Dozens of anglers braved the chilly Spey water at the weekend for the opening of the season on Scotland’s most renowned salmon river.
Snow lay on the ground in Aberlour where enthusiasts gathered to watch the river being blessed for the forthcoming year.
And the assembled anglers did not have to wait long for the first catches with a pair snared on Saturday.
Roger Knight, director of the Spey Fishery Board, said: “It was an excellent turnout. It’s always a highly-anticipated event.
“There were quite challenging conditions for the first day, but these anglers are a hardy bunch and they’re not stopped easily.”
A bottle of Aberlour 12-year-old whisky was ceremonially poured into the fast-flowing waters in a gesture to wish the salmon good health.
Moray MP, Angus Robertson, joined Graham Ritchie, who caught the first fish last year, to complete the symbolic act before Aberlour Parish Church minister, Rev Shuna Dicks, wished the anglers “tight lines” in her blessing.
Guest speaker Mr Robertson hailed the importance of the Spey to the local economy in his address to the crowd, as well as highlighting the work done to enhance and nurture the river.
Piper David Grant provided a stirring soundtrack before the anglers baited their hooks.
Evelyn Glass caught the first salmon of the season at noon – a 7lb fish at Rothes and Aitkenway to win the Spey Anniversary Quaich. The only other catch on Saturday was hooked about two hours later by Arthur McKarron on the banks between Rothes and Craigellachie.
The latter’s 8lb catch was the perfect outcome for his ghillie for the day, Blair Banks, who only started his new job on the Spey on Saturday.
Hopes are high for the season after last year’s early catches were the best since 1955.
Rev Dicks said: “It’s always a lovely occasion. Every year, it’s great to see so many people come out for what is a real community event.
“This was my eighth river blessing. Every year, I try to recognise the river what it is – one of Scotland’s major rivers – and give thanks for it.”