Since my last update and as we moved into late April, winter returned to the Highlands of Scotland with a vengeance! River levels had already fallen away quite amazingly and it appeared that the early run of Spring salmon were in no hurry to be moving into the Middle and Upper Beats at this time. There had been one or two fish caught up on Glenferness and Lethen Estates, but certainly not in the numbers one might have expected, having seen so many fish running in previous weeks on Altyre and Darnaway Beats. However, one thing is for sure, they will get up to the Middle and Upper Beats in time and fishing sport on the River Findhorn should be superb over these upcoming weeks and months.
The week commencing April 25th was really quite incredibly cold with heavy snow falling on the high and low ground for several days in the Highlands. All of this extreme weather was driven along by a bitterly cold northerly wind just for good measure! However, over the next few days river levels started to rise to a good fishing height.
On Wednesday, April 27th, Lukasz Materek was fishing on Altyre Lower Beat with river levels reading 1’1″ on the Forres gauge. It was still bitterly cold with heavy snow showers blowing on and off all day. There seemed to be another run of smaller two sea-winter fish moving in at this time. Lukasz caught and released two fresh fish of around 7 lb.-8 lb. each from Roan Pool on a tiger tail Snaelda tube. He also hooked and lost another fish later on in the day from the Tail of Meads Pool.
On Friday, April 29th, Leslie Tyson was fishing for the day and river levels had crept up to 1”4″ on the Forres gauge. The biting winds and snow had abated at last, although it was still feeling pretty chilly. Leslie enjoyed some great sport with three sea-liced fish of between 7 lbs. to 8 lbs, and one sea trout of around 3 lbs. from Roan Pool on the Lower Beat. Ian Neale came down for a late cast and managed another fish of around 8 lbs, again from Roan Pool and all fish caught on a ½” Purple Cascade tube. This was indeed Spring salmon fishing at its’ best and with better still to come!
On Saturday, April 30th, river levels had crept up a little more reading a perfect 1’5″ on the Forres gauge. Sean Mclean and Alistair Taylor enjoyed some good sport before lunch with one fish of around 7 lbs. landed and another hooked and lost after a good long tussle.
Ian Neale went down to the Lower Beat after lunch and really had some great sport with another three fish of around 10 lbs, 8 lbs. and 7 lbs., with another two fish hooked and lost all from Roan Pool and in a matter of around four hours! Later on in the evening, Leslie Tyson came down for a cast and managed to hook and land another fish of around 14 lbs. just before dark on a Sunray Shadow. Just a little further upstream on the Upper Beat Robin Birkbeck hooked and landed a fish of around 6 lbs. from Palamore Pool. Alison and Olly Alston were also amongst the fish later in the evening with two fish of around 12 lbs. and 14 lbs. landed and another seven fish hooked and lost all from the Roehillock Pool. This was really some exciting fishing and a total of eight fish hooked and landed on Altyre Estate in one day. This gave us a total of eleven salmon and one sea trout for the week. This is just superb spring salmon fishing on the fabulous river Findhorn.
As we moved into early May and week commencing Monday, May 2nd, river levels on the River Findhorn were rising again as the previous weeks’ snow started to melt away combined with some heavy rain through the weekend. River levels were reading 2’3″ on the Forres gauge 2’3″ on the Shenachie gauge. The river had also become very dirty and continued to rise for much of the day peaking at just under 4′ by late afternoon and the rods all went home for an early bath!
By Tuesday, May 3rd, levels had started falling away and clarity was starting to look much better. Levels at Forres were reading 1’10” and 1’7″ at Shenachie. My clients fishing with me were good old faithfuls, David Tisdale, Des Dunlop, Paul Humphries and Simon Lewin. It was rather frustrating, as fish were seen running in good numbers, but they didn’t seem to be interested in taking a fly! After returning from a trip to Aberdeen Ian Neale went down to take a look at the river and to see who was still fishing in the evening. Everyone had drawn stumps and gone home, so it was time for a cast. The pools were really quiet and nothing there was nil to be seen in Roehillock or Palamore Island. Therefore, it was time to move on down to the Roan Pool as time was getting on. The water was looking in superb order, but still not a sign of a fish. About half way down the pool and then that lovely slow solid draw as a fish took a good hold of the Purple Cascade tube. It was a lively fresh sea-liced fish of around 7 lbs. and after a quick photo was released and shot off like a bullet.
On Wednesday, May 4th river levels were reading 1’9″ on the Forres gauge and looking in perfect order. Paul Humphrey’s did not take long to hook his first fish in the Roan Pool, which was another sea-liced fish of around 8 lbs. caught on a 1″ black and yellow tube fly. Later on in the afternoon, David Tisdale managed to hook a really cracking fish of around 15 lbs. also from Roan Pool on a ½” Purple Cascade tube fly. He also briefly hooked and lost a fish in the tail of Soldiers Hole Pool. Paul Humphrey’s enjoyed another brief encounter with a fish before losing his footing and falling in just as the fish dropped off!
On Thursday, May 5th, I was joined by another regular party, Ernst Schleipmann and Birger Bredenbrucher from Essen in Germany. River levels were running a very respectable 1’4″ on the Forres gauge, spot on! It was a very windy day with a mixture of cloud and sunshine. Birger did not waste any time in catching his first fish from Roan Pool, which was another sea-liced fish of around 8 lbs. and hooked on his favourite Green Highlander tube fly. A little later on, we moved up to the Upper Beat and decided to put him in Soldiers Hole, which was looking perfect. We walked out on to the ledge and as always, we start up here on a very short line. Within minutes he got a really solid pull and he was into his second fish of the day. This is an interesting place to hook and land a fish as many of my regulars know! Before long the fish was safely netted and another fresh fish of around 8 lbs. was quickly netted and released. Birger was really delighted with two fish in one day. What a great start!
On Friday, May 6th and levels were still at a good height reading 1’2″ on the Forres gauge. However, it became bright, sunny and very warm by mid-afternoon and the fish did not seem to be interested in taking a fly. There were certainly fish to be seen in most pools, but the weather was against us and the river was falling away very fast.
By Saturday, May 7th, the river levels had fallen to 7″ on the Forres gauge, which was really quite incredible to think that earlier in the week on Monday it was nearly at 4′ and unfishable! It was a better fishing day however, cloudy and overcast feeling much cooler. At lunchtime we had seen a fish show in the tail of Palamore Pool. Having tried all of the usual flies earlier, I suggested to Birger that he might like to try a Sunray Shadow over the fish. Sure enough, the first time down through the pool after lunch, the fish came up and hit the Sunray and was well and truly hooked. It was an absolutely cracking fresh fish of around 12 lbs. and covered in sea lice. Birger was once again a happy manny and gave him his third fish in three days, brilliant!
As we moved into week commencing May 9th, we were suddenly plunged into a heat wave and air temperatures soared to 25 degrees C. by Monday afternoon! River levels continued to fall away very quickly and fish were simply nowhere to be seen in the hopeless conditions. There were just odd fish being caught on Logie, Glenferness and Lethen Estates, but it was slow going everywhere and the only hope of catching a fish was either early morning or late evening.
By Saturday, May 14th, river levels were reading just 3″ on the Forres gauge and as all the snow had melted away from the catchment hills, therefore rain was now a necessity. As we moved into the week commencing May 16th river levels remained at 3″ on the Forres gauge. I was on Altyre Estate, river Findhorn with Hardy/Greys who were filming a promo for their latest fishing products. There were certainly no shortage of fish in many pools and even in these low water conditions these fish were determined to keep on running! Once again it was slow going and one or two fish were nearly seduced by a Sunray Shadow, but nothing took a proper hold of the fly.
On Tuesday, May 17th, Leslie Tyson fished on until very late in the evening and had a couple of encounters with fish. First a brief encounter with a fish in Bertha Pool on the Sunray. Then just before dark a very big fish hooked, which took him all the way down to below the Darnaway Meads hut on the far bank, before the hooks fell out. When Leslie finally reeled in his line he found to his astonishment that both hooks had been completely straightened by this monster fish! He told me later that it was the biggest fish that he had ever encountered. All of this action and in just 3″ of water which goes to prove that when these spring or summer fish want to run, then run they will, big or small! Those lovely people at the weather centres had promised us rain over the forthcoming days, which came to very little as always. River levels crept up to 7″ on the Forres gauge by May 19th, but fell away again fairly quickly and no other fish were hooked through to the end of that week. However, it was encouraging to still see so many fish running each day despite the low water conditions.
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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.