Spey Salmon Fishing Season Officially Opened

The Salmon Fishing season was officially opened on the River Spey on a bright sunny morning. About 200 people gathered at by Penny Bridge in Aberlour to watch the traditional ceremony which was opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Lt.-Col Grenville Johnston OBE OStJ TD. A blessing was given by Rev. Bob Anderson and a bottle of Aberlour Single Malt Whisky was poured into the fast flowing River Spey to bring luck to those in pursuit of the elusive spring salmon by last year’s Anniversary Quaich Winner, Evelyn Glass. The Spey Fishery Board would like to thank Aberlour Distillery, Walkers Shortbread and Aberlour Bespoke Catering for their generous continued support.


SFB Director, Roger Knight (Centre) welcomes everyone to the Opening Ceremony accompanied by Lt. Col Grenville Johnston OBE OStJ TD (Right) and Rev. Bob Anderson (Left).

Last year’s Anniversay Quaich winner, Evelyn Glass pours Aberlour whisky into the spey accompanied by Alan Sinclair, Piper and Lt. Col. Grenville Johnson watched by many keen anglers, ghillies and visitors.

Above – Piper, Alan Sinclair 

 

 

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Spey Fishery Board

Season Review 2016.

As we approach the opening of the 2017 season, I thought it might be fun to look back to the 2016 season

The season opened with the traditional Opening Ceremony at Aberlour. There were two fish caught on opening day, both from Delfur, and both by local angler Graham Ritchie. Graham will have the honour of pouring the whisky into the river this year’s opening ceremony.

 

The Spey is always a river that starts slowly, February has never been a great month for catches and the records suggest an average of around fifty fish is normal, but considering that not all beats are actually let or fished things are not too bad.

 

March shows a definite improvement but this would be expected, the days are getting longer, and warmer but let us not forget that we are talking of the Scottish Highlands so warmer and longer have to be taken in some sort of perspective. There are always some days lost to floods caused by snowmelt or heavy rain. Last year the monthly catch was just over the one hundred mark, about two thirds of the average.

 

April showed as it often does definite improvement although the weather was not perfect, I still remember a wonderful morning at Delfur in late April when I landed two fish and lost another as the snow showers were driven upstream by a strong Northerly wind. Would I have swapped it for sitting in front of a warm fire, no!

The river finished with just over four hundred fish almost spot on the average.

 

Where else would any salmon angler want to be in May but on the river Spey? Temperatures are rising, the birds have returned from their winter holidays and have paired up, the trees are green and the valley is alive. It is time to get rid of the sinking lines and big flies and concentrate on smaller flies and lines that cast more easily. With the flies fishing closer to the surface you can also get a visual notification of the fish taking. Catches, by now catches were starting to build, word was out the Spey was fishing well! The month finished with just over one thousand fish and again slightly above average.

 

June, another month in which there is nowhere better in the whole world to be. It is not only the quantity of the fish but also the quality. The majority of the fish are into double figures, some in the high teens and the odd one around the twenty-pound mark. These fish do not give up easily and it is not unusual to see the backing on your reel from time to time. Last year I noted more days were lost to flood in June than in March but even so it was one of the best Junes since the fifties. The Spey ended up with just shy of two and a half thousand fish for the month. This is almost a thousand up on the average.

 

In July after the excellent last two months expectations were high. Some who should have known better were getting carried away and predicting bumper catches. Those who have been salmon fishing all their lives were less effervescent. If the grilse had turned up in any strong numbers, the former would have been correct but as they didn’t the pessimists were proved right. The river finished July with just about seventeen hundred fish landed. A little above the average, but after June a little disappointing!

 

August continued the trend. The numbers of fresh fish entering the river was not as it was in years gone by. However visiting anglers could not be disappointed everywhere they looked they could see fish, every pool was stuffed with them but they did not seem to be greatly interested in taking a fly. The weather did not help, the river stayed low, in fact August was the first time since the start of the season that there were no spates. The final tally was close to thirteen hundred fish someway below on the average.

 

September continued the same pattern. Anglers commentating that they had never seen so many fish in the river, surely a great sign for the future of the Spey. The weather stayed benign, great for the farmers taking in their harvests but not so great for the visiting angler. It was the last week of the season before there was a significant rise in the water; most beats showed a flurry of activity but after such a great season September was something of an anti-climax. Catches were around seven hundred and fifty.

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Salmon Fishing Season Opening Day 2017

The Annual Opening Day Ceremony will take place on Saturday 11th February 2017 at 9:00am at Penny Bridge, Alice Littler Park in Aberlour with the traditional pouring of a bottle of Aberlour 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky into the fast flowing waters of the River Spey.

To complete the ceremony Rev. Shuna Dicks, Minister for Aberlour, will bless the river and Alan Sinclair will perform on the bagpipes.

Anglers are invited to attend the opening ceremony, before starting on their quest to catch their first Spring Salmon of the season.  To help celebrate the start of the 2017 season, drams of Aberlour 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, samples of Walkers shortbread and hot drinks supplied by Le Petit Gourmand will be offered during the opening ceremony.  All those involved with the Spey Fishery Board are grateful to the Aberlour distillery and Walkers for their continued generous sponsorship of this event and also to Le Petit Gourmand for their generous support.

There will also be a Opening Day Prize Draw, with the opportunity to win a £200 Fishpal Gift Voucher, a bottle of Aberlour 15 year old Select Cask Reserve Single Malt Whisky and a Walkers Shortbread Hamper.  Tickets will be available at the Opening Ceremony and the draw will take place at the Prize Giving.  See here for details.

The ‘Spey Anniversary Quaich’ will be awarded to the angler who catches the first salmon on the opening day, together with a bottle of Aberlour Single Malt Scotch Whisky and a Walkers Shortbread hamper. The angler who lands the heaviest Salmon on opening day will also receive a bottle of Aberlour Single Malt Scotch Whisky and a Walkers hamper.

Official Competition Rules

Fish must be caught by use of fly only, must be fresh run, released back to the river, and any catch must be verified by the ghillie in attendance.

Anniversary Quaich:

Awarded to the angler who catches the first salmon on the opening day.

 Heaviest Salmon:

Awarded to the angler who catches the heaviest salmon.

Please note the Heaviest Salmon prize cannot be won by the Anniversary Quaich winner.

If the Anniversary Quaich winner (first fish) is also the heaviest, then the heaviest prize would go to the second heaviest fish caught.

If there is only 1 fish caught on the opening day the heaviest fish prize would go to the captor of the 2nd fish caught later in the week.

Registering Catch for prize:

All catches must be reported to Spey Fishery Board, I Nether Borlum, Knockando, AB38 7SD, by 5.00 p.m. on the opening day. Tel:  01340 810841.

The prizes will be awarded at the Aberlour Distillery Visitor Centre, Aberlour at 5.30pm on opening day.

For further information please contact;

Spey Fishery Board Tel. 01340 810841

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Spey Fishery Board

Salmon Fishing Season Opening Day 2016

Following the Opening Day, we would like to thank our sponsors, Aberlour Distillery, Walkers Shortbread, Le Petit Gourmand for their hard work and generosity for making the annual event a great success.  We would also like to thank Fishpal for their donation of a £200 voucher for a raffle prize, the proceeds of which went to the Spey Foundation.  The lucky winner kindly donated the prize to the River Spey Anglers Association to further their Junior Angling Development Programme.

Our thanks are also extended to our guest, Jimmy Gray MBE, former Superintendent of the river from 1978 until his retirement in 2001 and to Allan Sinclair who played the bagpipes whilst Jimmy carried out the tradition of pouring a bottle of 12-year-old single malt Aberlour whisky into the Spey, a superstition said to bring fishers good fortune.

Congratulations to Graham Ritchie who will go down in the Spey records for the first angler to catch the first salmon and then went on to land a 2nd fresh fish on Opening Day, unless we hear otherwise!

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Jimmy Gray MBE giving his entertaining speech.

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Jimmy Gray MBE performing the traditional task.

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Graham Ritchie Presentation by Brian Doran

Anniversary Quaich winner, Graham Ritchie receiving one of his prizes from SFB Chairman, Brian Doran

Brian Doran Spey Board Chairman presentation.

Brian Doran, (SFB Chairman), Rikki Scott (Aberlour Visitor Centre Manager), Graham Ritchie and Rory Paterson (Delfur Ghillie).

 

 

 

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Salmon Fishing Season Opening Day 2016

With the new season approaching, the Spey Fishery Board is full of optimism for another successful year following the much improved catch in 2015.  Last year’s grilse catch was the best since 2010, so the prospects are good for the 2016 spring/summer salmon run!

This year we are pleased to announce that Jimmy Gray MBE, has kindly agreed to open the river.  Jimmy was Superintendent of the Spey Fishery Board ftom 1978 until he retired in 2001.

The Annual Opening Day Ceremony will take place on Thursday 11th February 2016 at 9:00 am at Penny Bridge, Alice Littler Park in Aberlour with the traditional pouring of a bottle of Aberlour 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky into the River Spey.

To complete the ceremony, Rev. Shuna Dicks, Minister for Aberlour, will bless the river and Alan Sinclair will perform on the bagpipes.

Anglers are invited to attend the Opening Ceremony, before starting on their quest to catch the first Spring Salmon of the season.  To help celebrate the start of the 2016 season, drams of Aberlour 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, samples of Walkers Shortbread and hot drinks supplied by Le Petit Gourmand will be offered during the opening ceremony.  Everyone fishing on the 11th should be grateful to the Aberlour Distillery and Walkers for their continued generous sponsorship of this event and also to Le Petit Gourmand for their generous support.

The ‘Spey Anniversary Quaich’ will be awarded to the angler who catches the first salmon on Opening Day, together with an opportunity to hand-fill and register their personalised bottle of cask strength Aberlour Single Malt Scotch Whisky and a Walkers Shortbread hamper.  The angler who lands the heaviest salmon on Opening Day will receive a bottle of Aberlour A’Bunadh and a Walkers Shortbread hamper.  For the ghillies in attendance, each will receive a bottle of Aberlour 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky and a hamper.

Caroline Mitchell, Visitor Centres Manager for Chivas Brothers said, “We’re delighted to once again sponsor the opening of the River Spey salmon fishing season.  Both Aberlour Distillery and the River Spey have a long history of bringing investment and visitors to the town. Aberlour Distillery was established in 1879 by local philanthropist James Fleming, and we are proud of our strong heritage in Aberlour, where we continue to craft our world-renowned range of single malts to this day.  As with last year’s event, the opening ceremony will take place at the Penny Bridge – which is very fitting since this was also commissioned by Fleming as a gift to the town.”

Official Competition Rules

Fish must be caught by use of fly only, must be fresh run, released back to the river, and any catch must be verified by the ghillie in attendance.

Anniversary Quaich

Awarded to the angler who catches the first salmon on the opening day.

Heaviest Salmon

Awarded to the angler who catches the heaviest salmon. Please note the Heaviest Salmon prize cannot by won by the Anniversary Quaich winner.

If the Anniversary Quaich winner (first fish) is also the heaviest, then the heaviest prize would go to the second heaviest fish caught.

If there is only 1 fish caught on the opening day the heaviest fish prize would to the captor of the 2nd fish caught later in the week.

Registering Catch for prize

All catches must be reported to the Spey Fishery Board, 1 Nether Borlum, Knockando, AB38 7SD by 5:00pm on the Opening Day.  Telephone: 01340 810841.

The prizes will be awarded at the Visitor Centre, Aberlour Distillery at 5:30pm on Opening Day.

Aberlour Distillery LogoWalkers Shorbread logo

Le Petit Gourmand

 

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A new season – new laws

The 2015 Salmon fishing season on the Spey opens tomorrow with I’m sure the usual mix of optimism and pessimism depending on the individuals outlook. Certainly everyone will be looking for an improvement on last years poor catch; the worst since official records began although the Spey did better than many other rivers, both large and small.

Various calculations have been made to estimate the number of spawning fish required to fully populate the Spey with juvenile fish. These estimates are usually based on the wetted area of the river and the number of eggs spawned. The problem is of course that whilst we can calculate the wetted area with some degree of confidence and we know how many eggs an average hen produces we don’t know how many run the river in any one year. The only counters on the river are in the very upper reaches and confidence in the counts produced by them are low. My hunch is that the spawning stock in the last two years must be getting close to the estimated conservation limit.

Whilst juvenile stocks in the core habitat still appear to be okay, good even in many places,  we have evidence of declines in the more peripheral areas of the catchment.  However, the majority of the smolts are produced in the core habitat and the salmon has a great capacity to recover if runs improve and conditions are favourable. But with the new season about to start it is appropriate to reflect on the need for abundant runs if the river is to suppport a viable fishery. The consequences are already evident on the river; lettings are down, budgets squeezed, accommodation goes unlet.  The world is a small place now and there is a high degree of transparancy about all aspects of salmon angling. Having said that the Spey remains one of the worlds great salmon fishing destinations and anglers still travel from all over albeit with expectation tempered at present. At least it is now possible for new anglers to fish many beats that were formerly “dead man’s shoes”, although that won’t happen without marketing.

Strangely the 2014 season started well with catches through Feb and March almost as good in that period as in the best seasons over the last decade. From mid April onwards however things went flat. The high average weight of the early fish was notable, a feature of the early season not missed by many. One seasoned ghillie commented that big fish early on means there will be a poor run overall. He was right, the decent run of big three sea winter fish was not followed by any numbers of two sea winter fish (always the dominant age class  on the Spey), with an equally poor run of grilse. We have noted from scale readings that the proportion of three sea winter fish is increasing. This tendancy for the fish to remain at sea for a year longer has been commmented on elswhere in recent seasons, notably on the Tay, providing an indication of what is happening to our salmon stocks. On the Tweed this spring the size of the largest fish landed each day so far this season has been in the high teens, yet recent salmon angling books state that the Tweed early spring run consists almost exclusively of 7-8lb two sea winter fish.

Evidence abounds that the runs of salmon are changing. The proportion of grilse in the Spey rod catch has declined from 41% in the 1990s, 38% in the 2000s to 29% in the 2010s so far. Based on historic salmon cycles there is little chance of that trend reversing in the next few years. If the spring and summer salmon runs return to anything like former abundance most would be happy. This spring? I’d settle for a few 7-8lb fish from the river tomorrow.

What about the new laws? The Scottish Government has over the course of the last year taken a great interest in the management of salmon fishing. About time according to some, others caution “be careful what you wish for”. The Government is currently consulting on a range of conservation measures including banning the killing of salmon except under licence, legal control over methods used and carcase tagging. But a law banning the killing of any wild salmon up to the end of March is already in place. This law is absolute; there can be no “first fish killed”, no first of the season for the old folks home, or the laird; even bleeding fish have to be returned to the river where they may die. This places a responsibility for anglers to fish with appropriate tackle i.e. capable of landing a fish quickly and with minimum damage – hook choice in this regard has never been more important. A springer is one of the greatest prizes in angling lets hope there are a lot of small ones about this year, along with the odd big one!

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River Spey Salmon Season Opening Day 2015

Duncan Bryden, Convener for the Cairngorm National Park Authority has kindly agreed to be our Guest of Honour at the Opening for the Salmon Fishing Season on Wednesday 11th February 2015.

The opening ceremony will take place at 9:00 am at Penny Bridge, Alice Littler Park in Aberlour with the traditional pouring of a bottle of Aberlour 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky into the fast flowing waters of the River Spey.  The honour will be conducted by last year’s winner of the Anniversary Quaich, Mrs Anne Cameron to bring luck to all those in pursuit of the elusive Spring Salmon.

To complete the ceremony Rev. Bob Anderson, Minister for Knockando and Rothes, will bless the river and Alan Sinclair will perform on the bagpipes.

Anglers are invited to attend the opening ceremony, before starting on their quest to catch their first Spring Salmon of the season.  To help celebrate the start of the 2015 season, drams of Aberlour 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky and samples of Walkers shortbread will be offered during the opening ceremony.  The Spey Fishery Board is grateful to the Aberlour distillery and Walkers for their continued generous sponsorship of this event.

The ‘Spey Anniversary Quaich’ will be awarded to the angler who catches the first salmon on the opening day, together with an opportunity to hand-fill and register their personalised bottle of cask strength Aberlour Single Malt Scotch Whisky and a Walkers shortbread hamper. The angler who lands the heaviest Salmon on opening day will receive a bottle of Aberlour A’Bunadh and a Walkers hamper.  For the ghillies in attendance, each will receive a bottle of Aberlour 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky and a Walkers shortbread hamper.

Peter Prentice, Heritage and Brand Experience Director for Chivas Brothers said: “We’re delighted to once again sponsor the opening of the River Spey salmon fishing season. Both Aberlour Distillery and the River Spey have a long history of bringing investment and visitors to the town. Aberlour distillery was established in 1879 by local philanthropist James Fleming, and we are proud of our strong heritage in Aberlour, where we continue to craft our world-renowned range of single malts to this day. As with last year’s event, the opening ceremony will take place on the Penny Bridge – which is very fitting since this was also commissioned by Fleming as a gift to the town.”

The Competition Rules can be found here.

To celebrate this event a Buffet Supper will be held at the Craigellachie Hotel on Wednesday 11th February at 6:00pm.  All are welcome to attend, although we would be grateful for confirmation of numbers in advance. The buffet will be at a cost of £18.95 (including VAT) per person which is payable to the Hotel on the night.

If you would like to attend this Celebratory Supper, please kindly advise the number of people in your party by telephone on 01340 810841 or by email to admin@speyfisheryboard.com by Friday 30th January at the latest.

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