There is very little encouaging that can be written about August this year. Conditions were far from ideal and the river was very lighly fished indeed (about 20% capacity most of the time), but in spite of this the grilse just simply failed to make an appearance. Was this linked to the high sea lice levels on local fish farms in Loch Linnhe last year when the smolts went to sea? We shall never know but what I can report is that moves are afoot to change the way fish are farmed in Loch Linnhe that should have a major benefit to future runs of salmon smolts. More to follow as I learn more…..

Meanwhile the catches in the month were largely made up of 2sw salmon that had been in the system a while, interspersed with a few fresh runners. Heaviest fish of the month fell to local rod Ian Inkson with a heavyweight 18 pounder from Mucomir Pool. Also on the big fish front – Billy Neil landed a 17lbs salmon from Rail End on Beat 4 and Ivor Dunbar had a 15 pounder from the Bulls Run on Beat 2. Most of the other fish were around the 10lbs mark.

Sadly no photos submitted to me this month. Surely things will pick up a bit as we go into the cooler month of September? Last year we saw a heavy run of grilse right in the closing days of the season. Will it be the same this year?

It was a much quieter month after the excellent catches in June. This was partly down to less than ideal conditions but mainly due to the main grilse run not yet appearing.

What was unusual for July was the good sized MSW salmon that continued to be caught. Several fish were landed in the mid teens and heaviest 2 fish of the month were both a cracking 18 pounder from Croy Pool for Andrew Shaw on a Stoats Tail variant and another 18lbs salmon for James Porter on Mucomir Pool.

Good sport was still to be had in the month in spite of the quieter general picture – for example Jenny Cooper and Steve Wellard had an excellent couple of hours of sport on Beat 2 one evening landing fish of 15lbs, 12lbs and 11lbs, with Billy Neil adding an extra one just a few pools upstream at the same time of 11lbs. Obviously a fresh pod of fish moving through the beat.

As we start August we are still waiting for a decent grilse run to appear. A few grilse have been caught but the ones that are entering the river are making a bee line for the headwaters.

Meanwhile on the fisheries restoration front it has been a busy month. We now have brought in all the freshwater acoustic receivers from the smolt tracking programme (where we tag smolts in the spring in the tributaries and track their progress down the river and out to sea). Over the coming months we will start to get some results in from the data held on the receivers.

We have also been busy in the hatchery taking fin clip samples from our captive brodstock programmes so that these can be analyised by the University of Highlands and Islands freshwater fisheries department in Inverness- these are gentically screened to see if any of the fish are of norwegian (farmed) origin so they can be removed from the programme, and also to see if any of the fish are siblings (so we make sure these ones are not crossed togereher at spawning time).

Bily has also been flat out strimming and maintaining the banks and paths in his constant fight with the bracken at this time of year! His efforts at keeping everything looking great are much appreciated by all of us.

Bob Fletcher with a nice fresh 8lbs fish from Upper Camisky
Jenny Cooper with her fresh run 15 pounder from Graveyard – one of 4 caught on the beat that evening
Another one for Jenny Cooper

3rd July

This week rounded off what has been an excellent month of fishing for heavyweight summer salmon. With one fish shy of 80 for the month we nearly trebled our 5 year average.

It was a harder week than the previous 2 or 3 and while there still some big fish running they seemed to be individuals rather than running groups. 10 fish were landed and heaviest fish of the week was a cracking 20 pounder for Paul Machugh from the Island on Beat 2. There were also no less than three 17 pounders in the week’s returns. Another fin clipped fish (a 12lbs salmon from our smolt stocking in the River Roy headwater) was also landed on the Beat 3 Falls Pool.

Looking ahead, with a building tide over this weekend we might hope to start to see the first of the summer grise arriving soon.

As fat as a well fed tuna – a perfect 17lbs summer salmon from Lower Camisky on Beat 3
Another of the 17lbs fish landed – this one from Upper Camisky

25th June.

We have enjoyed another very good week of fishing for heavyweight MSW summer salmon. Every fish landed was a bar of silver – most of them straight off the tide. The rods landed 29 for the week with the best at 18lbs – I would estimate over 100 fish were hooked and lost.

The conditions were far from ideal with the river running high and clear (from Loch Lochy) but it was a sign of the numbers of fish running that we caught fish in spite of it. On days of bright sun combined with the clear water, fishing well into the dark proved effective. Beat 3 fished particularly well, which was also unusual at this height, but salmon were caught on all 4 beats and all of the club beats. Most fish were in the 12lbs to 14lbs range and in pristine condition.

I will let the photographs of our happy anglers tell the story of the week (thank you for your shots) –

Ryan Cairns with his first fly caught salmon – 12lbs Sluggan Pool
Howard Evans with one of 2 salmon from Falls Pool on Saturday
Jon Gibb with a sea-licer from Upper Camisky
Jenny Cooper with a deep and fresh 13 pounder from Falls Pool
Heaviest salmon of the week – 18lbs of Lochy silver for John Veitch from Falls Pool
Howard Evans, Graveyard Pool
Jon Gibb with one of two 13 pounders from Beat 2
Chris Cairns with a Tailrace fish of 15lbs

19th June. We enjoyed a really good week on the river with the run of very large summer salmon continuing. 20 fish were landed landed from a fairly light rod effort and countless numbers were lost. We had no less than 4 fish of 20lbs and over with the largest tipping the scales at 24lbs. It’s great to see the river delivering fish of this calibre as the Lochy is famous for producing such large salmon. Thank you to everyone that sent me their photos this week – you can see below they speak much louder than words for some of the great sport that was on offer this week….

Jon Stuart 15lbs Croy Pool
Jon Gibb 21.5lbs Middle Camisky
Robert Ralston 14lbs Graveyard
Will Mansfield 13lbs Pollock
Harry Nicholson 12lbs Sluggan
Chris Cairns 13lbs Falls Pool
Rab Lees 13lbs Lower Camisky

12th June. The rain didn’t quite materialise this week as expected so the river dropped away quite rapidly and fish became a lot more difficult to tempt. Neverthless some good fish continue to be landed. Local rod John MacIssac took a brace of sparkling 14 pounders in a few hours on Beat One from Croy and Rock. Rab Lees came in behind him the same day and took another 14 pounder from the beat from Pile Stream. Peter Gibbons had antirer 14bs fish from Middle Camisky and Ben Ettridge had a cracking 16 pounder from Potholes on Beat 2. Unsurprisingly in the low water the tidal Tailrace beat started to fish and Inverlochy AC rod Paul Machugh took a brace at 10lbs and 15lbs from the beat. Below are some of the recent catches showing just what quality salmon are being caught on the river so far this season.

Alister Fraser 16lbs Bulls Run on Beat 2
Peter Gibbons with his stunning 14lbs fish from Middle Camisky
Paul Machugh with his 16lbs salmon from the Tailrace
Nigel Badiozzaman with a 12lbs fin clipped hatchery fish from Croy Pool
Another typical chunky early Lochy salmon for Alister Fraser

5th June. We have just enjoyed one of the best ‘spring’ fishing weeks for a good few years. A decent water height certainly helped, as well as a competent team of rods who know the river well. The rods landed 19 for the week as well as a great many boiled and lost. Pleasingly, all parties fishing this week got in on the action. The majority of the fish were MSW salmon in the mid teens but also notable was some early-running grilse (there is often a run of male grilse early in June that tend to follow the big female springers into the headwaters). Also featured in the catches was a fin clipped fish from the limited stocking of fin clipped smolts on the Roy – a sure sign that many of the fish running this week were destined for the top of the system. With showers forecast for the week ahead we hope that these big Lochy salmon keep running in off the tides.

A delighted Howard Evans with a brace of typical Lochy early fish – a stunning 18lbs salmon from Golden Burn and a 16lbs salmon from Beech Tree.
A fresh lump of 16lbs silver ready to be returned by local rod John MacIssac

29th May. River high all week. Light fishing effort. 3 fish between 15lbs and 17lbs landed. Many more lost. We need the river to drop.

22nd May. Fishing well underway now on the river. 4 spring salmon landed so far up to 15lbs. All chunky sea-liced bars of silver. River well up and more heavy showers forecast this week.

Local club member Brian Tolmie with a split fresh 13 pounder from Falls Pool on Beat 3.

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.