The middle week of March is often “Ghillies Week” on Tulchan, so the week is given by the estate to the Ghillies to invite their friends for a cast on those fantastic beats.
Although the first main run of fish seldom appears here on the Spey until nearer the end of March, there are always a few fish running the river at this time. Interestingly, when I began ghilliying in 1985, many of those early fish would run the river and be caught on the middle and upper Beats, however, nowadays, the few fish that are in the river, are being caught further downstream.
A mixed bag of weather this week saw a little snow melt and the river rise to a decent fishing level at the beginning of the week so hope were high for those lucky enough to be fishing this week.
My first day on the river this week was as a guest of my oldest fishing pal, Dani Morey. Dani hosted two lovely days for friends and family on Orton, a cracking Lower river Beat fishing 6 rods over both banks of its 1.5 mile stretch. So, to say I was delighted to get a message seeing her with this lovely 14lb Fresh fish first thing Monday morning, was an understatement. The pool, Cairnty, is big, a lovely long pool with great spring pedigree, one that fills you wi5h confidence when fishing. Typically, her first thought was, she’d rather one of her guests caught the fish. However, knowing she always puts others first, personally, I was delighted the fish fell to her rod. It was celebrated in traditional style, I’ll say no more, but we are on Speyside!
This gave us all confidence on the Tuesday, which weather wise, turned out to be a lovely day. No wind and a perfect water, however, none of the guests, including myself, could replicate her fresh fish. Having fished a few beats this year, there appeared to be few kelts around, however, not here. This pool was full of last year models. The guys from the Tyne, Stuart, Ben and Steve all had Tight lines and flexed rods over the two days. John Carman couldn’t stop catching last years models, I’m sure his success was down to the most amazing creations he was fishing with. I’ll say no more there, but my god, they worked. To say I enjoyed this day was an understatement and look forward to more with the same team next year. For me, more than the fishing itself now, fishing with friends is by far the most important ingredient for my enjoyment of the day.
Wednesday saw me invited to the Macallan Beat as a guest of my pal Robert Mitchell. Just like Dani the previous day, Robert is the most perfect host. Knowing exactly how to deal with the people visiting the river. Again, with the first fresh fish of the season being caught here the previous day, those fishing were doing so with confidence. However, for me, with temperature dropping like a stone, the easterly wind beginning to blow, the smell of ribeye on the barbecue, 18year old on the table and great company in the fishing hut, well, I’m afraid wild horses wouldn’t have taken me out at this time. The fishing part of our day was doing some filming of the performance of the New Hardy Shooting head Rocket line. A versatile line for anyone looking to fish at the correct depth and fishing tactically. See here -
Lunch at the fishing hut was simply awesome, spent with equally awesome people. One of the highlights being, almost two year old Tabitha taking a liking to the 18year old, so like her mother that girl! Those guests fishing found the freezing conditions more and more difficult and a precursor to what was to be the following day on Tulchan. A couple of kelts was the sum total for those who braved the elements.
Click here for Different Stokes Video - Taken At Macallan
By Thursday the “beastie from the east” was flexing its muscles making fishing at Tulchan B Beat tricky to say the least. Braving the elements we’re friends of Beat Ghillie Roddy Stronach, Moray and Bobby. Hats off to those guys, for even trying, but try they did, starting at the top of the Beat in the morning, before heading to speanoch, one of the most productive pools in this area, however, a combination of wind, snow and cold forced the guys back to the hut where lunch was provided by Fiona, the wife of Ghillie Roddy, and again, a brilliant host. I would say that, there’s a time to fish and a time to talk fishing, this was one for the latter. A few drams and lovely home made sausage rolls later and it was off to A Beat to meet up with John and Viv Anderson. Thankfully I’d been dropped off by my son so no need to drive, the plan being to be taken by Roddy to the far side of the Dhu pool and picked up by John in the boat, however, the best laid plans of mice and men! With the river rising and wind howling, the boat was not now an option, however, the thought of some of the best company in salmon fishing beckoned and I managed to hitch a lift with Moray and Bobby. E guys from the south can be really useful sometimes.
For the first time in years, apart from the first couple of days, Ghillies week turned out to be pretty awful weather here on Speyside, however, this gave us all time to enjoy the social side of salmon fishing, something which in the past was more prevalent, but still enjoyed and seen by many people as a big part of their day. However, this week, it ended up as being the main part of the day.
Another magic week on the river ended with loads of laughs between friends, lovely lunches from the best hosts, mega enjoyment of casting on some beautiful pools, with two fish landed on the beats fished the anticipation of a fish was there every minute I was on the water.
People have asked me many times, if you could pick a spring week to fish the Spey, what week would you pick? My answer is always the last week in March, however, Ghillies week and fishing with friends is magic any week.