The opening ceremony, to celebrate the start of the 2015 Dee season was held at Potarch Bridge on Monday, courtesy of Ballogie Estate, and was attended by an enthusiastic crowd.
Martin Gilbert, local businessman and Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, had the honour of casting the first fly of the year and was quickly into a fish- it came off so we will have to speculate if it was a fish or a kelt.
Mr Gilbert is a great supporter of the Dee and has backed the river by investing in it in a number of ways. Mark Bilsby, River Director of the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board (DDSFB) and the River Dee Trust, said: “October 3rd 2014 was historic for the Dee. That day the first salmon ascended the Culter Dam in over 250 years, made possible by a fish pass we had installed on the dam just days earlier. This was funded entirely by the generosity of Martin Gilbert and Stewart Spence, owner of the Marcliffe Hotel.”
The Culter Dam, by Peterculter, is the largest man-made obstruction in the Dee’s catchment. The fish pass has opened up 76 miles of habitat in the previously inaccessible Culter burn for migratory salmon and sea trout to re-establish natural populations in. Once habitat restoration work is completed in the Culter catchment, the DDSFB expects to see an additional 1,500 adult salmon returning to the Dee each year.
Mr Bilsby added: “We are most grateful for Martin Gilbert’s willingness to invest in the Dee and the future of its salmon. In this context it is noteworthy that he has also invested directly in the river with his recent purchase of the Tilbouries fishing beat on the lower Dee, further underlining his positive view of the river’s future prospects. This is particularly encouraging after two years of disappointing catches – in common with most of the rest of Scotland.”
Mr Bilsby concluded: “At the start of a new salmon angling season we remain optimistic that salmon numbers and catches will soon bounce back, not least because of all our continuing investment to maximize and restore the river’s habitat.”
William Foster, proprietor of Park Estate, handed over the Park Trophy, awarded for the largest fish of the year, to Gordon Smith for his 37lb fish from Birse. And Maisie Stanton, daughter of Ballogie Head ghillie Sean, was presented with the Callum Mackezine Cup, which is awarded to a youngster whose catch is selected as the most notable capture of the season. The cup has been provided by Ballogie Estate and the Mackenzie family and is presented at the River Dee opening ceremony each February.
We finished on 12 for the day. Always room for more!