The end of a strange but encouraging 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.

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