The new fishing season opened here in Scotland on the Rivers Findhorn and Spey on February 11th and I am delighted to announce that our first fish of the 2016 season was caught on Altyre Estate, River Findhorn.
On February 22, Leslie Tyson was fishing on Altyre Estate, Lower Beat with water levels running at 1′ 2″ on the Forres gauge. The day was really quite mild and conditions were just about spot on. He caught a cracking fresh spring salmon of around 18 lbs. from the Roan Pool on a black and yellow tube fly fished on a fast sinking tip line. The big fish was also the first reported fish caught and released from the River Findhorn. He also enjoyed a day of further sport with a total of six kelts to add to his tally. What a day!
Weather conditions have remained quite cold over these last few weeks with ample snow falling over the surrounding hills above the river Findhorn and Spey catchments. Plenty of snow up on the hills bodes well for us over the forthcoming spring weeks, as long as it does not suddenly become too warm and we lose the snow all in one flush!
I have been back out on Altyre Estate over this last week with new clients Jim Seymour and Mike Cooney, enjoying their first Findhorn experience. Weather conditions for the first half of the week commencing March 7th were really quite ideal with cold and sunny conditions prevailing. River levels on Monday 7th were running at 1’2″, but despite the water being covered well, my rods remained blank for the day. It was disappointing, as I was fully expecting to see a fish caught. However, we were not going to have to wait much longer for our second fish of the season.
On Tuesday, March 8th, river levels had fallen away slightly reading 1′ on the Forres gauge. Jim Seymour managed to hook a kelt in Palamore Island just before lunch. Later on in the afternoon, Lukasz Materek went for a cast up to Soldier’s Hole Pool with David Tisdale in attendance. This is a really great pool at any time of the season, but at 1′ it does not get much better. Sure enough it did not take Lukasz very much time, before he hooked into his first fresh fish of the year, which gave him a lot of excitement as he played the fish off the ledge! After a while, he managed to get the fish beached further down the pool, ably assisted by David Tisdale. It was a really cracking deep spring salmon of around 14 lbs. fresh from the sea and Lukasz was delighted. He caught the fish on a Tiger tail Snaelda fished on a sink tip line. After a couple of photos the fish was quickly released and shot off back into the deep pool to continue its’ journey upstream.
By Wednesday, March 9th, the weather had become a little more unsettled with some snow melt water coming in from the River Divie, which gave the Lower River a rise in levels. Levels were reading 1′ on the Forres gauge and 1’4″ on the river Divie gauge. Therefore, by mid-morning, levels on Altyre were running at around 1’4″-1’6″ and water clarity was perfect. We were all feeling hopeful of another fresh fish, but apart from one large kelt caught by Jim Seymour in the Roan Pool, that was it!
By Thursday, March 10th, river levels had fallen away slightly and reading 1’3″ on the Forres gauge. It was an absolutely beautiful day with plenty of spring sunshine on offer and just a touch milder than of late. I was joined by David Tisdale and Don Milne for the day. Once again, we were feeling optimistic of a fish and despite all pools being covered from top to bottom the day remained blank. Don had a brief encounter with a fish in Palamore Island in late afternoon, but that was it!
By Friday, March 11th, river levels were falling slightly and reading 1’2″ on the Forres gauge. It was an overcast and cloudy day with the arrival of some heavy rain, but still feeling milder. David Tisdale managed to hook and release a well mended kelt from Roan Pool around mid-morning. Almost immediately after getting back into the pool he hooked into another fish. This time it was a really lovely deep fresh fish of around 11 lbs. and David was delighted. The fish was caught on a 1″ Willie Gunn tube and quickly released back into the river. This was also David’s first spring salmon of 2016 season. The rain became much heavier by mid-afternoon and so he decided to head home for an early bath and large single malt!! Quite right too!!
On Saturday, March 12th, it was no real surprise to see river levels reading 3′ on the Forres gauge and rising! There had been heavy rain through much of the night and this, in turn was washing off plenty of hill snow into the river. Nick Armstead (Gamefish) and Clive Williamson from Edinburgh had driven up for the day and fished together with David Tisdale and Leslie Tyson. However, fishing conditions were pretty hopeless, as the river continued to rise throughout the morning. By lunchtime, they were completely flooded off and all decided it was time to head for home.
I am really delighted that the season has started off so well though, with three fresh fish recorded already. This is great news and bodes well for the forthcoming weeks and months ahead. I still have some days available through April/May for some guided fishing on Altyre Estate so please contact [email protected] for further information.
May I wish everyone “Tight Lines” for the season ahead and looking forward to meeting up with old friends and making new acquaintances through the forthcoming fishing season.
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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.