Week Commencing 17th June 2024

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Good Morning, and welcome to this week’s report.

High water greeted anglers arriving on Monday after the rain last weekend. Thankfully the northerly winds swung round to the west and temperatures climbed closer to seasonal norms as the week progressed. With good river flows and more comfortable angling conditions, some fine catches were made.

A number of ghillies commented that the river level dropped back more slowly than expected. Hopefully the work being done to restore wetland areas higher up in the catchment is beginning to have the desired effect of holding heavy summer rains up on the hill and releasing water more slowly.

Before we head out onto the river, I think it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the grim news that came out of Norway on Friday. The Norwegian Environmental Authorities took the decision to close the rod fisheries on the famous Gaula, Namsen, Orkla and 30 other rivers with immediate effect, due to a collapse in the number of returning salmon.

It’s a chilling reminder of how close we are to the precipice in terms of the viability of our sport.

Every country and individual river has its own challenges, but several problems will be familiar to anyone who takes an interest in the plight of wild Atlantic salmon. Open cage fish farming and drift netting in the fjords, in-river obstructions to fish passage and changes in weather patterns have all contributed to the current situation. It must be said that on some rivers in Norway, the short-sighted actions of certain sections of the angling community are not helping matters.

Thankfully, Spey fishers and ghillies take a more enlightened stance, and whille fish numbers would seem to be holding up this season, it would be naïve to assume that something similar couldn’t happen here. With extremely low marine survival rates, many Scottish rivers are only two or three poor spawning cycles away from disaster.

Some of the problems seem too large for each of us as individual anglers to address. However, there are important contributions that anyone can make. For example:

  • Avoid buying farmed salmon from open cages and encourage friends and family to do the same.
  • Support campaigns such as Release the Spey and Off The Table that are tackling the bigger issues.
  • Write to or lobby your local MP or MSP. There’s an election coming up. They might actually be listening!
  • Follow best practice in terms of fish handling if you are lucky enough to encounter a Spey salmon.

Small actions make a difference, and when added together the effect can be significant.

If you would like to learn more about the challenges facing our fish – and some potential solutions, I recommend having a listen to The Last Salmon podcast. There are some fascinating conversations with passionate and knowledgeable contributors, including Atlantic Salmon Trust ambassador and long time Spey ghillie Robert Mitchell.

You can find all twelve episodes on Apple podcasts, or on Spotify. I’ll put a link at the end of the report.

With that said I’ll hop down off my soap box and focus on what’s been happening on the river over the past few days. Happily, there’s some positive news to deliver.

We’ll start with Andy Milne reporting from the Fochabers Association Water:

“I’m afraid the big rise at the beginning of the week spoiled things for us. We had three fish from a high but falling river on Tuesday and we thought that would be the start of a bonanza but that was it, no more caught. Lots of fish seen but racing up river.”

Moving upstream to Gordon Castle, Lewis Webb reports a very encouraging week, with some superb fish caught and released:

“A substantial rise in Sunday dropped away and cleared just enough to ‘give it a go’ on Monday morning which quickly proved the right decision with the high water pools producing some fish.

As the week went on and the river continued to drop we saw a consistent stamp of salmon and a handful of grilse weighing way above their size and putting up a great account during the fight. Mostly all fresh fish with only a handful of those sealiced.

All in all a great week of sport across the board finishing just shy of forty.”

Craig Pollard
Marcus Hinde
Marcus Gardener
David Graham, Ghille on the Lower Brae Water releasing a fine Spey salmon

Ian Mattioli
Dr Sandy Scott
Steve Oldham
Catrina Woods from Athol Sporting’s prize while on a busman’s holiday!

“Another good week here at Delfur” writes Head Ghillie Mark Melville,

“Olivier DeVictor with family and friends were the successful party. This was Olivier’s 28th year here and he managed to catch his best total week ever!

At the start of the week we were met with a high but surprisingly fishable water on Monday morning. Fishing big and deep in the usual high-water pools of Collie and Sourden brought two fish for Huston McCollough and Johnny Gray,

Tuesday was the best day of the week with 8 fish including a red-letter day for Wilson Phillips. He managed 6 to his own rod including a fantastic 18lb fish from Sourden. Four came from Collie, his favourite pool and he also caught his first ever from the tail of Otterhole!

Some say he beat his whole total for last season in one day…

Wednesday was another decent day with yet again some real quality June salmon mostly into double figures. Johnny Gray had 4 fish from Collie.

Thursday the weather changed to warm and sunny which killed the fishing.

Friday it was back to normal and we had first time Delfur rod Michael Watts catching 3 fish including an 18 pounder from Collie. Ian Thorpe was his usual steady self with fish most days and Brian Lovering never gave up and was rewarded with a nice fish from Beaufort on Saturday morning. Olivier fished well all week and had his fair share of hard fighting Spey fish.

Scorchio tomorrow and then it looks a much better week for fishing with some rain showers and cloud though staying warm.
Tight lines!”

Wilson Phillips expertly playing his 18 pounder
What a beauty!

Johnny Gray saying goodbye

Michael Watts playing a fish in Big Haddie

Robbie Stronach was pleased with another good week at Rothes and Aikenway:

“We landed 17 for the week. Three on Monday even with the high water . Mr A Hudson got one apiece from Creeky and Jamieson and Mr N Houldsworth getting one from Creeky .

Tuesday we got seven fish. Mr A Hudson with two from Creeky, Mr J Bladon also getting one in Creeky. Mrs J Wright landed one in Jamieson and Mr N Houldsworth getting three in Creeky.

Wednesday 4 were landed. Mr J Bladon getting one in Jamieson, Mrs A Bladon getting a fish from junction and also one from Creeky and Mrs J Wright getting one from Burnmouth .

Thursday only one landed from junction by Mr M Atkins. On Friday two were caught one by Mr J Bladon from Long Pool and Mrs A Bladon getting a fish in Junction.

Saturday we blanked.”

Mr N Houldsworth witha fine fish from Creeky

At Easter Elchies, Orn Sigurhansson reports a week starting with water height over the gauge and dropping all week.

“We were very pleased to welcome the McAllister and Brodie fishing parties this week. It was good to have another good lift in water. We ended up with 12 salmon and grilse and 3 sea trout.”

The rise in water also brought some sport to the Aberlour Angling Association Water, writes Kenny Davies.:

“Nine fish for the week – three for Billy Anderson two for Steve Grant, two for Ian Morisson, one for Jim Seivright and one for Neil Borthwick.”

A nice bright fish for Neil Borthwick from the Association Water at Aberlour

At Wester Elchies, syndicate Chairman Richard Banks and his guests were delighted with their week, finishing with eleven salmon. All were between 10 and 18 lb.

Thankyou to Malcolm Newbould for the report and the pictures.

It was a somewhat frustrating week for fishers at Kinermony, according to ghillie David Brand:

“We got 4 fish on Tuesday morning, and that was it until Saturday night where we lost a couple of grilse.”

A slightly startled labrador and a solid Kinermony salmon.

At Delagyle, David Smilie landed six for the Rennie party including a first fish.

“Lauren Rennie caught her first ever salmon,a fresh fish of approx 12lbs. Phil Rennie had two, one sealiced and an older fish.”

At Laggan, the Herd party had a good week, with eleven salmon and three seatrout coming to the net of ghillie Max McKinstrie.

Mr Stuart Lindsay playing a good fish at Laggan.

Moving upstream to Knockando, Archie Baillie tells of a steady week, with more success for a first time salmon fisher:

“We picked away all week with 11 fish between 7lb and 18lb landed. After losing a fish the day before. Sophia Allen who had never fished before, then went on to catch her first ever salmon of 7lb the following day!”

Well done Sophia!

Prospects for the week ahead:

The forecast for the week ahead on Speyside is a bit of a mixed bag. Today (Monday 24th) will be warm and sunny. Rain is anticipated later in the week with some blustery winds on Thursday and Friday. As Andy Milne mentioned in his report, the rain last week brought a number of fresh fish into the river, so fingers crossed for more of the same.

Floating lines with a light sink tip, long leaders and small flies might be a good place to start your day unless we get a deluge on Wednesday. As always, consult your ghillie regularly and don’t be afraid to make a change if your current approach isn’t working. Salmon don’t read fishing books and sometimes doing something different from everyone else can bring about that magic moment when the line goes tight and the reel starts to click.

Lastly, here are the links to The Last Salmon podcast mentioned earlier.

Spotify: The Last Salmon Podcast.

Apple: The Last Salmon Podcast

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