Archive for May, 2011

Rain, the weekend slap and prospects for May & June

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

If I were going to choose a time for there to be a spate in the spring, I would choose the second week of May, over a weekend.


1. Because the first sea trout shoals are already appearing off the coast, and the high water should bring them into the South Esk.

2. The Spring salmon run is far from over, and the spate should bring the later running spring fish into the river, thereby supplementing the considerable numbers of 2SW salmon already in the deeper pools of the middle and upper river

3. The nets are currently supposed to be ‘off’ (not operating), observing the statutory weekend slap (from 1800 on Friday to 0600 on Monday). The trouble is that these mandatory weekend closures by the nets are carried out for less than 40 percent of the total number of weekends of the fishing season (2010 figures) on the  grounds of “health & safety”. You don’t have to be a cynic to question the need for that.

First spring spate after the snow went

Castle Beat. This is the view looking across Pheasantry towards David’s Treehouse from the Finavon Hill side at 1100 on Sunday 8 May 2011

Back to my thesis: the second weekend of May and we have a roaring spate, with the rain still pelting down. Despite the problems, I still believe that this is the optimum time for stocking the South Esk with the last of the Spring run of salmon and the first, usually larger, sea trout of the summer runs which should continue well into July, peaking in a normal year in the last week of June.

People who read this Bulletin Blog will have noticed that we are of an optimistic mindset. That is perhaps true, but this time, with the river unobstructed & open to the sea (we hope), there are grounds for our optimism!


Postscript added on 14 May. The good water level stayed with us all week as the South Esk gradually resumed normal spring service after an unseasonally violent spate. Yesterday (13/5) and today we caught a salmon each day, saw a few more, as well as the welcome sight of some fine sea trout. In the next few days we are expecting showers and cool temperatures, struggling at night to get much above freeezing. My guess is that the extended spring run, steady rather than prolific, will continue with most of these 2sw fish heading quickly for the hills. I am told by members of the Kirriemuir Angling Club that there are good numbers of salmon above Dunbog Farm and well up into Glen Clova, but they are difficult to catch in bright and chilly conditions – typical east coast May weather. There are some spare rods available for spring salmon fishing in the next fortnight. If you are interested please phone me 07748 634 658, or Moray Macfarlane 07835 717 150.

The drought bites deep and the river dwindles

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

An Angus councillor who retired at the end of March pointed out to my wife, Alison, yesterday that there has been no rain in Angus since 31/3, which explains why the catch has dropped away to nothing. There are fish – both salmon and sea trout – in the main pools, but they are virtually impossible to catch. Today there are signs that the weather might be changing, but the rain is at best desultory, and I don’t really expect much from it. But the sky is reassuringly dark and the cloud line on the hills is at about 1200 feet. Maybe….

One of the good things about the first low water of the year is that it allows us to look at the banks and beds of the pools to see what the winter scour has done to the river. At Finavon, bar the odd new pocket or scallop downstream of long established lie boulders, the answer is “not very much”. I can say that the water is crystal clear and that there are healthy showings of parr in all the pool tails and riffles, that the sandpipers and kingfishers are back and there are spoors of otters, and roe deer slots, on the sandy shore of the lower Red Brae. The first grass cut of the season is complete and Jeff Sanderson, the owner of Finavon Hill, has given us a spectacular new access track off the Finavon Hill road about 200 yards up the hill from Fortesk. The old access road is now closed.  Scottish Water has donated the aqueduct at Haughs of Finavon to FCW, and we plan to convert it into a useful footbridge, with a lockable gate to restrict access to all except our fishermen and locals only (for liability reasons)

This is the Castle Beat Fishing hut “David’s Treehouse” at daffodil time” 2011

A concerted attack has now started on the giant hogweed, thanks to the good work of the Esk Fisheries Trust under Marshall Halliday’s leadership, and plans are afoot for dealing with the outbreak of Japanese knotweed on Bogardo Beat. Although I say it myself (but I didn’t do the work, so praise is due elsewhere!) the whole FCW beat is looking terrific. The 4 huts are clean and ready for our tenants, and vegetation next to the access tracks and car parks trimmed back so that rods and flies don’t get caught up, and cars unscratched by lurking brambles etc. We are ready for the fish to arrive, and then our syndicates and tenants – in that order!

But first we need water. I have never seen the river so low at the beginning of May.

To date we have 15 spring salmon and, although there is the odd sea trout in the beat (I saw one of about 3.5 lbs in Tyndals two days ago), we have only had one so far. Of course the nets are now back on and it will be interesting to see how George Pullar and his team get on. They should catch a few fish in this low water because virtually nothing is entering the river. My view is that there was a reasonable run of fish until the drought dried them up. I hope our next blog will bring better news.