Monday, 2 February 2015

River Dee Opening Ceremony 2015

Today I attended the 2015 Opening Ceremony of the River Dee salmon fishing season. Once again the event was held at Ballogie and the first cast was performed by local businessman and beat owner, Martin Gilbert. Martin, along with another local businessman, Stuart Spence were responsible for the funding which paid for the recently completed fish pass on the Culter Burn.

Invitation to the event at Ballogie.
The fish pass has already seen good numbers of salmon and sea trout ascend what was previously an impassable dam, allowing fish access to spawning grounds for the first time in nearly 200 years. This can only be of benefit to the lower river as the Culter Burn is one of the Dee's largest tributaries. I think to have been given the opportunity to open the river is a fitting gesture for helping make this all this possible.

Potarch Bridge Pool where the annual First Cast was held again this year. Beautiful location.
Local artist Mel Shand was also in attendance selling copies her book "a portrait of the River Dee" which a percentage of sales go to the River Dee Trust.

A free dram of whiskey helped to warm up many of the guests in attendance today.
Around 200 guests braved the cold to attend the ceremony and I'm sure many were grateful for the refreshments laid on in the marquee tent before the ceremonial first cast took place. Dee Chairman, Richard Gledson gave a speech to the gathered crowd and wished everyone all the best for the year ahead. There was also the presentations of the Park Trophy and the Callum Mackenzie Cup. The Park Trophy is awarded for the largest fish of the season and it this year it was won by Gordon Smith for catching a 37lb cock salmon at Birse in October. Maisie Stanton, daughter of Ballogie ghillie Sean, was presented with the Callum Mackenzie Cup which is awarded to a young angler for the best fish of the season. Maisie not only caught her first salmon last year but went on to catch another four before the season was finished. Considering it was a poor season overall, this is a fantastic achievement so well done and I'm sure she made her father very proud.

A good crowd was in attendance to see in the opening of the 2015 Salmon Fishing Season.
Gordon Smith collecting the Park Trophy from William Foster for his 37lber caught at Birse in October.
Maisie Stanton gives an interview for the TV cameras along side here proud dad, Sean who is head ghillie at Ballogie Estate.
After the presentations, it was off down to the famous Bridge Pool where Martin Gilbert was to have the first cast. Martin toasted the river with a quaich of whiskey and was handed the rod for the first cast. Martin had only had a few casts when he lifted into a fish. A big cheer went up from the crowd but after a minute or so, the fish unfortunately came off. Still, it was a bit of excitement and it gave the TV crews some good footage.

The crowd gathering for Martin Gilbert to bless the river to open the 2015 Salmon fishing season.
Martin Gilbert blesses the river before having the first cast of 2015.
Sean Stanton gives the crowd the thumbs up as Martin lifts into a fish in the Bridge Pool.
Soon after the fish was lost, it was back to the tent for a chat with some familiar faces and it was good to catch up with friends old and new. It's great to have the salmon season open again and I look forward to having a cast on the Dee myself this coming Saturday. Hopefully I have something to write about and will post pictures in due course. Tight lines to all for 2015 and let's hope it is better than last year.

A short video of the Opening Ceremony. Not the best quality but at least it will give you an idea of what this event is all about.

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