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.

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