Phil beats odds for first cast of sal­mon sea­son

An­gler over­comes dev­as­tat­ing mo­tor­bike crash to get back on the river

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - EMMA CRICH­TON ecrich­[email protected]­

An­gler Phil Ren­nie feared he would never savour a sal­mon sea­son again af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing mo­tor­bike crash.

But nearly 15 years on from an ac­ci­dent which left him in a coma for six months, the busi­ness­man will make the first cast on the River Tay’s fa­mous Newtyle beat to­mor­row.

The 30-year-old ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion from Perthshire cou­ple Sandip and Sa­man­tha Datta, whose Sal­mon Fish­ing Hol­i­days Scot­land busi­ness played a key role in lur­ing him back to the river­bank.

“For a decade and more I thought I would never fish again, so I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to what is sure to be a mem­o­rable day,” said Phil, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor with IT spe­cial­ists Tek­serve.

“It has taken a lot of ef­fort and per­se­ver­ance to get back to en­joy­ing the sport I have loved since I was a kid fish­ing the Ugie and Deveron rivers in Aberdeen­shire.

“Fish­ing was my life when I was young.”

Af­ter his ac­ci­dent, doc­tors as­sessed Phil’s sur­vival prospects at just 30%.

But while he de­fied the odds to walk again, grad­u­ate from Robert Gordon Uni­ver­sity and go on to es­tab­lish his own busi­ness, the lure of the river was never far from his mind.

“I had com­pleted the West High­land Way and climbed Ben Ne­vis, but it was Sa­man­tha and Sandip who played a huge part in get­ting me back to the fish­ing af­ter I con­tacted them five years ago,” said Phil, from Peter­head.

“I owe them a huge debt of grat­i­tude. “That first day on the Tay five years ago was cer­tainly emo­tional but more frus­trat­ing than any­thing else.

“It was just so ar­du­ous and my fin­gers were cov­ered in blis­ters be­cause ef­fec­tively I have a paral­ysed hand which has to be strapped to the rod.

“Cast­ing cre­ates a lot of fric­tion and back then I didn’t know how best to han­dle it.

“I went through a lot of pain be­fore fig­ur­ing out how to cope.

“But now I have adapted my grip and have spe­cial gloves and pad­ding. There were plenty ob­sta­cles to over­come but the drive and pas­sion for sal­mon fish­ing never re­ally left me.

“Now when I have a spare minute that’s what I am up to. I’m even able to tie my own sal­mon flies again.”

Aber­nethy-based Sal­mon Fish­ing Hol­i­days Scot­land spe­cialises in be­spoke breaks and the “Big 4in4 Chal­lenge” on the Tay, Tweed, Spey and the Dee.

A 30-strong group will be piped to the river for the tra­di­tional bless­ing cer­e­mony.

“We’re thrilled that Phil ac­cepted our in­vi­ta­tion to make the first cast,” said Sa­man­tha. He is a truly in­spi­ra­tional guy. Like our­selves, he is pas­sion­ate about sal­mon fish­ing and it’s won­der­ful to have played even a small part in bring­ing him back to the sport we all love.”

For Phil Ren­nie, the op­por­tu­nity to open the sal­mon sea­son on the Newtyle beat of the River Tay was very nearly the dream that got away. In a coma for six months af­ter a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent, the busi­ness­man is lucky to be alive and en­dured a decade be­liev­ing he would never fish again.

With de­ter­mi­na­tion and the sup­port of his friends at Aber­nethy-based Sal­mon Fish­ing Hol­i­days Scot­land he is back on the river­bank. Here’s hop­ing there’s whop­per of a sal­mon out there to give this story a happy end­ing.

An­gler Phil Ren­nie back in ac­tion on the river af­ter de­fy­ing the odds to learn to walk again fol­low­ing a mo­tor­bike crash 15 years ago.

Phil Ren­nie fish­ing for sal­mon while en­joy­ing the lure of the river once again.

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