“At last, at long last!” These were the words heard most often on our Scottish riverbanks over the last week or so.
YES! Rain has come even if it is a little late. Fish have been able to ascend into the Esks after a long period spent in the coastal waters where perhaps too many of their kind did submit to the nets of Usan and Lunan Bay.
Most of the fish we are see very red, even fish fresh from the tide are carrying colour, and a few days ago a friend reported to me that he had seen fish spawning on the upper reaches of the River Mark, around the area of the Queens Well.
Heading the places to be was undoubtedly the Kinnaird Beats, where some memorable catches of the year happened.
Colin Marsh from St. Helens in Merseyside fishing at the very top of the Willows Pool, fishing a black and gold minnow encountered a fish in very deep water, and after a gargantuan fight, he grassed and returned a massive 29lb cock fish, which had the most enormous jaw I have seen in many years.
A fish of this magnitude must have had great difficulty in its passage into the river, as it was there before the river rose, but it just goes to show that fish will try anything to reach their spawning grounds.
Next, Robert (Ollie) Baxter from Surrey, this time on the bottom beat of the beat in the Haughs Rough, (incidently the venue of my own big salmon of several weeks ago) spinning a black Flying “C”, he hooked and landed and returned another great fish, a cock of over 25 lbs after a real strength-sapping fight.
Well, has my favourite place on earth not done well with another over 20lbs a few days after on the bottom beat.
Ghillie Donald Webster said: “Despite the low water, the conditions on the river changed a few days after the nets came off at the end of August, and it is a real pleasure to see the pools once again holding fish – just as it should be.”
I was on the West Water last week on a higher beat, and although not expecting to see anything in the way of salmon, you will share my delight when I came across what seemed to be a small shoal of what I took to be Grilse at the deep end of a pool.
I was amazed at the silver nature of the fish which would mean that they ran there directly from the sea at Kinnaber, also clearing the Lethnott Loups a journey of around 15 miles or so.
Fish are being taken throughout the Esks, but it is all too late as the season ends next Thursday so be quick – oh yes I forgot to mention the leaves, it must be a record year for leaves as well.
Fishing last week on the North Esk, I was faced with a pool so full of fish I though I was back in my childhood, big fish, red fish, smaller grilse but the wind rose from the North West and within moments the river was a carpet.
Would it not be nice to have a chance to have these fish earlier in the season when conditions are better?
But we all know where the summer fish go, sold to the rich of European capitals and not by anglers.
It is unlawful for you or me the anglers to sell salmon grilse or seatrout. A bit of one law for one and one law for another I say.
Tight Lines, Bill Balfour