Monday, 30 March 2015

Catholes - River Tay

Last Saturday I was very grateful to be asked to fish a spare rod on the Catholes beat of the River Tay by expert angler Jim Coates as a thank you for tying him some of my KS Shrimp flies. I jumped at the chance to have another crack at the "Mighty Tay" and as there are a few fish getting caught at the moment I was easily sold on the idea.

The River Tay. Looking downstream from the outside the hut.
I set off from my home around 6.30am and made my way to the town of Stanley which is a several miles just outside Perth. It had been pouring with rain a few days prior to going and the river had started rising and was sitting around 2ft 8in on the Ballathie gauge when I arrived. The river would rise slowly all day but remaining clear throughout.
The hut on the Catholes beat.
After the usual meet and greet with ghillie and fellow rods over a cup of coffee I was allocated to fish from the boat with John for part of the morning as we would be spinning. I don't really do much spinning but I had bought a few Tobys and Salmos for the trip just in case. It's better to be versatile on a huge river such as the Tay just to maximise chances of catching something. Jimmy the ghille showed the other rods to their pools and came back to take us over to fish Black Stones pool from the boat. Black Stones is a nice bit of water and it fished very well with a 30g copper Salmo. Jimmy worked the boat down the pool but neither John nor I had an offer so Jimmy took me over to have a run down Back Dam and Eric's with the fly.

Anchored up in Black Stones during the morning session.
Looking down Eric's from Back Dam.
Back Dam and Eric's were very good for fishing the fly and fellow rod Danny said he'd had an offer near the tail of Eric's as we swapped pools. This was encouraging so I made my way down the pool with a float/intermediate shooting head and a 5ft fast tip. My fly of choice was a 1 1/4" Park Shrimp conehead. The pool was fishing beautifully and just where Jimmy had said the hot spot was I had a good pull. Sadly it didn't stick but at least I knew I was doing something right. I covered the lie several more times but to no avail.
Fishing down Eric's. A cracking pool for fishing the fly.
Looking downstream from the bank at Eric's.
Fellow rod Tom Brown was fishing down the pool behind me and we stopped just before lunch to have a good chat about all things fishing. Tom let me try out his Hardy Sintrix rod, which I have to say was a delight to cast. Meeting new and like minded people on the river banks adds to the whole experience in my opinion and I have made some good pals in this way. I will look forward to having a cast with Tom later on in the season.
Time for lunch.
Beat ghillie, Jimmy Chin ferries the rods across the river after lunch.
Looking upstream from Catholes Stream.
After a very enjoyable hour in the hut at lunch time, it was back to the fishing. I was to fish the Catholes Stream with John with Tom and Danny fishing Eric's and Black Stones. The Catholes Stream was another fine looking pool and despite the ever increasing gale force wind, I opted to have a first run down with the fly. I kept the same set up as before as "if it ain't broke" and all that. Despite my best efforts cating into the teeth of the wind, I didn't get an offer so I had another run down the pool but this time with a 28g silver Toby. Again my efforts proved fruitless. By this time it was nearing 5pm and with the strong winds and rising river, we decided to call it a day.
Tom Brown fishing Black Stones from the boat.
Fishing down Catholes Stream. A lovely pool for fly fishing.
I really enjoyed my trip to the Tay and I am very grateful to Jim Coates for letting me fish his rod. I was a fine change having a cast with the spinning rod and with the strong winds I'm glad I brought it along. Fly fishing was almost impossible at times and I did actually hook the back of my hood when a cast was grabbed by a gust of wind and blown behind me! It was only my third time on the river but I will look forward to returning to Tayside again in the very near future. The size and sheer power of this river is not to be underestimated but despite this, with the help of the talented ghillies and their boats, the pools can be covered with a lot more confidence.

Looking upstream from the tail of the Catholes Stream.

My next outing is on the River Spey again so fingers crossed for good conditions and for the fish to play ball! Tight lines.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Orton - River Spey

I had another crack at the Orton beat of the River Spey yesterday. Unlike the last time I was there a few weeks back when the water was big and cloured, the river was in near perfect condition this time and was sitting around 14in on the gauge. The water temperature was creeping up too and was 39f. My set up for the day was a Floating Shooting head and a 10ft slow sink tip. I only used one fly all day and that was a #6 Kitchen Sink Shrimp.

The crystal clear River Spey at Orton yesterday.
I arrived at the beat around 8.30am and after a discussion with ghillies Andrew and Kevin I tackled up with their floating line/sink tip recommendation and smallish fly. There was no need to be down deep in these conditions as the water was crystal clear.

Looking upstream from half way down the Cairnty Pool.
The Solar Eclispe shortly before is disappeared behind the clouds
I was drawn to start half way down the Cairnty Pool and to fish the opposite bank from the boat with Andrew later on in the morning. A Solar Eclipse briefly brought darkness upon us for ten minutes or so and it was during this time that I saw two fish show near the tail of the pool which was encouraging. I had been fishing for around 30 minutes when Andrew came down to have a chat. Ghillies seem to have this sixth sense as to when to arrive and speak with fishers as soon after his arrival I had a firm offer from a fish. I lifted into it but it soon became clear that it was just a trout but thankfully, a nice, long range catch and release did the trick and was able to carry on fishing without having to land the fish. I fished on down the rest of the pool without an offer so it was onto the boat to try the opposite bank.

Looking downstream from the opposite bank of the Cairnty.
Andrew working the boat down the pool but sadly I didn't get a touch.
I had only ever fished from a boat twice before but it's something that I enjoy doing. It's a great way to have a one to one chat with the ghillie although I do tend to rabbit on a bit when talking about fishing. I warned Andrew about this but he ensured me it was fine as he enjoyed the craic too. We fished on down the pool from the boat but as nice as it was fishing, I never had a touch. By this time it was stopping time for lunch so we headed back across the river and made our way to the hut for a bite to eat.

Doctor's Hole.
After lunch I was to fish the top part of the beat with head ghillie, Kevin Greensill. Kevin took me and fellow rod, Stuart of to the opposite bank in the boat. Staurt was to fish the Cooperee Pool whilst I was to fish the House Pool. On our way up to the House Pool, Kevin suggested that I have a cast in a pool newly formed by the high water last year. This was called Doctor's Hole as the first fish landed from the "new pool" was by a doctor. It was a nice streamy run which fell away into a deep channel which every fish running the Spey would have to navigate. As fishy as it looked I didn't get a touch but there were two kelts caught from the pool a few days previous.

Fishing down the House Pool. Has to be my favourite pool on the beat.
Fishing down Cooperee. The tail of this pool is very "fishy" looking at this height.
The House pool was next on the agenda. This a cracking bit of water and a pool I really enjoy fishing, especially the tail of the pool. Kevin accompanied me down the pool pointing out all the hotspots but as inviting as it looked, I didn't get an offer so we made our way back down to the Cooperee where I had a quick run through before heading back to the hut for 5pm. Sadly, same result as the House Pool.

The Willows. Looking downstream about 6pm just before the rain started.
I was toying with the idea of staying on after 5pm so after a chat with the ghillies I decided to bite the bullet and have a go in the Willows. The Willows is another very good looking piece of water on Orton but try as I might, I didn't get a touch. By this time, the rain was lashing down and the temperature dropping as the light started to fade so I called it a day. It was great to be back fishing at Orton as I always enjoy it there. The pools are superb for fly fishing but sadly on this occasion, the salmon were not playing ball for any of the six rods out. A Spey Springer is still eluding me but there is always next time and I'll look forward to returning to try again in the near future.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Orton - River Spey

Last Saturday saw me back on the River Spey and this time I was accompanied by my good friend Charlie Robertson and ADAA Junior Sean Rennie. We were fishing on the Orton beat which is situated about 8 miles from the mouth of the river. The water had risen a good bit due to snow melt a few days prior to us arriving and the wind had really whipped up making casting a fly very tricky at times. The water temperature was still on the cold side at 36f. Due to the high, and slightly coloured water, my set up for the day was my 15ft Mackenzie rod, Hover/Intermediate shooting head with a 10ft super fast sinking tip and a 6ft 7ips tip on the end of that. Heavy flies were on order just to try and get down to the fish quicker due to the fast flowing river.

The lunch hut over looking the Cooperee Pool.
We arrived at the hut about 8.45am to see the river sitting at around 3ft 6in on the gauge. After a sausage roll and chat about tactics we were allocated our pools for the morning by the ghille, Andrew. I was to start my day in the bottom half of Upper Cairnty with Sean and Charlie starting down below in the Lower Cairnty.

The hut midway down the Cairnty Pool.
ADAA Junior member Sean Rennie fishing the Lower Cairnty opposite the hut.
By mid morning the gusty wind was really making things difficult. Trying to cast a fly into the teeth of a gale isn't the easiest thing to do but we battled on regardless. Sadly, it was to no avail as neither of us had a touch on our first run down the pool. Andrew suggested to Charlie to have a go in Willows so Sean and I had another run down the Lower Cairnty. Again, this proved fruitless but it was fishing really nice when you could get the fly out straight!

Cooperee Pool looking downstream.
Fishing down through the Willows Pool.
After lunch Sean and I headed up to give the Willows a go. Fishing this pool effectivly involved wading out 20ft or so to cover the water just that bit better. By this time though, the water clarity was worsening all the time and we could hardly see the river bed. We did however see a fish show near the tail of the pool and gave us a bit of encouragement but try as we might, neither of us had an offer so we made our way back down river to have another crack in the Lower Cairnty.

Charlie and his dog Bracken take a break from the howling wind on the Cairnty Pool.
Sean, Charlie and ghillie Andrew Hall watching the logs floating down the rising river in the afternoon.
By mid afternoon conditions were really against us and we didn't really fish that much. The water had risen about 8 inches since morning and had coloured up a good bit. The gusty winds had now turned into a constant wind so we decided to sit on the bank and have a good blether with Andrew instead. We called it a day around 4.30pm but probably could have left long before that with conditions the way they were but you don't catch salmon without having your fly in the water so we made the most of it.
Looking upstream into Cooperee from Upper Cairnty.
Sadly, nothing doing for any of the rods apart from Charlie landing a well conditioned trout about 1.5lbs in the Willows. I will be back in a few weeks time to give it another go and with a bit of luck the fishing conditions will have improved and I will have the chance of catching my elusive Spey springer.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

How To Tie A Kitchen Sink Shrimp - Step By Step

The Kitchen Sink Shrimp.
I have put together a step by step instruction on how to tie my Kitchen Sink Shrimp fly pattern. This is a fly that I've done very well with since I created it back in 2012. It works equally well with both fresh and coloured fish, especially when the water is low or clear. I have found that the more sparsely dressed the fly, the better it works.

Materials needed to tie the fly are as follows; Silver hook, Red 8/0 Thread, Small Silver Oval Tinsel, Hot Orange Bucktail, Black Bear, White Arctic Fox, Glo-Brite No.5, Black Uni Floss, Silver Badger Hackle, Orange and Silver Krystal Flash, Jungle Cock, Clear Varnish
Lay down a layer of thread and tie in the silver oval tinsel.
Form a tag with 4 or 5 turns of tinsel.
Tie in a tail of Hot Orange Bucktail and 4 strands of Orange Krystal Flash. Make sure the silver tinsel is out the way.
Tie in Orange Glo-Brite No.5 and form a butt above the tail.
Tie in some Black Uni Floss and take the silver tinsel back to the butt as this will be the rib of the fly. Wind the floss round the shank and up to near the eye of the hook..
Form a rib using the silver tinsel. I like to have 4 turns on a hook this size.
Tie in an underwing of white arctic fox.
Add a wing of Black Bear; slightly longer than the underwing and 2 strands of silver krystal flash.
Tie in the silver badger hackle. I give it no more than 4 turns before tying it off.
Add Jungle Cock to finish the fly off and varnish.

This is the first time I have attempted something like this so I hope it's easy to follow and the fly catches you a few fish. Thank you for looking in and Tight Lines.