FOR the first time in a decade anglers will compete for the most prestigious trophy in Scottish salmon fishing.
The salmon season officially opens on Monday on a number of Scotland's northern rivers – including the Helmsdale, Thurso, and the Naver.
And the season will get under way on Thursday on the Tay, one of the country's most famous salmon rivers.
For the past ten years, the Malloch Challenge Trophy – the most sought-after and historic trophy in the Scottish angling world – has not been contested.
But the competition for catching the heaviest salmon of the season is to be reinstated after the historic solid silver model of a leaping salmon was acquired by the Tay Salmon Foundation through John Milligan, the chairman of the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board.
The trophy was last awarded in 1999, for a 33lb fish caught on the Spey. A spokesman for the Tay board said: "Tennents, who had been sponsoring the trophy, decided in 1999 that they would no longer do so.
"Also, as conservation of salmon was moving up the agenda ten years ago, it was thought that it was no longer appropriate to award a trophy to the angler who catches and kills the biggest fish. This has now been resolved by altering the criteria for eligibility – only fish that are released back into the water are eligible."
Robert Rattray, who will act as secretary for the reinstated competition, said that under the new criteria for the contest, the salmon had to be caught on a fly and then released alive back into the water.
"We have seen a resurgence in very large salmon in Scottish rivers," he said, "I have no doubt the trophy will spawn more interest than ever."