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

It was largely a repeat of the previous week – a lack of significant rainfall kept the river miserably low and most of the sport took place on one pool on the tidal beat.

A cloudburst on the Sunday created a small and very short-lived spate out of the Spean but it was filthy on the Monday after all the dry weather. By the time the water cleared on Tuesday it had dropped back down to bare bones again.

One or two fish were still creeping up and if you could find a stream to carry the fly then there was still a chance if there were fresh fish in front of you. Rab Lees had a grilse from Pollock on Beat 2; Chris Robinson landed a lovely fresh fish of 6lbs from Lundy Mouth; I took one on Upper Camisky; and Martin Wilson had a 5lbs grilse from Middle Camisky. And I was delighted to hear that Anne Shaw – one of the true Lochy stalwarts who’s family have fished the river for many many years – landed a lovely fresh grilse on Big Rock. Anne landed her fish her own as ‘Billy the ghillie’ was looking after her guests further downstream.

Meanwhile fish were gradually building up all week at the tidal Tailrace beat and could be seen splashing regularly in the white water and the large back eddy known locally as ‘the roundabout’. Not that they were easy to tempt. Expectant local and visiting rods covered them all week and very few were actually landed. It may well be that some of them are River Nevis fish, taking a breather there while they wait for the Nevis to fill with water before dropping back downstream. These fish are notoriously bad takers.

William Ringham and Paul Machugh both did manage to landed grilse each. Paul also lost a few through the week as well. But best fish of the week fell to Mark Ward – a lovely fresh salmon of 12lbs.

I would love to say that heavy rain is on the way but sadly the forecast is for more dry and hot weather. I would advise fishing early mornings or late evenings and finding any streamy water. Either that or head down to the Tailrace Pool where the salmon are likely to build further through the week.

Chris Robinson 6lbs grilse Lundy Mouth Beat 4
Mark Ward’s 12lbs salmon from the Tailrace

It was no great surprise that the drought affecting the whole of Scotland at the moment severely hampered fishing this week. Another week went by without a drop of rain and air temperatures shot up to 26C. With the short and warm late June nights as well, the water temperature started to climb rapidly on top of everything. For the bulk of the week the river was running as low as it ever gets – a very sad looking minus 5 inches!

So it was the tidal Tailrace beat that saw the lion’s share of any action this week as grilse numbers started to build but fish were reluctant to enter the river that really was little more than a warm trickle.

Inverlochy club members had some sport down there and Paul Machugh landed a fresh salmon of 12lbs and two tide-liced grilse of 5lbs apiece. Chris Cairns also added to his season tally with a couple of fresh grilse of around 5lbs each.

But ‘fish of the week’ prize definitely goes to Peggy Crossman who managed to defy all odds and land a lovely fresh MSW of around 14lbs while fishing Middle Camisky on Beat 3. It just goes to show that persistence pays even when everyone else is giving up. Well done Peggy!

I hope to have more to report next week as rain is promised, the tides are building and the grilse are beginning to show up in better numbers.

Inverlochy Club member Chris Cairns with one of his 2 grilse for the week

It really was a week of feast or famine. Long periods of quiet with not a fin to be seen interspersed by frenetic bouts of activity. All in all, typical of summer grilse fishing.

The river stayed at a near constant 4 to 6inches throughout the week – due mainly to our recent negotiations with the operators of the turbine at Mucomir which has resulted in a more favourable and gentle delivery of water from the loch rather than the short lived deluges that have typified the last few seasons. Even without any significant rain this means that the river should remain at a better fishing height for longer.

Spring tides also certainly encouraged pods of both grilse and larger salmon to enter the river most days. At times these were seen in good numbers on the tidal beat at the Tailrace and local anglers on the Inverlochy Club water had some fish as well as losing a few (Paul Machugh was tearing his hair out one day losing 3 in a row in quick succession!). Nevertheless Chris Cairns successfully landed an 11lbs salmon from the run into the Tailrace Pool and Charlie Donaldson landed a sea-liced 13lbs fish a little further upstream on the Sluggan Pool at the top of the tide.

Up on the private beats it really was a question of being in the tight place at the right time. Steve Wellard’s party certainly capitalised on their local knowledge and ventured out after dinner to use the long June evenings to their advantage. After a long quiet day in the early summer sun without a fish to be seen, the river seemed like a different place in the evening light. Pools that appeared empty in the daytime started to produce fish in the gloaming. Steve had a grilse of 5lbs and a small salmon of 8lbs from Beat 2 on two separate evenings with several fish seen, a few lost and a few plucked. The Potholes to Pollock area of the beat appeared to be the most productive.

As well as countless tales of fish plucking gingerly at the fly, other encounters that resulted in a fish in the net during the week were a fat 5lbs bar of silver on Upper Camisky for Jon Gibb and a 4lbs fresh grilse for Charlie Helmore on Bulls Run.

In amongst these hard-running pods of grilse there were also a few MSW salmon. Jenny Cooper had a really cracking 15lbs deep-bellied specimen from Rail End on Beat 4 and Billy Neil landed a stunning fish of 23lbs from Mucomir Pool as well as losing 3 others. This fish was our heaviest of the season so far.

I hope that the fish keep coming and start to build in number next week but my advice would be to use the long June evenings and fish well into the gloaming as the forecast is for full-on summer conditions for most of the week.

Jenny Cooper with her typical Lochy salmon – 15lbs from Rail End
One of Steve Wellard’s ‘last light’ catches – the fish are as fresh as paint

We had a some heavy rain over the weekend which put the River Spean into a short-lived spate. This coloured up the Lochy on Monday and Tuesday and the river only truly began to clear towards the end of the week when the power station at the outflow to Loch Lochy started to generate and clean loch water was added to the mix.

I had quite high hopes as the week progressed due to the improving conditions but the catches were disappointing. I suspect that this was largely down to the fish moving very quickly through the beats straight from the tide. Pods of these fish were seen through the week but it really was a question of luck whether you could find a fish resting in front of you. In truth there were very few fish indeed taking any sort of breather in the beats this week and the runs on each tide were certainly leaner than we might hope for the time of year.

What was perhaps more encouraging was the arrival of the first grilse of the year. This is quite early for the Lochy and we can only hope that it is an early sign of a healthy run of these lively little fish.

Catches for the week included a 15lbs tide-fresh salmon of 16lbs from Pollock on Beat 2; a brace of fresh grilse (5lbs Potholes on Beat 2 and 4lbs Rail End on Beat 4); and a cracking 13lbs fish from Croy Pool for local Inverlochy angler Brian Tolmie.

Jon Gibb, 15lbs Pollock, Beat Two.
13lbs Croy Pool, Brian Tolmie

It was another frustrating week of levels below zero – but one or two fish were still creeping upstream under the cover of darkness.

My admiration goes to the hardy fisherment that kept at it all week in such seemingly impossible conditions. And I am very pleased to say that Simon Harris’s party, who remained positive and keen throughout the full 6 days’ fishing, were rewarded with 3 fish lost and a sparkling 11 pounder landed by Simon himself in the Boat Pool on Beat Two.

When the going gets tough you can usaully rely on one of the local McIsaac lads to winkle one out. In this case it was a double – Craig McIsaac landed a lovely salmon of 16lbs in the Castle Pool and father John took a 13lbs fish a little further downstream on the tidal Tailrace beat.

The other fish landed this week was an unusual one – local rod Richard Macdonald was out trout fishing with the Kilmallie AC on Beat 2 and hooked and landed a sea-liced 8lbs salmon on a Black Pennel on Pollock Pool. Richard reported seeing a few in the pool of various sizes up to 18lbs or so.

So the fish are there but the problem is finding water to carry the fly at these heights. With a little rain this weekend and a brief Atlantic front forecast for Tuesday night, I hope it is not tempting fate to suggest that we might have better conditions and improved catches this coming week. Fingers crossed….

A lovely fresh salmon for John McIsaac from the Tailrace
Craig McIsaac 16lbs Castle Pool

It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks on the river with levels dropping away to a pathetic minus 3 on the gauges due to a complete lack of any rainfall in this part of the country.

It always surprises me neverthless on just what little flow salmon will run if they are desperate enough. Fresh fish have been seen in some of the pools, almost certainly coming in off the tide under the cover of darkness.

But I was genuinely surprised to hear of one or two being caught, simply because at this height there are so few places that will cary a fly and any fish will have been sulking in the depths in the daytime under these cloudless sunny skies.

So well done David Lake who hooked and landed a cracking 15lbs fish in the Kitten on Beat 4. He saw the fish move and having tried it with a selection of flies with no success he then stripped a Collie over its head and it snached it from the surface. He eventually landed the fish in the Cat Pool after a great scrap.

Paul McHugh took a lovely fresh 12lbs fish from Canal Pool, also on Beat 4, and another local angler Paul Paterson took a fabulous-looking early summer salmon of 15lbs in Graveyard on Beat 2. I also hear that a local Inverlochy Club member also landed a cracking fish on the tidal Tailrace Beat of around 14lbs.

Inverlochy club member Paul Machugh tells me that he is seeing fish on most tides on the Tailrace beat over the last few days but they are difficult to tempt. The likely reason is that the river is running much warmer than the tailrace outflow from the smelter and this may be holding fish deep under the turbulent white water of the smelter outflow.

We can only hope that it rains soon.

David Lake returning his 15lbs bar of silver from Kitten Pool
A cracking 15lbs salmon for Paul Paterson from Graveyard Pool
Fresh and 12lbs – Paul Machugh Canal Pool

The 2021 season is underway at last. The last couple of weeks have seen a dead low river with a few plucks and pulls from hard-running salmon heading for the headwaters. But it wasnt until this last week that we had our first fish in the book.

Emma Jackson christened the pages of the new game book with a lovely fresh-run salmon of 15lbs taken on a home-tied copper tube in Rail End Pool on Beat 4. By all accounts it was a really deep fish in stunning condition.

James Porter then made it 2 with another really superb fish in excellent condition – a salmon of 13lbs from Graveyard on Beat 2.

Both these fish were hard won as conditions were verging on ‘desperate’ due to the complete lack of significant rain in this part of the country for the last few weeks. At the time of writing the river is running at a dismal minus 2inches but with perhaps some heavier rain forecast for early this coming week conditons and catches might improve.

James Porter with his 13lbs fish from Graveyard
The condition of the two fish this week was superb – hopefully a good omen for the run this year?

If ever there was a case of the season ending itself, this year was perhaps a very good example. The last couple of weeks have been hard work for anyone out fishing the river. The fish were generally uncooperative, save for a few brief flurries of sport, and even the water itself felt stale and tricky.

With a noticeable lack of autumn running grilse this year it has perhaops been rather a flat end to what was otherwise a most encouraging season – we are not alone (see for example Spey Ghilie Ian Grodon’s lastest blog on www.speycaster.co.uk on the same subject). The Lochy is the bottom end of a very large system and for the last few weeks to fish well we really need autumn running fish to liven things up. Sadly that was not the case this year.

Neverthless there were some catches to be had. Martin Cooper, fishing as part of Malcolm Wharton’s party, had 3 fish for his week, the best at 14lbs from Garrabouie Stream. Another party member Graham Bess was broken by a huge fish of 25lbs + after a 20 minute fight, also in Garrabouie Stream and the pary had another 2 or 3 grilse for the week as well.

Billy Neil had fish of 8lbs and 6lbs from the tail of the Pile Pool (a cracking autumn lie) and Emma Jackson had a lovely 10lbs fish from Loy Mouth. Chris Carirns had a salmon of 8lbs from Mucomir and Paul Shiels had a grilse from Cat Pool. Strangest fish though was the very last fish (the 200th recorded for the year) – a 6lbs grilse from Lucky Cast on Beat 4 caught by local rod Dougie Masson. The strage thing was that the fish was split fresh! After several weeks of stale fish, the very last fish is one straight off the tide! Bizarre.

It has been a very strange year due to the global pandemic. Fishing effort was very light indeed at times but there was a very encouraging run of early summer salmon and a good showing of grilse in July. The fish were in the best condition that I have ever seen salmon – fat and healthy in every respect. They are clearly finding food at sea. The issue of Covid and the (alleged) reduction in trawlers on the high seas is being hotly debated as the reason for the increase in fish numbers nationally. I am not so convinced. I have a quiet belief that something changed this year: That perhaps the salmon have started to adapt to the changing pattern of food at sea due to rising sea temperatures . They are, after all, the most incredible and adaptive creatures and, given enough time, they have always adapted in the past to whatever threats are facing them. We shall see.

In the meantime I want to say thank you to all our local and visiting fishers this year. The Lochy team look forward to welcoming you all again next season.

So often success or otherwise on the Lochy is down to the right mix of water. And throughout most of the last fortnight the bulk of the (generally high) water was coming through the turbines from Loch Lochy. This is the Lochy salmon’s least favoured type of water. Only when some fresh rain came down briefly from the Spean did it liven things up. In short, the rods had a pretty hard time of it.

Nevertheless there were some successes and these mostly fell to those who got down pretty deep to the fish. Sid Ingles had a couple of grilse in Garrabouie Stream on Beat 2 one day and Billy Neil had a ten pounder from Upper Camisky and a slightly smaller fish from Blackcairn Flats.

Steve Kingsley, fishing with Steve Wellard’s party, did particularly well landing fish of 12lbs (Croy), 10lbs (Garrabouie Stream) and 6lbs (Graveyard). The biggest of these fish was a fin clipped 2sw salmon from our hatchery smolt programme. Host Steve Wellard also had a cracking 13lbs hen fish from Camisky. Steve’s party also landed an encouraging number of fat and healthy sea trout with fish up to 2.5lbs. The party were all on heavy sink tips and small flies of subtle darkish hues.

Jon Gibb took a couple of grilse on Garrabouie Flats one evening in a brief flurry of activity, and Charlie Spencer’s team took a bright 10 pounder from Croy, but easily heaviest fish of the week fell to Billy Neil with a stunning 20lbs cock fish from Mucomir Pool.

With the latest Covid advice beginning to play havoc again with people’s travel plans, I suspect that fishing effort might now be severely depressed for the last 2 weeks of the season. This will be particularly frustrating if we get some fresh water from the Spean which should switch the fish back on again.

Steve Kingsley’s trio of fish – the fish at the top being a 12lbs fin clipped salmon
A brace of grilse for Jon Gibb from Garrabouie Flats one evening