Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great festive season and Santa added a few new bits and pieces to your fishing gear which you obviously need!

Hard to believe that as I sit down to write my blog it will the first of the year and decade!! Where does the time go!

I don’t intend to spend much time reflecting on 2019 although overall, (and as ever there are those who faired better than others) I do sense a mood of somewhat positivity out there amongst anglers. This might simply be a reflection on comparing 2019 to the scorching hot heat of 2018 but we did have more rain, rivers not on their bones and from my own perspective, some cracking days out on beats, old and new.

Towards the end of last year the Atlantic Salmon Trust published their initial findings from the Moray Firth Project which highlighted the problems smolts seem to have whilst still in the river and not just out at sea. I can hear many of you jumping to prededation is the main cause! and this may well be the case but I am aware of many other factors that I am sure are also contributing to the smolt run problems and concentrated work this year on this subject will be welcome. I know it sometimes feels like these things take for ages but you do need the “proof” to present to the various bodies if long term action is to be taken – stay tuned, I for one look forward to hearing more over the year.

And so to 2020, a time to start planning (if you haven’t already done so) various trips that you would like to embark on this year with your fishing friends and family.

The first indicator of demand for the year ahead is Tweed, as we spend a considerable amount of time on supporting beats on Tweed in rebooking their clients for the year ahead

Early observations are the lower and middle beats have continued to be very popular in the main and upper Tweed slow in the take up. This might be simply down to the fact that the upper beats tend to fish from September through to November and anglers have been telling us that they are waiting to see what the weather throws at us and if this will effect the upper river.

More rivers are slowly but surely releasing their availability and its encouraging to see a high demand for some beats. We’ve had lots of enquires just before christmas and I would imagine as the world wakes up next week this will continue.

The first of the rivers to open in 2020 is the Helmsdale and plans are in place to celebrate their opening day with pipe bands, gin tasting and of course the chance to catch a very early spring salmon. The weather can be pretty demanding but if previous years are anything to go by then opening day and week will be a busy time on the river.

For me my first outing in 2020 will be to the opening of the River Tay. Meikleour & Upper Islamouth fishing will again host this excellent opening ceremony which is always well attended. The famous Scottish singer Dougie Maclean of “Caledonia” fame has been invited to make the first cast and let’s hope the weather gods are good to us! Then i’m dropping in to a few beats whilst making my way up the river for a wee cast before the day is out – even if this will only be for an hour or so it is just great to be able to wipe away the cobwebs and have that first cast of the season, the first of many hopefully with the usual optimism as always running through my veins.

This will quickly be followed of course by the Dee and Tweed opening on the 1st of February. Tweed keeps its opening celebrations low key with individual beats celebrating. The Dee will again host what is an extremely well pulled together opening ceremony on the lawns of Banchory House Hotel which I will be attending. Always fun to be there and catch up with so many and of course, squeeze a wee cast in too because why wouldn’t you!

By the time I head back from the Dee my mind quickly moves on to opening of the Spey on the 11th of February. Again a good turn out awaits in Aberlour and anglers eagerly awaiting to cast a line.

So not even out of early February and already the fishing seasons will be well under way. Early spring fishing is not for the faint hearted given what the weather can throw at you ! But I can tell you this when the line straightens and it’s a springer – you will not notice the weather!

During 2020 we will bring you news of how things are doing out there as the rivers open and the latest catches.

If you are lucky enough to be out in early spring send us your photographs so Anne can share them with the fishing community. Anne’s email address is anne@fishpal.com.

It’s not just photos of fish we want to see but the beat you are fishing and the conditions your fishing in. The hut, roaring fire with drams in hand etc this is what makes us all want to get out there and join in the fun!

Tight lines for 2020 to one and all and I very much hope to meeting up with many of you on a beat somewhere across the country!
Mark

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