The River Dee salmon fishing season commenced yesterday on the 1st February which saw a group of around 280 people assemble on the banks of the River at Potarch Bridge to attend the annual opening ceremony. There were a number of keynote speeches made by Mark Bilsby who informed the audience that the river would be opened by Alastair Hume this year. Mr Hume has served the board for 50 years and was a founder member of Aberdeen angling association in 1946 which today has over 1100 members.It was very fitting that Mr Hume had the honour of opening the river as it is the 150th birthday of the River Dee Board. Mr Hume made an excellent speech which entertained the audience which skillfully covered his passion, involvement and hopes for the future of the River. His anecdote about fishing for sea trout during the war and losing fishing because of air raids by german aircraft was very humorous.
There was the presentation of the Park Trophy for the largest salmon caught in 2012 to Malcolm Tocher who collected the trophy on behalf of Reid Hagelin and Dunecht Estates from Park Estates Proprietor William Foster. The winner of the trophy Mr Hagelin landed a 35 lb salmon at Lower Crathes in October however he could not attend as he was working in Spain. There was an announcement that there would be the Callum Mackenzie Cup presented annually to the best fish caught by a youngster under 16 years of age. Callum was formerly a Ghillie at Ballogie Estate and taught many youngsters to fish over the years. There will be a more comprehensive press release about this trophy in due course.
Mr Bilsby also announce to the audience that there will be an annual bursary award made by the River Dee Board and Trust to encourage a young person to gain employment on the river as an apprentice Ghillie. He stressed the importance of bringing a new generation of young people to the river to learn the skills of a Ghillie from our hugely experienced Ghillies who work on the river. The event also saw the launch of a fundraising raffle for the River Dee Trust where there are a number of lovely prizes available for holders of winning raffle tickets. The tickets which cost £5 each were eagerly snapped up by many people at the event and there will be opportunities for the public to purchase raffle tickets over the next few months before the draw is made in June.
Thanks to Ken Reid of the River Dee board for providing this information and to our own photographer Glyn Satterley and Mark Paterson for images.
Down river at Lower Crathes we were out ourselves in full force trying to catch that elusive springer. We arrived to the river at a perfect height and running clear.
We were in little doubt that a spring salmon would be caught that day and as such we were not disappointed. Geoff Fisher was the star of the day after landing a lovely 10lb fish from the bridge pool just after lunch.
It goes with out saying that early season fishing throws up all sorts of beasts from the depths, opening day was no exception.
Between the group we had well over 20 very well mended kelts and 3 large baggots. We had plenty heart stopping moments as all the fish fought very well! In fact on more that 4 occasions the head ghillie and our rods were convinced we had hooked a springer.
So one fresh fish caught and lots of last years models. Overall this made very enjoyable day. It was back to Banchory in the evening to visit the other rods for a few (lots) drinks in the Stag as always. The craic is always 1st class along with the tales of catches up and down the river.
The Dee as a whole had a modest opening day compared to recent years and although the figures were still very respectable given the time of the year, we expected more to be caught given the conditions.
What was encouraging was to see decent catches as far up as Aboyne. As predicted the mild winter has helped spread some of the early running fish further up river which as you will agree bodes well for the early months.
The Dee opening day tally was 20 fish in total taking into account the beats that do not report online.
Now as you know the Tweed and Teith seasons also kicked off on the 1st.
Unfortunately due to the heavy thaw the Tweed was for the most part un-fishable due to high water and as such we have heard of no fresh fish caught.
The Teith also opened its doors for the new season on Friday where more than seventy anglers celebrated the first day of the Salmon Fishing Season at Callander Meadows.
And joining the celebrations was world-renowned fly caster and salmon fisherman Peter Anderson who at the age go 86 performed the official toasting ceremony along with Stirling Provost Mike Robbins on the River Teith.
The 2013 fishing season parade left Ancaster Square in Callander at 9.15am led by Bannockburn and District Pipe Band and proceeded along Callander’s Main Street to The Meadows Car Park for the official toasting ceremony and opening day competitions.
Deanston Distillery in partnership with Stirling Council provided prizes for the first salmon and heaviest salmon caught and released.
Anglers have to adhere the Council’s strict new catch-and-release rules for all salmon and sea trout caught on the Rivers Forth and Teith before June 1st. The new rules were agreed in 2011 in an effort to stop the decline of spring salmon and sea trout on the strong recommendations for the Forth District Salmon Fisheries Board.
Provost Mike Robbins: “I’m delighted that Peter could join us to officially start the 2013 salmon fishing season. Although the river was in spate the anglers seemed to be enjoying the first day of the new season. Conservation of salmon and sea-trout is vitally important to both the Council and anglers to protect stocks so this great sport is enjoyed by everyone and future generations”.
No doubt both these rivers as well as the Dee will fair well next week with the forecasted spell of cold weather which will hold the water back.
Lastly, our new You Tube Channel www.flyfishingchannel.tv has launched and will feature monthly (sometimes more) shows from Scotland and abroad. Our fist show features opening day on the Dee. You can watch this by clicking the link below.
Hope you enjoy!
Until next time folks,