Finally back on the Spey!!

I can’t believe that we are turning the clock into June next week and this is my first trip to the Spey this year. I guess that will be the story for so many anglers as we move out of lockdown and get back planning all the fishing trips we can fit in for the season ahead.

It might have been the end of May but what a difference in conditions. Previous years in May have been pretty dry and warm whereas this year we are the complete opposite, wettest May for many a year and river temperatures almost a month behind where they should be at this time of year.

With restriction lifted, and finally  in Morayshire too, it was with great delight to know my 2 day trip was on. There is nothing quite like being in amongst fellow anglers congregating in the Gordon Arms Car park first thing in the morning as everyone works out where they are heading that morning. Especially good to chat to long serving head ghille Ian Tennant who tells me this will indeed be his final year on the river – a wiser man than Ian on all things Gordon Castle you will likely never meet – a true gent and quite rightly looking forward to all sorts of invitations to fish next year when and where he can.

I was heading with David to fish Brae Beat 5. The rain had already started and the forecast was looking pretty wet so we were anticipating a rise in water later on it the day. The good thing about us fishing beat 5 was we knew we would be one of the last of the beats to see the rise in water being so far down the river.

Anyway, we arrived at the beat to see the river still looking good although in David’s opinion, still a bit too high for his liking at 10 inches on his gauge but certainly fishable. I was steered to fish the top end of the beat starting in Grilse pool. For those who know the pool it is a delight to fish, looked particularly fishy and anticipation was high. The tail of the pool just above where you go into wade down past the burn was looking probably the best of the options to get lucky with a current that takes the fish right up the nearside bank in front of you.

The rain actually stopped for a while and if I am not mistaken, the sun shone for a moment and was most welcome. My set up for the day was my Hardy Zenith 14’ 6” rod, Loop 811 reel, Scott Mackenzie shooting head floating line and a slow sink Rio 10foot tip. A wee tube fly with a bit of my usual favourite colours of black and yellow (see photo)  completed the set up 

Around 10.30am it happened – what a take!! A fish took my fly and nearly ripped the rod right out of my hand!!! David who was looking after a fellow guest at the top end of the pool said he could here my reel screaming before he heard my cry for help!!

The fish took off downstream before deciding to rejoin me in the pool as I managed to get line back on the reel. David already by now below me and in situ with the net was ideally placed for me to lift the rod above him and steer the fish into the net but not before one heart stopping moment when right at the net he decided to go off on one final run!! As calmly as I could, I regained control of the by now tiring fish and David lifted the net and we had him.

To say I was delighted to have landed my first Spey salmon of the season is almost not enough – I was buzzing and after a few photos of the fish and a wee video of its return, I was duly informed by David to get back in the pool!! I did and 5 minutes later in almost the exact same spot I had a long pull but then nothing – what a feeling but on this occasion just nothing there to lift into.

That was to be it more or less for the day – by lunch time we had a 2” lift in water heights and there first of the large logs/trees started to appear before us floating down the river. For me personally, I was more than happy with my short days work but I felt for my fellow anglers who were also fishing the Spey for the first time this season only to have their fun cut short – hey ho, that’s fishing I guess and something I am sure we have all experienced at some point or other. 

It would have been great to have managed a cast on Castle next day but the river was still huge and dirty so unfortunately it was not be – great to catch up with David though and always enjoy his chat – I’ll be back I promised as we said our farewells. 

Great to catch up with so many fellow anglers who had all travelled huge distances to get to their fishing on Gordon Castle. There seemed to be an even greater buzz than usual as tales of old were told of previous trips to the Spey. Many of these anglers have already booked further trips for later in the season back on the river. A sense if you like of making sure that they were making up for lost time – something I completely can relate too.

Next week I have a good friend fishing with me on the Tweed and really looking forward to that. He has come to fishing reasonably late but is hugely passionate about his fishing but as yet, not landed his first salmon. Yes he has come close but nothing landed yet. As much as I love to fish and indeed catch fish next week for me is all about making sure I help him as much as I possibly can to get off the mark – if he does I will certainly write about it and share the story with you all.

So tight lines to all out over the next week – it is to get warmer and rivers should drop off nicely so those heading for a trip I would think can do so with huge anticipation of getting in amongst the action. If you do, please do send us in your photos so we can share with everyone else who like you will be counting down the days to their eagerly awaited trip.

Best wishes 

Mark Cockburn

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