Friday 22 May 2020


Photo of Charlie Whelan from Inverness Courier.

The SGA Fishing Group yesterday (Thursday) warmly welcomed Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that fishing would be one of the permitted activities in Phase One of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Providing Government advice suggests it is safe to do so, local area angling could get started again following the next timetabled review next Thursday (28th May). 
It is now vitally important for everyone in the angling community to take responsibility for ensuring this is done safely, sensibly and in a way which does not risk the progress which has been made by everyone in the national effort to live with Covid-19.
The SGA Fishing Group and others have played an active part in making the case for a return to local angling, outlining how this can be achieved in a way which minimises the risk of virus transmission, see:
Now, if done sensibly, and adhering to the Government guidance, it is hoped the angling community- which has made sacrifices willingly like others- can pave the way for further phased easing of restrictions (if safe to do so) in future.
The best way to do so is to demonstrate responsibility when Phase One begins.
Already the SGA has been contacted by people asking questions about how far they can travel to fish their local waters.
While there is a fair argument to suggest some rural anglers ( who cannot access their normal fishing spot close to home without travelling more than 5 miles) may be disadvantaged- and we have some sympathy with that view- the Government guidance in this phase is clear: people should not travel more than 5 miles to fish (see below). 

In the lockdown road map, announced yesterday (full details can be downloaded, here: the earliest possible time when people could travel further than locally in order to fish would be July 3rd at Phase 3, unless Government decides to deviate from their stated course.

As ever, the SGA Fishing Group would like to hear views from members as we continue to work with Scottish Government on how the country sports sector in Scotland in general can move towards a resumption of key activities, in line with guidance. By telling us how things are working- or not- for you, we can raise their issues directly with key decision makers.

Here is how the SGA Fishing Group welcomed the news yesterday: 

Charlie Whelan, angler and Ambassador for the SGA Fishing Group, a stand- alone fishing arm of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, said:

“This is a welcome announcement by Nicola Sturgeon. Many anglers have been looking on enviously at images of people on the banks in England and Wales and, although the Spring season has been lost and some may feel they could have returned sooner, the fishing community has been wholly respectful of the virus, the government’s advice and the wellbeing of local communities.

“Fisheries should now take the time to ensure local angling can be participated in safely on their waters. Many people will benefit from getting back on the banks again, both physically and mentally, and it will help to maintain the interest of young people which is vital for the future of the activity in this country.

“This is also an initial but tentative step forward for the wider country sports industry which is facing great uncertainty. However, with support and co-operation from Scottish Government, the sector could be pivotal in driving economic recovery in some of Scotland’s remotest places, when it is deemed safe to do so. Country sports, including angling, generate around £315m a year for the economy and sustain thousands of jobs in areas which, analysis suggests, will be disproportionately impacted by Coronavirus trading restrictions.”

How did the press view our comments? 

What did you tell us? 

As well as advocating for our members, the SGA also provides insurance cover for country sports. Have you ever considered joining the SGA? If you become a member, you can also become part of the SGA Fishing Group and keep up to date with our news and work.

At present, the SGA Fishing Group also has an active petition running in the Scottish Parliament, asking for a full stakeholder consultation on hatcheries and river stocking. 

If you are a ghillie or an angler and you want to join the SGA, here are some of the other benefits.

For only £40 per year, you get: 

* 3rd party insurance cover for public liability to others up to £10 million 
* 1hr free legal advice 
* 1hr free HR advice
* Membership hotline manned Monday to Friday  9am - 5pm.
* Quarterly magazine packed with information on countryside issues and specialist columns.
* Access to discounts on Toyota, Lexus and Ford Vehicles 
* Discounts on Certain Training courses 

You can join online, on
to inquire about joining the SGA Fishing Group, contact