You may be able to wander into pretty much any supermarket at any time of the year and pick up salmon, but you can be rest assured that’s farmed. Wild – at any rate Scottish wild – is far too rare and pricey to get into supermarkets.
Only a few dozen people in the whole of the UK have licences to catch and sell this fish on a commercial basis. And even these few are steadily being bought out by recreational fishermen. (Well, not your average recreational fisherman… more, the riverbankers.)
The Scottish salmon season begins at different times on different rivers, but rarely earlier than April. At this stage the fish is only available in small quantities and the price is astronomical. But by late May, the price is coming down into the stratosphere.
“There are always a few people who will be keen to get the fish they prize as early as possible. And our job is to keep them happy.” So when, last Tuesday, James was offered his first fish of the 2012 season, he snapped them up.
That made Mr Wild happy. He paid £200 for a single fish. It’s that one above, all beautifully portioned.
So what makes wild salmon different? “Tighter muscles, less fat, darker meat. A richer, more refined taste. And possibly there’s a bit of status there as well”, says James.
Fingers crossed, some time between July and September the fish will run heavily and the price will become more realistic.