More rain forecast and the South Esk at an excellent water level for the fly

Since last Wednesday, when the river began fining down after heavy rain, we have had good fishing with eleven salmon and grilse landed and another eleven lost close to or at the net. I am not sure why so many fish have been poorly hooked, but I suspect it may be that our visiting anglers may be using flies that are too large. My experience of the South Esk is that, apart from in the colder water temperatures of early spring and the last two weeks of October, flies should be lightly dressed and small. I rarely use hooks larger than 8, and prefer the impressionistic effect of the ‘Finavon Whisp’ – a variant of the Cascade – rather than the ‘in-your-face’ heavily dressed Ally Shrimps etc you buy in the tackle shops. I find that salmon at this time of year take the lightly dressed ‘whispish’ fly more readily than the bunch of feathers varieties!

Red Brae and Kirkinn: one excellent salmon pool.

One of the best South Esk pools: the Red Brae

Some really beautiful salmon have been caught (and returned). Sally Bateman’s 14lbs fish from the tail of Indies brought a smile to her face, as did a 12lbs fish from Marcus House Pool caught by one of Adam Carr’s party, and my own bright silver hen from Willows. My fish was short and deep, and fortunately I was able to release her from the net without lifting her from the water. Nevertheless, she was very groggy and needed some time to recover sufficiently to swim away strongly upstream. In releasing this fish I did not touch her flanks, nor disrupt the mucus (slime) ‘envelope’ that gives the fish protection from infection. It is not always possible to release a fish in this way, but to do so to such a beautiful egg carrier as this 14lbs silver hen salmon (approximately 8,500 eggs in this fish) was highly satisfactory.

Lower Boat Pool & the head of the Flats in ideal water for an early autumn salmon

A great place for a running salmon: at the tail of Lower Boat Pool

Many of the grilse are still silver, but from now on we can expect a higher proportion of coloured fish as we move closer to spawning time. If the water levels remain good, and I expect they will for at least the next few days, we should continue to catch 3 or 4 fish each day, but that cannot be a certainty!

I will try to provide updates every two or three days from now until the end of the season.

TA 12/9/2010

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