The start of the 2012 salmon fishing season on the River Dee will be celebrated on Wednesday February 1st with an official opening ceremony on the riverbank by Potarch Bridge. Actor, writer, comedian and regular Dee fisher Paul Whitehouse will be the guest of honour and will formally open the river.

Mark Bilsby, River Director of the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and River Dee Trust, said: “As the new season gets underway, we are very pleased to announce that Scottish Government has indicated approval, in principle, for our application to make the two week extension to the salmon angling season permanent. We expect the legislation to be laid before the Scottish Parliament in the near future.  The impact of changes in the ocean, leading to later salmon runs, has prompted us to forge ahead with this adjustment to the season. We are confident that having first checked that there would be no damage to salmon populations and with our tried and tested conservation policy the extension is appropriate for the river during these difficult economic times”.

Mr Bilsby added: “We at the Dee Board and River Dee Trust are not however taking improving catches for granted. Changes in the environment are not just linked to the oceans but also a warming of the rivers and tributaries closer to home through climate change. We are determined to do everything within our power to mitigate these consequences of climate change. To this end we aim to start work this summer on the Upper Dee Riparian Woodland Scheme. This is a hugely ambitious £2.4 million project to establish native trees over 50 kilometers of riverbank. As they grow, they will help to reduce water temperatures during the summer months in what is crucial salmon spawning and nursery areas. It is predicted that climate change will cause temperatures to rise by several degrees over the next half century. We must act now to protect future salmon populations”.

The Dee’s rod catch of salmon in 2011 was 8,687, of which 883 were caught in the two week extension; overall this was the second highest figure since the mid 1980s – exceeded only by 2010’s total of 9,289. The ten year average is approximately 5,800.

The opening ceremony at Potarch Bridge is taking place by kind permission of Ballogie Estate. Refreshments are being provided by Che and Nicola Mueller of the Potarch Hotel and Restaurant and drams are courtesy of the Dalmore Dee Dram.