Premiere of a new film documenting the latest cast of the Easter Ross salmon fishing family

Filmmaker Stephen MacMillan and salmon fisherman William Paterson

Large crowds at Easter Ross gathered to greet the first-ever screening of a new film documenting the closing of a chapter in Scottish salmon fishing history.

William Paterson Salmon Fisher, a film by Stephen Macmillan, follows fisherman William Paterson, who has lost his income and much of his way of life due to changes in salmon fishing laws.

Filmed at William’s home in Portmahomack at Easter Ross, the film premiered at Carnegie Hall in the village on Friday April 8.

Described by filmmaker Stephen Macmillan as the “dynasty of salmon fishing families in the North East of Scotland”, William’s ancestors have been fishing with bag nets for wild Atlantic salmon at Easter Ross for more than hundred years and William is the last of the Patersons. fishermen.

The film follows William as he sets his net for the last time.

In 2016, the Scottish Government introduced legislation banning bag netting in Scotland for an initial period of three years to conduct scientific research into the reasons for the decline of Atlantic salmon.

Following an assessment of the research carried out and the state of salmon stocks for 2019, the Scottish Government then determined that the ban on retaining salmon caught in inshore nets would remain in place.

Filmmaker Stephen Macmillan was first approached by William with the idea of ​​documenting how bag net fishing was practiced.

“William asked me if I would record him putting a bag net in the sea for the last time, just to make sure it was recorded and people would know how net fishing was done at It was the basis of the film.

“But he very quickly forgot I was there, and he put the net up like it was another season starting. He was helped by volunteers and after seven days the net came out and we We caught a good number of fish. Of course, they were all released because it is not legal to keep them.

“It seemed to me and William that there were still plentiful stocks of salmon in the sea.

“We had great weather, good light and it was just a real pleasure to make the movie.”

The Portmahomack Hall committee welcomed attendees with refreshments on arrival and the film was introduced by Mr Macmillan, who is based in London but has family in the area.

Host of the evening, Iain Morrison, said: ‘It was a wonderful community event organized by Pamela Duff and made possible by funding from the Highlands Third Sector Interface which our chair, Carol Summers, had access.

“Memories of salmon fishing were shared by many in attendance and this was truly a beautifully made film, capturing an important and historic way of life on the Easter Ross Peninsula.”

Mr Macmillan is now in discussions about distributing the film and intends to make it available to many others in due course.

He said: “The premiere was very well attended, mainly by locals. I received a very warm welcome and was looked after very well by the venue committee.

“I hope to see the film released more widely over time.”

A full crowd at Carnegie Hall in Portmahomack gathered to watch the premiere.
A full crowd at Carnegie Hall in Portmahomack gathered to watch the premiere.
Refreshments were made available during the premiere.
Refreshments were made available during the premiere.

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