A very “sad” article for all those river users that make the effort to co-operate! It smacks of the Big posh man looking down on the little poor man.
Published:  15 December, 2010
WITH the river frozen and the weather Arctic it may seem strange to most folk that it is about this time of year I start thinking about next season’s salmon fishing on the Spey.


The reason for my thoughts wandering is because now the salmon have just finished spawning and my dogs’ delight in picking up and eating the dead fish, most of them twice the size of anything I ever catch.
Next year though, I am hoping that a new trend which has angered many anglers on the River Findhorn does not become a big problem on the Spey.
I am talking about wild water rafting which seems to be a particular treat for stag and hen parties.
You can just imagine the peace and tranquility of the river broken with loud screaming and the number of rafts making fishing impossible.
For the first time ever last summer, our fishing at Grantown was interrupted, not by the slow swish of a canoe, but by a whole family of eight twirling around on a huge raft.
You may say that everyone has the right of access to our rivers and you would be right, but anglers are beginning to feel that the river is being taken over by people who, unlike them, don’t actually pay a penny for its upkeep.
It is often thought that Scotland has a more sensible approach to river and land access than England and Wales, but that would be disputed by the angling fraternity.
Just recently, following a long and loud campaign by canoeists, the Welsh Assembly announced the results of their enquiry into river access.
To the horror of the canoeists and the delight of the anglers, the findings were that it would not be appropriate to allow river craft the unlimited access we have in Scotland.
In England, too, access is not unlimited. This makes sense because, as in Scotland, there are clearly some stretches of river where angling could become impossible if over-run by rafts and canoes. It does mean however that we can all sensibly share much of the river.
Although the number of canoes on the Spey has undoubtedly increased over the years, the anglers and canoeists seem to have sorted out a proper code of conduct.
There are designated areas for exit and entry and, in the main, the canoe will always ask the wading angler on which side he or she wants them to pass.
Regrettably, there are some canoeists who do not stick to the code.
I was reliably informed last year that a very famous female opera singer from New Zealand was so fed up with the constant interruption to her fishing from canoes that she has decided not to return to the Spey.
I don’t need to remind people the enormous contribution that fishing brings to the Highland economy and anyone who decides not to come back is a blow for us.
It is surely time for something to be done and for all users of the river to make a contribution to its upkeep.
At present, the District Salmon Fisheries Boards provide £3.5 million for river management and hundreds of proprietors and angling associations like our own in Grantown, Boat of Garten and Aviemore pay for the upkeep too.
A simple licensing fee for all canoes and the mandatory tests and regulation for canoe guides would be a sensible step in the right direction.
If something isn’t done soon, the river will be over-run with rafters and canoes, and fishing, which not only brings in so much cash, but is also Scotland’s most popular outdoor activity will be in danger of being swamped.

If only he knew the truth!!

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