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

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