I was looking back at all my blogs in 2015 and it struck me that once again we had a year which can be summarised best as frustrating! Yes, there were good news stories of epic adventures and decent catches on many rivers which were truly welcome, but for others, yes, definitely frustrating as the weather once again did its best to drive us all mad.
The rain throughout 2015 helped many of our spate rivers across the country with tales of decent runs of fish and catches in Northern rivers and at times on some of our West Coast rivers. Always a delight to be turning up for your fishing knowing that the rain is stopping, the river is dropping back and there is a run of fish – a great feeling and a good day to be on the river!
It now seems so long ago, January 2015 and I was curious to reflect on the weather. My mid January blog said “As I sit writing the first blog of the new year the weather is absolutely freezing and feels like a ‘proper winter’! “ A year later we have had a mild winter so far with high winds, rain and floods across the country. No wonder the word frustrating comes to mind when you summarise the 2015 season.
That said, the opening of the Tay last January was a memorable affair with a good turn out as ever to see the new season get under way and some decent fresh fish caught too!
Interesting to reflect on my comments as we headed in to Spring of 2015 “ Anglers are reporting some good catches across the country which is good news! Tweed and Tay are seeing catches increase week on week and the Spey is now coming into its own.”
Summer and the weather was balmy and many days without rain. But reports of fish being caught continued, which kept anglers satisfied in the main, although there were clearly rivers starting to struggle with a lack of water.
By the time we got to August and September there were still success stories all around with rivers like the Spey and Tay having some excellent returns. Tweed had little water and were praying for rain as were other rivers and boy when it came did we get it!
When the rain came, it came, with floods causing damage to the surrounding countryside, villages and property, not to mention the worrying thoughts we have to what it was doing to river beds and the future of our salmon stocks.
And before we could even fit in a final day on rivers still open in November, the rain kept coming with fishing washed off and a feeling of frustration once more as we said goodbye to the 2015 season.
So that was a quick canter through the year. In summary we have had some great fishing on many of our rivers across the country in the main, but for some ‘frustration’.
We now turn our thoughts to the 2016 season which is literally only a week away. The first of our rivers to open up for the new season is the Helmsdale, which again is offering free fishing on their re-opening week. A river that can surrender fish from opening day and right throughout the season. Those of you who are venturing north to join in the fun will no doubt need to wrap up warm, but it might just be worth the effort for your first fish of the season in early January.
The first of the big four rivers opens on the 15th of January on the mighty Tay. I hope it is not too “mighty” as we all head for the various opening ceremonies up and down the river. I will be once again joining in the fun at Dunkeld House which is always an action packed affair. The day starts in the Dunkeld House Hotel with a breakfast and a few speeches from the opening guest which in 2016 will be Dr Aileen McLeod, the minister heading up the Wild Fishery Reform recommendations, that has had anglers across the country debating. I will be presenting the 2015 winner of the FishPal Malloch Trophy with his magnificent prize of the trophy, a McKenzie DTX rod, a box of Caledonia Fly Company flies and £250 of fishing vouchers from FishPal. Tom Buchanan’s magnificent 35b salmon caught on the River Lyon is the 2015 winner and congratulations to him. Here is the LINK to read the whole story which is well worth a read – well done Tom!!
We then have the Tweed and Dee kicking off their repetitive season with the Dee once again hosting an opening ceremony to get things under way. I plan to be up on the Dee to join in the fun and hope to have my first cast of the season whilst there – looking forward to that and hoping the river will have calmed down by then!
The last of the big four rivers, the Spey, opens on the 11th of February and again the tradition of pouring a dram from the foot bridge at Aberlour will I am sure, be well attended. I plan to be there too as we all hope for the successes of the 2015 season to continue in 2016.
So with all the festivities behind us and no doubt all back at work, I am sure you will have your thoughts on your first outing of the season. Rods, reels, flies all at the ready with the obligatory purchase of the one or two things you still need to do before setting off and dreams of a springer to get your season off to a flying start.
We have been working hard over the winter months introducing new features on the web site. A map system that will allow you to FIND FISHING on all the rivers and beats we have on our system and an ability to see who has available fishing for the times you want to fish. The map system works best on your lap top or computer but you can use it on your phone too – turn the phone side ways (landscape) to get the best results. The link can be found on our main FishPal site page which allows you to fine tune your search – worth playing about with this as you start to get used to just what it can do for you.
With the lessons of last year on the amount of fishing that was disrupted I would urge you to consider taking out our FishPal Insurance Policy to cover you in the event of being flooded off, plus other really welcome features. Here is the link to our Insurance page that tells you all about it and remember, even if you have already booked your fishing you can add this on to give you that comfort of knowing you will at least get your money back if your beat happens to be in flood (less an excess of only £50).
There are many other exciting developments that we are working on right now as we continue to try and bring new features and additions to our many site pages to keep you as informed and as up to date with as much as we can to make your fishing trip an event to remember.
I very much look forward to meeting up with many more of you on a river near you in 2016 and I hope (as we all always do), that 2016 will be a good year for us all with many a good story to tell about epic encounters!