishery in question had been appalled by the actions of the bailiffs and had offered of his own volition to give evidence in court on oath in favour of the angler.

    It is profoundly to be hoped that the Board will have the grace to issue through the angling press an abject and craven public apology to the angler in question and see to it that their bailiffs are soon updated as to the law, because, following this lamentable episode, some of this angler's friends had decided never to return to fish in Scotland again. It is believed that Trout and Salmon and Fly Tying & Fly Fishing have been informed of the outcome of this case, and it is surely their responsibility to call insistently for such an apology now that the case is settled.

    This was a very bad case. It is not in the public interest that an officer of law such a bailiff should be ignorant of this specialised area of law, or that a sporting and decent angler such as this man should ever again be subjected to the ordeal which was inflicted upon him. His holiday had been ruined, he had been subjected to considerable expense, anxiety and distress for many months before the charges against him were dropped, and, to this day, his confiscated fish have never been returned to him. One wonders what happened to the fish.

    Is there any hope that the lesson will now be learned, however late in the day, or will the Association of District Salmon Fishery Boards treat the matter as if it never happened, I wonder.

  2. #2

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    Had never heard of this case but interesting to read such an unbiased account of events.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2008
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    Glasgow
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    Angler accepts 'substantial damages' over claim he killed unseasonable fish | Herald Scotland

    So this seems to confirm that no matter how black or kippered a fish is as long as you can reasonably prove that the fish is not "on the eve of spawning" then there is nothing anyone can do to legally prevent you from taking one?

    I would be interested to see some pictures of the fish that lead the bailiffs to take this action...

  4. #4

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    Thank you for an interesting update. There was a case involving Ardoe and Murtle on the Dee I believe, where a simelar prosecution failed and the court set quite strict parameters for what constituted an unseasonable fish. I'm surprised that was not required reading for all bailiffs in Scotland.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Morpeth, Northumberland
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    I'd like to see a photo of said fish. The report said he was an experienced salmon fisher who only took the odd fish for the table, he returned most of them. I can't imagine an old kipper really appealing to him, so what state were the fish in??

  6. #6
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    Glasgow
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luckynotgood View Post
    I can't imagine an old kipper really appealing to him, so what state were the fish in??
    The Ericht in September...silver licers probably a wee bit thin on the ground?

  7. #7

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    In this day and age it is a shame that anyone would take a fish that is coloured enough to make bailiffs want to prosecute him. However the law is clear on what is unseasonable and if I know it the bailiffs should. I have heard very experienced anglers, including ghillies describe ant coloured fish as unseasonable, but in point of law this is rarely the case. I guess you will see unseasonable fish caught on the tweed and other very late rivers but it would be very unlikely anyone would want to take one. In all rather a sad incident and no one will come out of it with a good reputation.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2008
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    Paisley strathclyde.
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    Have over the last thirty odd years met all the Tay Boards bailiffs and see them on a regular basis. Can not quote on the said fish as I never saw it in the flesh. However I would have taken the bailiffs word for it going by there experience. The head bailiff Lee F. is out all hours of the day and night and is a good advert for the board.
    Have disagreed with the board on here many times in the past
    Bob

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Dumfriesshire
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    Maybe said fish was bleeding badly, maybe said fish pegged it and wouldn't go back?
    We don't know as we were not there.

    My understanding of how to tell that a fish is unseasonable is that if you lie it on the ground and rub along its belly and it's spits peas or milt it is unseasonable.

    In my experience we are now returning most fish like this.

    As for not being many licers about on the Ericht at that time of year, I don't see much difference in fishing for fish that you are likely to have to put back than fishing for sea liced springers at this time of year that by law you have to put back.
    Smacks a bit of double standards.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2008
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    Glasgow
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post

    As for not being many licers about on the Ericht at that time of year, I don't see much difference in fishing for fish that you are likely to have to put back than fishing for sea liced springers at this time of year that by law you have to put back.
    Smacks a bit of double standards.
    No double standards here Thrasher, I agree with all you say I was only remarking on the likelihood that most fish encountered on that part of the system are likely to be past their best in relation to being suitable for keeping and in my opinion( I realise other people have different parameters of what is suitable to keep)

    Similarly I fish the Glass in September and October and have next to no chance of encountering a "keeper" and as such have long since accepted that all my fish are heading back.

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