Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Tulchan C - River Spey

On Saturday, I found myself on the majestic Tulchan C beat of the River Spey. I was kindly invited along by my pal Paul Pritchard along with a few of his other pals for a day's fishing. On the build up to the day I was like a child waiting for Christmas such was the thought of fishing on a beat like this during one of their prime months of the season. I've never been so excited to have a day's fishing before in my life and I hardly slept a wink the night before!
A cracking, fresh run River Spey salmon about 10lb.
I set off early on the morning of fishing as I was picking Paul up from his hotel in Aviemore. I arrived in Aviemore just before 8am and we set off down to the beat full of anticipation of what lay ahead. The topic of conversation rarely strayed far from salmon fishing and I actually had that feeling of butterflies in my stomach you get when you're nervous but excited at the same time. We got to the beat around 8.30am and were met by the ghillie, Lawrence de Rosa. We were advised on what tactics had been successful during the week but the water had risen slightly over night and had taken on a slight peat stain. I opted for my 14ft Hardy Demon rod and matched it up with a 9/10 Mackenzie floating shooting head. I attached a 10ft intermediate polyleader to this and tied on roughly 4ft of 12lb clear maxima. My fly of choice for to begin with was a #9 Kitchen Sink.
Looking down the Bridge Pool from bridge.
Looking upstream towards the bridge in the Bridge Pool.
Lawrence showed me up to the Bridge Pool for starters and explained all the areas to concentrate on as I worked my way through the pool. I waded out slightly just above the bridge as instructed and worked my way down the pool covering the seam which was coming off the bridge parapet. As I got to the other side of the parapet there was a couple of good fish showed near the tail of the pool. They were both decent sized fish and this raised my excitement levels even higher than there already were. I made sure I was covering the water as best I could and concentrated hard on getting my fly working through the lies. I was about half way down the pool and I made an upstream mend on my fly as it was starting to swing round just after casting. The fly was just above where the fish had shown earlier and about half way round, my line went tight and I lifted into a really strong fish. The fish tore yards of line off my Hardy Cascapedia reel and it was screaming, just how I imagined it would! The fish made a couple of attempts to leave the pool but thankfully on both occasions it thought better of it and came back into the main part. A really dogged fight ensured for a good five minutes or so before it started to give up some of the line it had taken off my reel. All my running line was off my reel at one point. These strong runs coupled with the fast flowing water had the fish tiring a bit and I managed to draw it into the side where Lawrence waited with the net. I thought it was ready and lifted it's head up to be netted but the fish had other ideas! It took off across the pool in one last bid for freedom. I soon had it under control again though and this time I managed to guide it safely into the waiting net.

Lawrence removing my #9 Kitchen Sink fly from the scissors of a cracking 14lb salmon out of the Bridge Pool.
Well worth the wait! My first ever River Spey salmon.
A #9 Kitchen Sink tied in a flamethrower style did the business. This is dressed on a silver Salar double.
My first River Spey salmon was finally landed! Lawrence quickly removed the #9 Kitchen Sink fly from the scissors of the fish. We estimated it to be in the region of 14lb. I held it up for a quick photograph before slipping him back into the river. It was still only 9.40am. The pressure was off and I could really enjoy the rest of the day whatever happened.

Looking upstream from Upper Tulchan Pool towards the Bridge Pool.
Fishing down the Upper Tulchan Pool. had another offer in here which didn't stick unfortunately. 
The next pool I was to fish was Upper Tulchan. Lawrence explained the pool to me before heading off to tend to the other rods so I made my way across the bridge and down to the pool. The pool had a good flow going through the middle of the river but there was a slacker bit of water near the tail and this was a good spot to pick up fish. I worked my way down the pool using the same set up as before and about half way down I had a good pull on my fly. Unfortunately it didn't stick but I knew my set up was working well in this pool too. I fished down the remainder of the pool hoping to temp another fish but it wasn't to be so I headed back over to have a run through the Bridge Pool again before coming back for another crack here later on.

Fishing down the Bridge Pool for a second time.
I made my way down to fish the Bridge Pool again hoping for a repeat performance from earlier on. There were a couple of fish showing as I fished my way down the pool but they weren't for tempting this time so I headed back across the bridge to fish the Upper Tulchan again.

Fishing down Upper Tulchan for a second time.  I lost a nice fish due to a mishap with my running line!
I decide to start right up at the neck of Upper Tulchan this time and fish the whole length of the pool to cover as much of it as I could. I had not long started when a nice wee fish showed opposite me. I covered it a few times but to no avail so carried on down the pool. I was just about half way down the pool and began hand lining my running line in ready to re-cast. Just as I was about to lift my rod, I had a good solid take and lifted into a decent fish. It quickly turned and began to take line. My running line was dumped on the grass bank and as the fish took off at a fair rate of knots, the line became tangled around my reel handle. I frantically tried to untangle it but with the fish pulling hard I just couldn't loosen the tension. This made the fish jump and a bright salmon around the 7lb mark made it's presence known. It tried to run again but I still couldn't get the line freed. This again, made it leap out of the water but only this time, it managed to spit the hook. I was really annoyed with myself as I usually coil 4-5 loops of line round each finger as I pull the running line in. This time however, I just dumped it on the grass out of laziness. In hindsight, it cost me the opportunity to land another salmon but I certainly won't be making that mistake again! I fished on down the rest of the pool felling very frustrated with myself but I couldn't temp another salmon to take my offerings so it was back to the hut for lunch.

The hut on Tulchan C beat. Not bad!
Back at the hut we chatted about the morning's fishing and there had been four landed. this was a good score given the heavy peat stain in the water and we were all looking forward to the afternoon session. Paul had also organised lunch for us all and there was a lovely spread of cooked meats, potatoes, salads and bread which was provide by Tulchan Lodge. This went down a treat and we were all raring to go in the afternoon.

Fishing down the delightful Upper Bog Pool. Lovely cast.
I was allocated Upper Bog for the afternoon. The had been nice fish from this pool during the morning so I was confident there were salmon present. On arrival to the pool there were a good number of fish showing down near the tail. Their presence really got me eager to get in and start. Lawrence showed me the taking spots and where to concentrate my efforts so I waded out to the to spot where he had shown me and began fishing down through the pool. I fished it down without a touch but there were a few fish about to keep my spirits up so I went back up to the neck of the pool to try again.
Looking upstream from the bank of  Upper Bog to where I landed my second fish of the day.
Looking down Upper Bog towards the tail of the pool.
My second run down was hampered by a wind knot in my leader so waded back to the bank and changed my leader over. As I was sitting on the bench there was a flotilla of kayaks made their way down through the pool so I decided to sit and wait for a while to let the pool settle again before restarting. As I was sitting it out, I thought this was a good as time as any to change my fly so I opted to tie on a Willie Gunn Flamethrower but kept it to a #9. I made my way back up to the neck of the pool and waded out above the stone where I had been instructed to start earlier on. Not long after restarting the pool I had a good, solid draw on the line and I lifted into a strong fish. The fish made some really energetic runs across the current but as I waist deep in fast water, I had to carefully navigate my way down past the bank side trees and onto the grass bank. This proved quite difficult as the fish kept trying to run upstream of where I had just waded down from. I managed to get the fish turned and by this time it was holding in the current opposite me. My floating line was drowned and the fish was tearing yards of line off my reel. My line had become stuck on a rock and I was weary of pulling too hard in case I lost another fish. I pulled the line as hard as I dared and somehow the fish freed itself and headed off down stream taking my line with it. Much to my delight!

This time a Willie Gunn Flamethrower did the trick. Again tied on a #9 Salar double.
I soon got myself back up onto the grass bank and began playing the fish from dry land. There was a net lying twenty yards away on the bench and each time I tried to get downstream to get the net for landing the fish, it ran up stream. Eventually, I gave up on the idea of trying to get the net and decide to beach the fish just above the boat which was situated in little cove at the end of the tree lined bank. The fish was now ready to be landed and I drew it into the side and managed to get my hand on it's tail. It was a spit fresh salmon around the 10lb mark. Just like buses, you wait ages for one to come along and two arrive at once! After a quick photograph it was released safely to continue it's journey up the River Spey. It was now about 4.10pm and I fished out the remainder of the pool but I couldn't temp another fish to take my fly. I wasn't really fussed to be quite honest as I was more than happy with total for the day and I headed off back to the hut to pack up at 5pm.
My second fish of the day. A "Bar of Silver" about 10lb.
There had been no further salmon landed in the afternoon for the other rods but there was a nice sea trout caught from the Tulchan Pool and another few pulls and offers which didn't stick. A total of five salmon and sea trout for the day was a good return given the rise in water overnight and Lawrence was happy with his weeks' total as well. We all chatted for a while before going our separate ways.

I was absolutely thrilled to be fishing at Tulchan during their prime time of the season and I will always be grateful to Paul for inviting me along. It was a fantastic gesture and one I will always be thankful for. I certainly won't forget the day in a hurry. So Paul if you read this, thank you very much. Hopefully one day I'll be able to return the favour.

The River Spey.
I'm now very proud to have caught my first River Spey salmon and to get it from such a famous part of the river was fantastic. To also catch it on a fly of my own creation made it all the sweeter and  in my opinion, it doesn't get much better than that. Tight Lines!

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