March days on the Brora

I had been looking forward to this trip for a few weeks now a few days chasing salmon on the Brora up in Sutherland.  It had probably been 15-20 years since I last fished this river and then it was late June and the fishing as I recall was great fishing.
Signs of Spring

Brian and I arrived late into Brora and did not have the opportunity to check out the river before the fishing began next day, we had been told that it was low which was a surprise considering all the snow that fell here over the last couple of months.  We were left instructions to be on the lower beat 4 at 9am.

A toads welcome to Brora!

Next day we were about early to be greeted by a toad making its way down the High St in Brora no doubt stimulated by the thought of procreation at this time of year that made it embark on his epic journey.

The Brora fishing’s are split between the North and South Banks, Sutherland Estates own the South, not sure who owns the North we were to fish the North.

The start positions for the beats are fixed so that on Mondays  the North bank will commence on the upper beat and the South bank commences on the lower beat.

Changeover is at 1.30 pm when still on your own bank the party moves to the other beat, the following day you should start fishing on the beat you finished at the day before.  The river takes 4 rods on the North bank so our beats were split into two which we rotated at 11.30am and 3.30pm.  The beats are designed so no one angler fishes opposite another

Tackle was a simple choice, my new rod a MacKenzie 15ft which was probably a bit big for the river at this height matched to a Rio AFS with and 10ft intermediate front section.  Flies were doubles, trebles were prohibited on the Brora. 

Back to the height the gauge was showing 6 inches and all the advice we had says that between 1 foot and 2 feet is a good height for fishing the Brora.  No rain was due on our first day but we were optimistic of rain on day two.
We fished hard on the first day a Thursday without any sign of a “lick” from a fish.  We had covered the whole river by the end of the day ending up on beat 1 which included the ford pool.
Foot Bridge above the Ford Pool

It rained over night so when  I set out alone I was optimistic, my friend was confined to his bed unwell.  I started at the Ford Pool which flows into a lovely piece of water called the Rallen Pool.  

The first time I had fished the Brora I was introduced to the original Willie Gunn famed Brora gillie after whom the fly was named, he reliably informed me that this was the pool where “backing up” as a method was devised in the cold days of February and March before climate warming when the low temperatures slowed down the progress of running fish.  The river today was 42 degrees fahrenheit or 5 degrees C with air temperature of 8 degrees C.

First fish of the trip was a well mended Kelt but it was a pull nevertheless.  By the afternoon I was on beat 3 and the Madman.  Then it happened a fresh fish took hold on the lower Madman where I had expected it to off the bench on my bank.  I recall all those years ago catching some good fish in exactly the same spot. This beauty was approximately 9lb and took a cascade style double with no name that I know of.  I took the photos and then returned the fish its amazing how you look to celebrate these rare captures with someone and a camera some how does not relay the feeling you get. 


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