Fishing News Page for September, 2017
The first week of September remained very dry with high pressure in charge of our weather system. However, the signs of a change to more unsettled and wetter conditions were looking quite promising and hopes were high for a soaking!
By Friday, September 8th, after heavy rain falling over the catchments for the River Spey, River Dee and River Findhorn, river levels were indeed on the rise at last. River levels for the River Findhorn at Shenachie were reading 1’6” and with good clarity. I was fishing on Glenferness Estate, Levrattich Beat on the River Findhorn and conditions looked perfect. I went to the Chain Pool to start, where I saw many fresh fish running with sometimes two to three fish in the air at a time! I fished the pool several times and changing flies each time, but frustratingly, I could not get any response, just one very tentative pull and that was it.
Later on in the afternoon, I decided to reel in and head off downstream to Altyre Estate, Lower Beat. By the time I arrived, the river had just risen and again it was looking in perfect order. There were some good numbers of fish showing here, as well. I started in at the top of Roan Pool with a small Purple Cascade tube fly on a 5’ poly leader sink tip. Within minutes of starting, I got a good pull and hooked into a large fish, which showed on the top of the surface then took off down the Pool before the hooks came out! I fished on through the beat for a few more hours without any further touches before calling it a day and heading back home.
On Monday, September 11th, and after further heavy rain falling over the River Findhorn catchment, the river levels were reading 1’10” on the Forres gauge. However, by mid-afternoon the river on Altyre Estate was rising quickly and becoming increasingly dirtier and fishing was off for the day! By late evening, the river was reading 2’10” on the Forres gauge and as the rain eased off, it was looking increasingly more hopeful for the next day.
By Tuesday, September 12th, river levels were reading 2’3” on the Forres gauge and the water clarity had improved greatly. We were in with a chance at last! I was fishing with David Tisdale for the day. It was a pleasant early September day with some spells of sunshine and feeling a little cooler than of late. We fished hard all morning without so much as a tweak! However, after lunch as the river was starting to fall away, we began to see one or two fish showing in Roan Pool. I managed to hook a lively cock fish of around 8 lbs. in the neck of Roan Pool on a ½” Purple Cascade tube and after a quick photo the fish was safely released back into the river.
Very shortly afterwards, still fishing in the Roan Pool, I managed to hook and release another cock fish of around 9 lbs. followed quickly by number three, of around 10 lbs., all hooked on the Purple Cascade fished on a fast sinking tip. This was certainly a great afternoon of sport, a purple patch I believe it is known as!!
On Wednesday, September 13th, river levels were reading 1’7” on the Forres gauge and water clarity was in perfect condition. It was another cloudy/overcast day with further outbreaks of heavy rain falling over the River Findhorn catchment. David Tisdale’s guest was Leslie Tyson, who got the day off to great start in the Tail Roehillock Pool. Within an hour or so he had hooked and released four fish of around 4 lbs., which was very fresh and another two fish of around 8 lbs. and finally a cracking summer salmon of around 15 lbs.
A little later on in the day he hooked another fish of around 5 lbs. from Roan Pool. All fish were hooked on a 1” Altyre Dog. He also hooked and lost another five fish from Roan Pool, Palamore Island Pool, and Roehillock Pool. A total of ten salmon hooked in one day is a real achievement and, indeed, a red letter day for Leslie. After lunch, David Tisdale managed to hook and release a cock fish of around 10 lbs. from the Roan Pool on a ½” Purple Cascade tube. Six fish in total, what a day! By later on in the evening river levels were on the rise again and reading 1’11” on the Forres gauge.
On Thursday, September 14th, river levels were reading 2’4” on the Forres gauge and more rain was forecast! We have some really great high water pools on Altyre and Palamore Island yielded a 4lb sea trout to my rod on a 1” Altyre Dog. Later on in the evening Leslie Tyson hooked and released an 8lb fish from the tail of Roehillock Pool.
By Saturday, September 16th and after further heavy rain falling river levels were reading 3’ on the Forres gauge, 1’10” on the Shenachie gauge and 2’3” on the river Divie gauge. However, the water clarity was still in good order and by mid-afternoon, river levels had started to fall away again. David Tisdale managed to hook and release a big “crocodile” cock fish of around 13 lbs. from the top of Roan Pool on a 1” Altyre Dog tube.
A little later on in the day, Leslie Tyson hooked and released two salmon of around 10 lbs. and 6 lbs., plus a sea trout of around 2 lbs. all from Roan Pool on a small Purple Cascade tube fly. By later on in the evening and after more rain falling over the catchment, river levels were on the rise again, reading 2’1” on the Forres gauge. Things were looking very promising for the following week as river levels continued to remain steady and I was feeling optimistic of another great week ahead.
On Monday, September 18th, river levels were reading 2’ on the Forres gauge and it was feeling decidedly autumnal, as many leaves were already turning and starting to fall. I was having something of a busman’s holiday and time to fish on my own for the day, just for a change! I decided to head straight away to Palamore Island Pool, which at this height should be spot on. I fished carefully down towards the tail of the pool and just at that point, as I was gently retrieving the fly, a solid pull and I could feel straight away I had hooked a big fish. After a good fight, I managed to carefully beach the big hen fish of around 15 lbs. and let her go on her way to the spawning grounds. A little later on in the day after leaving the pool to rest I managed to hook and release another big hen fish, this one slightly bigger at around 16 lbs. I moved back upstream to fish the Tail of the Roehillock Pool which is another favourite high water hot spot! As the fly swung around on to the dangle, there was a slight swirl behind the fly and that was it. I made another long cast into the same spot and this time began to retrieve the fly as it swung round on the dangle and bang, fish on! It was a really lively fresh little grilse of around 3 lbs., which gave some great sport and finally swam towards me at great speed as it leapt clean into the air and nearly dropped into the front of my waders! It was really quite amusing to see. Finally, I decided to head back downstream to Roan Pool which was looking in good ply. I worked my way down, wading carefully along by the fallen pine trees where I had seen one or two fish showing very close in. The fly swung round and boom, another good solid pull from another big fish and a strong fight ensued. I finally managed to beach the big summer salmon of around 18 lbs. and carefully removed the hooks before she swam off like a rocket back into the pool. This had, indeed, been another red letter day and I was delighted to enjoy such great autumn sport and to see the river so well stocked with these big multi-sea winter salmon. This is so encouraging and bodes well for the future of the whole of the River Findhorn system in years to come.
On Tuesday, September 19th, river levels were reading 1’4” on the Forres gauge and the weather had become very bright, sunny and warm for a change! I was joined by Charlie and Rick Heinritz plus Charlie’s daughter Laura from Michigan in the USA, who had booked a day of Spey Casting tuition with me on Altyre Estate. The bright and sunny conditions made fishing conditions difficult and the fish seemed to be in no mood for taking the fly until later on in the afternoon. Rick Heinritz managed to hook his first ever Scottish Atlantic salmon, a fresh grilse of around 3 lbs. from the top of Roan Pool on a Cascade double size 8.
On Wednesday, September 20th, river levels had fallen away a little, reading 1’ on the Forres gauge. Leslie Tyson was back in action again through the morning with a fresh grilse of around 3 lbs. on a small Altyre Dog (puppy) tube from the tail of Palamore Pool! I also managed to hook and release a fresh grilse of around 3 lbs. on a small Altyre dog tube from the Roan Pool. After lunch, Leslie managed to hook and release another three fish of around 8 lbs., 5 lbs. and a very big cock fish of 18 lbs. and all from the Roan Pool on the Lower Beat. A little later on, he hooked and released another two fish, one of around 5 lbs. and a fresh fish of around 9 lbs. from the Garden Pool, again all on his Altyre Dog tube fly. It was another great day of sport on the Altyre Estate water.
After another night of heavy rain falling over the River Findhorn catchment, on the morning of Thursday, September 21st, we awoke to see the rain continue to fall! By the time we had arrived on the Altyre Estate beats, the river was already a brown raging torrent and still rising! By mid-day the river levels peaked at around 4’9” on the Forres gauge and fishing was impossible. My clients for the day were Ken and Linda Koretz from California in the USA. We arrived at the hut and soon decided it was time to take an appropriately named “rain check”! Luckily Ken and Linda were staying over in the area for a few more days and we re-scheduled their day for Saturday the 23rd.
On Friday, September 22nd, river levels had fallen away through the night and were reading 2’10” on the Forres gauge, 1’6” on the Shenachie gauge and 2’4” on the river Divie gauge. Water clarity had also improved quickly and I was feeling fairly confident of a successful day as the water continued to fall away. Leslie Tyson hooked and released three fresh grilse between 3 lbs.-5 lbs. from the tail of Roehillock Pool on the Upper Beat. I also managed to hook and release another fresh grilse of around 4 lbs., also from the tail of Roehillock Pool. A little later on in the afternoon, Leslie hooked another summer run salmon of around 10 lbs. from Roan Pool on the Lower Beat.
On Saturday, September 23rd and river levels were reading 1’8” on the Forres gauge and looking in perfect order. As rescheduled, we met up with Ken and Linda Koretz at the Knockomie Hotel for 9.00 a.m. Ken and Linda were already seasoned trout fishers, but this was a new experience coming to Scotland to fish for Atlantic salmon. They had managed to book themselves some casting lessons at the San Francisco fly casting ponds to gain a little experience into the Spey Casting technique before coming to the Highlands of Scotland. The lessons had certainly given them some insight and it did not take them long to get into the swing of casting a decent line across the river. Within twenty minutes of starting, Linda was first to hook a feisty fish in Palamore Pool which gave her some anxious moments before a fine grilse of around 5 lbs. was finally netted.
I decided to take Ken up to Roehillock Pool as he was casting out a good line and I was confident that he would be able to cover the lie. After several casts and as the fly swung onto the dangle he also hooked a fresh sea liced grilse of around 3 lbs., which he was so very delighted about. We then moved on upstream to Soldier’s Hole Pool and on the first cast, Linda hooked fish number two, another grilse of around 4 lbs. hooked and released. This was turning into a great day, with three fish hooked and released to my new American clients before lunch! Leslie Tyson also hooked and released a fish of around 8 lbs. from the Roan Pool in the morning. He also managed to hook and release another fish of around 4 lbs. on a small Purple Cascade tube later in the afternoon from the Tail of Roehillock Pool.
After lunch I was on the lower beat with Ken and Linda and I was hopeful of another fish from Roan Pool. Ken was, by now, able to cast a good length of line and he was even shooting off running line with ease! We had seen one or two fish moving further down in the pool and it was not long before he hooked another fish of around 5 lbs. on a small Purple Cascade tube fly. Well done to both Ken and Linda Koretz on catching their first four Atlantic salmon in one day, great stuff!
We ended the week with a total of twenty-three salmon and two sea trout, which was a really great week of sport on Altyre Estate, River Findhorn.
As we moved into our last week of the fishing season, river levels remained at a good fishable height. On Monday, September 25th, river levels were reading 1’9” on the Forres gauge. However, by mid-afternoon levels were rising again to 2’9” and we were seeing fewer fish than the previous week and perhaps the fish had already got other things on their mind! As the week progressed, the weather changed as it became brighter and generally much sunnier and river levels fell away.
By Saturday, September 30th, the river levels were reading 10” on the Forres gauge and it was a cooler and cloudier morning with more fish showing in the Roan Pool on the Lower Beat. The day had been booked as part of a surprise gift for Martin Scholten from the Netherlands by his partner, Marinke Bohmer, to celebrate the birth of their first baby girl, Lauren. The other part of his surprise gift was to follow on Sunday by way of a whisky tasting day and touring some of the local Speyside distilleries ending up at Lochnagar Distillery on Royal Deeside!
Martin is a keen fisherman and has never experienced fly fishing, Spey casting or salmon fishing, but was determined to learn the technique. I soon had him up to speed and as we were seeing several fish in the Roan Pool, I was feeling hopeful of catching a fish. Within about ten minutes of starting, he was able to put out a good line, when he had a good solid pull off the reel and it was “Fish On”! It was a good strong fish, which gave him some great sport and several leaps into the air as the reel screamed out! After about another ten minutes or so, he had the fish on its side and I was able to slip the net under the fish. It was a lovely deep hen fish of around 7 lbs. and after a quick photo it was safely released. The fish shot back into the pool to carry on her journey upstream and towards the spawning grounds.
Sadly, this brings our season on the River Findhorn and River Spey to a close and the salmon and sea trout may be left in peace to carry on with their spawning season through the upcoming autumn and early winter months. It has been as always a most enjoyable season on our beloved Scottish rivers, which will re-open for business again in February, 2018.
I have enjoyed meeting many new clients and re-acquainting with old friends through this last season. I, therefore, look forward to meeting up with everyone on the river bank next season and wishing you all “Tight Lines” through 2018.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to several of my very close friends who have been able to help me out through this last season during a period of ill health and recuperation. Therefore, thanks go to Leslie Tyson, Marshall Garrett and Lukasz Materek for stepping up at short notice and assisting me through this period.
We have some great fishing opportunities available for the Spring, Summer, and Autumn fishing for the 2018 fishing season on the River Findhorn, River Spey and the River Dee, so please do contact me, Ian@speycaster.net to discuss your requirements and availability.
I shall resume updating my reports for the 2018 fishing season once again when the fishing season reopens in February, 2018.