Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Cortachy Castle - South Esk

I had a day on the Cortachy Castle beat of the South Esk with good pals Bill Cook and Kenny Carr last week. The water was on the low side but it had risen and dropped quickly during the night. When we arrived the gauge was reading 4". After a good chat and a catch up we all set off up to the Sawmill Dam pool.
A nice salmon from the South Esk.
Kenny Carr and Bill Cook.
The road down to the Sawmill Dam pool is only suitable for 4x4 vehicles so we all jumped in with Bill. The views looking across Glen Clova from the high ridge down to the pool is worth the money alone! On seeing the water, I set up with my 12ft 6in LTS Explosive and matched it up with my new SCS shooting head. I decided to fish a full floater and opted for a small size 14 Red Frances.
The view from the top of of dirt track down to the Sawmill Dam.
I was first to tackle up and as Bill and Kenny enjoyed a Cuban cigar on the bank I took the initiative and made my way down to the pool. Bill's advice to start short and lengthen without moving was still fresh in my mind and began casting as short line across the stream. I'd had no more than a dozen casts when my line went tight and I lifted into a decent fish. As the pool is very rocky and the water was low, I was weary of keeping the fish on a short line and played it hard to avoid disturbing the rest of the pool. After a good tussle, Bill was on hand to tail out a cock fish around the 7lb mark. On removal of my hook, I noticed there was in fact another fly in the mouth of the fish. Someone had hooked this one before but was not fortunate enough to land it. There was no line attached to the fly so it looked as though poor knot tying resulted in the loss. The fish was quickly returned with both flies removed! Good start to the morning. I fished the remainder of the pool but apart from a follow at the tail just above the Dam, there was no further action. Bill and Kenny both had a go but neither had any luck.

A good start to the morning at Cortachy with a 7lb salmon. Above is a video taken by Bill of me playing and landing the fish pictured.
We headed back to the hut to decide our next plan of action and fish some of the other pools. Buoyed by the fact that there had been a few fish caught the previous day we set off to our allocated pools. I was to fish the Meetings and then follow Kenny down through the pool below which was called Downie Stream.
The run above the Meetings Pool
Looking across the Meetings Pool where the Prosen enters the South Esk.
The Meetings is where the Prosen meets the South Esk. I'm told this used to be a fantastic pool but given the damage caused by Storm Frank and the fact that the water was very low, there was not many places where a salmon could hold up. I fished it down more in hope than expectation and alas didn't connect with anything. After I carefully fished through the pool I waded across at the tail and crept up the bank to see if I could spot any fish lying under the bank in the deeper part of the pool. Unfortunately, I didn't see any fish and my stealthy efforts whilst fishing the pool seemed to be in vain.
Looking downstream from the left bank of the Downie Stream.
The next pool down was the Downie Stream. I fished this off the right bank as the depth of the pool lay on the left bank of this pool. It was a lovely bit of water and the top half of the pool fished really well. Despite my best efforts I didn't get a touch and it was back up to the hut for a spot of lunch.
The fishing hut at the Cortachy Castle beat.
Kenny cooking the burgers as Bill looks on.
It's always a pleasure fishing with Kenny and Bill where ever we go and this time was no different. We had a good catch up over lunch which was expertly cooked by Kenny on his mobile gas stove. Top quality burgers and bacon butties Al fresco washed down with a cup of coffee. Magic! Our thoughts soon turned back to the fishing and Bill and I decided to venture back up to the Sawmill for another go thorough it.
Bill fishing down through the Sawmill Dam after lunch.
As I had first run through the pool in the morning, I let Bill fish first on our second visit to the Sawmill Dam pool. I decided to change fly from the wee Red Frances and opted for something with a bit more orange in it. A newly tied Silver Ally tied on a size 12 Esmond Drury treble immediately caught my eye so on it went. As I was second run through the pool, I also decided to change leader from my trusty brown Maxima to 12lb Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon just to allow the fly to fish that little bit deeper.

My second fish - A 9lber from the Sawmill Dam. Above is a video of the take, fight and release.
The fly that did the damage. The deadly Silver Ally.
I entered the pool at the top again just as I did in the morning session an began fishing a short line lengthening each time my fly fished round. I was covering the same lie that I hooked the fish this morning with a steady figure of eight retrieve. The fly was almost fished out when I had a ferocious take! I lifted into what felt like a decent sized fish. It wasn't keen to come up to the surface and had my line sunk as it tore off across the stream into the deeper part of the pool on the far side. A dogged battle lasted for a few minutes before Bill managed to tail a fish of around the 9lb mark. Just like this morning, another good start to the session! Bill and I both fished through the pool another once each before we headed off back to the hut to meet Kenny again.
Fishing down through the Meetings.
Looking upstream in the Meetings.
The sky was pretty much cloudless and the sun bright which made fishing in the low water that bit more difficult. We chatted for a while before having a token cast in the various pools near the hut. Kenny decide to head home after that and Bill and I were thinking the same. As we walked back to the car we decided to have one last cast in the Sawmill before calling it a day. We set off down to the pool to give it a go.
The middle part of the Sawmill Pool.
On arrival to the pool we immediately saw a fish show about mid way down. This spurred us on despite having fished the pool twice before earlier in the day. Bill and I covered the whole pool with various flies and tactics as we tried to find one more fish willing to take our offerings but it wasn't to be. We didn't move anything and with that, we called it a day and set off back up the road.
My springer from the last time I visited the beat back in 2013.
I had only fished at Cortachy once before and that was in May several years ago where I was fortunate enough then to land a lovely fish around 11lbs. It was great to be back and it was equally great to maintain my 100% record on the beat! Fishing is not always about catching fish though. Spending time in beautiful surroundings and in good company makes for a fine day out. Catching fish is an added bonus in these circumstances and I was very grateful to have landed two for my day. I'll be back at Cortachy in a few weeks time to try it all again. Fingers crossed we get a bit more water and we might just have one of those days where everything goes right! 

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