Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Murthly 1 - River Tay

I recently spent a day fishing on a delightful stretch of the River Tay at Murthly 1 thanks to Philip Black who invited me down. There were a good number of fish in the area prior to my arrival and I was looking forward to fishing some of the best fly water pools on the river with some good pals. I had high hopes of kick starting my season after a long run of very little to show for my time and effort.

My first pool of the day - The Bargie. A very famous pool where Miss Georgina Ballantine hooked her record 64lb salmon all those years ago.

I set off early and arrived at the beat around 8am where I was greeted by the ghille, Donald. We spoke of the good recent catches and he was telling me that there were plenty fishing in the pools the previous day but they were proving difficult to temp. Donald advised me that small flies and light sinking tips were were the order of the day so my set up consisted of my 14ft Hardy Demon, a 9/10 floating shooting head and a 10ft intermediate polyleader. Initially, my fly of choice was a #10 Kitchen Sink dressed on a Esmond Drury treble but this would change numerous time through out the day as it usually does!
A fly that does well on the Tay - the Ghillie. Designed by Tay ghillie, Tony Black from the neighboring Murthly 2 beat, this deadly pattern accounts for numerous fish where ever salmon swim.

The first pool I was to fish was the famous Bargie Pool. This the pool where the largest salmon ever caught on British water was hooked, albeit from the opposite bank on Glendelvine but it was still a thrill to fish a fly through such hallowed water. Donald suggested I start up the top of the pool in the fast water as they had seen a few fish in there the day before so this is exactly what I did. I fished down the pool as instructed and covered as much of the water as possible but I could only manage a half hearted offer which I think was probably a trout anyway. Philip Black followed me down from the opposite bank but there was nothing doing for him either although he had lost a nice fish on only his third cast of the morning up in the Garth pool which I will come to later. Philip suggested having a go through a wee run just above the Bargie so we headed off upstream to do just that.
Looking upstream towards the Bargie Stone, in which the pool takes its name from.
Looking across to Miss Georgina Ballantine's house which over looks the pool in which she made famous.
The wee run under the wires above the Bargie is a lovely run and it usually held a fish or two. It was just short casts required to cover the water and I worked my down trying to keep stealthy mindful of the fact that the best part of the pool was narrow close to the bank. Despite this, I worked through the pool with out an offer so it was back up to the hut for a bite to eat. On our way back to the hut we noticed Gerry, who was fishing Minister's Pool was bent into a good fish. The fish seemed very acrobatic but Gerry played it well and just as he was drawing it into the side ready to beach, the hooks pulled and the fish was free. Such as pity, as the hard work was done and it was fresh looking too.
Another view of the Murthly 1 hut.
The comfy interior of the hut at Murthly 1.
The early part of lunchtime was spent discussing the ones that got away over a dram and a sandwich but attentions soon turned to the afternoon. By this time the rain was hammering down so we sat it out and waited for the showers to pass. Donald and Philip were on top form and poor Gerry took the brunt of the stick for his lack of movement whilst fishing a pool. Donald even referring to him as a Oak tree which had taken root at one point! It was all taken in good spirit but at least Gerry had had some sport for his morning which couldn't be said for a few of us!
Paul fishing down the Garth in the afternoon. Cracking pool for fishing the fly.
Looking down stream in the Garth.
I was to begin the afternoon off in the Garth and was to fish with Paul. Paul drove me up to the pool and explained the tactics so it was on with the Sunray Shadow in an attempt to provoke a fish into taking. The Garth was a lovely stretch of water ideal for fly fishing and as Philip had lost a fish in here early on in the morning we were hopeful that there would be one or two sitting about. Paul let me fish through the pool first but despite how well the pool fished my efforts proved fruitless as did Paul's. Every cast you were just waiting for the line to tighten or a fish boil at the fly but it wasn't to be so we headed off down river to have a go in Minister's.
Fishing down through Minister's Pool. A big, long pool which fishes the fly  well from top to bottom.
The Minister's is a big, long pool but the water is superb for fish the fly in. I kept on the Surnay and began right up at the neck of the pool and began to work my way down the pool, casting as far as I could in an attempt to cover as much water as possibly. As I made my way down the pool there was a huge hatch of flies coming off the river and the place became alive with trout of all sizes. Some were well into the 3-4lb range and would have been fantastic sport on a wee #5 rod or something but we were here for the salmon and ploughed on down the pool. Just as I got opposite the hut I noticed a nice salmon head and tail below me so I covered the area above it several times but it wasn't for tempting and was probably long gone as well. This really is a long pool and my casting arm was beginning to tire with fishing the Sunray all afternoon but I persevered and finished the pool out. I didn't get even a rise from a salmon but I did get an offer from one of those greedy trout which were hammering into the flies but it was off just as quickly as it was on so it was back to the hut for a wee breather before deciding on the where to fish next.

Looking across to the Murthly 1 hut from Minister's.
Fishing down under the wires in Minister's. Loads of trout rising in this part of the pool.
Sitting down at the hut after going down the Minister's with the Sunray wasn't the best idea and I soon felt tiredness kicking in. The early start and the constant casting and stripping had caught up with me and I decided to pack up around 7pm and head off up the road.

I really enjoyed my day at Murthly 1 and I was grateful to Philip and Donald for asking me down to fish it. It really is good to say that I have fished the pools where Georgina Ballantine caught her famous 64lb salmon all those years ago and it certainly gets the mind wandering back to the old days, especially when you look across to see her old house which over looks the mighty Tay and the pool where she hooked her fish. The only thing missing for me was a fish on the bank but you can't have it all and sometimes that's just how fishing goes. I'll certainly be back again one day to have another go!

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