13th – 18th March 2017
The second week of March turned out to be quite a nice weeks fishing for those fishing on beats fished by, and offered to, my customers.
“Ghillies week” on Tulchan meant that fishing here was by invitation of the Ghillie in what is a really nice social couple of days with friends.
The first saw My some and I fish A Beat on Tuesday, which weather wise, was the worst day of the week, with storm force winds sweeping the country, not the best for fishing but a fab day with John Anderson and, irrespective of the conditions, fishing with confidence of catching a fish. Other than a kelt once the wind dropped before dark, sadly this was not to be. However the extreme conditions meant my son learned a great deal about controlling the flyline and was casting very well, and given conditions, really enjoying it, this in itself was a great breakthrough. However, my day is measured, never by just the fishing or fish caught. Fun, and a laugh is one of my key ingredients, and John, one of the best story tellers on the river, was in tip top form. I came away from A Beat on Tuesday, my ribs sore with laughing. A lovely lunch cooked by John's wife Viv, and a lift home was the icing on the cake.
Much the same could be said for my visit to B Beat on Friday. Again I was accompanies by my son/driver, Luke, whom I have to say had a great day amongst last years models, catching 8 and losing 4 more. No fresh fish again but I know this will happen during this coming week. Another fantastic lunch and fun put the diet to bed for this week, there's always next week! Difficult to try and diet with such good hosts.
A Nice wee Video of my Son Playing Salmon on the Spey - https://youtu.be/CYItq_ypUls
The river has been catching some nice fresh fish, I'd say a little more than normal at this time and boding well for those visiting the river later this spring.
Macallan is situated in the Lower Middle of the river, and one of the beats we rent for customers during the prime month of May, had four fresh fish this week, the highlight being a fantastic 25pounder. Nice fishing for the 2nd week of March.
Another beat on form, although not being heavily fished, was the Brae Water at Gordon Castle. Beat 3, again, one of our venues during May, had some lovely fish including a magnificent sea liced 28lb cracker.
It interests me greatly to see so many beats lightly fished at this time. We have a great product here and with rods on the water, would be providing great sport for visiting anglers.
Given the obvious swing toward spring fish as being the main stock component (March/April/May fish), OK, not like the good old days, but still, more than enough fish to create interest. Is this indicative of a wider slide in numbers of people fishing for salmon? Having spent my life in the business, I know the answers to this are a little more complex but come down to a mix of overly high expectations, fewer fish than before (last decent spring fishing period – 1950s, 60s and 70s), along with poor marketing and sales strategies. You will note my enjoyment of the fishing is not driven 100% by how many fish I catch, but by the full experience, however, when I do decide to venture out of the hut, I need to know there's a chance and for the past couple of years, on the Spey, Dee, Ness, Tay, Tweed, Findhorn and many more, that chance has been higher than ten years previous. Who have I seen writing about, educating the wider salmon fishing public about this "fact"? The sad thing about it is, many of those dealing with selling salmon fishing don't even know because they are not in touch with those ghillies on the ground and have a fragmented marketing plan.
The other river I offer fishing on is the River North Esk, a cracking little river situated 25 miles south of Aberdeen Airport. We have fishing here this coming week so will be interested to see how things go. Although it needs good water levels, this is an amazingly productive river, some would say as productive as the Dee in Spring.. The beat we fish in late March and September, landed 8 nice Salmon up to 15lbs See the report and videos here -
Speaking about the Dee, there are so many rods available on this river right now and, true to form, the vast majority of fish are being caught in the area between Park and Aboyne. However, just as it will her eon the Spey, that will change over the next weeks or if we have even a slight change in conditions, so for anyone looking for a nice days fishing on a great river, fantastic beats, with a ghillie, have a look here -
I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the run becoming stronger here on the Spey and know this will happen on all the rivers I've mentioned too.
Its true, we don't have as many fish as before. When I first begun Ghillying on Knockando my boss fished the 4 miles of fishing with no more than 6 rods during the spring, fishing gentleman's hours, before finishing on the 11th August, with the exception of someone going for a cat in an evening or possibly hunting a Macnab, leaving all those springers safe and at peace in the pools to go on and spawn. Those fishing would reasonably expect to catch a fish a day over the good period, so 6 fish a day, every day over four miles of river at the best period. Now, and since commercialism took over, during the same period the same beat is fished with 11 rods. Even with the same good runs, this means 1 fish per rod every two days. If the run is only half as good this drops to one fish a week. However, if you're lucky enough to be fishing on a lightly fished beat, then your chances are increasing big time.
In those days of individual and beat success being plastered all over social media by individual anglers, with regard marketing their beats, the goalposts have most certainly moved, however, those selling the fishing here in Scotland are holding all the ace cards but for some reason, chose to play their hand with 7s and 9s. Not all are like this.
I fished Delfur recently, the best and, pro rata, most productive beat on the river. Its 5 rods have fished the beat every single day since opening. Its in such demand that, if it would be possible to fish there, people would offer silly prices. However, the management know this would be a mistake and, quite rightly keep things the way they are.
The expectations of those fishing here are high all the time. Why? Its not over rodded!
The moral of the story is - If you can find yourself on a lightly fished beat, your 'personal' chances of catching a fish is doubling. Add to this, like we have seen last year and this, a decent spring run, and it doubles again! Which is why myself and a great many 'lucky' others are heading to Scottish rivers with a much greater sense of optimism in the spring of 2017. And the good thing is, I know it will continue until at least late June.
Get out there and enjoy the amazing fishing we have to offer and, in many cases, at very reasonable cost!
Links for Spey Fishing - https://www.speycaster.co.uk/spey-contacts
Find fishing throughout Scotland - http://www.fishpal.com/