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Catch and Release for Atlantic Salmon



In addition to mandatory catch and release for all salmon (any size) and sea trout (over 40 cm) in those rivers set out here, anglers can play an important part in the protection of future stocks by retuning salmon in rivers where insufficient salmon are surviving to spawn. The practice of catch and release has been increasing in recent years and in 2005, anglers returned 12% of the salmon catch taken by rod and line.

In particular, stocks of spring fish (multi-sea-winter salmon) are at an all-time low across the North Atlantic. Assessments of salmon stocks by scientists using rod catch as an estimate of total stock have indicated that only 24 rivers in Ireland are consistently meeting their Conservation Limit. By voluntarily returning spring fish and grilse to all river anglers are helping to protect future salmon stocks by allowing additional numbers of salmon to spawn.

Fishing Tackle

The angling method used can have a significant bearing on the survival rate of released salmon Anglers intent on releasing fish, or anglers fishing waters where a catch and release rule is in force. should carefully consider the angling method used. Salmon caught by fly fishing using single barbless hooks, have a greater chance of survival than fish caught on barbed hooks, Ireland hooks or lures with double or treble hooks.

Barbless hooks do less damage, are easier to remove and reduce handling time which can be in important factor influencing survival. Barbed hooks can have the barb pinched with a pliars to allow salmon to be released more easily. Where it is not possible to use barbless hooks, hooks used should preferably be single. The fishing tackle used should be strong enough to enable the fish to be brought in quickly. taking account of the prevailing conditions and the possible size of the fish that might be caught.

Playing the Fish

Playing a fish in the following way will help its chances of survival:

Landing the Fish

Research has shown that exposing a salmon to air for even a short period, for example to take a photograph, can significantly reduce its chances of survival.

Removing the Hook

Releasing and Reviving the Fish

Weight / Length conversion chart for salmon

Survival Chances of Released Salmon

Spring Salmon

Stocks of spring salmon are at an all time low across their North Atlantic range. conservation is more important now than ever. Catch and Release can ensure that more salmon survive to spawn.


Copies of a 20 minute video on ‘Catch and Release – The Future in your Hands’ is available free of charge (while stocks last) from

Inland Fisheries Ireland,
Swords Business Campus,
Co. Dublin.

Telephone: +353-(0)1-8842600
Email: with “Catch & Release” in the subject

More information: