Salmon

Some Analysis – No Pressure There Then …….

Posted by Craig Gannon on November 24, 2011
General Musings, Salmon / Comments Off on Some Analysis – No Pressure There Then …….

So here’s the thing……

Everybody who should know better keeps making excuses for not catching salmon, and believe me those excuses can vary so much that some of them are almost unbelievable (but I believe that any excuse is valid – after all – I’ve used a few myself in my time). However, one that always seems to pop up is that of Air Pressure. – Low Pressure = No Taking Fish, whereas High Pressure = Fishing Bananza!

I have some very good friends, I’m quite blessed in that way, and there’s a couple of them that are quite fixed in the belief that this rings true. If you’ve ever been out with them you could even hazard a guess that when the pressure is low they may even be inclined to stay in the hotel bar and not bother trying to catch a fish at all.

This is all about Salmon again – and specifically (as seen on my last post) the recent trip to Traquair. You see its been bothering me – and I’ve been wondering if there’s any truth to it at all. Well, my conclusion is NOT (well probably not).

Since we returned I have been studiously capturing the River Level (at 5:30 that morning), the Air Pressure (at 12 Lunchtime that day), and (of course) the number of fish caught. Not completely scientific you will agree – but not that bad as an indicator. All of the data was captured at Traquair, with air pressure and water height at Peebles.

Here are 2 charts:

Air Pressure against Fish Caught:

Tweed - Air Pressure vs Fish

Air Pressure vs Fish Caught - Traquair

 

And Water Height against Fish Caught

Tweed - Water Height vs Fish

The Red Background shows the number of fish caught on each day, superimposed with the trend for the Air Pressure and the Water Height. I’m no statistician, and this isn’t too scientific, but I reckon that you should ignore values and look at trends instead.

To me this shows a trend that when the water is high, more fish are caught (height is in inches above summer levels), whereas the AIr Pressure doesn’t seem to trend against the fish caught at all.

This is a snapshot – and I would love to follow it up with FishPal next year (in fact I may contact them about it). – But I reckon that it throws stones at the Air Pressure idea. Of course there are lots of other things that make up the general fishing conditions, not least the ability of the anglers, but food for thought!

 

Tweed Reports and some analysis (to follow)

Posted by Craig Gannon on November 24, 2011
General Musings, Salmon / Comments Off on Tweed Reports and some analysis (to follow)

Its been nearly 4 weeks since our less than useful attempts to catch a salmon from the Tweed at Traquair, and although we were all disappointed we all knew that there were literally hundreds of fish in the river, and many of them fresh so far up too. So what was the problem?

Well I’ve been doing some trawling around and looking at the reports and monitoring a number of Tweed Blogs, and (not making any excuses) it would appear that the whole river has been suffering. There are countless reports of lots of fish and no takes, and the general feedback seems to be that the river is stuffed with fish, some of which however are diseased, and most of which are not taking a fly.

So why is this?

We fishermen always like an excuse, and there are many being put forwards by disappointed anglers (strangely not a single one has suggested that they were crap fishermen!), but this time there are many reports from grilles and from regulars that live by the river.
The general consensus seems to be that the fish were in the river too early, levels have been low, and water temperatures high. As a result they are all confused??!!??
Now I’m confused. I can understand the water level issues, but not temperature. The fish have plenty of oxygen and therefore shouldn’t care a jot about the temperature of the water should they? Its not at bath-levels – and believe me its still bloody cold if you are stood in it for a few hours, so in the absence of any hard evidence I would suggest that this is nonsense.

So what is the reason for generally poor returns all down the river this back-end of the season? I simply don’t know. Is it something thats happening at sea? Is it a general lack of water (that’s my favoured reason), or are fishermen getting worse? (Possible, but not me, and probably not you either). Strangely the trout fishing on the rivers has been generally hit and miss as well this season (and thats been another general report), so it may well be that its been an overall bad year. To me we need more rain.

So, on a slightly different tack – a couple of my friends swear blind that its all to do with atmospheric pressure. Well I’ve been taking some stats. have a look at my next post.

Day 3 – The End

Posted by Craig Gannon on October 26, 2011
General Musings, Salmon / Comments Off on Day 3 – The End

The last 2 days were perfect.

Nothing was caught.

The end of the Tweed Blog.

Fish, Fish Everywhere but not …….

Posted by Craig Gannon on October 25, 2011
General Musings, Salmon / Comments Off on Fish, Fish Everywhere but not …….

And so the intrepid gang set out to fill our bags with dozens of slippery silver salmon. Of course before that we had to wait for the gillie to turn up and allocate the beats, so it’s was about 9:30 when I cast my first line of the day. Others probably didn’t start fishing until about 10 – but that’s their choice and good luck to them. Given that they finished at 12 for lunch, started again at 1 and packed up at 4 ….. work that out for yourselves. As for us – we fished our socks off.

Don’t be led into a false sense of security there, our socks were indeed coming off as we changed fly, depth, speed of retrieve, everything possibly that could be changed in order to catch the fish that were obviously there as they were splashing all around us. The river was in perfect nick, running clear, 1ft 8 over summer heights (spot on) we were obviously professional anglers – at least we looked like were – kitted out in the latest gear, spey-casting like gooduns, mending the line, not mending the line, etc etc. out of 45 total hours fishing yesterday (between 9 anglers), the grand total of 1 salmon was caught. Well done David Kirby-Walsh! David also lost another one at the net whilst the gillie was strolling down the bank, so top rod to David, Bottom rod to the gillie for costing him a fish, and Bottom rods for the rest of us for catching bugger all.

To be fair some of us had good tugs from fish, I had one on for 3 seconds, but we just couldn’t catch.

Today the forecast is for a deluge of rain, so far (it’s 6am) it doesn’t sound like it outside, so we may be very lucky. We will have to see for it pans out.

Oh – I almost forgot. Sharing the beat with us are 2 Swiss anglers. They also look the part, they also caught nothing. They also are quite unfriendly. Typical Swiss I suppose!

If it pours down today it may mean the end of the trip and an early drive home!

Salmon on The Tweed – waiting …..

Posted by Craig Gannon on October 24, 2011
General Musings, Salmon / Comments Off on Salmon on The Tweed – waiting …..

It seems almost normal to be lying in a strange bed at 5 am waiting for the day to start properly on a days fishing somewhere new. This is the start of the annual pilgrimage to the mighty Tweed in Scotland where we brave all in pursuit if that elusive bar of silver/red/black called the salmon.

After an uneventful drive up in some fair weather we arrived at the Park Hotel in Peebles and met the rest of the party in the hotel bar. As usual the Sunday evening was a jolly affair, old friends being reacquainted, the last 12 months to be caught up on and I am very happy to report that everybody is in very fine fettle. Just to cover off the formalities the niceties of the following day (today) were shared (meet with the gillie at 9) where we be allocated the beats.

That’s my first bugbear with the day. 9am means that in reality the first cast of the day will be at around 9:30. Now call me crazy but it’s light at 7:30 and dark at 5. Last time that I checked salmon do not wear wrist watches, so personally I would prefer to be casting to them as soon as I can – I can then have only myself to blame if I choose not to fish, not a gillie who can’t be bothered to get out of bed. Call me harsh if you like, but this is serious stuff, we can jolly and jape when it’s dark back at the hotel but until then this is fishing.

Ah well that’s out of the system. As I said, it’s 5 am and I’m wide awake. Sleep doesn’t come that easily these days, and to be in bed at 10:15 was to me almost alien. Given that I’ve been awake since around 3:30 and watched the very moving film Senna on the iPad, I should be thankful that I’ve had nearly 5 hours sleep.

This may seem a little rambly and disjointed but I suppose that’s tiredness for you. However I am ready for day 1 of 3.

As we arrived yesterday evening we took a few minutes to have a look at the river. It was running high but clear and we saw salmon moving both in and out of the water. Of course the proof shall be in today’s pudding. I fear that today will be the best day to catch as there the forecast of heavy rain moving in from early Tuesday morning and I fear that we may be washed off the river for at least a day and possibly 2. However fingers crossed that the professionals of the Met Office have again got it wrong.

Let’s see what today brings. Fish or not I shall write this evening on my return.

The End but also The Beginning

Posted by Craig Gannon on September 28, 2011
General Musings, Salmon, Trout / Comments Off on The End but also The Beginning

Well there’s only 2 days left until the end of the trout season in our local rivers, and it gives me a chance to reflect on what has been another strange angling year.

Just to prove that fly fishing is not too easy, all of the flies that caught really well last year were average this year (the black-arsed fly may as well have stayed in the box) whilst some old classics (such as the Greenwells Glory) caught steadily all year! It’s just been a really, really strange season, the only thing that’s been constant is that the weather has been variable to crap, and that there’s been no consistency to how the river has fished.

Every year I look back and think ‘what could I have done differently‘ and ‘what should I have remembered‘.

I should have remembered that the old maxim of ‘if the fish are taking then they’ll take anything‘ is (to be frank) complete bollocks. There was a particular time towards the latter end of the summer when John and I threw the contents of the box at a great number of rising fish – to absolutely no avail (if I recollect I caught one of them by giving a fly a mighty twitch as it went over the fish’s snout), whereas another time I caught a bagful on a newly tied concoction whilst John couldn’t get a sniff. So, whoever penned that phrase – get back in your box!

Another point of reference has been presentation. Small fish are fairly easy to snag if you have the right fly on, but the wary old grand-pappy won’t touch anything out of the ordinary. Line drag – forget it! Leader visible on the surface – forget it! Fly landing with a splash – go home now! So I have made a point this season of trying to present the fly in as favourable a way as possible. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s made an improvement on otherwise blank days.

Movement. Not me – the fly. How many times this season have I induced a take by twitching the fly as it’s moved over the danger area? A hell of a lot, that’s how many. In fact I would say that nearly 50% of my fish this season have been as a result of imparting some movement into the fly (probably an exaggeration, but it seems that way). Whether the fly has been dry or under water, the aggressive nature of the trout has been proven time and time again.

Size isn’t everything, but it sure makes a huge difference. The best Grayling that I have caught so far came this season to a size 18 GRHE tin-head nymph, in some very fast and turbulent water. Also, on the other hand, 2 weeks ago I caught a nice trout on a size 18 dry fly, and extricated from it’s scissors a size 12 Klinkhammer which looked the size of a small submarine. As the season has progressed though, it has generally been the case that the large flies have been useless and the smaller flies have worked. I suppose that’s only to be expected as the trout have become more fly-savvy.

What else?
Variety is the spice of life. This season I have fished spots that I have never fished before, and it’s been a very worthwhile experience (no haven’t been down to the Dart or the Test) – I have fished runs and swims that I’ve previously ignored, usually to some quite good results. Also the regularly fished areas have been more ignored and left alone. Ok – I have travelled a little further, climbed about a little more, but generally had a far better time of it.

Patience really is a virtue. My pal John usually after a few hours has a good rest and gets his head down for a half hour. Whereas me – I stick at it and ring the changes, and sometimes it’s had some quite satisfying results. I reckon that I’m probably up on John with fish per trip, and that’s not that I’m a better fisherman (John will do me on the dry fly every time) but that I stick at it and change flies and tactics more often.

What’s been my most memorable moments this season (river only)?

Undoubtedly the best bit of fishing I’ve done was a moment in the middle of July (in fact I think that I wrote about it here). One chance at a nice trout, a difficult cast with a large dry mayfly, landed perfectly, sipped down like it was the tastiest mayfly on the river, and a fine trout on the bank.

Also (and this has happened a few times) my eyes adjusting to the conditions so well that I have seen the trout rise through the water to have a look at the fly before taking it as naturally as you like (also a few that have had a look and thought ‘nah – I don’t like that flavour‘).

Worst moment? Easy – and eyes again! Not too long ago when John and I went down the river in the evening. The light was poor and (as I seem to be getting worse) I couldn’t see the fly, the fish, or in some cases it seemed even the river. This particular evening was a bit of a watershed for me, as for the first time I actually wondered how long I would be able to fish for before I become as blind as a bat!

All in all, once again it’s been an enjoyable and different season. Once again I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my fishing (most of the time), enjoyed John’s company (all of the time) and been as competitive as the next man (again all of the time). I see each fishing trip as a challenge, not against John, but against the conditions and the fish. More often than not the fish have risen to the challenge whereas I have not – there has been the odd occasion where I have won.

And so the trout season is coming to an end. The nights have drawn in (19:14 and dark outside), the days have become colder (although a balmy 24 today – yes 24 – at the end of September!!) and I have been unable to wet a line for weeks.

But…….
The Grayling season is kicking in (I have made myself a personal challenge to get into some more Grayling this winter) and (he says with mounting excitement) it’s nearly SALMON TIME! Yes folks, my annual trip to the Tweed is only a couple of weeks off (in fact I nearly sneaked in an extra couple of days next week, before I realised she-who-must-be-obeyed would probably do her nut), so I will have to make do with my fantastic 3 days and 4 nights of salmon fishing fun at the end of October.

And so it has started, the anticipation of the winter fishing, the lure of the salmon in Scotland, and the planning and booking of next year’s trips.

I just love this sport, in fact strike sport, I just love fishing. Until next time…..

Sad ……. But True

Posted by Craig Gannon on October 02, 2010
General Musings, Salmon / Comments Off on Sad ……. But True

It’s gone!
The trout season on the local rivers has ended. All that’s left now until the Spring are some cold but enjoyable trips out chasing the Grayling. I shall probably try to get out a couple of times over the coming months, but as much as I like the Grayling my thoughts are now changing to other fishy matters.

Salmon. Once you’ve been bitten you cannot escape the call to the grey waters holding the incredible wild silver shadow. It’s so hard to describe but there’s really nothing to match it for fishing, even if (like me) you can only manage a couple of weeks a year it’s the highlight of the season and I would not miss it for the world.

I have been lucky enough to fish for huge Brown Trout in Russia, big Bonefish in the Bahamas, massive prehistoric Tarpon In Belize, but nothing compares to the salmon. I can’t put my finger on why it’s so special, is it because this wild fish travels hundreds of miles to the spawning redds, is it because it doesn’t feed in the rivers so to catch one is a feat of complete guile, is it because when you fish the fly you have no idea what’s at the other end of the line, or is it because no river fish fights as strongly and fiercely like it.

Its probably all of those things, but it’s also much more. It’s the glorious countryside, the companionship of my fellow salmon fisher-folk, the apr├Ęs-fish evenings sharing a wee dram, a fine meal, a laugh and the hope and expectation of the following day on the river.

Once again I’m counting down the days to my annual pilgrimage to the mighty Tweed in Scotland. Even now I can picture the scene and the expectation is almost tangible. I simply cannot wait.

So, it’s sad that the trout season has ended but it’s also true that the Salmon is beckoning me North once again. I can’t wait!

The surprise last day

Posted by Craig Gannon on July 23, 2010
General Musings, Salmon / Comments Off on The surprise last day

Friday came and it turned out to be the last day. Paul had to leave early afternoon and he was soon followed by David leaving me all by my lonesome. Tomorrow is supposed to be the High Beats but as the water is so low, as I’m left on my lonesome and as I don’t want to wreck the car driving into the middle of nowhere I shall depart for sunny Skipton early tomorrow morning.

Today has been the brightest and warmest day of them all, which is amazing following Wednesday when the heavens opened. The river has risen 4 feet and then in 2 days dropped 5 leaving it vey low but very fishable.

This morning I had a plan for 5 fish each before the end of the day as I suspected that it would fish well. As reported earlier I was on the river for 6 am and (I am very pleased to say) did (by the end of the day) manage my 5, snagging the last 3lb grilse from the ‘saddle’ pool at 8pm before the invasion of the deadly Scottish midgies. All in all a good day, 4 grilse in total varying between 2 and 4 pound, with a good 6 pound salmon, making 8 fish in total for the week – not great but not bad. David managed 1 salmon and Paul didn’t get a fish.

Getting up early seems to pay off here as this morning I had my first fish at 7:15, second at 7:30 and third at 7:45, also by 8 I had another 3 takes but failed to hook them.

So – here I am with a glass of red wine completing the Findhorn blog. Tomorrow morning I will have a shower and try to be on the road by 6, with a vague hope to be home by 12.

Would I return to the Findhorn? To be honest I’m not sure. It’s been a strange week and it hasn’t exactly fished well but it has potential. What hasn’t really turned me on is that the majority of the fish are grilse with very few real salmon and no chance of hitting a big fish. The midges are the worst thing in the world and trash any enjoyment when they are out, whilst breeze, rain and cold are blessed as effectively they put the midges down. To say there’s almost 6 miles of river there are few spots with real fish potential, and the higher beats really need to be more accessible with some of the tracks downright dangerous. However, there are fish in the river, the lodge is superb and the countryside is spectacular. The company was excellent and therefore it should be spot on. But something still nags that its not right. I shall have to sleep on it though as regards next year.

9 o’clock and its time to put this down and tuck into the wine. From the Findhorn it’s goodnight and goodbye.

Friday – Great Expectations and Recovery

Posted by Craig Gannon on July 23, 2010
General Musings, Salmon, Trout / Comments Off on Friday – Great Expectations and Recovery

It’s 5:41 on Friday morning and there’s only today and tomorrow left before I head back to Skipton. The fishing here on the Findhorn is divided up into 3 large beats each about 2 miles long. They have strange names which are probably meaningful to the local history and geography but we call them Upper, Middle and Lower. Allegedly the lower beat fishes best at low water, and its the lower beat that we are due to fish today. Normally I would be already out fishing just outside the lodge which is next to the bridge pool at the Middle beat, but we aren’t allowed as its not our beat today, therefore I have a little lie in which enables me to write this.

Its a strange thing but confidence breeds success, and I was very confident yesterday morning and the end result was 2 salmon banked, 1 lost and numerous wild Brown Trout. Today however I don’t have any warm glowing feeling about it but we shall have to wait and see. Saturday is the last day and is the Upper beat. If today brings few or no fish I may not be completely inclined to even fish the last day, but as I said we shall have to wait and see.

It’s been some time since I’ve been salmon fishing with my usual fishing buddy Johnny Beerling, and it will be some time again yet as JB has been rather laid up this week, in fact he’s currently laid up in Leeds General Infirmary having just been under the surgeons knife having no less that a Quadruple Heart Bypass. Now JB never does anything by half measures and I suppose that I’m surprised that he has not gone for the complete heart transplant, but he must be currently very uncomfortable and feeling sorry for himself. Although this place has no mobile phone signal I drove out on Wednesday until I could get one and rang Sue, Johns wife. Although he’s in Intensive Care he’s fine and they normally would be looking to send him home a week after the Op. I wouldn’t like to be Sue then as I bet that he will be as frustrated as hell until he can get around and do the things that he wants to do again. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got a skiing trip pencilled in for later this year, and undoubtedly he will be planning a lecture cruise. When I get back to civilisation I will be trying to get over to LGI but may not make it until he’s home. The thought’s there though. So get well soon JB and perhaps next year you will be launching the salmon rod again.

6:00 now. Probably time to get up. An early breakfast and then perhaps away. We shall see. No less than 6 fish today is a failure.

Findhorn Day 4 – salmon at last

Posted by Craig Gannon on July 22, 2010
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We reckoned that the fish may make an appearance after yesterdays rain, and we were nearly right. The fact is that after about 11 am not a fish showed it’s face, but before then we had a bit ofq a bumper session.

I was on the river at 5:30 am, and by 7 (breakfast) had caught a small salmon of about 2 pounds. After breakfast, the same stretch brought me a fine 8 pound fish, 4 trout and the loss of another good salmon as it hit the fly but didn’t take it properly. I reckon that I could have had more but instead put Paul on the beat as he hasn’t yet had a fish. Meanwhile below the bridge David managed to hook and lose a big fish, and he never had another bite all day.

It’s 11:20 pm as I write this and I am very tired having fished constantly all day. I reckon if you are here to fish then fish – otherwise don’t pretend. Thankfully David and Rob are also here to fish so I am at last with like minded people.

Tomorrow is the penultimate day, fishing the lower beat, – hopefully the fish will be more obliging.