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Salmon, More Salmon and Fun!

With the early season in full swing we’ve just completed the second of its early casting and fishing courses, the first with Robert Mitchell at Macallan, the next with Roddy Stronach on Tulchan B Beat.

Macallan Ghillie, Robert Mitchell netting another fish at Macallan

This busy spell of teaching comes on the back of some nice days with the Forres Angling Association on the lovely river Findhorn, where we have helped the club members there with 3 days of free lessons for more than 20 year. The relationship is a strong one and is reciprocated by our team having access to the beat to fish and teach on throughout the season. The Forres Association Water is more than worth a cast with around 4 miles of some really beautiful pool on the most lovely river.

Accompanying me on the Findhorn was, my trusty assistant Tam Broon and for the final day Chris came all the way from Norway to lend a hand too.

The team from Germany with MAcallan ghillie Robert Mitchell

The first course of the year was an all German affair with some well know faces, guests that had come for this early fishing for the past 8 years. The group of 6 had a great time on the wonderful Macallan beat, having the whole river to themselves for the first couple of days. The highlight of the “fishing” week being a first Spring Salmon for Robert Liegl, a beautiful fish from one of my favourite casts on the entire river, the lower slabs off the high bank at Macallan. When fish are running this is a much underestimated pool, one which I always feel confident fishing, be it myself or with guests, just a wonderful cast.

Rober Leigl with his first early spring fish from the Lower Slabs at Macallan.

Horst Rathgeber playing a fish on the Greenbank Pool Macallan.

The highlight of the teaching week was Roberts wife, Andrea, making great progress as a total beginner with the help of a day in the company of the first female member of the team, “Ladyfisher”, Dani Morey. With the 50/50 initiative in full swing, its great to see more and more ladies taking up the sport and more female instructors finding their way to the riverbank. The feedback I got from Andrea was that she really enjoyed the day being coached by another lady. Another positive trend I know will continue in 2019 and beyond.

"Ladyfisher" [Dani Morey] providing one or two pointers to Andrea Leigl at Macallan

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This week began with me giving a presentation to the River Lossie Fisher Board on the merits of Stocking and using hatcheries in the right way. I’m of the opinion that, apart from a few, the Tyne and Carron, all other hatcheries have been a run in totally the wrong way and by people who don’t have a track record in successful hatchery work. A waste of resources on a grand scale. Chris and Dani accompanied me to what turned out to be a very positive meeting with those in attendance, sceptical at the beginning, embracing the concept of having a national case study to finally answer the question – Does stocking work if carried out in the correct manner by experienced people!?

Chris talked about the Suldalslagen river in Norway, a river that over past 11 years has been experimenting using a particular method where smolts are physically taken out to sea. I’ll write more about this separately.

The idea would be to use the same methodology that’s obviously successful elsewhere and see how it fairs “when done properly” and “by experienced people”. As I said at the meeting, you’d never have a Painter doing a plumbers work! Is it any wonder nothing works properly on our river? Anyway, this was very well received and I hope to give the same talk at one or two other rivers.

Neal Annand playing what turned out to be a 10lb Springer [His first Spring fish]

The middle of the week saw us run the first of our tune-up courses. This time on the Tulchan Beat with Roddy Stronach. The course saw 5 previous clients and one beginner fish the lovely pools of B Beat, and with more early fish in the river and good water heights I was very hopeful the already good casters and fishers would strike lucky. After the incredibly poor run of fish last year, the distinct lack of kelts in the river was no surprise. However, this, along with the better run of very early fish meant the chances of a fresh one was better than for many years. Second day into the Pre season tune-up course, second time down the right bank of the Rock Pool and for Neal Annand, the dream of a first springer became a reality with a beautiful 10lb fresh salmon. Even more pleasing for me was the fact we changed both fly and fishing methodology just a few minutes before. Totally awesome when you have a fish or two to play with. The whole group were really chuffed with this fish,

Neal Annand with a lovely 10 pounder from the Rock Pool on Tulchan B

As per normal, everyone took much from the course and I must thank Chris and Roddy for their help making this such a good and positive experience for everyone. The team came together to ensure our 100% record of catching spring fish during our courses remained intact. But fish or no fish, the fact we have so many returning customers means what we do, the people and venues involved are exactly right.

Herman Zwissler Fishing the Lower Slabs on Macallan

If the fish for our guest was the icing, the cherry on top was hearing that my long term assistant, Tom Brown had landed a lovey fish whilst fishing on the river Teith. A march fish is always special and for Craig Summerville to arrange one for both Tom and our friend, Claire Mercer Nairn, well, as a host/organiser I’m afraid it just doesn’t get better than this. Massive well done to all on both the fishing, hosting and organising.

Tom Brown with a beautiful 18lb fish from the lanrik beat of the River Teith

All in all, sore knees or not, what a great, positive early start to the season. Hopefully this trend will continue.

Next week sees us on the River Dee supporting Colin Craik and Somers of Aberdeen. The venue will be the Lovely Dess beat where we will introduce a full house of angler to the merits of fishing with a truly inspiring piece of kit. The Made in England Hardy HBX.

Don’t you just love being on a salmon river?

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