Anglers from across the globe will be casting their hopes on winning a coveted trophy recognising the year’s best catch on the River Dee.
The new trophy was commissioned by David Littlewood, owner of Tor Na Coille Hotel at Banchory, and is a stunning salmon sculpture made from old pennies and other coins.
The use of coins from different currencies is symbolic given that one of the most iconic locations in the world to fish attracts people from all over the world and generates millions of pounds to the local economy every year.
The trophy will be presented at the opening of the River Dee this Saturday, February 1, when actor and fishing aficionado Robson Green will cast off the 2020 season.
Two Aberdeenshire artisans were commissioned to create the unique award which has been hailed as an artistic tribute to the majesty of the river and Scotland’s iconic species, the Atlantic salmon.
Renowned sculptor Helen Denerley combined her love of the natural world with technical aspects of metalwork, casting the salmon sculpture from old pennies and other currencies.
Helen, best known for fashioning two life-sized giraffe metal sculptures at the Omni Centre on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk, has had her work feature in collections across the UK and overseas, including projects in the USA and Japan. Being able to work on a project closer to home was a real surprise for the sculptor, who said: “I was delighted to be asked to create this trophy as I have always enjoyed the natural habitat around the rivers Dee and Don.”
The plinth was crafted from local elm and resin to resemble a flowing river, and made by Inverurie carpenter Kenny McKay, of Polished Finish.
The best catch is one of the most prestigious honours that can be won by a River Dee angler. It is not necessarily awarded to the angler who lands the heaviest fish, but judged by a committee who consider fish handling, time of year and the condition of the fish. The catch must have been witnessed.
It will be competed for annually with the winner receiving the title, an engraved decanter, a two-night stay at the Tor Na Coille Hotel, a luxurious Victorian country house hotel, and two days’ fishing on the River Dee.
David Littlewood said: “The River Dee is widely known as one of the great salmon rivers of the world. Anyone who has ever cast a fly for Atlantic salmon will know the allure of our river.
“Achieving the best catch is an incredible feat and we are pleased to have commissioned this new award, a stunning piece of art to recognise such a magnificent achievement, and the huge economic benefit the river and salmon bring.”
Lawrence Ross, the Dee Board chairman, added: “Many people come to fish on the River Dee but only one person will win this award each year. It is an exquisite trophy that may well become one of the most sought after accolades in the fishing world.”