River Dee Fishing Season Opens For 2023

Hundreds of trees flattened by the storms which destroyed North East Scotland woodlands are to be used to save the area’s threatened salmon, marking a major expansion of a successful pilot scheme.

The announcement comes at the start of the River Dee’s salmon fishing season on February 1. The wind-blown trees will be fixed into the riverbed along 10 miles of Dee tributaries with partnership estates, bringing immediate benefits to the fish and other wildlife.

River Dee Director Dr Lorraine Hawkins said: “A series of storms caused immense damage across the region. But some trees will be recycled thanks to Forest & Land Scotland and other landowners we will be putting more than 720 trees to use as nature intended, with some sourced from forestry operations. Trees would have naturally fallen into the water from the once rich woodland on the river’s banks. With the historic loss of woodland, we have to give nature back the tools to help itself.

“Once the trees are anchored in position, the flows around them soon produce ideal spawning habitat for salmon and trout. They also create shelter against floods and predators and thermal refuges for both young fish and adults. And their root-plates create an environment for the invertebrates which feed the young salmon, birds and other wildlife.”

The latest projects, funded by the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund and managed by NatureScot, build on successful work started on the Dee in 2018, with improved numbers of young fish already being seen. Bringing the total trees placed in the river to over 1,400, the scale of this work is unrivalled in the UK.

Meanwhile, the River Dee Trust and Dee District Salmon Fishery Board are delighted to announce that they are ahead of schedule, having planted 332,144 native trees of their initial One Million Tree target. An estimated further 20,000 trees have naturally self-seeded. These trees will shade the river against the rising water temperatures which are already threatening the Dee’s salmon stocks.

This year’s Dee salmon fishing season will be launched with the help of two special guests. Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair of UK Sport and one of Britain’s most successful female Olympians, will “bless” the river with whisky. And the renowned angling photographer and writer Matt Harris will perform the ceremonial first cast.