Salmon Fest to celebrate 100 years of Inverness Angling Club

A HISTORIC angling club is to celebrate its 100th anniversary as part of Scotland's Salmon Festival being hosted in Inverness.
Melanie Smith, of Inverness College UHI, with Graham Mackenzie, Scott Mackenzie and junior casters Fraser Shanks, Jordan Grant and  Fraser Munro. Picture: ContributedMelanie Smith, of Inverness College UHI, with Graham Mackenzie, Scott Mackenzie and junior casters Fraser Shanks, Jordan Grant and  Fraser Munro. Picture: Contributed
Melanie Smith, of Inverness College UHI, with Graham Mackenzie, Scott Mackenzie and junior casters Fraser Shanks, Jordan Grant and Fraser Munro. Picture: Contributed

Inverness Angling Club is now welcoming entries to its Centenary Speycasting Tournament, inviting anglers from across the globe to compete in the Highland capital this September.

The competition will coincide with the Salmon Festival, which is organised to raise awareness of the Atlantic salmon and the contribution it makes to Scotland.

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The biannual event is organised by Inverness College UHI and this year takes place from 29 August to 2 September.

Dr Melanie Smith, chair of Scotland’s Salmon Festival steering group and head of research and post-graduate development at lead partner, Inverness College UHI, said: “Atlantic salmon is one of Scotland’s most iconic species.

“Not only does it play a vital role in our rivers, but it is a huge contributor to our economy as a food product, international export and visitor attraction.

“The programme has been designed for all the family, not just academics. Whether you’re already an experienced fly-fisher, simply like the taste of the fish or just want to enjoy the atmosphere, there is an event for everyone to enjoy.

“We’re look forward to welcoming a steady stream people from across the UK and further afield to Inverness for the festival’s second outing.”

Speaking of the Inverness Angling Club Centenary Speycasting Tournament, Club President Graham Mackenzie added: “The club was formed at a meeting on 31 August 1917, so the tournament is an ideal way to mark a significant anniversary.

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“It will also recognise the role that the club and the River Ness has played in the development of Speycasting around the world.

“The growing interest in the sport has been clear since the first international tournament was staged at the first Scotland’s Salmon Festival in 2015.

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“We have made a strong commitment to developing the casting skills of our 100-plus junior members and the skills that tournament participants will demonstrate will both encourage them and set targets for them to achieve.

“Significantly, this tournament will include a special award for juniors presented by Scottish Ghillie.”

The festival’s extensive programme will kick off at Eden Court Theatre with a mini salmon film festival, featuring short features about the fish’s influence on Scotland.

For students and scholars, Inverness College UHI will host a public lecture evening and two-day conference, providing an academic insight into the iconic species.

Entitled “Atlantic Salmon Marine Ecology – Knowns and Unknowns - the symposium has been organised by Professor Eric Verspoor at the Rivers and Lochs Institute (RLI) at Inverness College UHI.

For families, the pinnacle of the week will be the free Bught Park fair with children’s’ activities such as storytelling, electrofishing and casting lessons. There will also be Alexander Grant museum tours where visitors can learn about the famous, record breaking Speycaster.

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Founded in 1917, Inverness Angling Club builds on the innovatory skills of members such as the ‘Wizard of the Ness’, Alexander Grant, inventor of the Grant Vibration rod.

There was also John Reidpath, who changed the face of fly tying with the development of the Hairy Mary, the first modern hair wing salmon fly, and John Cathcart, inventor of the famed Black Shrimp.

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The achievements of Alexander Grant were celebrated in an international Speycasting tournament in 2015, staged as part of the inaugural Scotland’s Salmon Festival. It attracted 20 Speycasters from the USA, Ireland, Norway, England and Scotland.

The festival has been organised by Inverness College UHI in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands Rivers and Lochs Institute, Inverness Angling Club, The Ness District Salmon Fishery Board, Marine Harvest and cbec eco-engineering.

Other sponsors include The Highland Council, Drumossie Hotel, Ness Castle Lodges and Graham’s of Inverness.

Salmon angling makes a significant contribution to the Scottish economy with an estimated spend of £73 million on salmon and sea trout angling in Scotland, with anglers in the Highlands accounting for nearly 50% (£35 million) of this total.

Farmed salmon is Scotland’s largest food export, and Scotland’s fish farms bring an enormous boost to rural areas with estimated economic benefits of over £700million - of which £145m is in the Highlands & Islands.

Salmon tourism is a growing area with salmon centres and observation points around Scotland.

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