The River Spey
The River Spey rises in the Monadhliath Mountains to the west of Laggan in Highland Council Area and flows 100 miles (160 km) east and northeast into Moray where it joins the sea at Spey Bay. It has a catchment area of 3367 sq. km (1300 sq. miles) and on its route to the Moray Firth it passes the towns of Newtonmore, Kingussie, Aviemore, Grantown-on-Spey, Charlestown of Aberlour, Craigellachie, Rothes and Fochabers.
The River Spey is the second longest river in Scotland and the seventh longest in the UK. Both the upper and lower reaches of the river are fast flowing with steep gradients. In its middle reaches, the river passes through the wide alluvial plain of Strathspey. Here the gradient flattens out and the river has a slow and meandering form. The mouth of the river has always been subject to change with the formation of shingle spits and the cutting of new outlets.
Relatively free from pollution and obstruction, the River Spey supports a major spawning population of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and is one of the most important salmon fishing rivers in the north of Scotland. The inaccessible deep water areas sustain one of the largest populations of fresh water pearl mussel in Scotland.
The principal tributaries of the River Spey in its upper reaches are the Truim, from Loch Ericht, and the Calder. After widening into Loch Insh, the Spey is joined by the Feshie and the Nethy which flow down from the Cairngorms and the Dulnain which flows down from the Monadhliath Mountains west of Carrbridge. Below Grantown-on-Spey the river is joined by right bank tributaries that include the Avon (A’an), Livet, Aberlour, Rinnes and Fiddich.
The River Spey has an excellent stock of native Brown trout, which will rise to a dry fly if you discover a hatch between April and September. The sea trout runs on the River Spey are second to none in the UK despite recent trends in numbers of fish running our rivers.
The River Spey is traditionally known for its Spring Salmon, which are deep and firm and fight tenaciously in the fast streams of this challenging river. The Grilse runs can also be excellent; a day in June, fishing with small flies on floating line on a mid river beat, can be a day to remember. The Autumn shows large numbers of fish which on the whole tend to be coloured, though a let on a lower beat can produce bright silver fish up to the last day of the season.
The River Spey is a great fly fishing river. It is broad, but not generally deep and there is always a good push of water across its whole width. In fact, in high water conditions, it can be difficult to slow the fly in order to attract a fish sheltering from the main stream. The water is generally clear though peat tinged and it flows at consistent good fishing levels throughout Spring and into Summer, having benefit of snowmelt from the high mountains above.
The fishing season on the River Spey
The River Spey salmon fishing season opens on 11th February and closes on 30th September. Fresh salmon will be spread throughout the system from the opening day of the season.
The following salmon fishing tackle shops are always very helpful with advice and information and they hold an excellent selection of salmon fishing gear: