Anglers celebrate opening of the Spey
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MORE than 150 people gathered on the banks of the mighty Spey as the salmon fishing season was declared open for 2020.
Whisky was poured into the river's fast-flowing waters as a gesture of goodwill to the salmon as part of the traditional ceremony, which played out at Aberlour's Penny Bridge on Tuesday.
Roger Knight, director of the Spey Fishery Board and the Spey Foundation, said this year's event was filled with optimism for the forthcoming season.
Mr Knight said: "The opening ceremony for the new season is always a lovely event and yesterday was no different.We had a great turnout and the atmosphere was positive and optimistic; by their nature, anglers are optimistic, but I think yesterday particular so.
"It is known that Atlantic Salmon numbers are in crisis generally and 2018 was a particularly difficult year for us, especially due to the drought conditions and the low water levels.
"We had our lowest catch on record, but last year we had a catch of 5090 salmon and grilse. It was a good year, 60 per cent up on the previous year, and anglers have been particularly optimistic as a result.
"So it was a really positive and enjoyable atmosphere."
Guest of honour was Andrew Flitcroft, editor of Trout and Salmon Magazine, who addressed those gathered and the river was blessed by Reverend Geoffrey McKee.
Pouring the Aberlour 12-Year-old into the river was Stuart Martin, who caught the first fish last year to win the Spey Anniversary Quaich.
The winner of the Quaich for this year is yet to be determined, with anglers still vying for the title of catching the first salmon of 2020. And while they get busy on the river, the Spey Fishery Board is doing all it can to help with stocks.
Mr Knight said: "We are doing as much as we can to help the Atlantic Salmon in its plight with environmental habit projects and also using our hatchery to stock the river."