Dozens of anglers gathered on the banks of the River Ness yesterday to raise a toast to the start of the new season.
More than 60 people were piped down to on the riverbank at Holm Mills to watch Provost Helen Carmichael to make the first cast of the new season.
A dram of whisky was thrown into the river by David Traill of Grahams of Inverness to “bless” the water before proposing a toast to what anglers believe will be a fruitful season on the banks.
Club member Alan Scott said anglers were glad to see the end of what can be for some a “long closed season”.
He said: “It went very well. We welcomed the Provost Helen Carmichael to make the first cast of the year; a time when more ladies are joining the club. It’s a good day for the club and the members because it’s always a long closed season when you are keen on salmon fishing.”
In an effort to keep the salmon numbers on the rise, members are continuing their conservation efforts by voluntarily returning most of their catch to the river until the end of June.
Inverness Angling Club president Graham MacKenzie said: “Catches on the club water have fallen significantly since the 2010 season, when members caught 393 salmon and grilse with a release rate of 43.5%. In four of the last seven years catches were under 200 salmon and grilse.
While they rose to 239 in 2015, they fell once again to 177 the following year and 168 in 2017. We saw a heartening increase to 233 last year when members achieved a release rate of 82%.”
However, Mr Scott says keeping the tradition alive for future generations requires the interest of the young people of today.
He added: “Inverness Angling Club is one of the key clubs in Scotland. We have a great strength of local membership and we have an interested number of members from outside our area from Tain, right down to the south west of England. We have a good stock of junction members, over 80 junior members and they are beginning to show a significant interest in our training programmes. We need to stimulate the interest of young people.”