Posts Tagged ‘Salmon’

Does salmon fishing have a future?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

I have a grandson and am beginning to wonder if he will ever be able to fish for salmon in the way that I have and in the way the generation before me did.  I can recall having conversations with Reg Rihgyni famed for the book he wrote about Grayling fishing and also “Salmon Taking Times”.  His generation seemed to have no issues with catching salmon they were in our rivers in abundance.  They lived in an era when most fish taken were killed.  I recall photos of a mornings catch lined up on a slab numbering dead fish in their dozens.  This I guess was back in the 1960’s and probably we could look in catch return books where  fish numbered hundreds for a season.

I was never able to experience this level of success, I started fishing for salmon regularly back in the eighties.  We had good days, a good day for us was maybe three fish, and yes sadly we behaved badly and failed to return them. Gradually the seasons appear to have become worse with fewer fish each year.  I fish regularly on a prime middle beat of the River Tay where I take a couple of weeks spread across the season.  I also always fish the fly no matter what the conditions and certainly never fish from the boat.  I would probably increase my returns for the beat if I were to spin or harl but put simply part of the attraction of the day for me is casting a fly.

My records for the two weeks indicate an average of six to eight fish each year, the twenty first century however has seen a decline and the last few years have seen this drop to three fish each year that includes two fish for one day.  Without a doubt there are less fish running our rivers  for a multitude of reasons.  Environmental issues not just in our rivers but also at sea, there are a whole host of issues why our salmon are declining.  These have been documented regularly by authors and every time you pick up an angling magazine there are articles about fish farming for salmon and how this exploits our wild fish.

Why do I salmon fish you may ask?  Well for me its probably about the process, I enjoy the environment.  The Tay is truly a majestic river in all its seasons.  Fish will run the river every month of the year there is little to stop their progress upstream.  I like the casting itself, casting in hope that I might get a tug, they say that the “tug is the drug” for me it definitely is.  For me there is pleasure to be had from wading down a river, casting to the best of my ability, if I catch a fish whilst doing so then I consider it a bonus.

BBC Scotland have today carried a feature on the national news program highlighting the plight of our Atlantic salmon.






Fly Dressing Master Class and the BFFI

Monday, February 10th, 2014

For the last few years I have been lucky enough to get an invite to a fly dressing master class that Paul Little runs in the lead up to the British Fly Fair International.  There are normally a dozen or so tiers present from the UK and the USA.  The USA sent Marvin Nolte and Stack Scoville, Peter Kealy from N Ireland and Brian Burnett from Scotland.  These were just a few names there was circa  a dozen or so of us present.

Dusty Miller Variant

Dusty Miller Variant

Paul Little was extremely patient and managed to get us to tie three flies over the two days.  We did not just tie three flies we talked a lot and discussed and demonstrated various techniques along side the tying.  I have always had issues with bronze Mallard wings on Spey flies, not being able to put them on without splitting, so we covered this in some detail, hopefully my Spey flies will be fantastic to look at and fish with in the future.

Another interesting technique was to substitute the rachis of a feather with a touch of glue off a glue stick.  When tying in feathers such as brown mallard as a wing it is normal to leave the rachis attached so as to support the fibres whilst tying in.   The rachis sometimes is on the stiff side and tends to pull on the fibres. Exchanging the rachis for glue off a glue stick left a more flexible support, its possible also to apply some to the butts of a built wing fly.

Double Winged Ackroyd

Double Winged Ackroyd

Brown Shrimp Grub

Brown Shrimp Grub








Above are a couple of other flies that we completed.  The Ackroyd is a Dee style fly with deltas wings and the grub by its name is meant to represent a shrimp style salmon fly.  All the flies in the photos were tied with gut eyes.

Following the workshop I then spent a couple of days with my GAIA (Game Angling Instructor Association) pals at the British Fly Fair   promoting the Association and tying flies.  I am always a bit like a child in a sweetie shop, as a fly dresser there is always so much to see and so many must have items.  This year I was particularly impressed by a Whiting Spey Hackle cape.  It is the perfect heron hackle substitute absolutely stunning feathers that could well have been Heron apart from the fact it was salmon pink.  Sadly I could not buy it as it belonged to one of the tiers but I did return on a number of occasions just to look at it,  how sad is that.   I will never criticise women coveting handbags and shoes again.


Clyde Style on the Saturday










The GAIA aspect of the show was good with lots of people showing an interest in what we did and how we do it.  It made me think about what our priorities where as an organisation, we definitely need to spend more time introducing people into game angling.

All three of us me, Chris and Alun and past chairman of GAIA Phil White


A day at Lanrick

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

The other day I had the pleasure of a days salmon fishing on the famed Lanrick beat of the River Teith. Lanrick is just upstream of   Deanston famous for its distillery.  The Teith itself is a great salmon and sea trout river with the added bonus of being just 40 mins from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Lanrick is some 3.5 miles long with approximately 1.5 miles of double bank.  It reminds me very much of a highland river, shallow for most part and easy to  fish at most times of the year with a floating or slow sinking line. Lanrick is in two parts Upper and Lower beats.  The lower beat is marked by a famous cauld pool called simply the “Pool” at its bottom limit .  This pool must act as a barrier and slow down the movement of fish in very low temperatures and water conditions.

The "Pool"

I shared the beat with another rod and only managed to fish a limited number of pools.  The “Pool”  and “Gravel Bank”  are two fantastic pools, in fact I am not doing the place justice as all the pools that I fished that day were great pieces of fly water.  The river also has a reputation for big fish, my second largest some 21lb was taken off the Teith albeit further up stream.  If my memory serves me right I recollect a fish close to 40lb being taken off Lanrick a few years back.

Gravel Bank

I wish that I could report that I had caught fish but sadly no salmon, I did however catch a superb brown trout of approximately 2lb from the “Garden Pool” which set my pulse racing for an initial second or two.  A down side is that whilst in the fishing hut I noticed a sign that read they practiced total catch and release which I totally support.  It then went on to say that any Grayling caught should be killed which is a bit of an archaic view towards our fourth natural game fish.  In this day and age we should value all our game fish.  If you want a days fishing close to Glasgow and Edinburgh I would strongly recommend Lanrick.


Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

This season I rejoined Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association.  I was a member some 20 years ago and kept a boat on the loch and would fish for salmon and sea trout with a fly.  Very good it was, with my biggest fly caught salmon from the Loch of some 13lb from the Hen Isle and best sea trout of 7lb from the east end of Inchlonaig, Island of the Yew Trees.  I can even remember the fly that caught the sea trout it was a silver invicta double on the point.

I then drifted away, and  even when I moved close to the Endrick a Loch Lomond feeder and also a good spate river some 10 years ago failed to renew my membership.  This year I took the plunge partly due to the fact that the association had declared an amnesty on joining fees for lapsed members but mainly due to the Endrick being some 5 minutes away.  There are also other possibilities that I plan to try,  pike and grey mullet.  I can now fish for grey mullet at the mouth of the river Leven  by Dunbarton Rock without fear of being apprehended by the bailiffs, but I have yet to try this on a Sunday! not sure how that would work.

Bridge pool River Endrick

The Leven itself a good salmon river but very urban having said that there are places which are pleasant to fish and as an early riser if I get down there early I have at least a few hours to my self before the bait fisherman materialise. Nothing wrong with bait fishing I just prefer a fly.  So far other rods that  I have met have been sociable friendly and very helpful.   It also has some great stretches where the fly fishes beautifully, my  favourite so far has to be the “Piles” a superb piece of fly water.


The loch itself is well worth ago and I have a day planned in the next week or so and will report what success if any we have.  The last time I was there my son caught a 30lb plus pike which was memorable.

Pots of Gartness River Endrick

The river Endrick is entirely fly only but does depend on water the trick is to get down before the water starts to fall.  Personally I keep a daily check on the SEPA web site and am prepared to go at short notice when the river starts to fall.  Sea liced fish can and have been caught  this season.  Its going to rain tonight and I am planning to go for an early morning session before work.  I will also get some photos of the river and post them here.

Scott Kidd caught Endrick grilse 18th August 2012

Caught by Scott first fly caught salmon, but my fly now retailing to him at £5 each.


Monday, February 27th, 2012

The year is now two months long and I have not given much thought to posts or indeed fishing.  Life seems to have been to busy to fish and certainly not blog. Yes I have been fishing in fact on two occasions on the Tay chasing salmon at Glendelvine, I have been fly tying and doing some casting.

Lets start with the casting first.  GAIA has been taking up a lot of time, much more than I had imagined when I took on the role of  Chairman which I have now been doing for fifteen months. We have just completeda casting day at Stirling for the Scottish guys which was very enjoyable Tony Quinn drove all the way from Lancashire to join us which was dedication on his part.  Our next meeting is on the 25th March and if you want to join us let me know.

Brian McGlashan and Ken Oliver

The weekend of the 10th and 11th March is when GAIA holds its spring meeting this time in Llangollen which should also be good a day of assessments followed by a day of workshops this time from a group of Italian fly fisherman from SIM.  I know that I will come back enthused and with the lighter evenings coming maybe I can get back to casting practice.

Chasing salmon what can I say for the last few years now I have booked a number of days on Glendelvine a prime middle beat of the Tay.  These days cover the whole season so the early days can be fish less and cold.  I do not like harling so always fly fish from the bank and with few fish in the river and snow in the air its a difficult time to be out.

I like to commit to days in advance for my salmon fishing as opposed to being part of a syndicate as I feel obliged to go no matter what the weather as they are booked and paid for.  From here on in the fishing is going to get better March, April and May are prime months.


Harling, not normally this fast but they were cold and lunch was beckoning

Murthly Hut










Fly tying, I have been tying a few for the salmon and the opening of the Trout season at the end of the month.  The success this year has been the Milngavie Fly Dressers, this little club which we formed about four years ago has been growing.  We have a good turn out and regular speakers this week Paul Procter is about to descend on us, he is always good craic and great flies so I am looking forward to the evening.