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Old 02-12-2004, 03:47 PM
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Willie Gunn Willie Gunn is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Spey, Deveron.Brora, Ness, Connon, Beauly
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Opening Day on the River Spey 2004

Spey Opening Day Report.

The years fairly fly by can it really be a whole year since I wrote last years report? A crowd of more than 70, including anglers and their gillies gathered for yesterday's opening ceremony at Aberlour opposite the bottom of Wester Elerchies where I was fishing. The ceremonial pouring of the Glenfarclas single malt was performed by a woman to underline that the skill and expertise needed to hook and land a fish is not a wholly male preserve, Jenny Henderson, from Perthshire, earned the honour by grassing the first fish of last season - a 9lb salmon - on the opening day to win the Spey Quaich.
Local minister the Rev Elizabeth Curran gave a blessing before Mrs Henderson emptied the bottle into the river to the cheers of onlookers. This uncharacteristic waste of good whisky is reputably the reason why gillies will only drink whisky diluted with river water, as there must be some extra whisky there somewhere. Perhaps if I had been less keen to start fishing and had bothered to attend the blessing I might have been more successful but old habits die-hard.

The river was running high +4ft at a temperature of 38f and an air temperature of 55f. A recent spell of warm wet weather had melted the snow causing this mild spate. This yearís first salmon fell to a lucky angler fishing the Rothes beat with a fish of 17lb, another eight fish were taken from the following beats, Orton, Arndilly, Craigellerchie (2), Easter Elerchies, Delagyle, Castle Grant. The more observant of you will notice Wester Elerchies missing from the list. There is some disagreement that all the reported fish were fresh rather than kelts, but opening day is more a social occasion rather than a serious fishing day, lunch in our hut lasted an hour and a half, the days are short enough as it is at this time of the year!
Mrs I Grant who provides the Glenfarclas whisky that they happily waste fishes with me on opening day, this year she was accompanied by a German magazine team who are producing a feature on Speyside and after taking pictures of the opening ceremony they of course required pictures of a successful angler and their hopes were raised when they arrived where I was fishing to see me hook up with a fish. The photographer sprinted down the pool with his fancy camera, lenses, flashgun diffusers and fancy sliver case that I eyed up as a grand reel case. The gillie and I carefully explained that we thought this fish I was playing was probably a kelt as neither of us speaks German, the conversation was not going well. The photographers assistant or writer who was wearing stiletto boots and tight trousers was somewhat of a distraction but I played my part as best I could, my 4 Ĺ hardy perfect made all the right noises and the rod had an impressive bend in it. Eventually I landed the kelt and Sam the gillie popped out the hook and released the fish back to the Spey accompanied by more flashes and clicks.

I would like it recorded here and now that what ever appears in a German Life style magazine Sam and I knew the fish was a kelt, and I was aware that my padded waistcoat was too long and hung down below my fleece but trying to tuck in my waistcoat whilst holding a 16 ft rod attached to a lively kelt and trying to look serious is not easy. Donít you just hate it when press photographers turn up and you are not properly dressed
Willie Gunn
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