Actor Burn Gorman and author David Profumo performed the ceremonial task of opening the salmon fishing season at Meikleour on the River Tay.
Burn – who is set to feature in the next Hunger Games film – and novelist, journalist and angler David, made the first casts on January 16 after popping a magnum of Pol Roger Champagne.
The official opening ceremony was hosted by the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB), Meikleour Fishings, and Perth and Kinross Council.
Anglers were marched down from Meikleour boathouse to the river by the Perth and District Pipe Band, led by Pipe Major Alistair Duthie.
Speeches were given by Burn, David, and Perth and Kinross Provost Xander McDade.
The Provost then performed the traditional blessing of the boat and river with a dram of Glenturret Triple Wood whisky before declaring it open for fishing.
The first casts of the year were made from the boat by Burn, David and the Provost.
Burn, who has featured in Game of Thrones, Torchwood, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Man in the High Castle, said: “It’s great to be here among friends and community at what can be a dark time of the year.
“Occasions like this can bring a little light and hope and fun – and fishing is the very definition of hope.
“It’s one of the most hopeful pastimes. The hope that the weather holds, the hope that you’ve got the right tackle and bait, the hope that you get the best spot on the beat, and finally the hope that today perhaps might yield the biggest catch of a lifetime.
“Being together outside in nature, enjoying outdoor pursuits like fishing, is beneficial in so many ways.”
Burn then presented the John Moses trophy – awarded annually to the largest fish caught on the fly at the Meikleour House and Upper Islamouth beat – to Claire Mercer Nairne, TDSFB member and owner of Meikleour Fishings.
Occasions like this can bring a little light and hope and fun – and fishing is the very definition of hope.”
David, who lives in Blair Atholl, said it was a great privilege to be part of such a historic occasion.
“The salmon has long been iconic,” he said.
“In modern times, considering all it has to contend with, this creature’s continued reappearance strikes me as little short of miraculous.
“May this great river prove bountiful to us all in 2023.”
Claire said while there are challenges in the Atlantic salmon world, there are many reasons to be positive.
“It’s the beginning of the new season and we’re full of optimism. But of course we are intensely aware that our salmon numbers are well down on what they used to be.
“The TDSFB and the Tay Rivers Trust are seeking to do what they can to improve things.
“The season was good last year and in November, there were amazing scenes of salmon spawning at the river behind us (at Kinclaven Bridge) and I’ve heard there are salmon spawning around Glenshee at a level unseen for decades.
“It is our duty on the Tay to protect salmon and make sure they are safe until they reach the sea, and that when they come back there is no obstruction for the spawn again.”
Wild Salmon Strategy
Claire noted that it is a year since the Scottish Government announced its Wild Salmon Strategy.
She said: “This is a unique initiative that recognises how our iconic wild salmon are in crisis and seeks to prioritise work for their restoration.”
Dr David Summers, director of the TDSFB Director, added: “We are looking forward to expediting improvements to long-standing problems such as water abstraction and barriers to fish migration, which are the responsibility of Sepa, throughout the Tay’s huge catchment.
“A good example is the long-standing water abstraction issue on the River Ericht at Blairgowrie.
“While improvements have been made, still, in recent dry summers, salmon really struggle in shallow hot water.
“The implementation plan should finally enable such thorny issues to be dealt with.”