The start of the 2011 salmon fishing season on the River Dee will be celebrated today (Tuesday February 1st) with an official opening ceremony on the riverbank at Potarch Bridge. Journalist and television newsreader Fiona Armstrong will be the guest of honour and will formally open the river. The theme of the opening day ceremony will be the inclusive nature of salmon angling for all those wishing to participate.

Mark Bilsby, River Director of the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board and River Dee Trust, said: “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. To this end the Dalmore Dee Dram malt whisky fundraising initiative last year was a great success, with proceeds going to our conservation and restoration projects. This is enabling us to fast-track improved access for adult salmon to many miles of tributaries which have been blocked by dams for decades and in some cases centuries”.

The 2011 Dalmore Dee Dram was launched recently. It will make a further contribution to fundraising for several conservation and restoration projects.

Refreshments for the opening ceremony at Potarch Bridge are being provided by the Potarch Hotel.