It seems almost as if it will never stop raining this summer. Once again just as the river started to approach a nice fishable and steady height, heavy showers in the headwaters put it back up and dirty again. This combined with a feeling of mid-August doldrums, and it was a quieter week than expected. Rod pressure on at least 2 of the 4 beats also remained very light indeed.

There were fish running through however and there was sport to be had. Local rod Robert Ralston landed a nice fresh grilse of 4lbs on the Tailrace on Monday. Robert has landed quite a few this year and, in his own words, he is ‘just putting the hours in’. How true he is – while it has perhaps not been a bumper run so far this season (although the grilse are a lot more plentiful than the last couple of years), the rewards have most definitely been there for those that put the effort in.

Later that day I was delighted to hear that Paddy Lynch-Staunton landed a 6lbs fish from the Falls Pool, especially as it was his first salmon. Well done Paddy!

Anthony German-Ribon had another grilse of around the same size on Upper Camisky and Christopher Zawadski had a smaller one from Pol-Na-Ha on Beat 4.

Inverlochy Angling Club member Brian Tolmie had a late fish on Friday of around 6lbs from the Falls Pool at around 9.30pm. With water temperatures still on the high side and fish often exhibiting unusual shyness in the mid-summer period, it can often pay dividends to fish well into the gloaming. And of course there is always the chance of a good sea trout for those that forgo the post-dinner bonhomie and stick it out on the river till late.

A lovely fresh grilse for Brain Tolmie from Falls Pool in near darkness

A week of localized thunderstorms and persistent heavy rain at times resulted in a wildly fluctuating river and water than ran dirty and brown intermittently. Hardly conditions for good productive salmon fishing!

What also became very noticeable this week was that Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig have now warmed up considerably relative to the eastern rain-fed arm of the system and unless there is some (clean) spate water coming out of the Roy and Spean the fish are very quick to go off the take in the predominantly stale loch water. It even started to look this week that fish were perhaps more reluctant to enter the river when the loch-fed conditions prevailed.

We did catch some fish this week, but it was certainly quieter than the previous fortnight. Some of the usual local rods scored again – showing that persistence pays off in these very hit-and-miss conditions. Robert Ralston, Steve Wellard, Chris Cairns and Ian Lamont all caught grilse and I even managed a fresh one myself from Lundy Mouth at the top of the tide one evening when the river was running clear and fining off after a spate.

But by far the best 2 fish this week were hooked by brother and sister double act Sam and Isla Allen, grandchildren of RLA member and Lochy stalwart Rodney Mann. While other beats were being thrashed (largely unsuccessfully) by some seasoned and experienced rods, Sam, aged 9, hooked a lively grilse in the Falls Pool which unfortunately eventually came unstuck after quite a tussle. But meanwhile further upstream his younger sister, Isla aged just 7, under the watchful eye of head ghillie Billy Neil, hooked and played out a cracking fresh grilse of around 5lbs in Upper Camisky. Well done Isla – you showed us all how to do it that day!

With slightly cooler temperatures forecast for the week ahead and (yet more rain) this may give us slightly better fishing conditions. What we probably need though is some fresh fish into the system to keep the sporting momentum up.

7 Year old Isla Allen with her fresh grilse from Upper Camsiky
Isla and her proud ghille Billy Neil
9 year old Sam Allen playing his fish in the Falls Pool

What was particularly encouraging this week was the mixture of both fresh salmon and grilse in the rod catch. Conditions again were far from ideal with some very humid weather conditions and water temperatures verging on the tepid, but the rods did manage to land some cracking fish. Again the river was fairly lightly fished and the catch would no doubt have been higher had the full complement of rods been out on the beats.

Regular Lochy fisher Donald Wilson had his annual party on the river this week and they enjoyed some good sport. The host got things off to a start with a fresh-run 5lbs grilse from Pollock on Beat 2. Austin Thorp took another fresh fish of 6lbs from Beech Tree on Beat 4, which I think is the first off this pool this season. Alex Valori landed a bar of silver of 5lbs from Croy and John Powell had a 4 pounder from Pollock. But undoubtedly fish of the week (and indeed one of the heaviest this season) was a stunning 18.5lbs summer salmon landed by Austin Thorp in Lower Camsiky on Beat 3. It is great to know that in amongst the pods of fresh grilse these heavy-weights are migrating up the river as well.

Chris Cairns also landed a lovely summer salmon this week down at the Tailrace – a tide-fresh fish of 9lbs – and local rod Robert Ralston continued his good run of the previous week by landing a salmon of 9lbs from Lundy Mouth.

Other rods to score this week were Aulden Dunipace (5lbs, Lower Camisky); Colin Henderson (5lbs, Falls Pool) and Forbes Elworthy (5lbs, Croy Pool). Least welcome fish of the week was Colin Henderson’s 10lbs farmed escapee from Garrabouie Stream – but thank you Colin for getting it out of the river. This is the first one of these this season and thankfully they have become something of a rarity in recent years due to better containment measures on the local fish farms.

With the sultry weather looking set to continue for a few days yet, we could do with a fresher air flow and a drop in water temperature – perhaps even a fresh splash of water to liven things up.

Austin Thorp with his big fish from Lower Camsiky
Chris Cairn’s 9lbs summer salmon from the Tailrace – a plump well-fed specimen that fought like a demon

With a turbulent week of monsoon-like rain one minute and scorching 28C temperatures the next, it was a pleasing result to record a total of 15 fish up to 20lbs landed on the private beats this week. The rods did well to catch what they did bearing in mind the river never came below 2ft all week and at one point shot up to over 4.5ft after a particularly vicious downpour in the headwaters. As has been the story of much of this season so far, there has been a surfeit of water for fish to run hard on – luckily though there were some signs this week that there were one or two beginning to rest in the main stem at last. This should hopefully hold more fish up over the coming weeks.

Local rod Robert Ralston got the week started with an early fish on Monday of 5lbs from the Falls Pool. He then went on to have a cracking week landing a total of 4 fish – adding to his Monday fish with an 8 pounder from Garrabouie Flats, a 6 pounder from the Graveyard and finally a fresh 9 pounder from Lundy Mouth.

Lochy regular David Snead paid his annual visit to the river this week and his party landed fresh grilse from Middle Camisky, Golden Burn and Garrabouie Stream. They lost several as well.

Members of the Inverlochy Angling Club, fishing the private beat rotation this week, did well and club secretary Chris Cairns had a 10lbs salmon and a fresh 7lbs grilse both from Lundy Mouth. Rab Lees also scored a double with a 13lbs salmon from Big Rock on Beat 4 and a fresh 5 pounder from Upper Camisky. Ian Lamont and Brian Tolmie were also on the scorecard with fresh grilse from Beat 4.

Special mention though goes to local keeper Mike Rhoden who was fishing one of Ivor Dunbar’s rods – Mike landed a sparkling fresh 7lbs fish from Governor and then followed it with the heaviest fish of the week, a lunking 20lb salmon from Pollock on Beat 2. The fact that this large hen fish was colouring up suggests that the lower river is beginning to hold some residents which should bode well for the coming weeks. As August fast approaches and the warm weather persists we will have to hope that the water temperature does not climb too high (I hear that fishing has been stopped in parts of Norway in recent days) and our residents do not become too sluggish or the fresh fish are held back in the cooler water of the estuary. The long-term weather forecast is rather vague at the moment.

Finally, the last capture of the week was a male pink pacific salmon landed by Maciej Gniewowski on Mucomir Pool. This is the first one of these alien invaders ever recorded on the Lochy. Please will all Lochy anglers note that all pink salmon should be dispatched and reported to your ghillie or a member of the river management team. A photograph for identification purposes is below but full details and further photos can be seen on the Fisheries Management Scotland website www.fms.scot

Mike Rhoden with his big hen fish (the photograph does not do the fish justice – Mike is a big guy!!)
Brian Tolmie, one of several local rods who all caught fresh grilse this week
Male Pink Pacific Salmon caught this week at Mucomir Pool

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!