Dee - Potarch (news)The start of the 2015 salmon fishing season on the River Dee will be celebrated on Monday February 2nd with an official opening ceremony on the riverbank by Potarch Bridge. Martin Gilbert, trailblazing local businessman and Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, will be the guest of honour and will formally open the season. Mr Gilbert has expressed his confidence in the River Dee, by committing considerable sums to the future of the north-east’s leading salmon river.

Mark Bilsby, River Director of the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board (DDSFB) and the River Dee Trust, said: “October 3rd 2014 was historic for the Dee. That day the first salmon ascended the Culter Dam in over 250 years, made possible by a fish pass we had installed on the dam just days earlier. This was funded entirely by the generosity of Martin Gilbert and Stewart Spence, owner of the Marcliffe Hotel.”

The Culter Dam, by Peterculter, is the largest man-made obstruction in the Dee’s catchment. The fish pass has opened up 76 miles of habitat in the previously inaccessible Culter burn for migratory salmon and sea trout to re-establish natural populations in. Once habitat restoration work is completed in the Culter catchment, the DDSFB expects to see an additional 1,500 adult salmon returning to the Dee each year.

Mr Bilsby added: “We are most grateful for Martin Gilbert’s willingness to invest in the Dee and the future of its salmon. In this context it is noteworthy that he has also invested directly in the river with his recent purchase of the Tilbouries fishing beat on the lower Dee, further underlining his positive view of the river’s future prospects. This is particularly encouraging after two years of disappointing catches – in common with most of the rest of Scotland.”

Mr Bilsby concluded: “At the start of a new salmon angling season we remain optimistic that salmon numbers and catches will soon bounce back, not least because of all our continuing investment to maximize and restore the river’s habitat.”

The opening ceremony at Potarch is taking place by kind permission of Ballogie Estate. Refreshments are being provided by the DDSFB.