Anglers from across the globe will be casting their hopes on winning a coveted trophy recognising the best catch on the River Dee.
The new trophy is commissioned by David Littlewood, owner of Tor Na Coille Hotel at Banchory on Royal Deeside, and is a stunning salmon sculpture made from old pennies and other coins.
The use of coins from different currencies is symbolic given that fishing attracts people from all over the world and generates millions of pounds to the local economy every year.
The trophy will be presented at the opening of the River Dee on Saturday, February 1 when actor and fishing aficionado Robson Green will cast off the 2020 season.
Two Aberdeenshire artisans were commissioned to create the unique award which has been hailed as an artistic tribute to the majesty of the river and Scotland’s iconic species, the Atlantic salmon.
Renowned sculptor Helen Denerley combined her love of the natural world with technical aspects of metal work, casting the salmon sculpture from old pennies and coins from other currencies.
Best known for fashioning two life-sized giraffe metal sculptures at the Omni Centre on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk, Helen’s work features in collections across the UK and overseas, including projects in the USA and Japan.
Being able to work on a project closer to home was a real surprise for the sculptor, who said: ‘I was delighted to be asked to create this trophy as I have always enjoyed the natural habitat around the rivers Dee and Don.’
The plinth was crafted from local elm and resin to resemble a flowing river, and made by Inverurie carpenter Kenny McKay, of Polished Finish.
The best catch is one of the most prestigious honours that can be won by a River Dee angler. It is not necessarily awarded to the angler who lands the heaviest fish, but judged by a committee who consider fish handling, time of year and the condition of the fish. The catch must have been witnessed. It will be competed for annually with the winner receiving the title, with an engraved decanter, a two night stay at The Tor Na Coille Hotel, a luxurious Victorian country house hotel in Royal Deeside, and two days’ fishing on the River Dee.
David Littlewood of the Tor Na Coille Hotel said: ‘The River Dee is widely known as one of the great salmon rivers of the world. Anyone who has ever cast a fly for Atlantic salmon will know the allure of our river, and we have the privilege of welcoming anglers from all over the globe who come in search of the ultimate prize: a Dee springer taken on the fly.
‘Achieving the best catch is an incredible feat and that is why we are pleased to have commissioned this new award, a stunning piece of art to recognise such a magnificent achievement, and the huge economic benefit the river and salmon bring this region.
‘Tor Na Coille Hotel partners with some of the river’s top beats to offer all-inclusive fishing packages, as well as special bed and breakfast rates for those fishing on this world-famous river.’
Lawrence Ross, chairman of the Dee Board, added: ‘Many people come to fish on the River Dee but only one person will win this award each year. It is an exquisite trophy that may well become one of the most sought after accolades in the fishing world.’
Ross Macdonald, fisheries development officer for Dee District Salmon Fishery Board said: ‘We’re grateful to Tor Na Coille Hotel for commissioning this trophy, underlining the river’s importance to the area and the links we have with the wider community. In presenting this new award, it represents a symbol of respect to those who challenge themselves to fish on one of the most famous salmon rivers in the world.’
Tor Na Coille Hotel features roaring log fires, warming drams of whisky and indulgent roll top baths and each of its rooms has its own distinct feature from four-poster beds to sumptuous sofas.
A menu best described as fine dining with a relaxed twist has been created by award-winning chef duo David Littlewood and Colin Lyall using the best of seasonal produce from the Aberdeenshire larder.
The Tor Na Coille is just 20 minutes from Aberdeen by car and around 45 minutes from some of Scotland’s leading winter sports centres. For more details visit www.tornacoille.com.