As we moved into early August, river levels were rising after some heavy rain falling over the Cairngorms and Monhadliath Mountain catchments, giving the River Spey, River Dee and River Findhorn a much needed lift in levels.
On Monday, August 7th, river levels were reading 1’ on the river Findhorn Forres gauge. I was joined by regular client David Tisdale and Duff Battye who was fishing the Findhorn for the first time. Chris and Ivan Wall were also fishing their first time on Altyre Estate for the first three days of the week.
Water clarity was looking good with a lovely peaty single malt tinge to it. It was a good fishing day and David Tisdale was soon off the mark with a fresh salmon of around 9 lbs. hooked and released in Palamore Pool on a small Willie Gunn tube fly.
On Tuesday, August 8th, levels had fallen away and were reading 9” on the Forres gauge. Chris Wall managed to hook and release a 3 lb. grilse from the Roehillock Pool on a small Park shrimp cone head tube. Shortly after, he hooked and released a 4 lb. sea trout from the tail of Roehillock Pool on a size 12 Willie Gunn double. A little later on in the day, Chris hooked and lost another grilse in the tail of the Garden Pool.
By Wednesday, August 9th, river levels had fallen away and were reading 9” on the Forres gauge. Plenty of fish were seen running, but not too inclined to take the fly!
On Monday, August 21st, river levels were reading 10” on the River Findhorn, Forres gauge, after some further rain falling over the catchment. Conditions were looking ideal and the weather was pleasantly warm, but cloudy and overcast. David Tisdale was soon back on the score board with a cracking fresh summer salmon of around 15 lbs. hooked and released in Palamore Pool on the Upper Beat. A little later on in the day, he managed another cracking summer salmon of around 8 lbs. and a sea trout of around 3lbs. both from the tail of Palamore Pool. Later on in the day, Leslie Tyson hooked and released a summer salmon of around 9 lbs., also from Palamore Pool. Not long afterwards, he hooked and lost another two salmon in Roehillock Pool and Roan Pool.
On Tuesday, August 22nd, river levels had fallen back and were reading 6” on the Forres gauge. Just before lunch, David Tisdale hooked and lost a fish in the tail of the Garden Pool on the Lower Beat. Leslie Tyson was back in the evening and managed to hook and release two sea-liced grilse of around 3 lbs. each from William’s Run and Soldiers’ Hole Pool.
With river levels at just 5” on the Forres gauge on August 23rd, Leslie Tyson hooked and lost another fish early in the morning from the tail of Palamore Pool. However, signs were looking promising as the heavens opened and heavy rain started to fall over the River Findhorn catchment later in the day.
By Thursday, August 24th, river levels were back up at a respectable 1’2” on the Forres gauge. I was joined by the Adam MacDonald party who were fishing over the course of the next three days. It was a good fishing day with plenty of cloud cover and water clarity was looking in good order. Ronald Sutherland of the Helmsdale Fly Tying Company, (www.helmsdalecompany.com), was first to score with a cracking sea-liced grilse of around 3 lbs. from the tail of the Roehillock Pool on a small Temple dog Willie Gunn tube.
A little later on and he hooked a sea trout of around 2 lbs. also from the Roehillock Pool. After lunch, I took Ronald down to the Garden Pool where he hooked and released another fresh fish of around 5 lbs. from the tail of the pool, yet again on his deadly Temple Dog tube.
A little further upstream on the Upper Beat, Adam Macdonald enjoyed some great sport with a Summer salmon of around 8 lbs. from William’s Run, also on the Temple Dog Willie Gunn tube. Adam’s other guest was first time salmon fisher Adam Holmes, who was really unlucky to hook and lose his first salmon from the tail of Palamore Pool. However, just as he was reeling in to finish up, a rather greedy little brown trout took hold of the fly by way of something of a consolation prize!
On Friday, August 25th, river levels had fallen away reading 7” on the Forres gauge. It was a bright and sunny morning, but it was beginning to become increasingly cloudy as a warm front brought in another band of heavy rain from the West. In the morning, Adam Macdonald hooked and released a grilse of around 3 lbs. from the tail of Roehillock Pool. By mid-afternoon, the rain had set in and poured for the rest of the day and into the evening.
By the next morning, August 26th, river levels had risen substantially reading 2’ on the Forres gauge of the River Findhorn. Water clarity was still in good order and a run of fish started to show themselves, later in the afternoon. Callum Gillies from the Isle of Skye hooked and lost a fish in the top of Palamore Pool, having initially thought he was stuck on the bottom, before the bottom started to move!! All in all, it had been a really good week, despite some yo-yoing of river levels.
On Monday, August 28th river levels had fallen away and were reading 10” on the Forres gauge. A ridge of high pressure had established itself over the Highlands of Scotland, with warmer and drier weather dominating our weather system.
I was joined by Spey Casting newcomers, Father and son team, Hannes and Sebastian Kernmayr from Austria, who were fishing in Scotland and the River Findhorn for the first time. Sebastian and Hannes both picked up the art of Spey casting very quickly and I was keen for them to hook a fish, but conditions were against us in terms of the falling water and warmer weather conditions making the fish harder to tempt.
Finally on Wednesday, August 30th, with levels falling away to 6” on the Forres gauge, Hannes Kernmayr was at last rewarded with his first salmon which was a fine grilse of around 4 lbs. hooked and released in the Tail of Garden Pool on Altyre lower beat.
On Thursday, August 31st, I was joined by one of my regular clients, Rob Thomas from Germany. I had arranged a great mixture of fishing adventures for the “Rocky Rob Road Trip” including some wild hill loch brown trout fishing and a day on the River Alness in Ross-shire, which is a smaller spate river running out of Loch Morie into the sea in the Cromarty Firth.
River levels were running at a respectable height according to my friend Roger Dowsett of Salmon Quest, who runs the fishing on the River Alness. We decided to head off Northwards bright and early. Rain had been forecast but did not come to very much to affect the river levels. However, Roger told us that the loch was now full and he could maintain a steady flow by letting out water from the loch each day. We had booked Beat Four for the day, which is situated in a stunning woodland setting on the lower river and one of my real favourites.
We started off by fishing the lower part of the beat, on the Raven’s Rock Pool and the Valve Pool where we saw one or two fresh fish running, but could not tempt anything. Later on we moved up to have lunch at the hut overlooking the Ministers Pool, where we saw a couple of fish showing in the headstream of Cunningham’s Pool. After lunch we decided to fish through Minister’s Pool and the Wagtail Pool flowing underneath the footbridge. I managed to move a grilse to a small Sunray Shadow in the tail of the Wagtail Pool, but it didn’t take hold of the fly.
A little while afterwards and Rob managed to hook a really lively grilse of around 5 lbs., which gave him some great sport on my new Bruce and Walker Switch rod. The fish was finally netted, photographed and released. “Rocky Rob” was truly delighted with his first River Alness fish. We fished fairly hard until late afternoon and with no other offers or fish seen we decided to head off back to Bradbush for a well earned dram!
With no further rain and with river levels on theRiver Findhorn falling away each day, we decided to head for the hills for a spot of wild brown trout sport which was thoroughly enjoyable as always. These are remote hill lochs which are tucked away only accessed by a Land Rover or equivalent 4X4 vehicle. Over the course of the next two days we managed to catch a total of around thirty five beautifully spotted and well conditioned wild brown trout up to around 2 lbs., all taken on a sedge pattern dry fly. This really is superb fun and when salmon fishing conditions are difficult due to low water, then this makes for a great substitute with such fishing in stunning and remote scenery.
I shall be updating my reports throughout the season as always. I also write up a regular weekly report, which can be seen on: www.fishfindhorn.co.uk.
We have some great fishing opportunities available through the season, so please do contact me, [email protected], to discuss your requirements and our availabilities.
A full September report is due to follow shortly.
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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.