As we moved into the first full week of June, river levels continued to fall away and an early heatwave began to develop with daytime air temperatures reaching 24° C. However, by late afternoon on Friday, June 1st, we saw some heavy rain falling over the River Findhorn catchment and river levels were running at a very respectable 11” on the Shenachie gauge by Saturday June 2nd.
Hopes were running high, as well as river levels, which had peaked at 11” on the Forres gauge by late Sunday afternoon on June 3rd. Leslie Tyson went up to take a look at the water on Sunday evening and was delighted to see a decent run of fish moving through the Altyre Estate beats and pools.
By Monday, June 4th, river levels had fallen away quickly and reading 6” on the Forres gauge. It was another cloudy overcast day and feeling cooler than of late. However, the river was running very dirty throughout much of the day for some reason and conditions were not ideal, but improved slowly through the day. Andrew McInnes was unlucky to hook and lose a fresh fish from the top of the Scur Pool on a small Purple Cascade double. Despite the poor water clarity, reports were encouraging with good numbers of fresh fish seen running throughout the day.
On Tuesday, June 5th, river levels were reading 5” on the Forres gauge with much improved water clarity. It had become much brighter and sunnier and feeling very warm all day, cooling down by late evening. Once again, Leslie Tyson’s party reported seeing fresh fish running for much of the day, but no fish were hooked or pulled.
On Wednesday, June 6th, river levels were reading 3” on the Forres gauge and it was beginning to get very hot through the daytime and only one fish was pulled from the St. John’s Pool. It was pretty much the same story for Thursday, June 7th, as river levels continued to fall away and another hot day was in store!
Friday, June 8th, river levels were reading just 2” on the Forres gauge and at last success was found by David Phillips, who hooked and released a cracking little fresh grilse of around 4 lbs from the Roan Pool on a small Temple dog double. A little later on in the day and Leslie Tyson pulled another fish in the St. John’s Pool. It had been a tough week for Leslie’s team and persistence finally paid off, but somewhat disappointing, having seen so many fish running through the beats for much of the week!
The week commencing June 11th, saw river levels reading 3” on the Forres gauge after a small amount of rain falling over the River Findhorn catchment. River levels remained fairly steady at 2” for several days until another decent amount of rainfall on Wednesday, June 13th gave river levels another much needed lift and by late afternoon on Thursday, June 14th, river levels were reading a respectable 9” on the Shenachie gauge, just upstream of the Cawdor Estate. On Friday, June 15th, levels were reading 8” on the Forres gauge and I was hopeful of seeing fish. Conditions were really perfect and with good water clarity, but the fishing was quiet on both beats.
By Saturday, June 16th, river levels were reading 5” on the Forres gauge. It was another cloudy and overcast day with further rain falling later on in the day. Andrew McInnes was out bright and early on the Saturday morning and was rewarded with a cracking sea-liced Summer salmon of around 10 lbs. from the Scur Pool on the Upper Beat, hooked and released on a small Purple Cascade #10. Well done Andrew, and good to be off the mark with such a lovely fish!
A little later on in the afternoon, I had slowly worked my way down to the Scur Pool, which was looking very inviting! First time down through the pool and I moved what looked like a grilse to a small Altyre Dog (puppy) tube, which just turned over at the fly without touching it. This was looking promising! I decided to leave the pool for a while and worked on down to Roan Pool, but never saw or moved a fish.
Having rested the Scur Pool for about an hour, I decided to go back up for another cast and change over to a small 1” “Entysonator” needle tube. I carefully started in at the neck of the pool and only needing a fairly short cast, moved the fly across the surface. Within just a couple of casts a snout appeared out of the white water and simply nailed the fly first time, and it was “fish on”! This fish was most certainly no grilse and just took off downstream at great speed, cart wheeling across the surface several times before running back down through the pool! It was really electrifying as my little Hardy Perfect screamed out and gave me several anxious moments before the fish was fully under control. Finally, I was able to get the fish of around 8 lbs. carefully beached in shallow water and get a quick photo before releasing it back into the pool. This was really superb sport and great fun on such light tackle. What a day, but it hadn’t finished!
I decided to head back downstream to fish through Roan, Garden and St. John’s Pool before returning to the Scur for another final cast. I had mislaid my Leatherman, which has much sentimental value to me, earlier on after unhooking and releasing the first fish, so I started my long search for it in the fast shallow flowing streams that lead into the Scur Pool. After a good half an hour or so and still no sign of the tool, the opposition suddenly appeared on the other bank below me and began to tackle up his rod. I, therefore, decided it was most probably time for another cast before I resumed my search! Once again and using the same tactics as before with a shortish cast and drawing the fly slowly across the surface, suddenly almost on cue another snout appeared in almost the same lie and another fish was solidly hooked! This time it was a smaller fish, a grilse, which still gave the most amazing account of itself. It took off downstream throwing itself across the pool in all directions, much to the dismay of my new friend on the opposite bank, before I was able to get the fish of around 4 lbs. safely beached!
Then, needless to say, the search for my long lost friend was resumed, as I worked my way up and down, round and around the shallow shingle and stones. I was beginning to feel concerned as the light was fading a little, but then suddenly glittering in the evening light I could make out the shape of the tool exactly where I had laid it down earlier. The feeling of success and relief to be reunited with this old fishing accomplice was beyond words! This had, indeed, been a red letter day, with three fresh sea-liced fish hooked from the Scur Pool, plus my old Leatherman friend had been found. The pool seemed to be absolutely full of fresh fish, both salmon and grilse and this would only bode well for some lucky anglers fishing upstream the following week! This was Summer salmon fishing at its’ most exciting.
On Monday, June 18th, after another rise in levels from further rain falling over the River Findhorn catchment, levels were reading 5” on the Forres gauge and steady. Then on Tuesday morning, we saw another frontal system pulling in rain from the West, followed by further heavy rain falling later on in the evening and into the early hours of Wednesday morning. By Wednesday evening, river levels were already rising at Shenachie reading 7” and I was getting excited in preparation for fishing on Glenferness the following day!
On the Thursday morning of June 21st, I was somewhat disappointed to see that river levels had fallen away quickly and reading 4” on the Shenachie and Forres gauges. However, I had a feeling that another rise must follow at some point in the day and I was determined to catch myself a midsummer’s day salmon if, at all possible!
By the time I arrived at Glenferness and walked down the sixty-two steps to the Garden Pool, the water was looking a little lower than anticipated. It was really very bright, sunny and gusty with a steady upstream wind blowing into my face. However, I decided to head up to the Kennel Pool and work my way downstream and cast the “Entysonator” over all of the likely riffles and streams down to the Garden Pool, but without so much as a tweak! I decided it would be a good time to head back home for lunch and come back a little later on. On my way home a text message from Leslie, told me that sure enough levels were rising again at Shenachie, perfect I thought!
I headed back up to Glenferness a little later on in the afternoon hoping to make the most of the longest day of the year. As I drove over the Logie Bridge, I could see that levels had risen nicely once again. As I was getting closer to Glenferness Estate I was getting a little more excited. I parked up the Land Rover and headed my way down past the Island Pool and onto the Lairds Pool. I worked my way down the pool and saw one fish show off second point, but no offers forthcoming. I then went on down and fished through the Island Pool and nothing to be seen here at all, very quiet. I then continued my way walking down along the bank along past the Middle Island and into the tail of the pool and still nothing to be seen.
I looked downstream and could see the Island Stream was nicely shaded and so I walked on down. It was looking in perfect order, so I decided to tie on a small Altyre Dog copper tube fished on a short sinking tip leader. I cast the fly well over into the slower water and let the fly drift and swing into the faster stream tight in on our bank. After some five minutes or so, the fly was just picking up the faster water and a solid hard pull and a fish was on, brilliant! It was a really strong fish, which ran deep and then leapt several times, before I was finally able to beach it below me. It was a slightly coloured hen Spring salmon of around 9 lbs and I was delighted to catch my midsummer salmon! As the light began to fade a little, several other fish started to show in the pool, but there were no other offers forthcoming, so it was time to move on.
I walked back upstream to have a cast through the tail of the Lady’s Pool, which was now in shade and looked very promising, but nothing doing. I had seen a fish showing in the tail of Secret Spot, but it was not interested in taking my fly this evening. So, I walked on back up the long pathway towards the Land Rover parked by the cemetery, feeling extremely content with my lot. I looked at the clock which was reading 9:15 pm and decided there was still plenty of time for a last cast through the Garden Pool before heading home. It was looking in perfect order and with a good flow going down through the pool almost to the tail. I was feeling very hopeful of a fish here, one of my favourite pools, but sadly nothing was showing and no other pulls were forthcoming. As I walked back up the steps I could see the midsummer sun starting to set through the trees below me. By the time I had walked back up to the Land Rover, it was just past 10:00 pm and the sun was dipping below the horizon as I drove homewards for a well earned Balvenie Doublewood on ice!
The Adrian Thompson party who were the fishing tenants on Glenferness ended up with another thirteen salmon/grilse for their week, which was a really great result, considering the fluctuating conditions throughout the week, great stuff! As always, given decent river levels and conditions the River Findhorn very rarely lets us down!
We still have some great Summer/Autumn salmon fishing opportunities and availabilities on the River Findhorn, River Spey and River Dee over the upcoming months. As always, please do contact me [email protected] for further information on availability and costs for guided salmon fishing or Spey casting instruction. Tight Lines!
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Ian Neale, known as the Speycaster, is a seasoned fishing guide with extensive experience in renowned global fishing locations like the Ponoi River in Russia and the Rio Grande in Tierra Del Fuego. A published author, he has written extensively on salmon and sea trout fishing, with his first book, “Shadows in the Stream,” released in 2000. Ian has also appeared on various TV programs, demonstrating his expertise in Speycasting and discussing the importance of wild Atlantic salmon stocks to local economies. His passion for fishing and respect for nature are evident in all his endeavors.