SCOTTISH anglers are releasing more fish to help protect stocks.
While the number of salmon caught in the last year is the highest on record, Government body Marine Scotland revealed that 70% of the 110,496 caught were returned to the water.
For spring fish this figure rose to 86%.
Sea trout are also reaping the benefits of catch and release policies with 72% of the 27,704 fish released.
Both species also experiences and explosion in catches with the number of salmon being landed revealed to have increased by 31% compared to a previous five year average.
Sea trout saw a 34% rise.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I am delighted that 2010 produced the highest rod catches of salmon in Scotland ever recorded. These figures come on the back of some successful years, although we must remember that salmon numbers can be affected by many factors.
“These results illustrate the commitment of many anglers on our salmon rivers to forward looking management. “That said anglers, by again increasing the percentage of fish that they release, are to be congratulated for playing their part.
“By releasing 70 per cent of their catch they continue to contribute greatly to the quality of angling opportunity available to themselves and their fellow anglers.
“This government has pledged to continue to support the modernisation of fisheries management in Scotland to enable it to develop as a valued economic driver for the country as a whole – and our rural communities in particular – and we look forward to continuing to work with the sector to achieve this.”