The Scottish Government has confirmed conservation gradings for the Ness district for 2018, with no change from those set for 2017. Grade 3 status will remain across the district until June 30 to protect spring salmon and early running grilse destined for the River Moriston. From July 1, mandatory catch and release will remain in the Moriston conservation area – but the River Ness, Loch Ness and the rest of the Ness district will be uplifted to Grade 2, allowing a limited number of fish to be caught and retained.
All salmon and grilse must be released unharmed during the Grade 3 period. During the Grade 2 period, from July 1 to October 15, all hen fish, cock fish over eight pounds and coloured or unseasonable fish must be released. Only one cock fish weighing eight pounds or under may be retained per angler per week, with a maximum of two per season.
There are a series of restrictions on baits and lures. The use of prawns and shrimp is prohibited throughout the Ness district, as are worms for salmon and sea trout above Dochfour Weir. Any spinning lure or plug should have only one hook no bigger than size 6. Preferably, all hooks should be single, barbless or crimped.
The use of worms below Dochfour Weir is restricted to the period between July 1 and August 31. Anglers should not fish with worms anywhere in the district while mandatory catch and release is in force.
Grading’s for all 171 rivers and assessment groups for 2018 can be found at the Marine Scotland website http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Salmon-Trout-Coarse/fishreform/licence/status The regulations themselves can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2018/37/contents/made