THE salmon fishing season has been declared open with traditional ceremonies being held on the banks of the River Tay.
Crowds gathered by the waters to watch as the first flies were cast on stretches of the river on Friday.
A pipe band led anglers and locals down to the banks at the Kenmore Hotel near Aberfeldy in Perthshire, where a toast was offered to bless the water for the new season.
A dram was poured into the river by Liz Grant, provost of Perth and Kinross - a symbolic gesture to keep the salmon ‘’in good health’’.
Three-time world Spey casting champion Scott Mackenzie then made the first cast of the day to herald the official opening.
Any salmon caught before April will be have to be returned to the water in line with recent legislation.
Elsewhere, environment minister Dr Aileen McLeod opened the season on the river at a similar ceremony at Dunkeld.
She said: “Scotland is recognised across the world as the destination for salmon and freshwater fishing.
“Game and coarse angling is worth more than £100 million to the Scottish economy and supports almost 3,000 jobs, which shows the importance of maintaining and enhancing the quality of our rivers and fish stocks.
“I plan to launch the next stage of the wild fisheries reform programme shortly, which will confirm this Government’s ongoing commitment to manage, conserve and develop our wild fisheries.”
William Jack, chairman of the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB), said: “Salmon angling on the Tay is not just a pastime enjoyed by many from all walks of life but is also a significant contributor to the local economy in this area, creating many jobs for ghillies and in the hospitality sector, and is rightly deserving of government support.”
At the ceremony, Dr McLeod also presented the Malloch Trophy - for one of the largest salmon caught by an angler on a fly and safely returned during the year in Scottish waters - to the 2015 winner.
The successful angler was Tom Buchanan, from Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, for a 35lb salmon caught on the River Lyon, a major Tay tributary.
TDSFB director Dr David Summers said there was a particular interest in the Tay this year as catches have been increasing in recent years following a period of decline.
He added: “Last year, preliminary figures indicate 2,100 salmon were caught by the end of May, of which 94% were released alive.”
The River Tay is Scotland’s longest at 119 miles and is one of the country’s five big Scottish salmon rivers.