Week commencing 12th July: Black water, sunshine & fish

Week commencing 12th July: Black water, sunshine & fish

It was a glorious week on Speyside with plenty sunshine, especially towards the end of the week. There was a strong wind too, it appeared almost autumnal with the trees shedding leaves and needles. The river level dropped away steadily over the course of the week. The river began the week very black in colour, easing as the days passed. The Spey always has run peaty after summer rain. The peat hags dry out, even more so nowadays, with the hot and dry weather we are getting, then leach colour (carbon) when the rain comes. That doesn’t mean it is acidic though. I know that the pH dropped to 6.84 last Sunday in the rising water, only just below neutral, although lower that it has been admittedly. There will be more detailed information available on water quality once the new monitoring station at Easter Elchies goes live on our website.

What about catches?

Andy Milne of Fochabers AA tells me that they have a quieter week than last with a total of 4 salmon and 2 grilse landed. There were plenty of pulls and losses though, a sign of running fish.

Gordon Castle Brae Water had about 35 for the week, the majority still salmon, including many good fish in the high teens.

Graham Ritchie with one of three fish for his day on Brae Water 4 on Monday. His three fish weighed 19, 19 & 15lb, plus a big brownie. Yet another good day for that most prolific of fishers.

Brae 5 ghillie David Graham with one of three good fish landed by one angler on Wednesday. From the Grilse Pool by the looks of things, maybe it should be re-named the Salmon Pool!

Andy Gunn, Orton Head ghillie, send me a couple nice pictures of two anglers from the beat with their first ever salmon. It is so good to see these photos of first fish, hopefully they will go on the catch many more.

Ollie Carr with his 1st ever fish, he ended up with 6! If he is not a convert now he never will be!

Lester Wolstenholme with his 1st ever fish, he landed 2.

Mark Melville reports that it was a relaxed and lightly fished week at Delfur but the catch was still in the mid 20s.

Euan Reid from Arndilly sent through this fine summary of an excellent week on the beat – “It was another memorable week at Arndilly with David Wood and his party. The week began at 18″ on the Arndilly gauge and finished at -2 giving the guests a good look at how the pools fish at different heights which is always good for their knowledge of the beat. We had 5 on Monday, Tom Caswell getting his first sea trout and first grilse off the beat( he’s had plenty elsewhere). Sam and Jill Elkington also getting a fish each. Tuesday we had 6 and Wednesday was 7, Jan Faulkener-Smith and Simon Channing having 1 each. James England caught 8 for his 3 days including a sea liced 16lb fish from the tail of the long pool. James also introduced some of the junior anglers to the experience of playing a salmon by handing over the rod once had hooked them, good job James.

We had 21 for the second half of the week including 10 on Friday. James Cheer had 2 Thursday afternoon without a cloud in the sky and John Garnet and Mark Camacho had their own little competition with John coming out on top 8 – 7. Kelly Wood had 2 on Friday on the new rod and reel. Special mention goes to Sally Channing who was looking for her first salmon but unfortunately, having taken to speycasting very quickly lost two. Next time!
All in all a very good week in conditions which were often not ideal with a great team and a lot of laughs.”

Jill Elkington

Sam Elkington

Jill Elkington with a wee grilse.

What a cracking photo! Jan and Joe with a sparkling grilse.

Teaching the younger generation how its done. James England and Charles Wood.

James England and Charles Wood with the successful conclusion.

James England with a solid 19lber

James England with a lovely 16lb fish

Rothes had 25 for the week, more grilse this week than last. Robbie Stronach, Rothes Head ghillie sends me pictures of the occasional fish with the red rash on its belly. Fishery Management Scotland have an app for reporting fish with the red belly rash, as well as sightings or captures of pink salmon or escaped farm fish. The red belly was rife in some of the northern rivers a couple years ago, resulting in high mortality levels. It hasn’t gone away. Without information on where it is occurring, and open transfer of knowledge, it will never be understood, nor solved.

Neil Borthwick, who was helping out last week at Rothes with a 19lb fish from the Junction Pool.

Neil again, this time with Mr Rawson’s 14lb fish from Bluestone

An example of a fresh fish with the red rash on the belly, this time a grilse from Rothes.

Easter Elchies ghillie Orn Sigurhansson reports, despite overhead conditions, it was another solid week with a total of 24 fish landed, mostly grilse. Most fish caught either early morning or late at night. He also notes that all anglers were camera shy!

Craigellachie beat had a good week with 26 fish landed, largest 12lb with the majority grilse. Dougie Ross also told me that they had 20 fish the previous week.

Mark Goodwin, Craigellachie

Neil Sherman, Craigellachie.

Andy Kennard with a fish from Slabs

On the opposite bank the Macallan beat ghillie, Robert Mitchell, reports that they had 10 fish for the week (11 the previous week). At the start of the week the fish were fresh, two sea-winter fish in the 10 to 14lb range. At the end of the week, as the water dropped the fish were mainly fresh run grilse. As always when there are fresh grilse around there were as many hooked and lost as landed.

A little further upstream Kinermony, Wester Elchies and Delagyle had a thinner week with just a couple fish each.

Laggan had a better week though with the James Bleaney party landing 17 fish, mostly grilse, and a sea trout. From Mike Murdoch- “Obviously a good first half of week and quieter as the week ended.”

Paddy Dangerfield with one of 3 for his morning out of Pool Voulin.

James Bleaney with one of 4 for his morning in Delchapel.

Archie Barker with his first salmon on his 5th cast. Clearly the ex Spey scribe, Malcolm Newbould, who was brought in to help with the learners in the party, picked up a tip or two during his stint writing the weekly reports….

On the Knockando beats the Home beat had another steady summer week. Archie Baillie reports that 15 fish were landed, 7 salmon and 8 grilse. Most of the salmon were slightly coloured with the occasional fresh fish. Archie also commented on how well conditioned the grilse were this year, in comparison to the tiddlers running last year.

Above Knockando we don’t get regular weekly updates but I hear they are still fishing steady. I have it on good authority that Ballindalloch have had many happy parties with plenty interest for next year, which is always good to hear.

The water we had at the start of the week has run away but the river is flowing well. The clarity of the water improved during the week but it is still carrying peat stain. The forecast indicates that there will be more cloud cover than the previous week which will help. The run of summer salmon has been better this year, how long will it continue? The addition of summer salmon, many of which are in the high teens, can really spice up your day. Tight lines, Brian Shaw

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