Archive for the ‘The river bank news’ Category

Season 2017

Friday, December 1st, 2017

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He’s just returned a monster.

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Well done Patrick, your into him.

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Patrick Norman with his first of many from the Upper Oykel.

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Sam Burles beaches another.

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Nicola Herring having a cast in the Camus, Upper Oykel.

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Edward Herring returning a lovely 10 pounder to Quarry pool, Upper Oykel in July 2017.

I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of springer’s in April, it is interesting in a way how easy it is to forget just how sporting and lively the spring fish are, compared to later running fish, especially when the water temp soars into the sixties by the middle of summer making fish rather lethargic.

Good Release

A springer making a good return.

It would appear that conditions for spring fishing were pretty good in the Highlands up until the month of May, when someone pulled the plug on most rivers; my late good friend Barry Oldham accused me of doing just that on many occasions when he was just about due to come fishing the Oykel!

However, before the plug was pulled, I think there were signs that the springer’s were a bit more plentiful than in former recent years, if so, let’s hope the trend continues. as we all know there is no substitute for a springer.

On reading Steven Mackenzie’s excellent Oykel News 2017 it would appear that the Oykel had good water conditions apart from May when high pressure took over.  It would also appear that there was a good many fish running the system for most of the season, certainly for the weeks I was on the Oykel there was no shortage of fish to be seen, catching was the problem which prevailed throughout Scotland as far as one can tell.

However, one lady didn’t suffer too much from not catching when she landed a 26 pounder in the Upper Farm on the Lower Oykel, possibly a record.  The Lower Oykel produced a respectable total for the season of 746 Salmon/Grilse, 96% of which were returned.

I note with pleasure that the Langwell pool was top pool once again, in my younger days it was top pool with tens of fish more than any other pool, year in and year out, and with as many as 24 fish taken in a day.

Langwell

The head of Langwell pool on the Lower Oykel can still be deadly, even in relatively low water.

 Allegedly, UDN reared its ugly head once again in a number of rivers throughout Scotland; there is nothing that saps my confidence more, than to see fish behaving as though they have the symptoms of this horrible disease, “which is still not fully understood if at all”.  I was fortunate, or whichever the case may be, to have worked and experienced eight years’ worth without UDN in the Oykel before it arrived in 1968, to that end I feel qualified to make some comment on the effect it has had on the angling potential since its arrival.  It would take a chapter in a book, not a few lines in my blog to give the subject a fair hearing.  In brief, I believe the taking habits of our Salmon have been seriously compromised by the advent of UDN, and as a consequence over the year’s catches may have been reduced significantly.  In my younger days we used to make comment that it was nature’s way of preserving the stocks!  “maybe”.

Spawning

A cock fish with his back out of the water at spawning time, the hen will not be far away!

 As well as the angling season over for most rivers, the spawning will now be completed also, hopefully with good results to follow, certainly there was more than enough water to get fish to all extremities of the catchments and so give maximum potential for spawners.

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 Mrs Cooper with a 15 pounder from the Long pool, Lower Oykel. 

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 Why have I roses in bloom in December?.

 

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 The end of a hard day!

16 pounder on

Mr Litton playing a 16 pounder in the Brae pool in 2016.

IMG (2)The Perch

A fish successfully landed on the Perch below the Einig Falls in the 1950’s.

Oykel Rods

My Oykel range of rods made by Bruce & Walker have been popular and very effective for the job required, distance, delivery and delicacy. 

My sincere gratitude and thanks to all who supported Oykel Salmon Flies & Tackle this year and I very much look  forward to the 2018 season with you.

Tight lines and a Very Merry Christmas to all.

George.

 

    

    

 

 

 

 

 

End of February 2017

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

A Slow Start to the Salmon fishing, and to me personally a devastating blow to begin the 2017 season.

Little did I think when I met up with Irene Finney in 1967 that on the 4th of October 1968 we would marry.  However, that we did, and after leaving Wedgewood’s in Staffordshire as a Figure maker, that one day she would become such a well-known Salmon Fly tier, supplying clients worldwide, and known to tie as many as 100 flies in a day!

Shortly after our marriage I introduced her to trout fishing, I can remember well taking her out in a boat for about a couple of hours until dusk on a summers evening; in no time she had a number of trout in the boat and ended up with several for the evening.  Her comment was brief and to the point as it usually was!  “Thank you, too easy, not for me” she never cast a fly on the water again.

Later in life Irene took up cooking and Horse riding; she competed in Master Chef when she appeared on TV whilst cooking for Scotland.  Those were but a few of Irene’s many talents which she enjoyed doing and gave paramount pleasure to countless recipients.

It was in 2009, the year I retired, that through no fault of her own, Irene was involved in a serious motoring accident which rendered her to a wheel chair for the remainder of her life.  In my mind there is no shadow of doubt, that it was downhill for Irene from then on, she could no longer do the things she loved doing, and suffered a lot of pain trying to do so, and so consequently, although not necessarily noticeable to the outside world, I personally believe she gave up the will to live!

After a very brief illness, I am, and always will be extremely grateful to the professionalism of the consultants and staff at Raigmore hospital Inverness, for their relentless, determent and kindly effort to save Irene, but it was not to be, and, sadly on February the 13th 2017 Irene’s passing came as a truly shocking, devastating and cruel blow, which my family and I will carry with us for ever.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the many people that have sent my family and I, letters and cards of sympathy.

I hear that fish are beginning to run the northern rivers now, I do hope the season improves from here on, for all of us.

George.

Happy New Year 2017

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Wishing every one a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous 2017 – Oh and tight lines!

 

Oykel Bridge Hogmanay 2016

 

Below Oykel Bridge

Oykel Rods for 2017

 

The Oykel Range of Salmon Rods-14’6″- 13’6″-11’6″-9″
The 14’6″ Oykel
The Oykel range of salmon rods are completely suitable for any angler to achieve the best possible results in any conditions that arises whilst participating in the sport that we all love and feel passionate about.
The 14’6″ was designed to be powerful and capable of achieving that long line that sometimes is necessary, and an advantage to cover that otherwise illusive fish, on the other side of the river.  Equally in low water conditions this rod performs well when it is desirable to drop down a line size.
It may be slightly heavier than the average modern carbon rod, but 12 ozs, to my mind is not a heavy rod, and is well justified by the extra performance that this rod produces.  Its reel holding capacity for example allows one to use old reels with a large seat, a nice attribute for those of us who like to use our old Hardy Perfect from time to time.  The 14’6″ handles a sunken line and large flies with ease, all in all making this rod very capable and compatible.
The 13’6″ Oykel
The 13’6″ is the 4th rod that Bruce and Walker have produced for me to my own specifications. It was a year from concept to river bank, to get it exactly as I wanted it. Using the very latest mix of carbons and resins, combined with specific tapers, to produce even greater results than I could imagine;
The 13’6″ is not a rod for tournament casting or extreme distance; instead it is a rod for complete relaxation whilst at the same time achieving the perfect distance and a range of casting options, effortlessly. As per my instructions to B&W, it has an all through action just like Greenheart, which of course was the rod I used in my younger days. They were very powerful and would allow you to get your fly exactly where you wanted, without much bother, provided you had the strength to wield it all day! Now this relaxing action combined with the lightness, and technology of modern materials makes it possible to generate and achieve even more power effortlessly all day long, with accuracy and very delicate presentation. Although I say so myself, it really is a dream come true, and not only that, it is hand made in Great Britain.

The 11’6″ Oykel
By popular demand, many anglers have suggested that the introduction of an in-between size rod would be a benefit to anglers in general.  With this in mind it has given me a lot of pleasure to spend my time, and give attention to, the detail of such a rod.
There is little doubt in my mind that the quality of carbon fibre has improved out of all recognition since the first carbon fibre rod was made, it is for this reason that very often I find myself using a rod that is much too long and over powered for the job I am doing.  So my view now is, why not take advantage of modern technology and size down to the 11’6″ Oykel which is capable of achieving amazing results with the use of best quality, High Modulus and High Density carbon fibre.  After putting the 11’6? through some rigorous testing, against some other well known brands, the Oykel performed in a way that I would find difficult, if not impossible, to surpass with any other rod.
The Oykel 11’6? will handle all lines, floating, sinking or intermediate.  Although it is rated for #7-8 lines, my personal experience is that it copes well with quite a variation of line sizes; however it was always my intention that it should be, and is, particularly suited to a floating line, which makes it well suited to ladies and young people at the beginning of their fishing career.
The 9′ Oykel
Over decades it has become apparent to me that many anglers are missing chances of catching fish in low water, simple because they do not change to low water tackle and tactics;  I simply cannot over emphasize the importance of stealth and delicate presentation as been of critical importance in low water salmon fishing.
With this in mind I have produced the 9′ Oykel, #7 line, specifically for those low water periods when we need as much help as possible from our tackle, to give us that little bit of extra finesse that can sometimes bring another fish to the bank, which might otherwise have remained elusive.  The 9′ Oykel is a single handed rod with lots of power and performance for its length, and extremely popular with those who use it.

The Oykel 11’6″ has been the most popular.

I am grateful to all who have supported OSFT and look forward to seeing everyone in 2017.

George.

End of Season 2016

Monday, October 31st, 2016

I should without any preamble apologise for not producing a blog throughout the season; It was kindly put to me one day on the river bank; George however short or brief it might be, it would at least let us know that you were alright! I thought this consideration was worthy of a mention and I am grateful to the donor for such.

Playing a good one in the Narrows – Lower Oykel.

The season of 2016 for many anglers in the highlands may be remembered as a year of plenty, but for some, this was not necessarily the case.

Richard Franklin returning another one.

There were some exceptions to that, the Thurso and Naver where I believe exceptional numbers will have been recorded. As we have often said and it must be a fact of life, that angling records are a very poor indication of how many fish are actually in the system.  I believe some rivers may be as much as 50% down on last year!

George Burles with his first.

Presently I hope to do some spawning surveys to see how numbers spawning compare to former years and do the stocks look as sustainable as they have done in the past. Judging by reports throughout the season my guess is of optimism and that stocks are very robust and certainly prolific enough to produce good runs in the future, providing their marine survival is to increase as opposed to decrease as has been the case in former decades. Unfortunately, I do not know in which direction survival is going or even likely to go, however I have always believed and still do, that the Atlantic Salmon is a survivor of great tenacity if given the chance.

Sam Burles returning his first Salmon, just a few hours before his brother George.

For myself personally it has been a busy year and a successful one. A number of clients have had their first fish, which is always exciting, whether it be a Brown Trout or Salmon it matters not, as the same amount of enjoyment and pleasure is derived from both species, to the client and to myself. After spending so many years enjoying all the learning curves and sometimes unusual experiences that come attached to the salmon and trout angling profession, nothing ever really comes as a surprise to me! And normally turns out to be yet another pleasant experience.

Caitlin Scott with her first Brown Trout.

 

Simon Scott with his first Brown Trout.

 

Peter Bragg just about to return his first Salmon. A lovely sea-liced springer from the Black Eye – Lower Oykel.

 

A good back cast is essential if you are going to make a descent forward delivery; James …. is demonstrating a good deal of confidence on his first morning with a double handed rod.

 

Capt. David Bailey returns the first Oykel grilse of the season.

 

Good casting on Washer Woman river Carron Kyle of Sutherland.

My son Michael has his rod well loaded in preparation for his forward delivery after forming a perfect “D” loop, essential for a good Single Spey.

Michael in the head of the Crag pool below the Oykel Falls.

 

 

A quad of 9′ Oykel’s ready for delivery.  Time is running out, order now to be in time for Christmas.

Have a look in my web shop to see the Oykel Range of Rods.

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2016

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Thank you all very much for your support over the last year and may I wish you, Health and Happiness, and Good luck in the coming Year.

Yes, in 12 days time many of the highland rivers will be open for business once again and I have little doubt, that weather permitting we will be lining the banks as usual on the opening day full of optimism and looking for the first Springer of 2016. After experiencing what sounds like a record wet and mild December for most of the country, we really could do with a bit of snow and frost on high ground to consolidate water, so as we do not run out too early in the spring period which as we all know is essential for our sport to sustain itself for the early part of the season.

Brian Poe just about to return a really good springer.

 

If I could have one wish fulfilled regarding the life of the Salmon, it would be to see a return of the spring run numbers to that of the 1950’s and through to 1980, when it was considered, and rightly so, to be the cream of the fishing season.

Those were the days that I fear will soon be forgotten about. Three angler’s and three Ghillies.

It is very reassuring to have a river full of red fish at the end of a season, but for me I would much prefer to see the distribution brought forward so as to include the spring with a much larger percentage of the overall population; the weather conditions are normally so much more favourable from February – May for salmon angling, that a larger percentage of the fish are potential takers, simply because they are allowed to run without interruption into the system every day, so providing the beats/rods with sea-liced fish which is of course what every fishery manager dreams of having for his clients!

Arthur Hadley playing his fish in the head of the Long pool.

I have had a very sad message to end the year on. Not long ago I heard from Arthur Hadley’s son George that his father passed away on November 25th, at the age of 91. The photos show that I was privileged to be his ghillie on his last fishing trip, which I think was in 2010; He is playing and landed what was his last salmon of many that he caught on the Oykel – from 1973 -2010.

In the net and to be returned.

 

The Oykel Range of Salmon Rods-14’6″- 13’6″-11’6″- 9′

The 14’6″ is superb for spring fishing.

 

The 14’6″ Oykel

The Oykel range of salmon rods are completely suitable for any angler to achieve the best possible results in any conditions that arises whilst participating in the sport that we all love and feel passionate about.

The 14’6? was designed to be powerful and capable of achieving that long line that sometimes is necessary, and an advantage to cover that otherwise illusive fish, on the other side of the river. Equally in low water conditions this rod performs well when it is desirable to drop down a line size.

It may be slightly heavier than the average modern carbon rod, but 12 ozs, to my mind is not a heavy rod, and is well justified by the extra performance that this rod produces. Its reel holding capacity for example allows one to use old reels with a large seat, a nice attribute for those of us who like to use our old Hardy Perfect from time to time. The 14’6? handles a sunken line and large flies with ease, all in all making this rod very capable and compatible.

The 13’6″ Oykel

The 13’6″ was introduced in 2014 and is one of the most forgiving.

The 13’6” is the 4th rod that Bruce and Walker have produced for me to my own specifications. It was a year from concept to river bank, to get it exactly as I wanted it. Using the very latest mix of carbons and resins, combined with specific tapers, to produce even greater results than I could imagine;

The 13’6” is not a rod for tournament casting or extreme distance; instead it is a rod for complete relaxation whilst at the same time achieving the perfect distance and a range of casting options, effortlessly. As per my instructions to B&W, it has an all through action just like Greenheart, which of course was the rod I used in my younger days. They were very powerful and would allow you to get your fly exactly where you wanted, without much bother, provided you had the strength to wield it all day! Now this relaxing action combined with the lightness, and technology of modern materials makes it possible to generate and achieve even more power effortlessly all day long, with accuracy and very delicate presentation. Although I say so myself, it really is a dream come true, and not only that, it is hand made in Great Britain.

 

The 11’6″ Oykel

By popular demand, many anglers have suggested that the introduction of an in-between size rod would be a benefit to anglers in general. With this in mind it has given me a lot of pleasure to spend my time, and give attention to, the detail of such a rod.

There is little doubt in my mind that the quality of carbon fibre has improved out of all recognition since the first carbon fibre rod was made, it is for this reason that very often I find myself using a rod that is much too long and over powered for the job I am doing. So my view now is, why not take advantage of modern technology and size down to the 11’6? Oykel which is capable of achieving amazing results with the use of best quality, High Modulus and High Density carbon fibre. After putting the 11’6? through some rigorous testing, against some other well known brands, the Oykel performed in a way that I would find difficult, if not impossible, to surpass with any other rod.

The Oykel 11’6? will handle all lines, floating, sinking or intermediate. Although it is rated for #7-8 lines, my personal experience is that it copes well with quite a variation of line sizes; however it was always my intention that it should be, and is, particularly suited to a floating line, which makes it well suited to ladies and young people at the beginning of their fishing career.

The 9″ Oykel

Over decades it has become apparent to me that many anglers are missing chances of catching fish in low water, simple because they do not change to low water tackle and tactics; I simply cannot over emphasize the importance of stealth and delicate presentation as been of critical importance in low water salmon fishing.

With this in mind I have produced the 9? Oykel, #7 line, specifically for those low water periods when we need as much help as possible from our tackle, to give us that little bit of extra finesse that can sometimes bring another fish to the bank, which might otherwise have remained elusive. The 9? Oykel is a single handed rod with lots of power and performance for its length, and extremely popular with those who use it.

Specifications

The 14’6″ Oykel

  • Three sections.
  • All cork handle with 2 comfortable grip positions.
  • Screw-reel winch fitting large enough to accommodate reels with large seat with hook holder incorporated.
  • Hard chrome snake rings and 2 butt stripper guides.
  • Weight: 12 Ozs approximately.
  • Colour: Blue with blue whippings and silver tipping.

Price: £752- P&P in UK £20.

The 13’6″ Oykel

  • Three sections.
  • All cork handle with 2 comfortable grip positions.
  • Black metal reel fitting.
  • Hard chrome snake rings and 2 butt stripper guides.
  • Weight: 10 Ozs approximately.
  • Colour: Gold with tan whippings and gold tipping.
  • Butt composite rubber end cork.

Price: £711 – P&P in UK £20

The 11’6″ Oykel

  • Three sections.
  • All cork handle with 2 comfortable grip positions.
  • Black metal reel fitting.
  • Hard chrome snake rings and 2 butt stripper guides.
  • Weight: 8 Ozs approximately.
  • Colour: Gold with tan whippings and gold tipping.
  • Butt composite rubber end cork.

Price: £657 – P&P in UK £20.

The 9″ Oykel

  • Three sections.
  • Hard chrome snake rings.
  • Screw-winch reel fitting.
  • Weight: 4 Oz’s approximately.
  • Colour: Blue with blue whippings and silver tipping.

Price: £471 – P&P £20.

When ordering rods, please include a £50 deposit, make your cheque payable

To:Oykel Salmon Flies & Tackle – 8 Cherry Wynd – Culbokie- Dingwall – Ross-shire IV7 8ND

Tel:- 01349870948

Mob:- 07710754896

groykel@btinternet.com

Bruce and Walker are based at Upwood, Cambridgeshire, England, UK. They have been rolling and making carbon blanks for their rods for many decades. Their experience and rod making skill is paramount worldwide. I have used Bruce and Walker since they began producing rods several decades ago and have always found them superior to any other rod on the market. (Rod making like any other skill can only be perfected to such a high degree with experience) This is why I commission them to make rods for me, and why I feel entirely comfortable that the rods carry my name; Just like the 11’6? Oykel. Their quality of workmanship would be difficult, if not impossible, to surpass anywhere in the world.

George.

GR Ross. (OSFT)

End of Season 2015

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

John Lay lands his first one, a 10 pounder from Upper Sgolbach on the Lower Oykel. 10th of June.

 

 

Andrew Jones just about to release his first fish which he took in the Washer Woman, on Braelangwell beat for the Carron. a nice 4 pound Grilse. 30th June.

I think there can be little doubt when it comes to survival, the Atlantic salmon has sophistication and capabilities away beyond the knowledge of anyone; however much I may think I know about the salmon, to me it seems a fact, that in reality it is less I know!   The recovery of fish stocks to our rivers this year has been most welcome and hopefully the trend will now continue into the future, particularly the spring run. That been said one sunny day does not make a summer. Personally I doubt very much if anything we have done has contributed to the increase of fish this year, I do believe the vastness of the salmon’s complexities is far and away beyond the scope of anything we can do to help, however much we may try, and of course everyone has done so, all in good faith.

As far as I am concerned the quality of sport has been good, and therefore a very satisfactory year for tuition, and angler’s catching their first fish, which is of course is very rewarding; Photo’s illustrate the success of some of my clients this season.

Nicola Herring into her first fish within 5 minutes of starting on Monday morning.

Nicola returning her first one to Todd Hunters on the Upper Oykel. 12 pounds. Great way to start the week.

Apart from the early spring period, up until the end of July conditions were excellent throughout the Highlands and indeed most of Scotland has had a good season, undoubtedly enhanced by the continuous rainfall which was welcomed by all anglers, but many others may not have been so grateful for the relentless amount of precipitation throughout the summer.

James Costain with his first fish from the Shingles on the Upper Oykel. 5 pounds 18th August.

Edward Herring returning his second salmon after taking his first earlier in the day. 8 pounds Caplich on the Upper Oykel 11th July.

As most rivers closed on the 30th of September the catches are showing a great increase on last year, certainly the Kyle of Sutherland rivers have done very well, particularly the lower beats, but not so much on the upper beats, which seems to be a phenomenon on a number of rivers, for whatever reason it may be! However the really good news is that rivers are well stocked with Salmon/Grilse and Sea-Trout; numerous fish of over 20 pounds have been taken on the Highland rivers, not to mention the larger rivers down country.

Unfortunately by mid September the rivers up north got down to the lowest level of the season, which was shown clearly by the relatively small numbers of fish taken, and indeed as I write, it is only now that the weather is beginning to break and as can be seen from the SEPA recording sites, water levels have increased quite substantially. Undoubtedly spawning will soon be under way and the small tributaries should now be well replenished with water so as to get fish to the extremities of the catchments which is all part of the important habitat, as well as the main system.

Mrs Anne Van den Berg playing a cracking sea-liced 16 pounder with her 11-6″ Oykel in the Narrows – Lower Oykel. 20th June.

The Oykel 11″-6″ has been a great success and the most popular of the Oykel range.  Delivery at least 6 weeks from order date, so you should order now for next year

The Wild Fisheries Review

The Environment Minister, Aileen Macleod, has intimated that fishery districts are to be categorised according to their salmon’s conservation status and a charging scheme will no longer be pursued.

The killing of salmon will be allowed where the species is in good conservation status, but would be restricted in areas of moderate conservation status and limited to catch and release only, where the conservation status is poor. Well, quite good news I would say, for those rivers that have practised a conservation policy, but what about those that have not? Surely some rivers whatever their category could have sustainable numbers of fish in them!

I must say the thought of having to pay for a tag to attach to your own fish that has cost a considerable amount of money in the first place to catch, has come as a welcome bit of news to me and I would imagine to many anglers who help enormously to support our industry. It will be interesting to see how third category rivers manage with mandatory C&L.

In the Tweed news I have just seen a most interesting and informative presentation by Dr Ronald Campbell (Biologist) albeit, his findings are relevant to the Tweed, but I see no reason why they should not be relevant to other rivers, and very much substantiate my own current and former beliefs on the validity of catch and release as a conservation tool. Well worth a look if you have not already done so.

End of May 2015

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Peter Lyster releases another one to the Juction pool on the Lower Oykel.

 

This is a good release; the fish has not been netted, nor touched by human hands. Then swims away at speed and no need for help to survive. This is most important for the fish if they are to enjoy life after been caught by an angler.

Its seems to me like a long time since the spring fishing began back in January/February, possibly because of the poor catches recorded earlier, this always seems to make the season drag particularly when conditions were excellent like this year. Now we are into June and still getting spring like conditions up North, with fresh snow recorded on the Monroe’s just recently.  And fresh fish are still coming in.

Peter Macdonald forming a good D loop on his second day. Langwell pool on the Lower Oykel in March 2015.

Alec Pickering on his first morning. High water on the Madman pool – Lower Brora. May 2015.

Alec Pickering fishing Greenyard Run on the Carron, Kyle of Sutherland.

Alec took his first fish on the Morail pool of the Braelangwell beat on the Carron.

 

How is it , I have often wondered, that The clever Atlantic Salmon can arrange to come in abundance and make themselves available to suit the correct weather conditions , just as though they have some way of programming themselves from birth so as they mature and get there run timing to coincide with the appropriate weather. I have often made the comment, that, salmon are better” barometers than barometers”.

 

Capt David Bailey with a 9 pounder from Brae Burn,Lower Oykel.

Capt Bailey playing another fish inDuck Pond.

 

Undoubtedly throughout Scotland May was the month that saved the reputation for spring salmon; in the highlands some rivers have had the best runs for several years, not only in abundance but the average weight must be significantly better when many fish in excess of 20 pounds will have been recorded; I believe the river Conon produced one of 30 pounds which is very commendable by any standard.

To my mind it is of some comfort that the Springer’s, albeit late in arriving, may have found a niche in the new climate change that suits them, and hopefully will enable them in future years to return to their former run timing earlier in the season.

Week Ending March the 14th – 2015

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Springer

50 Years ago.

On the 19th of February 1965, the late Peter Campbell took the first fish of the season from Langwell pool; in those days Langwell pool would account for approximately twice as many fish as any other pool throughout the season. It wasn’t just a better pool, it was a lot better, and off course everyone wanted to go there in preference to any other pool. With only two rods to a beat it meant that the Brae and Whirl pool had to do with a token cast or two after lunch, then it was back to Langwell until the end of play.

On the 5th of October 1978 soon after the SEPA gauge was installed, the Oykel experienced the biggest flood recorded in living memory, some 4.144 M on the SEPA gauge. To my mind Langwell pool never did fish as well again and so it would appear that the pool changed in some way, albeit not noticeably to the human eye, but I do believe the fish thought different! And have done so ever since. The other noticeable habit that salmon have from year to year is that, at the beginning of a season I used to see a pattern forming of the popular taking lies in some of the pools, and throughout the season you could rely on those lies to produce more frequently than others; but the next season might not be the same! One of the many mysteries that makes the Atlantic Salmon so precious.

 

The good news is that the Kyle of Sutherland Rivers are now producing fish, albeit in small numbers. Langwell pool on the Oykel produced an 18 pounder. Further north the Helmsdale seems to be doing somewhat better than most, which is not unusual. Let’s hope this is the start of a really good spring fishing which is long overdue.

Unfortunately for the Spate Rivers, high pressure has set in, and looks as though it will be in control for the coming week at least.   That been said I have had great sport backing up in the spring time with an east wind!!!!!!!!

Contact Munro & Noble for Details.

For Sale. Rose Cottage – Rosehall.

For Details contact – Peter Curtis (peterc@munronoble.com)

Munro & Noble

26 Church Street

Inverness

IV1 1HX

T: 01463 221727  

F: 01463 225165  

www.munronoble.com

Month Ending January 2015

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Rod bent for the first time in 2015, but I have to say it was a kelt when fishing the Carron on January the 13th.

 

Loch Tay Christmas 2014

Tay at Kenmore, Christmas 2014

 

 

Well down the Helmsdale and Andy Sutherland for producing the first highland fish for 2015, and what a cracker it was, all of 18Lbs and looks spanking fresh from the photos I’ve seen; As far as I know, no other river has produced a fish in January, I would happily be corrected on that but I certainly have not heard of any other. I think the Kyle of Sutherland Rivers were blank. Mike and I fished the Carron on the second day of the season, but only a few kelts in the snow flurry’s made for a pleasant day. The following day we fished the Oykel but no results, but a lovely sunny day after a frosty start in the morning.

My Carron Kelt!

The bigger rivers down country are coming into play now albeit a bit slowly, but I see on “Fish Scotland” that the Junction/Tweed had 10 on Monday which sounds encouraging.

 

We are experiencing a bit of arctic weather up in the highlands at the moment, nothing serious but a bit more that experienced in recent years; hopefully when the thaw comes fish will arrive along with the Oyster catchers sometime this month.

 

The Tail of the Whirlpool on Lower Oykel. January 2015.

One of my favourite charities is “Canine Partners” Irene has been busy making cushions with a view to raising some money for such a good cause; We do not have many, so to secure your purchase on a first come first serve basis, send an email to reserve yours  now. Then I will ask you to send a cheque for £19.90. 75% of which Canine Partners will receive;  + P&P. Please do not send money at this stage.

 

The Salmon Cushions are all different.

The Salmon Cotton Cushion. 13″x 17″

Thank you for supporting such a worthy cause.

 

I am free for tuition to any one requiring help on the week commencing Monday the 30th of March; not only that I am in the unique and rare position of having been offered a 3 rod beat on the Lower Oykel; This is an opportunity that has been sought after for years by many people, so now is your chance.

Just email or give me a call for a chance in a lifetime to fish a river of worldwide fame.

 

Kim Sawyer with an Oykel Springer.

 

01549870948

07710754896

groykel@btinternet.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2015

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Another year has come and gone and soon the opening of the 2015 season will be upon us.

There is little doubt we are all hoping for the Atlantic salmon to be more prolific in the coming years and it would be of some comfort to know what the future holds, but, there is only one way for us to find out, and that is to wait and see. I could pontificate at length as to what may happen, but I believe nobody actually knows what drives this extremely complex fish to do what they do. That is why I am not particularly au fait with the scientific world that prefer to close hatcheries and preach to anglers that catch and release is the way forward. (As far as I am concerned there is no evidence that I have seen, to suggest that this is really good advice.) For that reason I thought it might be of more interest for beginners, to include something I have written on the mechanics of fly casting.

First of all I would like to explain a bit about myself and my back ground. I am the third generation to have worked on the River Oykel in Northen Scotland, so it was almost inevitable that I would end up involved with Salmon, one way or another.

From the day I left school Salmon fishing and Salmon have been my passion that is why I opted to become a Salmon Guide/Ghillie for the past 50 years or so. 50 years of practical experience largely on the river Oykel is where I have served my time. I am not a qualified APGAI instructor, nor am I a world champion long distance caster; I simply have 50 years of practical experience on a Salmon River which has given me a comprehensive knowledge of Guiding, Angling Tuition, Hatchery work, Juvenile survey work, river habitat surveying, river engineering and river management. Over the years I have ghillied for and given angling tuition to people of many walks in life, like High Court Judges, Airline pilots, The medical profession, Lawyers, Actors, Farmers, Joiners, Electricians, Plumbers and Metal processors. My profession has taken me all over the UK, the USA and Canada on fishing and shooting exploits with some of my best friends which I have found during my career on the Oykel. Enough about me, let’s get to the important issues.

Salmon fly fishing is a most enjoyable sport. Inevitably luck often contributes a considerable amount to the success or otherwise of a day’s fishing. However certain skills are also very important factors for beginners. So, what are some of those skills?

First and foremost we must have the ability to cast a fly with competence and consistency.

There are two types of casting techniques that we use; Over Head and the Spey casting technique.   Both those types of cast have a number of different variations, and indeed from country to country they differ slightly, and we all have our own style which again creates a slight variation, but, all can be very effective provided the basic rules are applied. Interestingly, not only do we have our own style, but when tutoring others it is noticeable that one’s impression is sometimes passed on to the person that is given tuition.

In overhead casting a loop of line is unrolled back and forward over the rod tip, the line unrolls out fully in the air behind the angler where it must be kept high enough so as not to come in contact with the bank or trees or any other obstacle which lies behind the angler. It is sometimes referred to as overhand casting in Scandinavian countries.

Spey casting however uses a loop of line placed under the rod tip rather than over the rod and relies on water resistance from the end of the line making contact with the water allowing the angler to load the rod against that resistance. I think it is a really good idea to imagine that the water is as sticky as glue, and therefore the longer you leave your line on it the more difficult it is going to be to get your line of it!

Overhead casting is to my mind much the most important and I am now going to leave Spey casting for another day.

I believe overhead casting is the best cast for understanding how the rod works, particularly the rod tip, how it flexes, how the rod loads and unloads, and for learning speed and the techniques of good loop control used in all salmon fly-casting. Rod loading is created not only by the movement of both hands in opposite directions (pushing and pulling) but also by changing the position of the rod through a casting stroke. The position change made by arm movement, upper body rotation and weight shift from one foot to another.

Good overhead casting is an absolutely essential and invaluable asset. Overhead casting technique should never be avoided because of Spey casting. That is why I prefer to start beginners on over head rather than Spey casting.

What is important about overhead casting is exactly how the rod loads and unloads, or is loaded and unloaded by the angler. The angle the rod is positioned at when the back cast is completed is very important, as is fluent continuous motion for line height behind the angler. The top hand acts as a pivot and gives stroke length and steering to the correct elevation, the bottom hand applies the power generating maximum leverage by keeping the top hand as the axis or pivot. A slow to fast movement in a fluent continuous motion is a good description of how the rod may be loaded, for a back cast, by moving the rod backwards to speed up the line before stopping abruptly at approximately ten past twelve, then pause to allow the line unroll, never allow the rod to drop down behind you, however when paused you may allow your rod to drift slightly backwards and by raising your hands at the same time, you will then be in a position to gain extra momentum and loading opportunity for your forward cast. (Remember, your line trajectory behind you has already been determined when you made the abrupt stop) Then speed up the line to a forward stop for your forward cast, again with a fluent continuous motion.

It is imperative not to bring your rod too far back behind; it is also a very common fault which must be corrected right from the start. If anglers are allowed to continue to bring the rod too far back it can easily be adopted as a bad habit for the remainder of their fishing career. So you must stop your back cast abruptly at approximately ten past twelve, otherwise you are going to be one of those who will continually loose flies or break them on the rocks behind you and never will achieve any great distance with a minimum of effort which is all that is required to obtain adequate distance for most angling occasions.

Now, overhead casters often become relatively competent in a short space of time if the weather is fine and not too much wind in any direction,” that’s fine”, but one day they will go to the river and low and behold the wind is blowing half a gale upstream which is something they never have experienced before, and because their timing and tightness of line loop is not adequate for the circumstances they are now faced with, through no fault of their own their casting ability “be warned” has all but disappeared; a great disappointment to many anglers who thought they were doing so well, but now, the line simply goes forward for the first part and then turns at a right angle upstream, “very frustrating after a while if you cannot stop it doing this” of course the obvious answer to most of us is more power, but this is not the correct answer.

When over head casting into an upstream wind, a slightly different technique is required; what you do is adjust the width/depth of the line loop so as to produce a narrow entry on your forward cast, in other words, stop your back cast earlier at say, five past twelve instead of ten past, and on your forward cast stop it sooner as well, and then follow through until your rod tip almost touches the water in front of you, thus not allowing the wind to blow your line upstream; this combination will give you a tighter loop on your forward cast and so penetrate the wind better than any other cast I know. It does take quite a lot of practice, but well worth the effort to see a very rewarding result. “I have caught and seen countless numbers of fish taken in almost gale force upstream wind” in fact in low water conditions I consider this to be as good as having an extra foot of water on the gauge.

I do not find it easy to explain the mechanics of casting, it is much easier on the river bank with a rod in ones hand, however, I do hope this may be of some help to beginners, and if you think I could be of any further help to you, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous New Year, and thank you ever so much to all that supported OSFT in the past year, and I look forward very much to seeing you all in 2015.

Tight Lines

George.