It was another good week for us on the river – the last of the season – and we landed 37 salmon and grilse up to 18lbs. It’s a pretty clear picture of what happened in the 2021 season to say that we have caught nearly half of the annual rod catch (dead on the 5 year average) in the last 10 days. Put simply – it was not fish that were lacking this year but rain. Seriously lacking too.

All the usual local rods were in on the action again – Chris Cairns, Brian Tolmie, James Porter, Billy Neil and John MacIsaac all had a productive week with a mixture of grilse and salmon into the mid teens.

And it was great to see some of our regular visitors were also in on the action. Simon Munro had a cracking 18lbs cock fish from Mucomir and followed it up later in the week with a 15lbs fish from Graveyard on Beat 2. Others also landed some grilse on various pools on the beats this week – Harold Jack (2), Charlie Spencer (3) and Geoffery Persey (1) . And Pippa Millard, having been washed off last year, had a short visit at the end of the week and landed a nice 12lbs salmon from Rail End.

It’s been a funny old year with the extended summer drought but I was particularly encouraged to see a decent grilse run again compared to recent years and I am hopeful this may mean some good May to July fishing next season for our famous large MSW salmon. Get in touch if you want to secure a week – I expect them to be popular – jongibb123@gmail.com

Simon Munro with a cracking 18lbs cock fish
John MacIsaac returning a nice 12lber at Camisky
Local angler Chris Cairns with ‘yet another’ fish!… a fat ripening female salmon of 12lbs – soon to add her eggs to future generations of Lochy fish
Another chunky grilse from Rail End…..As the sun goes down on an increasingly autumnal Ben Nevis and another fishing season, Jon and his team will be busy on the river and in the hatchery and engaged in the ongoing research work with our scientific partners, all aimed at securing and enhancing the future of the wonderful salmon fishing on the River Lochy. Come and join us next year. Contact jongibb123@gmail.com

Wow! What a difference a week makes! And what a difference some water makes… at long, long last.

In spite of the relatively light fishing effort the rods landed a stunning 56 salmon and grilse this week. We caught more fish in the last 2 days of the week than we caught in the whole of August and September put together! (19 on Friday and 29 on Saturday). We knew the pools were well stocked but it just took the water to move them out of their deep summer resting lies.

There were a good number of notable catches – probably none better than John MacIsaac’s 10 fish to his own rod on Saturday including a stunning 20 pounder from Garrabouie Flats. John is a seasoned fishermen but it was the most productive day he has ever had. He tells me the Black Francis was doing particulary well.

Billy Neil had 15 to his rod for the week including no less than 9 grilse one day from Cat Pool. That is some achievement and gives a good indication of the health of the grilse run compared to recent years.

Chris Cairns is never far from the action in weeks like this and he landed 12 for the week including a 18lbs salmon from the tail of Big Rock and a 14lbs salmon from Mucomir.

But Chris also had his son Ryan with him on Saturday and I am delighted to say that Ryan managed 3 in a day from Beat 4, the first salmon he has caught in his short fshing career so far. Well done Ryan!

I am also delighted to mention another first – but this time up on the Spean (where the fishing was also good this week with the new water and several fish were landed putting the catchment total probably above 70 fish for the week). Jon Hart fishing under the watchful eye of local guide Andy Burton had a lovely cock fish of around 10lbs. Here’s to many more Jon!

The German-Ribon party had a good week with 8 landed including two 12 pounders from Graveyard On Beat 2. Peter Keyser and Maggie Heath both saw some of the action.

Other rods to score were DJ Gillies (with 2 from Beat 4 up to 14lbs); Colin Henderson (a 6lbs grilse from Mucomir); John Wilson (6lbs Rail End); Seymour Macleod (9lbs Mucomir); and finally George Brogan had a 6lbs grilse from Sluggan. George tells me he was competing with a seal on this semi tidal pool all the time he was fishing – a sign that there might still be fish coming in off the tide.

Next week is the last week of tenants on the river. Fingers are firmly crossed that the water lasts through the week. Overhead conditions look like they might be a bit more challenging though (some bright sun some days) so I would caution against fishing too bright or too big. A small Black Francis with a little bit of weight to get it down usually does the trick if the water is clear…

Jon Hart with his first ever salmon
Ryan Cairns with one of his 3 fish – the first of his fishing career so far
John MacIsaac’s 20lbs fish (left) and Chris Cairns with his 18lbs croc
A few of the others caught during the week – many of the salmon were in the mid teens

At last we had some much needed rain. Certainly not nearly what we needed in order to fill the lochs and get the system running again, but just enough to give a brief lift and switch the fish on for a few days.

The rod pressure was pretty light all week but most people fishing did manage a fish or two. Catches would have been higher had the water temperature come down some more but we will need autumn to really take hold and night time temperatures to fall considerably before we see this.

Steve and Jenny Wellard had four for their week – two from Graveyard at 11lbs and 5lbs, a grilse of 5lbs from Potholes and an 8 pounder from Rail End on Beat 4.

David Swain’s 2 rod party had a couple of grilse from Croy Pool at 4lbs and 5lbs, a 6lbs fish from Graveyard, a 4 pounder from Bulls Run and a small grilse of 3 lbs in the tail of Garrabhudie Flats. They finished the week with a 6lbs fish from Lower Camsiky.

Other rods to score during the week were Rab Lees with a 7lbs fish from Big Rock on Beat 4 and local rod John Wilson with a 4lbs grilse from the Rock Pool on Beat One.

Finallly it was great to see young Angus Rhoden scoring again this season and showing his father (local keeper and Lochy ghillie Michael Rhoden) how it is done – Angus landed a fine cock fish of 7lbs from Big Rock.

With more rain forecast for next week and some cooler air temperatures – our fingers are crossed for some good fishing.

Angus Rhoden with his 7lbs fish from Big Rock.
Jenny Cooper with one of their 4 fish for the week – a 5lbs grilse from Graveyard.

I am sorry to report that not much has changed on the river levels since my last report. It is hardly surprising that fishing has been so difficult this season considering that (according to the local hydropower company) we have just witnessed the 3 driest consecutive months in Lochaber for over 90 years! 2021 will be remembered as the season that never really was…

Neverthless I am pleased to say that those rods that were out occassionally met with some success. There is no doubt that there is a fair build up of fish in some of the pools and it just took a few minutes for the fish to switch on and a hook up could be found. The trick is to find deep streamy water – the problem being that many of the Lochy streams are very thin at this height – but the top of Graveyard Pool on Beat 2 and the stream into Big Rock on Beat 4 are some of the best places for this.

So it was perhaps no surprise that the majority of the fish in the last fortnight came from these two pools. Michael Mann, fishing on his own on the river for much of the week, landed a 7 pounder from here as well as a 4lbs grilse from Rock Pool on beat 1 (another pool with a deep stream at the head). Alexander Troy had a 4.5lb fish from Big Rock and James Wills also had a fish of 6lbs from the same pool. Another member of the Wills party also had a 5lbs grilse from Croy Pool (again a deep stream that holds fish in the lowest of water). And finally the largest fish in recent days was a lovely 11lbs hen salmon taken in Graveyard by Paul Oliver (see picture below).

The weather has definitely taken on a more autumnal feel in the last couple of days. If this is coupled with some decent rain from the west then the residents in the river could easily switch back on and provide some much needed late season sport.

Paul Oliver 11lbs salmon Graveyard Pool

With the continuing severe drought in this part of the country there has really been no serious fishing effort taking place for around 3 weeks now. One or two rods have been having a throw, more in deseperate hope rather than anything else and, in spite of there being reasonable numbers of fish showing in the pools with deep holes, catches have been practically non existent – which to be honest is hardly surprising. Well done Alexander Troy though who did manage a grilse from Big Rock on Beat 4. Alexander was fishing as part of the Cox party, who were here as a family celebrating a ‘big’ birthday for Charlie Cox. A fun week was had in spite of the hopeless fishing conditions (minus 4 on the gauge and 60F water temperature!)

Meanwhile river management has been continuing including the annual electro fishing surveys being undertaken, genetic sampling of parr from 3 tributaries and drone monitoring for the suspected presence of a few pacific pink salmon (none have been caught but there have been several suspected sightings).

Rain is forecast for later this week….but they said that last week…..and the week before that….and the one before that……and on it goes…..

We have been scanning the beats with the drone for signs of pacific salmon redds – none found yet…

Another lean week – which was no great surprise considering there was barely a drop of meaningful rain (again!) and the conditions were muggy and dead-feeling.

So well done to those who did persevere and met with some success. The river was certainly very lightly fished during the week, which was not surprising considering the conditions, but I was pleased to gear that Ivor Dunbar landed a 4lbs grilse in Garden Pool and local rod Ian Lamont had a fish of 4lbs in the Castle Pool. Another 2 fell to local rods – a 5lbs grilse for Rab Lees in the Tailrace and a 3lbs grilse for James Porter of the Spean Bridge AC. The Spean boys gave it a good go this week (it was their upriver ‘club week’) and, aside from a few losses and bumps, it was a shame that conditions conspired against them and so few were landed.

Meanwhile Lochy stalwart Emma Jackson had friends and family fishing this week too and they fished hard and creatively. With a combination of riffle hitching and trying both weird and wonderful flies at different depths (exacly the tactics to employ in these highly testing conditions) they did connect with a few fish. I was delighted that Emma opened the score with a 4lbs grilse from Lower Garden on Beat 4 and then later in the week her son Jake went one better and landed a cracking fresh fish of 7lbs from Potholes on Beat 2.

And finally…one fish that I failed to mention in last week’s report was a first success for 17 year old Fort William AA member Finlay Dempster who landed a grilse of 7bs from Mucomir Pool last Saturday. Let’s hope it’s the first of many more Finlay!

Jake Jackson with his fresh-run 7lbs fish from Potholes on Beat 2

Another quiet week with just a handful of fish landed. Until we get a proper West Coast deluge for a few days and the loch system fills up again – or perhaps a significant and prolonged drop in night time temperatures – unfortunately I do not see prospects changing too soon.

That said, there were still flurries of activity when the river rose temporarily from the Spean at times during the week. On Saturday, for instance, the rods landed 6 salmon and grilse between them after an 8inch rise. It was very telling though that half of these were coloured fish from the Spean (falling to local rod John MacIsaac). With the Spean going into frequent but very short lived spates these last few weeks and the water temperature in the main stem Lochy often exceeding 60F, the fish have been making a beeline for the safety of the cooler and deeper headwaters.

But undoubted highlight of the week was young Angus Rhoden’s first Lochy salmon on Saturday. Under the watchful eye of his father, well-known local keeper and Lochy ghillie Mike Rhoden, Angus landed his cracking 6lbs grilse on Mucomir Pool. No doubt there will be many more over the coming years. A picture of the happy young fisherman is below.

It’s been a fortnight since my last report and we have landed 15 salmon and grilse. Probably three times that have been hooked and lost.

I would love to say that we have enjoyed a prolonged summer spate during this time but the reality (at the danger of sounding like a long-playing record) is that the river has largely been in prolonged drought condition save for a single and sudden flood from the Spean catchment following some thundery showers last week.

This did little for the fishing conditions except to move some fish that had been held up in the tidal reaches, but as the river droppped rapidly away again to minus 5 inches within 2 or 3 days, the fish were probably more ‘catchable’ where they were in the tailrace outflow water than upriver where they rapridly disappeared deep into the very shrunken pools.

So it is probably no surprise then that the lion’s share of the catch once again came from the tidal beat. Local Inverlochy AC rod Paul Machugh was never far away from the action and he had a really good spell landing fish of 4lbs, 4lbs, 5lbs, 6lbs and 7lbs between the Tailrace and the Castle Pool.

Other club members to score with fresh grilse from the same area were Rab Lees (6lbs, 5lbs) and Mark Ward (6lbs).

It was good to hear that the ‘upriver’ rods were also in on the action in spite of the conditions and those that ventured down to the tidal beat were sometimes rewarded – Greg Newton-Jones for instance had a 6lbs grilse at the Tailrace (and lost another). But most of the action seemed to come from Beat 2 after the short-lived thundery flood. Hugh Rose landed fish of 6lbs and 6lbs from Graveyard Pool and Will Mansfiled had a 5lbs grilse from Pollock. But easily the heaviest fish of the week was a cracking 16lbs salmon for Sam Salt from Graveyard Pool. I also heard that the Macdonald party had another fish of around 10lbs from the same pool a few days later. And finally Colin Henderson had a 5lbs sea-liced grilse in Larch Tree on Beat 4.

So all in all a continuation of the frustrating season that we are having this year – there are fish around but conditions have barely once been favourable since the start of May.

Nevertheless the river is rising slowly tonight and rain is forecast next week – what we really need is a proper deluge for a few days to fill up the lochs again. We can only wait and see….

Greg Newton-Jones 5lbs Tailrace
Sam Salt’s 16lbs salmon from Graveyard Pool
A couple of Paul Machugh’s fish from the Tailrace Beat.

Another week of piercing blue overhead conditions, sweltering temperatures (up to 30C) and sky-high water temperatures (well above 20C).

Fishing in the main river was frankly pretty much a waste of time in these conditions and it was only the tidal beat with the cooling influence of the Tailrace outflow that offered any chance of sport.

Encouragingly though as tides built through the week there appeared to be some good shoals of grilse and small summer salmon coming in and out with the high tide some days. Finding a taker in these conditions was challenging though.

Neverthless we had 7 fish caught for the week and a good many tale of fish plucking at the fly in the crystal-clear conditions and inevitably coming off at some point in the fight.

Local Inverlochy AC members Chris Cairns and Paul Machugh toook the lion’s share with 2 grilse for Chris and two salmon for Paul (5lbs, 4lbs, 8lbs, 8lbs). And local rod John MacIsaac had a nice 6lb fish from the stream above the Larder Pool, a highly underfished spot.

One of our longest-standing tenants, David Snead, picked a great week for sun-bathing and golf this year but not a good one for fishing very sadly. Neverthless David usuaully finds a taker somewhere whatever the conditions and I was pleased to hear that he had a 4lbs grilse from Rock Pool on Beat One and another four pounder from the Tailrace.

Some rain is forecast for next week and some cooler conditions but we are all thinking here…. we will believe it when we see it!

John McIsaac’s sparkling 6lb fish from above the Larder Pool.
Chris Cairns notching up his growing season tally down at the Tailrace this week

With blazing sun, levels at minus 4 inches and the water temperature approaching 20C, conditions were about as hopeless as you could imagine.

So well done all those that persevered and also to those that managed to connect.

Mark Ward had a 5lbs grilse from the Tailrace early in the week and Chris Cairns had a lovely fresh 13lbs salmon towards the end of the week. But perhaps most notable fish of the week was Andrew Shaw’s 5lbs grilse from Kitten Pool. The poor thing had been attacked viciously by a predator – almost certainly a seal – but had somehow made it upstream with its open wounds, proving the point again that a wounded salmon is often a good taker.

With the low water set to continue I fear the seals might do better than the fishers again this week. We continue to pray for rain and cool nights…..

Andrew Shaw’s badly seal damaged fish
Chris ‘Dibble’ Cairns’ cracking salmon from the Tailrace