Fish jumping

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. Your permit and any literature provided by the proprietors 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.

Here are a few useful things to know about fishing rights in Scotland:

  • Fishing rights are private. It is not the fish but the right to fish for them that is owned.
  • Salmon fishing rights are heritable titles, which may be held with or separate from the land, and carry with them the subsidiary right to fish for trout and other freshwater fish. This right must not be exercised in a way that will interfere with the rights of the riparian owner. Where the right is held separate from the land, the proprietor of the right has an implied right of access for the purpose of exercising his right to fish for salmon.
  • The rights to freshwater fish belong to the owner of the land that is adjacent to the water, unless held separately from the land. An exception is public waters. A public river is both tidal and navigable, and the right extends as far up river as ordinary spring tides (as marked on an Ordinance Survey map).
  • It is a criminal offence to fish for salmon without the legal right or without written permission from the owner of the right. In the case of fishing for trout and other freshwater fish, fishing without permission is a civil rather than a criminal offence. However, unauthorised fishing can be made the subject of criminal proceedings under the Theft Act 1607, where any person removing fish from a stank - any artificial pond or reservoir which has been stocked and has neither inlet nor outlet - without authority is guilty of theft.

Further information about fishing rights in Scotland can be found at

Permit boxSeason

  • The official brown trout season runs from 15 March to 6 October.
  • There is no legal closed season for rainbow trout, grayling, coarse or sea fishing although some fisheries do not operate in winter.
  • Scotland’s salmon fishing season varies from river to river but in Lochaber the salmon season usually runs from late spring to late October.


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.

For further information and advice on fishing in Lochaber, visit the Fishpal website.