Well here we go again! Whilst having a group rafting on the River Dee yesterday our instructors were once again abused by some sad small minded archaic fishermen.

The Dee is an awesome river with very similar characteristics to the River Spey, awesome scenery, a good flow of water, easy get in and out points but that’s where the similarities end when it comes to the attitudes of some fishermen! The Spey has gone through a process of meetings and discussions between different river users and is now in a much better place with regards to respect for each others rights much of this is thanks to the hard work of Dave Craig of the Scottish Canoe Associations Spey river advisor.

Unfortunately the Dee is at least 10 – 15 years behind the Spey with regards to respect for other River users, as our group were getting ready to get on the river and were getting a safety brief a fisherman in a 4 x 4 pulled along side the group with his horn blaring for 5 min waving his fist, as always we say nothing and move on.

Further down the river the group came across a woman fishing who was very pleasant, waved and said “hello” which was very nice but she had obviously not been told how to treat rafters unlike her husband who was cooking on the Barbee at the side of the river who made up for her mistake and promptly told the group that he would put in an invoice to our company for ruining his days fishing!! Great! as always we said nothing and moved on.

As rafters and kayaker’s we have a code of conduct to stick by which respects the rights of other river users unfortunately the Fisherman’s code of conduct must include abusing anyone else on their rivers! I’m pretty sure that the Scottish outdoor access code is based on these three principles:-

Respect the interests of other people. Acting with courtesy, consideration and awareness is very important. If you are exercising access rights, make sure that you respect the privacy, safety and livelihoods of those living or working in the outdoors. if you are a land manager, respect people’s use of the outdoors and their need for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Care for the Environment. If you are exercising access rights, look after the places you visit and enjoy, and leave the land as you find it. If you are a land manager, help maintain the natural and cultural features which make the outdoors attractive to visit and enjoy.

Take responsibility for your own actions. If you are exercising access rights, remember that the outdoors cannot be made risk-free and act with care at all times for your own safety and that of others. if you are a land manager, act with care at all times for people’s safety.

A few things for fishermen/women to think of:-

If you were walking down the street in a big city would you tell a complete stranger to “f” off? so why do it in such an amazing scenic place by the river!

Yes fishing probably does bring in more money than rafters/kayaker’s but does it have more people participate? Is it inclusive and accessible to all people?

According to the relevant environmental bodies we have no impact on the fish.

We also make a living from taking people out on the river (we have to feed our kids as well)

Maybe for the decline in fish stocks are to do with the trawlers out at sea and the lack of sand eels due to over fishing!

When you speak about other river users to new fishermen/women try not to cloud their judgment of other rivers users by telling them that rafters and kayaker’s are the devils spawn!!

If we acted the same way to you as you do to us would you like it?

In general relations on the Spey are very good due to education for all river users, unfortunately the Dee needs to play catch up as this is very bad for the Cairngorms National Park in which we are trying to make people enjoy and respect the outdoors.


To those responsible river users, keep up the good work, to those that aren’t:-

“Dry your eyes and Grow up”


Cheers


Mike

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