The trip computer in my truck said we’d driven 648 miles. From our home in Devon we’d headed into Scotland and about an hour or so past Aberdeen making our journey pretty much from the bottom of the country to the top.
I’m no stranger to the river we were fishing. I’ve fished there every year, bar one, for 11 years. Over that time I’ve seen mighty spates change the character of the pools and each year the learning process starts again where I have to learn any subtle changes or nuances.
I’m not a chuck it out and see what happens sort of angler. I guess it is the guide in me that wants to understand why or why not I am catching and what I need to do to try and put a fish in the net.
The beat we fish is close to the bottom of the river and affected by the tide. It can be a great stretch to fish when there is little water as the fish nose their way from the sea and sometimes stay, sometimes not.
If there has been rain the fish seem to zoom through and the upper pools of the beat are the best place to connect with a resting fish. Often though, we’ll hear stories of fish being caught 2 or 3 beats higher.
This year, the water was low. There had been some rain but not much. Perfect for us but on looking at the catch book it looked a different story. Only a handful of fish had been caught the week before and this was after some rain too. The river had dropped even more.
You can let news like this affect your whole mindset and you end up starting and finishing your week on a downer. I was determined not to let this happen to me and figured that unless fish were coming through I’d have to work on resident fish.
When this happens I try and think differently. Have the fish already seen a multitude of flies fished in a similar manner? Possibly, and if so what do I have to do to make my fly stand out?
Perhaps I need to fish my fly more quickly, slowly and at differing angles and depths? This is how I try and think and when it comes to patterns I’ll mix them around too. The back end red and purples have worked well over the years and smaller flies are a welcome addition to my fly box too. There are times when I will strip a fly through a pool not just at the tail but through the head and belly too sometimes with surprising results. A riffled hitch must be one of the most exciting ways to tempt a salmon.
The week started tough and got harder. It didn’t matter. Fishing in a t-shirt in September is fun and the challenge was one I really enjoyed.
Not all fishing trips are about epic struggles with countless fish. Sometimes you have to grind out a result but these are the fish that are even sweeter when things do go your way.
I used a variety of Fulling Mill Flies listed below.