As some 45 Ness salmon fishermen celebrated the opening of the 2015 season on Monday (February 2), Inverness Angling Club launched a major recruitment drive in a bid to reverse declining senior membership. President Mike Campbell announced that anglers who had not been members within the last five years could join the club for £100 for the season – a £50 discount on the standard senior fee.
“That could well be the catch of the year – a season’s salmon fishing on one of the leading club waters in Scotland for the equivalent of £2.70 per week,” said Mr Campbell. “This is a one-off deal for 2015. We hope that it will attract a significant number of new members who will stay on and boost membership and club funds in future years.” He explained: “Senior membership, which delivers a key element of our income, fell by 25 per cent (233 to 174) in the five years to 2014. It’s a situation that is reflected in many sports clubs at present, but we are determined to halt the decline and increase membership.”
The club has also taken steps to increase the number of visiting anglers, slashing main season rates by £10 to £25 a day and placing the Ness fishings on FishPal, the international web booking system for angling. It is also offering associate membership to those outside the City of Inverness area for an annual payment of £165.
Opening day saw Inverness City Leader Councillor Ian Brown take the first cast of the season after Neil Souter, manager of opening day sponsors Holm Mills Shopping Village, had stimulated hopes for a good season with the traditional ‘blessing of the water’ with a large dram of malt whisky.
Councillor Brown said Inverness Angling Club, which leased the Town Fishings from Inverness Common Good Fund, played a major part in the promotion and development of the entire Ness System. “They manage the fishings efficiently and effectively, and their renowned angling abilities enhance visitor experience of the river and its environs,” said Councillor Brown. “We strongly support the club’s aims and objectives in providing high quality, low cost salmon and sea trout fishing to local and visiting anglers.”
Neil Souter said: “Club members always give a fantastic welcome to the many visitors to the Mill who enjoy a stroll by the River Ness, chatting and watching the anglers ply their craft. It is always a privilege to support the club on opening day and throughout the season."