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A chance to fish the mighty River Tay

Discussion in 'All Time Best Topics' started by rupert, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    Ring me read the text from Tim.

    It transpired that Tim, who is an Estate Agent, was selling a house that belonged to a chap who owned a timeshare week on River Tay. The timeshare week had been on the market for some time, but remained unsold. The owner, Mike, was happy to sell two days fishing to Tim and I. Was I up for it?

    Salmon, September, River Tay. Let me think ???. A bit of daft question really!!

    So teatime, Thursday afternoon, Tim and I set off North. We arrived at Perth about 9.30 p.m. in time to grab a buffet at the Maza Indian restaurant. As I crossed the road I noticed a couple of smartly dressed guys in their 50's just leaving the restaurant. One looked to be consoling the other, but as I got closer it became evident that he was supporting his friend, trying to keep him upright. The guy was absolutely bladdered! It transpired Perth races had been on, so I don't know whether this guy had just made, or lost his fortune.

    Tim had booked us in to stay at the Bankfoot Inn, a cosy little hostelry, not too far from the fishing. The bar was still open when we arrived. Thrappledouser is a 4.5% ABV ale brewed at the local Inveralmond brewery. It proved to be quite an affective nightcap too!

    We had arranged to meet Mike, the owner of the timeshare, at the beat hut just before 9.00 a.m. There, Tim and I were introduced to the other three rods and the two ghillies; Con and Michael. Con then took me to one side and said he would remember my name, as, like his, it was somewhat unusual. He then let slip that Con was in fact short for Cornelius - and I thought I had been given a daft name!

    The Taymount beat is a six rod beat, which rotates on alternate days with the Stobhall beat on the upper and lower beats. We would fish the upper beat today and the lower beat on day two. The hut overlooks the River. What a massive River it looked too, particularly with 7 of extra water in it. Apparently, even in a big water like this, the Tay frequently runs clear, so at least we could fish. When the Tweed is that height, it can run the colour of yellow ochre.

    The ghillies said we would be fishing with both fly and spinning gear, so both outfits were assembled. A 1 orange pot belly pig brass tube fly was chosen for my 15 Bruce and Walker double handed fly rod. A 2 ruby red floating devon was set up on my 11ft Daiwa spinning rod together with a 50 gram worming controller.

    Tim and Mike were to fish from the boat until lunch time and I was to fish from the bank. We loaded all the gear onto the boat and Michael the ghillie motored me to the opposite bank and explained which two sections of bank I would be fishing, then left me to it. At this height of river, there were no obvious pools, it was more a question of fishing the quieter sections of water down the sides.


    I started with the floating devon set up on the first section of bank. I like using a multiplier on my big spinning rod - The Abu 6501 C4 I was using was bought on the classified section of this forum too! The reel was loaded with 30lb power pro braid (yellow) which showed up well as the bait traversed the river. You could feel the worming controller bouncing over the rocky bottom and the braid transmitted every contact with the bottom. A couple of times the controller snagged, but by lifting the rod tip, the weight and bait, came on the move once again. I'd fished for less than five minutes when the controller came to a stop. Despite changing angles, the controller was firmly stuck and on pulling for a break, I lost the weight, 2 devon, the lot.


    The bottom was clearly very snaggy, so tactics were changed and I completed the rest of the section with a rapala J13, but no joy. It had taken about an hour to fish the first section of river that had been pointed out to me, so I moved downstream to the second section Michael had suggested. The second section was similar, a daunting 90 metre wide section of river, but with a quieter section of water on my side of the bank. The crease between the rapid and quieter water was only 15 metres from my bank, so was comfortably in reach with my fly rod.

    I hadn’t wielded my salmon fly rod since my last trip to the River Tweed on 30th November 2010. (If you are into salmon fishing, you might enjoy this read too http://www.whitbyseaanglers.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=18796.0) Anyway, it usually takes me a while to adjust to the mechanics of making a half decent spey cast after such a period of time, but being a right hander, fishing the left bank (looking downstream) is the easier option. I was standing right in the very edge of the river wearing my breathable chest waders with the water above waist level. Yep, they were still seeping water, just like last year! The wading was OK, but there were one or two big slippery underwater boulders to circumnavigate as I worked my way down. I had selected my medium sink tip, and if the spey cast was made too squarely, it would then sink too deep and snag. I had a couple of close escapes with the snagged fly, but each time it pulled free.

    I was letting the fly swing tight into my bank and was hopeful that I might get a take as the fly came round to the dangle. My line had just touched down the far side of the crease, when it pulled tight. Because the fish had taken in the heavy water where I was least expecting a take, it took a moment to register. That amazing sensation of an atlantic salmon nodding on the end of your fly line soon wakes you up though! By the time I had got out of the river and onto the bank, I had the fish on the reel.

    I would love to say the fight was spectacular, but in truth it wasn't. I think in these very big rivers with bags of depth, the fish don't need to run. It plodded up and down the river for quarter of an hour, with me attached at the other end. I hadn't taken a net with me, so I would have to beach it as best I could. There was only one area where this could be done. Luckily it went to plan and a nice 14 lb salmon was landed and then returned. The Tay rules are that only cock fish under 10lb can be retained.


    I fished the rest of the section down with the fly with no further action, so changed tactics to my spinning rod and a rapala countdown CD9. I like to cast these slightly upstream of square, to give them time to sink. I then retrieve them slowly, so they come back in an arc. The few salmon that were showing, were in mid river and out of casting range. They were probably running fish anyway. At the end of the section of river I was fishing was a large rock, that the ghillies referred to as the shark's fin. It looked a nice bit of water and being above a long stretch of rapid water, could well be a place where a fish or two may take a rest on their upstream journey.

    I'd resigned myself that I'd had my luck for the day and I was about done for the morning anyway. Just then, a last cast right at the tail of the quiet water, resulted in the rapala being nobbled about 20 metres out. The fish immediately started to thrash, spin and jag. I hate salmon when they jag with their head down and tail up. Its so often when they come off too. The commotion continued immediately above the rapid water, and I could see that the salmon might well leave the run and I would have to chase after it. So I took a gamble and slackened off slightly, and the salmon responded by settling down. It then moved upstream and away from the dangerous rapid water below.

    The one and only area where I'd beached my first salmon was 75 yards upstream and I thought I'd see if I could lead it up there. Very often, with constant steady tension a salmon will follow like a dog on a lead. Using this approach I manoeuvred the fish just where it needed to be. Five minutes later number two was on the bank, a fish of around 11 lbs.



    By this time, it was approaching 1pm and time to walk back and meet up with the ghillie for lunch. Tim and Mike were both fishing from the boat, but they hadn't had any luck. To begin with, Tim didn't believe I'd had two, but the photos on the phone and my cheesy grin finally convinced him. Over lunch we found one of the other rods had taken a six pounder, so that was 3 fish caught that morning.


    For the afternoon, I was due to fish on the boat with Mike and Con was to ghillie. The traditional Tay method of harling was to be deployed. Harling involves running three lures, or flies, out of the back of the boat, which traverses too and fro across the river, gradually working downstream. (Out of interest, does anyone know whether this is done on any of the other big UK Rivers?)

    One of the most popular harling lures is the Kynoch killer, but Con also ran a megabass vision 110 out on the centre rod. The two outside rods with the Kynocks on were held in rod clamps. Interestingly, the lures were worked closer to the boat than I'd imagined only 20 to 25 metres back. The Kynocks run about 4ft deep, but with a very erratic action, not just wobbling, but sweeping from side to side, a bit like a pike jerkbait action. I'd have thought the outboard engine would have spooked the salmon, but this was clearly not the case.

    Harling is not the most inspiring method, but it certainly works. I suppose it works because it keeps three baits constantly in the taking zone, but all the skill to get the fish to take, rests entirely with the ghillie and his boatmanship. All the paying rods do, is play the hooked fish. Eventually, one of the kynock rods hooped over and it was Mikes turn to play the fish. This coloured cock fish weighed 17lb.



    On the Saturday, we arrived at the River to find the level had dropped nearly a foot. We were to be fishing the lower Taymount beat, which includes the legendary Linn Pool, one of the most famous pools on the Tay. The Linn Pool is reputed to be 90’ deep!



    Michael the ghillie said that I was to be fishing from the bank again in the morning. He was going to put me on the island on the Linn Pool itself! Michael said that I would definitely get a couple of salmon with the river having dropped. He even left me with a net!

    Meanwhile, Tim and Mike were fishing the Majors pool, immediately above the Linn pool. They were harling the pool with Michael. Just before mid morning I saw the boat draw up to the bank and everyone got out. Apparently, Mike had just asked the ghillie whether they had ever had two salmon at once when harling. Not a minute later that exact thing happened. Tim clearly took the wrong rod. His only had a six pounder on the end. Mikes was a stunning fresh hen salmon of 21lbs that apparently cart wheeled in the air spectacularly! I'd liked to have seen that.

    Meanwhile on the Linn Pool, I flogged away with floating devons, rapala J13's, countdowns, upstream flying Cand even an old 40gram Abu koster - all to no avail. I reckon bringing that net, put a jinx on me.


    The afternoon slot saw me with Mike in the boat with Con as ghillie again. Despite covering a lot of water by harling, we never even got a take. The only excitement was when Con got a shout on the radio from Michael who had hooked a salmon in the Majors pool again. The fish had left the pool and gone over the waterfall and into the Linn pool, where it got off.

    The ghillies knocked off at around 5.30 p.m. and we said our goodbyes complete with the customary crinkly handshake. Con had suggested that I should fish on from the bank for the final hour or so. He pointed out a couple of likely places which he thought I should cover with my fly rod. I followed his suggestion but with no joy on the fly.

    Opposite where the boats had been tied up was a slack bit of water and I thought it might be worth the final 20 minutes there. The best bit of water was out of casting range for the fly rod, so I set up a floating devon on the spinning rod. It was a snaggy bit of river, but the bait fished round nicely tapping away on the bottom. Then, the tapping sensation was replaced by a series of snatches - fish on!

    Tim was at hand to watch and assist. Unfortunately, so was Tim's dog; an enthusiastic spangador going by the name of Echo. As the fish tired, I could see there was a good bit of clean sand where the salmon could be beached, but who was going to do this was still undecided. Tim volunteered, but Echo got in first. I could see this ending in tears, either the salmon coming off, or the dog getting a treble in it. The dog would not stay out of the way, so Tim threw some stones further down the river which Echo eagerly pursued.

    With the dog out of the way, we took the opportunity to beach the salmon, which was easily done with Tim's help. This was a 13lb fish and I was thrilled to get my string finally pulled, after what had been a bit of a slog of a day. It just shows how you need to stick at it though. It had been a cracking two days and I was really capped to be lucky enough to have had three double figure salmon in that time.


    Overlooking that magnificent river in the gloaming, the celebratory bottle of Budweiser, never tasted sweeter.

  2. willybendit

    willybendit Rockling

    Hi Rupert cracking report & pictures awesome fishing the stuff dream are made of tightlines Alain
  3. bucko

    bucko New Member

    Brilliant report Rupert- well done.
    Tay really is a mighty river. I have seen some amazing sights at Stanley when high tide coincides with dusk.
    I can well believe that 'Linn Pool' is as deep as they say- there is a pool off the main current just upstream of Dunkeld that is very similar and is an awesome, but scary place to fish.
  4. DDippy

    DDippy New Member

    thank you for a great report and read.
  5. Sambo

    Sambo To the MAX!

    Fantastic report Rupert, a real joy to read. Well done on the Salmon, very nice fish indeed :yes:
  6. tone

    tone Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Great report. Really enjoyed reading it.
  7. Davo

    Davo Rockling

    Fantastic report Rupert. I think the pictures bring it home how big the Tay is, although i havnt seen it first hand, and hopefully one day i will. Well done on your fish.
  8. NICKB

    NICKB Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Brilliant, well done on the fish Rupert. There's something about a RR (Rupert Report) that really puts you in on the action so to speak. Thanks for posting.

  9. Dav

    Dav Rockling

    Brilliant report and some lovely fish rupert , i must say it looks absoloutly stunning up there . Very well done and thanks for posting.
    I got a couple of devons this season and was meant to put more time into using them , do you use a long leader with bb swivels between controller and devon ? one more thing do you think the water needs to have some visibilty to have much success with them . Thanks alot ....
  10. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    Hi Dav

    Thanks for your kind words. The set up I use for a floating devon is a three way swivel with a small split ring on the dropper to which I fasten the weight.

    For a weight, the best ones to use are either a worming controller (some places advertise them as jumping jacks) or a 'bouncing betty' rubber ball. Neither are 100% snag proof, but better than any other weight. When you do snag, its normally the weight that snags, very rarely the devon, so you can use a variety of tricks to ensure your weight breaks away from the 3 way swivel more easily.

    Your main line is on one end of the three way swivel, and on the opposite end is your devon line. This wants to be approximately 2' long with another swivel half way along. I.e 12" line, swivel, 12" line and then the devon. If you don't put that second swivel in between you can get tangles. I just used ordinary small barrell swivels, but a Sharpes ball bearing swivel would be better still. There's not much point in making the devon line any longer, because the floating devon seems to finds the same level, even on longer lengths of line and these are just more cumbersome to cast.

    Of all the colours you can get, I have most faith in a red or ruby red devon. Don't use one that is too big. The 1 1/2" and 2" ones seem best at this time of year. In low summer water, I've seen 1" ones catch when nothing else would. I get mine from here. http://www.thedevonminnowstore.co.uk/index.php It's a West Yorkshire firm and Mac, the guy who runs it, is really good to deal with.

    Fish them as you would a fly, slowly down and across but cast more squarely to begin with, than you would with a fly. You want enough weight on that it hits bottom quickly, but not too much to stop it traversing across the current. If the weight stops, let it hang for a while, then lift your rod and it should carry on across.

    With regard to coloured water, I think a flying C with its vibrations would still have the edge, but once you can see 18"+ into the water I'd be happy to use a devon.

    Some people swear by sinking devons, but I like this floating devon set up, because it gets down deep quickly and fishes round more slowly = keeping the bait in front of a salmons nose longer.
  11. Dav

    Dav Rockling

    Thanks very much rupert , just the kind of well explained advise i was after :yes: I will defo have to stick at them when the visibility suits , i always tend to go to a small mepps or a rapala when the visibility gets to around 10 " or more .
    I really do like them devons tho ....i must invest in a ruby red one ,. Again thanks for taking time to advise me on fishing the devon ....
    Must dash gota go , got a date with a seatrout ....Know doubt she wont turn up tho .... :cheesy:

    BOOMSTICK Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Awsome report and pics there mate and even better fish well done
  13. Mark Gelder

    Mark Gelder Rockling

    What a fantastic read.............
  14. WillW

    WillW Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Brilliant read with my lunch! Never had a go at the big silver things but one day.....

    For now I must get a couple of hours in on the brownies before the end of the month.

    Thanks Rupert
  15. congerball

    congerball Blenny

    A quality report Rupert, glad the reel is doing alright!

  16. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    Thanks Ben.

    I wondered when I wrote it, what the odds of you picking up that small print might be. :blindfold:

    Yep, still capped with reel - she's a good'un. :happy: :happy:
  17. mattylamb

    mattylamb Rockling

    brilliant article as usual Rupert
  18. bulltrout

    bulltrout Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    excellent report and fantastic pictures , love the tay, havent been for a couple of seasons , need to get back up there :yes:
  19. Chris j

    Chris j Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    fantastic story of your day .the river looks amazing!
  20. x-generator

    x-generator New Member

    Fantastic report! Very well structured and informative read.

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