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2017 salmon angling season gets underway in Wester Ross

Posted: Tuesday 21 February, 2017 @ 01:22:26

First casts of the season on the River Ewe: Alexander MacLean with ghillie, Ray Dingwall

report and photo by Gairloch High School science teacher (& WRFT Trustee) Dr James Close

February 11th marks the opening of the salmon fishing season in Wester Ross. For the last three years the day has been celebrated with a “First Cast” opening ceremony.

The river keepers, ghillies and their friends get together and offer the river a dram, make a speech and wish everyone good fishing; then an invited guest, a head teacher, politician, or a celebrity steps up and makes the first cast.

This year it was different. The Wester Ross Area Salmon Fisheries Board and Wester Ross Fisheries Trust asked Dr James Close to help organise the event and he suggested that a Gairloch High School pupil be given the honour of making the first cast.

The motive: to promote an interest in Fly Fishing at Gairloch High School and beyond, as many of our young people have not had an opportunity to try this type of fishing.

Fly fishing tourism is an important part of many peoples’ lives and livelihood in this part of Scotland.

Pupils had been asked to express interest in learning how to fly fish and 23 have done so. Alexander MacLean was chosen as he had some fishing experience and a lot of enthusiasm; the problem was he’d never cast a fly before.

Alexander had a couple of introductory lessons from Dr Close but additional help was needed and time was short.

Mr Raymond Dingwall, River keeper of the Ewe and expert Spey casting instructor, stepped into the breach and Alexander had several lessons and showed his ability to learn a complex cast within just a few short days.

On the big day Alexander was a wee bit nervous but he showed the crowd of ghillies, gamekeepers, fishers, his head teacher, teachers, pipers and members of the public, all assembled on the bank of the River Ewe on Saturday morning, how it is done; and with style as can be seen in the accompanying photograph.

Thanks to everyone who came to Poolewe including some who travelled from as far away as Skye, Torridon and Ullapool to recognise the start of a busy fishing season.

Thanks to all who helped organise a memorable morning by the River Ewe, especially Andrew Graham-Stewart, Hugh Whittle & Raymond Dingwall (Inveran Estate), Gairloch and District Pipe Band, Jim Buchanan for aerial photos, Susan Kirkness for the warming soup and delicious cakes afterwards, and Mr Bill Whyte for the gift of a complete Trout Fly fishing outfit from Graham’s of Inverness, on behalf of the WRASFB and WRFT which was presented to Alexander in recognition of his commitment to learning the Spey casts and opening the 2017 fishing season.