Anglers in the north have marked the start of the fishing season.
Around 20 fisherman in Thurso were piped from the Ulbster Arms Hotel down to the Comlifoot Pool, a beat of river running through Halkirk, to witness the delivery of the ceremonial toast by senior ghillie Geordie Doull, marking the first day of fishing on the River Thurso.
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The first cast was made by Yorkshire businessman Angus Oughtred, who became a regular visitor to the Highland River after his father spent many seasons fishing on the bank.
River Thurso superintendent Tim Hawes said local anglers were looking forward to what they believe will be a good season for salmon fishing.
He said: “It went well. We had good weather and the river is at a good height for fishing. We haven’t had any rain recently but the river is in good shape. We had around 20 or so anglers take part in the ceremony. They were led down from the Ulbster Arms Hotel down to the Comlifoot Pool and were led by piper Alastair Miller. The first cast was made by a regular visitor to the river Angus Oughtred.
“2018 was very poor mainly due to the lack of rain. No water going into the river meant no salmon going up. We are looking forward to a good season. Each year we check the stock of our juvenile fish and it shows we have a healthy river.”
For more than 30 years, Mr Hawes has been a keen salmon fisherman up and down the country, spending 26 years on the banks of the river.
He added: “It’s been a privilege to be able to manage the river. It’s my second career. To be able to manage the river after working as a ghillie on the river, it’s not quite a dream come true but I didn’t expect to be able to do something I have wanted to do. To have the opportunity I am very grateful for it.”
Meanwhile, in Sutherland, angler Martin Grant emptied a quaich of whisky to toast the official opening of the river Helmsdale yesterday.
The body of water, which has been described by many as one, if not the best rivers in the north of Scotland, will be the prime location for local fisherman until September 30.