Sunday, 7 September 2014

Finavon Castle - South Esk

It rained heavily all day on the Friday before we arrived to fish the Finavon Castle Water which gave Kenny, Bill, Davie and I some extra encouragement for our day on the River South Esk. We planned an early start and I set my alarm for 4am so we could meet at the beat for 5.30am. We arrived just before 5.30 and made our way down to the hut on the Castle Beat. The water was sitting around the 9" mark and was running clear which signaled that the water had not risen as much as we'd anticipated. Still, we were all confident that there would be fish running.

The Castle Beat Hut at 5.30am.
The interior of the hut with wooden fish on the wall as a reminder of good catches of days past.
It was still dark when we arrived at the hut so we lit up a few candles in the hut and contrary to popular opinion, Kenny produced a bottle of 25 year old GlenFarclas so we had a wee dram as we waited to get going. I tackled up with my 13ft Hardy Uniqua, Floating line and 10ft intermediate tip. My fly of choice to begin with was a 1/2" Silver Ally. Kenny and I were to fish the Milton Beat in the morning whilst Bill and Davie were to fish the Castle Beat.

Kenny and I decided to start at the top of the beat and work our way down. The first pool we were to fish was the Bridge Pool. I started at the croy and Kenny went above and started just below the bridge itself. Just as I entered the water a fish showed just next to a boil which the handy beat guide suggests you will pick up a fish. I covered it several times but nothing doing. That was the only fish we saw in the pool so we made our way down to the next pool which was Tyndals.

Looking upstream at dawn in the Bridge Pool.
Fishing down the Bridge Pool. A fish shown just as I started in the boil about half way down but it wasn't hanging about.

Tyndal's is one of the most productive pools on the beat and looking through the catch book, it produces fish all season long. It is fished from the North bank so a wade across the river just above the pool is needed to fish the pool. Bill and Davie had fished this pool whilst we fished the Bridge and said they had seen several fish, mostly coloured showing up near the neck of the pool. Kenny and I fished down through the pool, covering the likely spots but to no avail. Kenny did however see a fish show on his way down but we couldn't temp anything. 
Tyndals Pool. A nice easy wade all the way down and the depth is over on the opposite bank right down the pool. Most of the fish seen were just off the current towards the North bank.

The next pool down was Willows but at this height of water it looked really shallow and when the sun was out, you could see every stone so we decided to leave it for later and see if we got some cloud cover. We headed off down to fish Volcano and Lower Boat pools. Both were clearly defined pool with fast water at the neck which tapered off as the pool widened out. This time, the deeper parts of the pool were on  the North side and they were to be fished from the South bank. As tasty as these pools looked, neither Kenny or myself touched anything in either of them. By this time, the sun was high ain the cloudless sky and conditions were starting to go against us. Kenny headed back to the hut for a cup of tea and I headed back up to have another crack in the Bridge Pool. Sadly, I didn't see or touch anything on my second run down so I headed back to the hut around 11.30am to join Bill, Davie and Kenny for an early lunch.

Looking downstream from the footbridge towards the Red Brae Pool on my way over to fish the Castle Beat.
Looking upstream from the Bridge into the Castle Stream.
After lunch, Kenny and I were to fish the Castle beat and Bill and Davie were to fish the Milton beat. The first pool on the Castle beat is the Castle Stream so I started off in the whilst Kenny headed down to the Red Brae pool below. The water looked a bit on the low side for the Castle Stream but I fished down it regardless just to give it a go.
Castle Stream. There are groins either side at the neck of the pool which gives it a nice flow down the far bank.
I carried on down stream to fish the Kirkinn pool which is really just the tail of Red Brae. There is a nice looking run down the far side which fishes the fly quite well but I didn't get an offer in here and carried on down to the next pool. I had a quick run down through Pheasantry on my way down to fish Nine Maidens

Kirkinn. Looks like an excellent summer sea trout pool.
The hut overlooking Pheasantry which is named David's Tree House Hut. As you can see, it's built around an large tree.
Next pool down was Nine Maidens. This pool had a good bit of depth to it and looked like it could hold a fish or two up near the neck. I concentrated on this area and slowly made my way down the pool but as much as it looked a likely place for a fish, I didn't get an offer so it was onto the next pool.

Kenny Carr sitting on the croy at the neck of Nine Maidens deciding what fly to try next.

 The bottom pool on the beat was called Beaches. It was a long pool in comparison to the others on the Castle beat and also looked like it would give a good chance of a fish. Kenny and I both fished our way down to right under the Viaduct without an offer so we decided to head back upstream to have another go in Red Brae.

The Viaduct at the tail of Beaches. Below the bridge is the Haugh's Pool on the Finavon Bogardo beat.
As I never fished Red Brae on my way down I was eager to give it a go and on arrival we were met by regular River Esks fisher Alan Mowat who was taking with Bill and Davie. Bill said he had seen a fish show up thear the neck of Red Brae so I went up to give it cast. I changed to a Sunray Shadow and worked it through the pool but I didn't get so much as a boil from a trout. It was a very fishy looking pool and one, which I 'm sure, given better conditions would produce plenty fish. Just a pity the sun was water and overhead conditions were not in our favor today.

We all headed back to the Milton Beat hut for a cup of coffee and a farewell dram before heading home. We had a good chat in the hut about all thing fishing and it was good to catch up with Alan again who we fished with on the River Don back in April. We said our goodbyes and left for the journey back up the A90 around 5.30pm.

I really enjoyed fishing this cracking part of the South Esk. We were lucky that there were 4 rods fishing in our party which gave us a bit more pools to fish given the lowish water. We all agreed that it was a good day and with a few more inches of water, we could have had some decent sport. The overnight rain, although heavy, didn't come to much but as it has rained all day today (Sunday 7th) I'm sure there will be fish caught this week if the water goes up. I will look forward to seeing the catches and what these beats can produce.

Left to Right - Kenny, Bill, myself and Davie pose for a picture before heading home.
For more info please visit the very informative Finavon Castle Fishings website.


  1. Cracking read. Good to hear about the upper two beats, as I fished Indies with Bogardo on the far bank. Will maybe have a go up there in Spring next year but the Indies pools do well early on. Calum.

    1. Cheers Calum, much appreciated. We certainly enjoyed our day and the beat has some cracking pools. It's always good to fish a new water. Tight lines for the rest of your season.