Angler Phil Rennie feared he would never savour a salmon season again after a devastating motorbike crash.
But nearly 15 years on from an accident which left him in a coma for six months, the businessman will make the first cast on the River Tay’s famous Newtyle beat tomorrow.
The 30-year-old accepted an invitation from Perthshire couple Sandip and Samantha Datta, whose Salmon Fishing Holidays Scotland business played a key role in luring him back to the riverbank.
“For a decade and more I thought I would never fish again. So I’m really looking forward to what is sure to be a memorable day,” said Phil, managing director with IT specialists Tekserve.
“It has taken a lot of effort and perseverance to get back to enjoying the sport I have loved since I was a kid fishing the Ugie and Deveron rivers in Aberdeenshire.
“Fishing was my life when I was young.”
After his accident, doctors assessed Phil’s survival prospects at just 30%.
But while he defied the odds to walk again, graduate from Robert Gordon University and go on to establish his own business, the lure of the river was never far from his mind.
“I had completed the West Highland Way and climbed Ben Nevis but it was Samantha and Sandip who played a huge part in getting me back to the fishing after I contacted them five years ago,” said Phil, from Peterhead.
“I owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
“That first day on the Tay five years ago was certainly emotional but more frustrating than anything else. It was just so arduous and my fingers were covered in blisters because effectively I have a paralysed hand which has to be strapped to the rod.
“Casting creates a lot of friction and back then I didn’t know how best to handle it. I went through a lot of pain before figuring out how to cope.
“But now I have adapted my grip and have special gloves and padding. There were plenty obstacles to overcome but the drive and passion for salmon fishing never really left me.
“Now when I have a spare minute that’s what I am up to. I’m even able to tie my own salmon flies again.”
Abernethy-based Salmon Fishing Holidays Scotland specialises in bespoke breaks and the “Big 4in4 Challenge” on the Tay, Tweed, Spey and the Dee.
A 30-strong group will be piped to the river for the traditional blessing the river ceremony.
“We’re thrilled that Phil accepted our invitation to make the first cast,” said Samantha.
“He is a truly inspirational guy. Like ourselves, he is passionate about salmon fishing and it’s wonderful to have played even a small part in bringing him back to the sport we all love.”