As Spring 2018 fast approaches, how will it shape up??
Well, without my crystal ball it’s extremely hard to predict with any degree of certainty……there’s just too many variables.   However, we can look at previous figures and trends to help us understand what MIGHT happen!
If I remove 2017 out the equation for now (will come back to that later), 2012 to 2016 shows an improving trend for MSW salmon, for both weight and numbers. This statistic seems to confirm we are in the early stages of salmon cycle, linked with improved early season fishing and the downturn in the Autumn timeframe.
Of course within these cycles and changes, nothing is ever certain nor 100% predictable and stable, but we can clearly see an positive movement over the last 5 years in the May-July period.
Number of salmon (May-July)
Number of salmon 15lbs and over from Beats 1-4 (May-Oct)
Even if we take a look back further the upward trend for MSW salmon is much more evident across the whole season. Its worth noting the sudden dips throughout this period but also the movement to higher peaks and higher troughs – showing a positive trend.
Total salmon number (May-Oct)
In 2017, the MSW salmon run failed to materialise.  It is fair to say this is a direct result of very poor smolt survival from the 2015 smolt run (e.g. Grilse numbers in 2016 were the lowest since 1998). These things happen!
Like I stated above, salmon runs are far from predictable on a yearly basis and thus, even in an upward trend there can always be isolated years where a combination of factors create a collapse in numbers, hence it is better to focus on trends rather than one-off years.
So, what does this mean for 2018?
Let’s focus on 2 areas which might aid the thinking process –
  1. The Trend – MSW salmon survival at sea seems to be fairing better than the Grilse so there’s no reason to think that this trend won’t continue.
  2. Smolt survival from 2016 – The 2017 Grilse returns, although not spectacular, we’re an massive improvement on the 2016 numbers, leading to the conclusion that the survival rate was much better for these smolts than the 2015 smolt run.   On this basis, the 2018 MSW salmon returns should be much improved also……. and will hopefully improve over the next 2-3 years.
So, if we extrapolate some figures, the graph may look something like this?
Looking further ahead, I would predict 2019 would see a further increase and then 2020 and 2021 could be back too much higher numbers. (peaks)  This of course is my own speculative view but it is based on factual historical data trends.
So, in amongst all the doom and gloom after such a bad season it’s good to reflect on what has gone before and relate it what may happen in the future.  Food for thought anyway!
……And remember it’s always harder to secure good fishing when the peaks are at their highest!!
With that in mind, I still have some excellent fishing available this spring/summer. See below.
Availability :
Weeks Commencing :
May 14th and 21st
June 4th and 11th
July 9th, 16th and 23rd
Some other split weeks available also.
Email me :

A short report this week.

A big well done to Colin Nice and David Lake for catching the only 2 fish of the week from the main beats.
























Also, well done to Andy Burton on his 2 fish from the Spean. He’s still on course to land a salmon every month this season!!

Forecast still looks unsettled so water levels will remain high.


September has been and gone and will go down as one of the worst in recent times.  Although we managed 3 fish this last week, it still only brings our monthly total to 8………which is over 80% down of the 5 yr average.

Understandably so,  the angling pressure on both club and private beats drops significantly when times are as tough as this.  However I must praise Wilson and Spencer parties this last week, who fished hard and proved that perseverance sometimes pays off.  They landed 3 salmon and lost another.   Well done!

We now move into October and the last 2 weeks of our season.   Some significant rain is arriving today (so they say) so this will surely increase water levels and may just start to push fish back down the Spean into the Lochy, where they will eventually spawn.   This can often present an opportunity for the angler as the salmon look to take up new lies.

I am not as confident regarding any new fish arriving now, but in a season like this, you just never know.

A few more of these would be nice!

This could be the shortest fishing report I’ve ever done. Quite simply I have nothing to report catch-wise from the main Lochy beats.   Despite fairly good conditions, no fresh fish entered the river!  However on Saturday evening, ghillie John MacIsaac landed a nice female hen fish of around 24lbs from Mucomir pool…….probably a June fish!

With no fresh fish and very few residents in the main beats the fishing is extremely challenging….and it’s certainly a cause for concern looking ahead!   It is without doubt that the run-timings of salmon are changing,  and this is being seen across the country (not just west coast) with less and less fresh-run fish entering the rivers during the late Summer and Autumn period.   Quite simply, we all may have to adjust our calendars and indeed our expectations to fit around these changes in the years ahead.

I will be discussing this very matter with the RLA in the coming days.

I am not predicting much of an upturn for the remaining weeks so the fishing will tough going!  To have a chance of a fish, I’d fish the fly deep in the main holding pools with mornings and evenings being the optimum times…..conditions allowing!

Unfortunately I have very little to report on this past week.

The stock levels in the river remain low,  but we are still seeing odd fresh fish running.   The conditions continue to be challenging with the continual rain and high water – which has persisted since June.  I believe the official stats show that the West of Scotland has been the wettest area in all Europe this summer.  (I don’t disagree!)

On the smaller spate rivers this can often be seen as a good thing, allowing timely migration of salmon upriver. However, as we know, the salmon are just not present in any numbers so waters levels actually become irrelevant!  The Lochy is not a typical spate river and so,  wet summers such as this,  actually have a negative impact on the catches as the salmon can run quickly through the main beats and up to the main tributaries – Spean and Roy….without stopping!  (particularly when salmon are not in abundance)

This is reflected in the catches as the Spean (with very light rod pressure and much of it unfished) has produced almost half of the total catch on the Lochy thus far.

As for last weeks catches, the main Lochy beats produced only 3 grilse (1 fresh).

With further wet weather forecast I can only predict that the fishing will remain challenging unless we were to see an upturn in fresh fish entering the river.


Water Heights – 2ft-4ft

Water temps – 55-57 Deg F

Overhead Conditions – Cloud & Rain and Rain & Clouds


I don’t ever remember a season and summer like this one.   I not sure what the actual rainfall stats will say, but I’m sure it must be close to record levels.   Weather front after weather front… just keeps raining!   River levels have not dropped below 1ft for 8 weeks – this is simply not normal……and certainly not ideal from a fishing perspective.

When salmon numbers are low (which they presently are) the last thing you need is too much water. The fish don’t have a chance to build in the main stem Lochy beats and just run through…..and so this dynamic continues until either the river levels fall or the salmon population starts to backfill downstream.    Unfortunately neither of these seem likely at the moment.  There has been a distinct lack of fresh run fish over the last 2 weeks.

As for catches,  our skilled anglers still managed to land a few.  Malcolm Newbould’s party had 6 a week past and last week produced 5 on the main beats.  The club beats picked away also with a few landed in Mucomir pool and further up the Spean.



Next week’s weather looks  similar to previous so I guess river levels may hold up.  It would be somewhat re-assuring to see some fresh fish arriving.


Water Levels – 1ft2-2ft

Water temperature – 55F

Weather Conditions – overcast, rain and occasional sun

After the upturn in Grilse numbers at the start of August I did have high hopes for this past week. We had ideal overheads and good water levels most days,  but it was evident that the conditions were not the issue!  The usual pods of fresh Grilse arriving on each tide simply weren’t there in any numbers. Monday produced only 2 fresh Grilse and a few seen running through,  but as the days passed the anglers saw less and less and it wasn’t until Friday that a further Grilse was landed on the main beats.

Donnie with a nice Grilse from Beat 3.

August is typically our most productive month but relies heavily on runs of fresh 1SW salmon (Grilse). The run thus far has been much less than anticipated, but it would appear (looking at available figures) that many other rivers are experiencing a similar downturn.

Maybe it’s time that our national groups and organisations representing the Wild salmon interests starting focusing their efforts and delivering some answers and solutions.   For far too long they have promised lots and delivered little. Time for change!

Anyway, on a much brighter note I received a message ( and some lovely photos) from local angler Rory Campbell telling  me his 5 year old daughter – Freya hooked and landed (unaided) a lovely 8lb salmon from the River Spean on Saturday morning. (…and I’m sure he said she followed him down the pool….. :)) lol

Great to see the next generation coming through – Well done Freya!!!!

Expertly played…


….and big smiles at the end.






























I have no idea what to expect next week so let’s just wait and see what happens.

Last week was the best sign yet that the Grilse numbers are building and the river is starting to hold a head of fish. The top pools of the Lochy are now holding residents and this should now steadily work it’s way back downriver.  We will have a much better idea of what’s actually in the pools once the levels drop, however, the last 7 days has seen levels remain above the 2ft mark, so it could be a few days yet before we see reduced flows.  August fishing is usually at its best with 9″- 1ft.

In fact if you take a look at this link you will see just how much water we’ve had this year already!

Despite the higher than preferred river levels, our fishing parties worked away well and put in a lot of hours. For some the rewards were good, for others, not so much. A dose of luck always helps in a salmon fishing week.

A total of 17 fish were landed – 1 salmon and 16 grilse. A further 12 were hooked and lost.    (I’m sure the total would have been double this if levels were more suitable)

Another point of note is the quality of the Grilse – most are in great  condition and of good size – averaging 6lbs……in current times, that’s impressive!

Some fine examples :




The Spean also continued to produce fish with the usual suspects on the scoresheet.  The lower river struggled in the higher water but I did hear on an 18lber from the Tailrace.

All in all, it’s a much improved situation inter,ms of fish numbers and with the Hydro work due to complete soon, I am looking forward to a more productive Autumn period.

The weather appears to be settling a bit this coming week…and the tides are building. Could the stars align and we get everything going in our favour for once this season????  I hope so!


Water height – 8in-2ft+

Water temp – mid 50s

Weather and conditions – westerly airflow with wind and heavy showers

Last weeks catch returns don’t really reflect the upturn in the number of fish now entering the system.  Small pods of grilse were coming off most tides and running hard.  The unsettled river conditions – (up and down) certainly did not help the anglers as the fish did not settle for long in the pools.

I do however, get the impression that the grilse run is building and if so, it should continue to do so over the coming weeks.

Just 4 grilse were landed on the main beats last week and a few others lost.  Pete Lawson, having travelled all the way from South Africa, managed a couple which, in ironic fashion, made him top rod!!  Well done Pete.

On the clubs beats, Chris Cairns finally landed his first of the season – a 9lber from the Tailrace, while up on Mucomir our first fish was finally hooked and landed- (highly unusual for this pool to produce its 1st so far into the season).  John MacIsaac also had a couple of nice fish from the Spean.

Andy Burton’s last cast grilse from Mucomir….






It looks like the unsettled weather is set to continue into next week so this should hopefully see good water levels and overheads.  Fresh grilse will be running!

Water height – 1ft-1ft 8

Water temp – mid/high 50s

Weather and conditions – cloud and sun – warm


We had reasonably steady river levels this week with very clear water.   Quite a few grilse were seen running through the system over last few days, but they seem reluctant to stop in the pools for any length of time??   This has been a common theme this season unfortunately.  However I am more encouraged that we now seem to be seeing more fish coming in.   Is this the start of a promising grilse run.??

Just over a handful of were hooked this week, with 3 landed. All around 4-5lbs.  David Snead had most of the action including this one :




The start of next week looks to be sunny and warm;  however, with big tides and a foot of water I am sure any Grilse out there will come in.  The key to success is intercepting them…..and that may require some tactical planning and a few early and late shifts in the bright clear conditions.