With far from ideal conditions for much of the week and all four beats never being fully fished, a total of 12 fish landed for the week was pretty respectable. There was two or three times as many as that hooked and lost, as is the way with fresh running grilse. It was good to see that all four beats produced fish this week.

Andrew Shaw scored an early double with a fresh 5lbs grilse from Jetty on Beat One and a 7lbs summer salmon from Fank on Beat 3. Meanwhile down on the tidal Tailrace Chris Cairns broke his season duck with a sea-liced grilse of 4lbs.

Christian Collett landed a beauty of 5lbs from Middle Camisky, and the same pool produced another fresh grilse for Jamie Greene (Jamie is an MSP and sits on the REC Committee – it was a flying one day visit in his busy schedule so it was great he managed to land his first Lochy salmon).

As the week progressed heavy rain put up the Roy which turned the Lochy dark brown – never good conditions on the lower river. Nevertheless there were still fish to be caught and Michael Mann’s party had 2 in one day from Beat One – a sea-liced 5 pounder from Croy and a slightly coloured 12lbs salmon from the same pool.

Matheus Vetch, fishing a day rod with angling guide Andy Burton had a lovely fish of 6lbs from Croy Pool (Andy offers single days guided fishing on the Lochy see www.highlandangling.co.uk for details). Local rods also took other fish – Ian Lamont had a fish of 5lbs from Mackillop’s Pot having lost several as well; Billy Neil landed a six pounder from Garrabouie Stream; and I took grilse from the Cat Pool and the tail of Garrabouie Stream.

With some more heavy rain forecast for next week at times it is not really what we need as the river is already too high but hopefully it will continue to encourage further fish into the system.

A delighted Jamie Greene MSP with his fresh grilse from Middle Camisky
Matheus Vetch with his fresh grilse from Croy
Christian Collett holds his fresh grilse from Middle Camisky under watchful eye of ghillie Billy Neil

It was a reasonably consistent week for fishing height, although levels which barely dropped below a foot still made it all too easy for fish to move through the beats. Fishing effort remained light – as it has for much of the season so far – and only 1 or 2 rods were fishing beats that usually take up to 4. We did land a pleasing number of fish, although one felt it could have been many more with more rods out fishing.

Charlie Donaldson kicked us off on Monday with a 7lbs sea liced fish from the Tailrace – but it has been noticeable that fish on the tidal beat have been few and far between this season, a sure sign that fish have had plenty of water to run on. It was perhaps telling then that two other fish were landed on Monday – 2 fresh grilse for Billy Neil – and both were caught up on Mucomir Pool up above the private beats. The fish were not hanging around.

More grilse were then landed through the week, almost all split fresh and liced. Local rod Rab Lees had a 5 pounder from the Castle Pool and then Ian Lamont took another one the same day in the same pool. Lochy stalwart Emma Jackson, on a flying 3-day visit, had a lively little 4lb fish in Graveyard as well as plucks and pulls elsewhere. Emma also banked quite a few sea trout during her visit which was encouraging. Visitor Geoff Adams fished for a day under the guidance of Lochy Fishing Coordinator Billy Neil and landed a fine 5 pounder from Drainpipe on Beat 3. Later that day Billy the ghillie added to the tally with one of 6lbs from Falls Pool as well.

Fish of the week though was John (big fish magnet) Mcisaac’s 20lb fresh salmon from Mucomir Pool. It was a stunning specimen and our heaviest fish of the year so far. It’s great to see these heavyweight summer salmon accompanying the grilse on their way upstream.

Special mention this week however goes to 9-year-old Freddie Spencer, who accompanied his father – Lochy regular Charlie Spencer – on a 3-day trip north. It goes without saying that Freddie, under the tutelage of local instructor Andy Burton, out-fished his father completely landing several trout and hooking a lively grilse in Croy Pool that decided rather unsportingly to part company with Freddie’s fly. Better luck next time Freddie – you have lifetime of excitement and fun ahead of you now that you’re hooked on salmon fishing. You certainly have the enthusiasm it takes – dad Charlie told me that his protégé woke him up at 6am on the first morning asking to borrow his phone…..’what the hell do you want it for?’, he grunted…….seemingly he wanted to get online and look at the river level on the SEPA website!

With an unsettled picture forecast for the week ahead we may see more of the same – most tides producing pods of grilse and few summer salmon but plenty of water to take them upstream fast. With tides building towards the end of next week we are hopeful that numbers may also increase as the month goes on.

John Mcisaac’s stunning 20 pounder from Mucomir Pool
9 year-old Freddie Spencer outs out a nice cast under watchful eye of instructor Andy Burton

A week of building spring tides helped to bring some fresh grilse into the system as well as a few early summer salmon. Water levels also came down to a good fishable height, although towards the end of the week a persistent and cold northerly wind set in which curtailed sport somewhat.

Paul Shilling kicked off the week with a lovely fresh 14lbs salmon from Governor, a sadly often overlooked pool at the top of Beat 3.  The next day the Carver party landed a 12lbs fresh cock fish from Rock Pool on Beat 1.

Timing seemed to be rather crucial over the course of the week and 4 fish were landed in the late evenings by the members of the Inverlochy Angling club who were fishing on the private beats this week – a grilse of 4lbs from Pollock, another one from Middle Camisky and a third one of 5lbs from Big Rock – all were fresh and straight off the tide.

Nearer the bottom end of the river locals rod Richard MacDonald had a lovely salmon of 8lbs from Lundy Mouth, having just lost a grilse as well, and Ian Lamont had his first Lochy fish of the year with a 10lbs bar of silver from the Tailrace.

With showers forecast for the week ahead and winds coming out of the south west prospects look encouraging. There is evidence that good numbers have already moved fast into the headwaters of the Upper Spean and Roy and these relatively early grilse will be no exception. Effort and hours on the water will reap rewards, as well as being mindful of each high tide and when to expect fresh fish moving through your beat.

Ian Lamont’s sparkling 10 pounder from the Tailrace

Summer came to Lochaber this last week with daytime temperatures up to 28 degrees. While water levels started to come down to a good fishable height, days of burning and cloudless sunshine interspersed by some dramatic thunderstorms did little to provide good overhead prospects or a settled and dropping river.

Nevertheless there were some fish to be caught and in spite of the fishing effort being very much on the low side some did make it to the bank. The week started off with a grilse from the Garrabouie Stream for a member of the T’kint party which was sea liced and in great condition. The Cox party then took a fine salmon of 10lbs from Lucky Cast on Beat 4. And then further down the river near the tide local rod Paul MacHugh landed a cracker of 12lbs from the Castle Pool. The grilse are definitely starting to make an appearance and it was great to see that Andy Hind’s lively 6 pounder he landed on Saturday from Croy Pool was fat and really well fed, perhaps a good sign for the sumer runs that should lie ahead.

The river had dropped right down by the weekend but with cooler air temperatures and some frequent showers forecast for the week ahead then hopefully this will encourage further fish into the system and some better fishing conditions.

summer arrives on the Lochy
Andy Hind’s fine fat grilse from Croy Pool

As expected, and apart from a brief rise midweek, the river came down to a more fishable height for most of this week. It was still running on the high side, making it very easy for fish to run hard to the headwaters, but conditions were a definite improvement on the previous few weeks and the rods stared to get in amongst some fish.

Simon Monro scored a double with a 13lbs salmon from Croy and a small grilse from the Cat Pool. Surprisingly the former was not that fresh, perhaps suggesting that one or two fish are beginning to settle in the Lochy beats at last. There is no doubt though that the majority of the early run has gone through to the Upper Spean and beyond – local club anglers out this week reported seeing several in the beat above Spean Bridge.

Meanwhile back on the Lochy beats David Littlewood scored with a really lovely sparking-fresh salmon of 11lbs from Lundy Mouth. Andrew Maclaren had a clean-run 8 pounder from Middle Camisky when the river dropped down to 1ft 3ins, a level where the Camisky pools will come into play. And special mention goes to Daniel Morland who not only landed the heaviest fish of the week – a fresh 14lbs salmon from Garrabouie Stream on a Sunray Shadow – but its was also Daniel’s first salmon.

Local rod Donald (DJ) Gillies scored later in the week with a fat 13lbs beauty from the Castle Pool and local keeper Harry Nicholson took time off from his duties at Fassfern Estate to land a 4.5lbs fresh grilse at Mucomir Pool.

With 2 grilse landed this week and reports of prawn boats at sea seeing grilse in the outer estuary, if conditions remain favourable then we might see more of these one sea winter travellers in the catches over the next fortnight or so.

David Littlewood with his 11lbs fish from Lundy Mouth
A cracker of 13 lbs for local rod DJ Gillies from the Castle Pool

Definitely not a week to remember on the fishing front! Due to the new turbine at Mucomir (installed last season) running far harder than its predecessor ever did at this time of year, the river has been running at over 2ft for the whole of June. This is far too high for productive fishing. And this was after the whole of May being bone dry and the river running at 0 ins or less – far too low for productive fishing. What a frustrating season so far! Needless to say, we are in urgent communication with the operators SSE to regain a level of normality to the levels.

A high river in early June is especially unproductive as the early fish want to get to the headwaters as fast as possible and will use any water to do so. With far less of these earlier fish present than the later summer fish (and it is clear that the run so far this year has been modest even in spite of the conditions) it can feel a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack when the river is running this high.

May was bone dry followed by first 2 weeks of June when the river was too high!

The rods did persevere through the week but fishing effort was certainly on the light side which was entirely understandable. The only action with salmon I heard of was one good fish being lost at the lip of the Falls Pool late on Saturday evening (just as the river was beginning to fall away at last – which will hopefully bode well for next week).

Again those rods that tried for the trout were rewarded, even though catches were more modest than in previous weeks due to a cold east wind and temperatures more akin to March than mid June!

A week that was largely spoilt by too-high water, falling pressure, damp low cloud and unseasonably cold east winds. And with the river running at over 2ft for the whole week, combined with big tides, fish were running straight through to the Spean in a matter of hours and provided very little fishing possibilities on the Lochy (which, it must be remembered, is only the bottom 8 miles of a very large river system).

The Grimes party lost 2 fish early in the week, but apart from that the only news for most of the week was of fish being seen well up the catchment at Spean Bridge and fish beginning to gather against the turbine outflow at Mucomir.

Nevertheless it was all change on Saturday – the pressure started to rise again, the east wind fell away and the river dropped to just below the 2ft mark. The fish responded immediately and we had a good day. And this was in spite of very light angling pressure as the tenant parties had left for the week and only a few local rods were out.

Colin Henderson took a nice 8lbs fish from Upper Camisky in the morning – it was fresh as paint and no doubt running through. This was followed by a lovely deep-bellied salmon of 9lbs for local rod Jim Maclean taken at Mucomir Pool – it was covered in sea lice and looked as if it had run straight off the tide (and the fact that it was taken 10 miles up the river just showed how hard the fish had been running this week). Last fish of the day was another 9lbs fish from Lundy Mouth at the bottom of Beat 4 taken at the height of the evening tide – a good omen perhaps for next week as fish are still running in on every tide at the bottom of the river.

The river continues to be very lightly fished and this will also be the case next week. Rods are available all week and at just £240 + VAT for 3 day’s fishing represents outstanding value. Contact river@riverlochy.com for details.

Jim Maclean with his sea-liced 9 pounder from Mucomir Pool

Heavy rain over the weekend put the river up rapidly to 3ft. The spate was short lived though as it all ran off hardened ground in the Roy catchment – the Arkaig loch system was still desperately low after weeks of no rain – and within 48hrs the river was heading back towards zero.

Nevertheless a few fish must have made it into the system on this very brief flood. Eric Vergnory from France had the first success on Monday with a fine fresh fish of 12lbs from Middle Camisky. Later that evening Spean Bridge AC regular, James Porter, netted an 11 pounder in Mucomir Pool.

A cold east wind was blowing for most of the week which probably kept catches lower than they might have been, especially as it also seemed that with the low water any fresh fish had perhaps not pushed as far into the headwaters as they can often do at this time of year. The odd shower gave some very brief rises midweek and fish continued to creep in on the high tides. Club members reported seeing some good numbers of fish some evenings at the top of the tide at Sluggan Pool. Paul McHugh proved the point and took a cracking fish of 16lbs from the Garrrabouie Stream. This was closely followed by another fat sea-liced 16 pounder I was lucky enough to connect with from Big Rock on Beat 4, taken on a small conehead Alastair. Last fish of the week fell to David Jenkins – a fresh 13lb springer taken on the improving Bulls Run.

By Friday night the rain began again in earnest and fell solidly all the next day. The river is currently back up to nearly 2ft and is holding, mainly because the loch system is filling once again which should allow generation to start again at Mucomir. With further heavy showers forecast all next week prospects look encouraging but those that put in the hours should be rewarded as fish will be encouraged to move upstream quickly through the Lochy beats in these conditions at this time of year.

16 pounds of sea-liced Lochy spring silver
James Porter, Mucomir Pool
Brian Tolmie with his perfect 13lbs deep-bellied salmon from the Tailrace

Another bone-dry week meant another slow one. It seemed at times that all around us the rain was falling, with rivers to our East filling with much-needed water but barely a drop fell on Lochaber.

With the river at at minus 4 inches it was verging on a miracle that Henry Anson got us off the mark this week with a fresh run 10lbs fish from Croy Pool, our most upstream pool! It just goes to show that fish will run even in these conditions. A ‘large and glittery’ Sunray Shadow did the damage.

Even the tidal Tailrace Beat seemed quiet considering the low water conditions, but it has been so long since we have had any fresh water that the bulk of our springers are probably still well out in the estuary in deeper water. Nevertheless Inverlochy Angling Club member, Brian Tolmie, landed a stunning and split-fresh fish of 13lbs mid-week. Brian has been fishing hard since the start of the season so it was good to hear that his persistence has been rewarded. Knowing Brian, it will be the first of many for him this season.

Meanwhile upriver, Steve Wellard’s party had a week mainly targeting the trout, both on the river and on the local lochs (Lochaber has some of the most outstanding loch trout fishing in the highlands). Steve reported many good trout caught on all 4 Lochy beats, taken mainly on CDC dry flies. The best was a stunning fish of 3.5lbs from Larch Tree on Beat 4. It was full of smolts!

The forecast is promising rain. We wait. We pray……

With the last fortnight offering nothing by way of any rain, it has been an understandably slow start to the 2019 season. The river has barely budged above minus 4 since we started fishing!

Nevertheless persistence pays even in seemingly hopeless conditions and regular guest of the Mann party, Ron Powell from Oregon, got our season off the mark with a 9lbs springer from the top of Pollock on Beat 2. It was taken at 6.30am and several fish were seen on the beat that morning before the sun got up. Interestingly the fish was slightly coloured, suggesting that they had been creeping up despite the desperately low conditions. Indeed the mix of visiting and local rods out this week all reported seeing the odd fish here and there on the beats.

For those who accepted the state of affairs and took out the trout rods, they had some tremendous sport. I would estimate that well over 100 decent trout were caught by the relatively small number of rods fishing, many of them taken on dry fly off the top. The biggest reported weighed 3.5lbs.

Not much in the way of decent rain is forecast for next week but there is due to be more cloud cover. This may encourage more fish to creep up the river under the cover of darkness. We may also start to see some fish appearing at the Tailrace, which can fish well in these conditions.