First cast of Dee season!

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The start of the 2011 salmon fishing season on the River Dee got underway this week with an official opening ceremony on the riverbank at Potarch Bridge.

Journalist and television newsreader Fiona Armstrong was the guest of honour and formally opened the river in great style when she caught a fish after only a few casts.

In her welcoming speech Mrs Armstrong said it was an “honour” to officially start the salmon fishing season.

She said: “I am absolutely thrilled and delighted to be here, it is such an honour.

The Dee is the most fabulous river, and I have a really special fondness for the Dee because twenty five years ago I caught my very first fish on the river.”

Mrs Armstrong, who has presented various fishing programmes over the years, also paid tribute to the people who work on the river.

“The Dee is a world-famous river and the fish here are incredibly precious. You have had the best year here for thirty years, and it is such a tribute to all the people who look after the river.”

Mrs Armstrong stressed to the crowd why the river is so important to the local people.

She said: “Everyone benefits from the river, from the tourists to the anglers.

This river is the heart of the community and the lifeblood of this valley.

“It is a valuable asset and continues to provide a livelihood for hundreds, if not thousands, of people.”

Mark Bilsby, River Director of the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and River Dee Trust, added: “The Dee enters 2011 in excellent spirits.

Overall rod catches of salmon and grilse in 2010 were the highest for 30 years and this excludes catches during the three year trial extension to the fishing season in October.

“Catches were once again boosted by good water levels, giving some ideal angling conditions coinciding with first class runs of fish.”

Mr Bilsby continued: “We are particularly heartened by the continuing improvement in spring salmon numbers with 2010’s spring rod catch, the best for 15 years.

It was also the second most prolific season for sea trout on record.

“The encouraging trend of better catches, which we have seen over the last few years, is welcome news for those that make their livelihood from the river and is testimony to their hard work and commitment, along with the support of anglers who continue to return fish to the water so that they carry on their journey and spawn.

“The Dee Board and River Dee Trust are by no means complacent and we are looking to the future with ambitious projects.

“We are moving forward on a range of fronts to improve the habitat of both the main river and its tributaries in order to give fish the best start in life.”

Ian Scott, River Dee Board and Trust chairman added: “I’m looking forward to a productive season on this happy day for Deeside, where there are so many positive things happening for our river and valley.”