Saturday, 4 November 2017

Morphie - North Esk

My last outing of the 2017 salmon fishing season was on the famous Morphie beat of the North Esk. A bonus day off work due to the rescheduling of a meeting left me with a free to date go fishing. After a quick look around FishPal I stumbled across availability for Morphie. Not many salmon anglers in the UK haven't heard of the Morphie beat. It has been on my bucket list for years and as I had never even fished the Northie before, when the chance arose to take a day on it's hallowed pools, it was far too good an opportunity to miss.

I arrived at the beat and was met by my pal Colin who was going to be fishing with me for the day. The gauge was reading 1ft 2in and was running clear. Colin had some success the previous week at Morphie and he advised that tactics for the day would be to get the flies fishing deep. I opted to fish with my Guideline H/I/S1 shooting head for the morning. My fly of choice was a small black and yellow treble.
Fishing down the pool I think was called Elephant Rock or something along that lines.
A nice finnock (young sea trout) which hammered a #9 Tilbouries Shrimp.
We were drawn to fish the lower half of the beat in he morning from the left bank. Colin took us down to the parking area and rowed us over in the boat. After about a dozen casts with my chosen line I realised it was too heavy for the slower moving pools. Fishing it effectively proved to be challenging to say the least. Regardless of my line trouble, it was great to be able to say that I have fished the beat now and with the presence of plenty fish in the pools, I always felt there was a chance of something taking my fly. I fished down through all my allocated pools with only a small finnock about 1.5lb  to show for my efforts. Colin did however, manage to land a lovely fresh fish around the 5lb mark and he also lost another which was encouraging.
Looking upstream from below the Elephant Rock???
Looking across to the Morphie hut near to where I hooked my fish.
After lunch I decided to change lines and put on a Rio hover shooting head. This was ideal and I immediately felt much happier that it was fishing just as I wanted it to. In fact, it fished perfectly and almost immediately after lunch I had a good pull from a fish just below the dam from the left bank. It didn't stick unfortunately but it was a real boost that the new tactics were working, especially after struggling so badly during the morning session.
Looking upstream toward the breach in Morphie Dyke.
Looking upstream to the part of the pool where I had a good offer just after lunch. Sadly, it didn't stick.
I carried on down the pool with a renewed confidence and when I was just opposite the hut I had a good take from a fish. I firmly lifted into what felt like a decent salmon. I got the fish onto the reel and began to play the fish. Sadly, no sooner had it taken my fly, it threw the hook and was gone. This was a big disappointment but there were plenty more fish about and I had only fished the top 50 yards of the beat.
Looking upstream towards the Dyke from a bit further down the pool.
Looking downstream in the pool where I hooked my fish.
Looking upstream from the Pots toward the Morphie hut.
Unfortunately, this was to be the last chance I would get during my day at Morphie but there were 3 landed for the day, 2 of which were fresh which was a decent result. Just to fish the beat was good enough for me but it would have been nice if my fish stayed on and I could have got my name in the catch book on such a famous beat.
Looking upstream towards the Pots from the pool below.
Looking downstream in the same pool.
Hopefully I'll have another chance to do so in the future but if not, then at least I can say I've fished the beat. One thing is for sure, it certainly won't be my first and last go on the North Esk. What a lovely river it is and the fishing ain't half bad either!

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