Having completed my early season introductory courses over the past weekend I'm already looking forward to the improvers course in April. Between now and then I'll be in Germany and Austria teaching and fishing before coming back to an extremely busy schedule including our week with our Norwegian students from the school in Grong.
The early part of the season has been, well, more than encouraging here on the Spey, with fish being caught throughout the entire length of the system. From Abernethy to Gordon Castle, all beats are reporting fish being caught and I have to say, in greater quantity than this time last year, something that bodes well for those people visiting the river, particularly during the spring months.
With catch and release it takes the presence of fewer fish to provide anglers with action and last years decent spring run has also provided visiting anglers with more encounters with kelts, but all in all anglers have done well during this early period with some memorable fish.
Tam Brown with a nice fish from Tulchan A. This beat has long since been known as a really good early beat, fishing well in higher water it often produces the goods early on. My friend Glyn Phillips landed a nice fish of around 18lbs in the Glead Pool on Saturday.
This is the heaviest fish of the season so far. Falling to the rod of Jan Rigden on the Sourden pool on Delfur, this 25lb of Spey Splendour was the icing on the cake for a great period of fishing for Jan. The best start he he ever had on the river.
Another fish for Craig Wyness on the lovely Macallan beat. Not many people can boast 100% record on any beat after half a dozen visits but Craig kept his record intact with this wee cracker from the Greenbank pool. Ghillie, Robert Mitchell tells me its got a lot to do with the fact they toast the river with a decent dram each morning!
Robbie Stronach, ghillie at Rothes, about to return another springer caught on the beat. As with most places, Rothes has had a good start to the year, a cracking beat and somewhere everyone interested in spring fishing should try and visit at least once.
Spey regular and very good angler, Graham Ritchie with a beautiful fish from Delfur. Graham is a regular on both Rothes and Delfur at this time of the year and is the type of guy Ghillies love having on their beat. He's a "fish catcher". A real sportsman, very modest and helpful with other anglers at the same time. As he always is, Graham will be up there with the rivers top rods right now.
Justin Wiseman with his first Spey salmon. The lovely 8 pounder was caught on the lower Pitchroy beat [My old one], and one of the three Knockando beats. This fish came from Aylmers Cast, a great pool accessed from the seldom fished left side of the beat, which in the spring is every bit as good as the right.
A cracking 15 pounder from Phones, the middle of the Knockando beats. Ghillie, Ewan Clive had this fine specimen on the wonderful Slioch pool. Many people who know the river will know of the virtues of this place.
And last, but certainly not least is Veronica Sinclair with her fantastic brace of Spey Stunners from her weeks fishing with husband Allan on the lovely Delagyle beat in early March. Firstly it was a fantastic fight from a big fish in Pol-Ma-Cree [Pool of my heart], the fish took 20 minutes to land and tipped the scales at 24lbs. a three sea winter stunner! But before the dust settled and husband Allan was finished congratulating her, there was another, this time a nice 12 pounder, again from Pol-Ma-Cree. Veronica was glad to see the kettle on before realised, in fact, the steam was coming from husband Allan's ears! Personally I'd have cut both their heads off in the photo and just left the fish Allan!
Of course this was not what happened at all. Everyone was over the moon with what was a great piece of fishing and end to a fantastic weeks spring fishing on the River Spey.
This wonderful river is owned and run by people with great passion and generally enough money to employ full time ghillies whilst still offering the public fishing on our wonderful river at very competitive prices. The average cost of fishing throughout March will cost an average of around £30 - £50 per day. A cheap day out by any standards. Fishing through April the price rises again, however, to fish those lovely waters, with a ghillie, for little more than the price of a game of golf is truly great value for money.
During times of political divide, some would like a people to think that land and fishery owners are simply takers, english people thinking only of themselves! Let me assure everyone who reads this, here on the spey and on most other salmon rivers I know, this is simply not true. A fabricated story told by those who simply don't know/care or have twisted agendas. What I do know to be true is - without the financial support from those owners, many of the faces above would not be there in the first place. The renting of beats for £30 - £50 per day does not pay for full time employment. Only by having the their beats fully let is employing ghillies/house staff, on a permanent basis become viable and even then most either tick over or lose money.
Never have our rivers been more accessible to all. A great endorsement for a system that works well and long may it last.
More information including the contact details for all Spey Beats can be found here -