Environmental watchdog Sepa has been urged to act as the Scottish heatwave leaves the water level at the River Ericht dangerously low.
The east Perthshire waterway has been particularly affected by the heatwave which has dried courses and affected salmon safety.
Anglers say the situation has become critical because of water abstraction schemes which are impairing the passage of migratory fish.
A mill lade on the left bank of the river weir controls the flow of the river, so that most of the water is diverted to a fish farm at West Mill.
Not only does it make in nearly impossible for salmon to move up and down the river during hot weather, juvenile fish are getting stuck and left to die at Blairgowrie.
Locals are worried the lack of salmon will have a devastating knock-on effect for businesses.
Claire Mercer Nairne, a member of the Tay Salmon Fisheries Board and owner of a local hotel, said: “The poor ecological state of the River Ericht in low water conditions, aggravated by two water abstraction schemes, is certainly an issue for the Blairgowrie Rattray Angling Club, but it is probably even more critical for the rural businesses that depend on anglers.”
She said: “From a green tourism point of view, the River Ericht system is important on two aspects – firstly, it provides very affordable salmon fishing to our local community as well as visiting anglers, and secondly it is a strategic nursery habitat for salmon which provide internationally renowned sport to visitors on the main step of the Tay.”
River Ericht convener Robert Kellie added: “The Ericht is probably one of the most important tributaries of the Tay.
“There are no dams on it, and it is very healthy.
“But our rod catches have gone right down. Some of the juvenile salmon were stuck under the bridge at Blairgowrie for a month.
“I asked the fisheries board what would happened to them, and they told me they were as good as dead.”
He said: “There is more water going down the lade, than there is going down the river and that is simply not acceptable.”
Sepa has pledged to take steps to resolve the situation and is considering options to raise the flow by reducing the volume abstracted.
In a letter to Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, the agency’s chief executive officer Terry A’Hearn said: “In low flow conditions, such as we have experienced in May and early June this year, this leaves very little water in the River Ericht. This is clearly unsatisfactory.”
Mr Fraser said: “It is good to note that SEPA have been in direct contact with the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board and users of the river. Ensuring their perspective is heard will be important in bringing forward a solution that works for all parties.”
SNP MSP John Swinney added: ““I met with the Blairgowrie and Rattray Angling Association this week to listen to their concerns about the flow of water in the River Ericht at times of acute low water.
“That concern is significant at this time. I am arranging to meet SEPA to discuss their concerns and this meeting will be arranged as soon as possible.”