South Esk season ends with a 31bs fish from Marcus

These bulletin blogs represent news about Finavon and the South Esk, and my views as a riparian owner. They are not the views of any other organisation, nor are they designed to promote the interests of any individual or organisation other than Finavon Castle Water and factors affecting the fishery. Tony Andrews

These last few days of the season have been a disappointment, mainly because there has been a shortage of fresh fish, and precious few stale ones to keep the spirits up. The main pools – Willows, Red Brae and Indies – have shown a few fish, with Red Brae holding a reasonable number, including at least two respectably silver large salmon.

Charlie fishing through Willows on 30 Oct 12

Charlie Palmer concentrating on fishing the main lie at Willows in crystal clear and rather low water, with no result on this occasion. The last days of October 2012 were a disappointment for Will and Charlie, who are both teachers and come to Finavon every year to fish during the autumn term holiday.

With two mustard-keen fishermen in the forms of Charlie Palmer and Will Simper fishing every daylight minute, and with no mean level of skill, the only catch has been a sea trout (probably a kelt) and a small grilse, both caught and returned in Harry’s Bar (Bogardo Beat) and Volcano (Milton Beat) respectively.

Will Simper fishing Volcano

Will Simper fishing the glide into Volcano in a nice water on the 29th of October, but there were only a few fish in the pool. However, later in the day he caught and returned a small grilse from this pool.

Despite the poor show of autumn fish I will not be bewailing the demise of the South Esk as a salmon fishery, which all too often I hear from those of little faith and absolutely no data (!), because in general there has been a reasonable show of salmon from the beginning of March and throughout the very wet summer. As I have said before, rod catches should not be giving us any more than the broadest indication of the wellbeing of salmon stocks, and we certainly should not be setting our management objectives in stone on the strength of them. However, I would not contest an opinion that, in terms of abundance of both salmon and sea trout, 2012 was no better than an average year at best.

 On the subject of rod catches, I note that the three major middle/upper river beats, Cortachy & Downie Park, Inshewan and Finavon Castle Water are reporting (on 30/10/2012) 117, 112 and 137 salmon totalling 366 salmon and grilse for the 2012 season. Not great. Sea trout catches for the upper river are also poor at 373 for the three beats.

Tom fishing Red Brae

Tom Emerson fishing the Red Brae at the Lemno Burn junction on 29 October

Based on observation of the FCW beats, coastal nets catch reports (unreliable) and rod catches, I think it is fair to claim that 2012 was not a prolific year for the South Esk’s wild salmon and sea trout. For the angler it was lacklustre, but not disastrous, and it did have its good moments. Perhaps the most exciting but ultimately disappointing moment was the fish hooked and lost by Alec Towns in Beeches back in August. That really was a big fish which he saw again and again from close quarters during the 30 minute struggle. Losing a fish as the result of the brand new £500 rod shattering when applying side strain to a played-out salmon of 28 lbs or so is an angler’s catastrophe, but will guarantee Alec’s return!

Ian Hardy's 31 lbs cock salmon from Marcus

This 31lbs cock salmon (49″) was caught in Root Pool on the Marcus (N) side by Ian Hardy on 30 October 2012. This is the largest salmon caught at either Finavon or Marcus for many years, although both fisheries have seen fish larger than this one in every season, and there are records of big fish landed in former times, including one of 40lbs plus from Breadalbane Pool in the 1960s.

A final blast from the season came last night when Ian Hardy, the tenant at Marcus Estate sent me the photo above of a 31lbs salmon, in the glorious colours of a cock fish nearing spawning time, caught in Root Pool on Marcus Estate’s fishing. This salmon is the biggest for some years from either Finavon or Marcus, but I do recall a fish of similar size at Careston from the Common Pool, which was netted by the late Alasdair Petrie, ghillie at Finavon, for John Wood, the Glamis Estate factor. Sadly we have no record of that fish apart from the verbal accounts. In 2012 we saw and connected with a number of big fish, but probably nothing as large as Ian’s fish above.

TA 1st November 2012

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