As I sit down to write the first of my blogs for 2018 we have already had the excitement of having a number of rivers now open for business with more to follow this week and next. I don’t know about you but the anticipation of that first day out in the new season is a wonderful feeling. Visits to your tackle room, hut or garage where you store your mountains of kit become a more regular feature and lines, flies, rods all checked for the umpteenth time and then just because you can, a trip to your favourite fishing shop or online site to get that last minute something you believe is definitely needed to make that first trip a success!

The opening of the Helmsdale was a well supported affair and despite the raw weather, many an angler took time to travel north and have their first cast of the year on this spectacular river. No fresh fish reported but kelts started to make an appearance as the week went on. Great to see the videos of the pipers and speeches made on the day. Anne Woodcock made the long journey north and she had a great time catching up with the likes of Scot Mackenzie and others who were al keen on wetting their lines of the first time this year.
Then on to the Tay opening down at Meikleour with the Tay board well represented and an opening day speech from the boards new chairman Ian McLaren. Guest of honour for the first cast was Marina Gibson who not only spoke well about the season ahead but duly showed us all how to cast from the ghillied boat of Callum McRoberts. Not just whisky used down here but thanks to the wonderfully organised proceedings by Claire Mercer Nairn with champagne too!
Claire had again made all the fishing on the beat available to anglers for free with a donation asked for from each that went to the local Angling For Youth charity. BBC and STV were there to cover events as were the local press and great to see footage on the TV at night and in the press the next day as we now all look to some excellent spring fishing up and down the Tay. Lots of excellent availability on the Tay at very affordable prices so why not get in early for your first cast of the season FIND FISHING.
The Kenmore opening at the top of the river was as equally well supported with the pipe band leading the march down the river as is custom at Kenmore. The first reported spring fish was in fact from the loch as the main river itself had been rising all day making conditions difficult for anglers. As the river dropped throughout the week a few more fresh fish were caught and greater numbers of kelts also starting to keep anglers busy.
And so it is on to this week and with the 1st of February just round the corner the FishPal team will be out and about to support local river openings. Tom is going to join in the ceremony on the Tweed down at Norham. Anne will be part of the Teith’s opening celebrations which seems to get more and more popular every year and great to see. Joe will be joining in the fun with Glenda Powell on the River Blackwater over in Ireland and I have the pleasure of joining in the fun at Banchory as the Dee opens proudly for business.
So a busy week ahead and just great to get more and more rivers open for business. The Spey will open on the Monday the 12th of February and again we will be there to support the day and enjoy the opening day celebrations which are also well attended.
Look out for stories, photos etc from all the team on our social media pages as we bring to you all the action and stories from these important opening days. If you are out and about on any of these days look us up and have a chat, it would be great to have as many people contributing as possible to bring all the news from up and down the rivers as we collectively continue to get excited about our own first trip to the river of our choice and that early opportunity to hook into a “bar of silver,” now wouldn’t that be great!!
Mark Cockburn

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