This was my third trip to the river Annan this Autumn. I hadnâ€™t fished there since my last trip with Sam Baxter three weeks earlier, but the local grapevine told me it had been pretty hard going recently, with only a handful of fish being taken. My guest was John Hudson. During the summer, John often asks me to join him aboard his boat, an Orkney 5.2 called â€œCape Codâ€ so this was a way of returning the fishing favour. At 8.45 a.m. just before we arrived, I put a call through to Ross, who is one of the local rods. Ross had just landed himself and had already checked the level gauge, which read 1â€™ 9â€ - so we would have to stick to the fly all day. The beat can only be fished by the twenty season ticket holders, but itâ€™s a bit of a lottery as to how many of them might be fishing. With the end of the season in sight, and it being a Saturday, I thought there may be a few more rods out, but as it happened there were just the four of us, including Kevin, who had driven down from Glasgow. The temperature was just off freezing, with the residue of a light frost evident as we walked across the grass field to the river. It looked like it would get out to be a nice day, with little or no wind to trouble us. The river was running clear, with only very odd leaf in the water. Providing the wind didnâ€™t get up, the leaves shouldnâ€™t present a problem. John and I were both using double handed 15â€™ Bruce and Walker rods with Rio windcutter multi tip lines. We both opted for the same tip, the 6â€ per second sinker, to which we added 5â€™ of 15lb mono. John likes his maxima, whereas I use JRC stiff fluorocarbon, the stuff that the carp boys use for tying rigs. This stiff fluorocarbon turns a tube fly over better in my opinion. Fly wise, John selected a 1 Â¼â€ black and yellow brass tube. I went for a bright purple pot bellied pig shrimp pattern, which when combined with a blood red treble hook, really looked the business! These are completely different to the Alley shrimp or Willie Gunn variants that every man and his dog seems to use, and have given me some success over the past two seasons. Kevin had just climbed out of river from the â€œunder the wireâ€ pool. This is normally as good a place as anywhere at this height of water, but Kevin was fishless. I suggested to John that we give it half an hour then try again. John fished it through, but with no joy. Perhaps things might improve as the air temperature rose? One of the â€˜oppositionâ€™ rods on the far side of the river hooked into a salmon around 11.00 a.m. which was encouraging. There were a good few fish showing in most of the pools and the height of water made the fly fish round really nicely. The morning was flying past and it was one of those days when you could have expected a pull at any moment. Kevin was fishing the Home pool and I walked down to see how he was getting on. Heâ€™d had one good pull on the fly in the fast water leading into the pool, but that had been it. I said that I would go onto the next section round the corner. John fishing the run to the Home Pool The Home Pool itself always holds fish, but the dead water on the inside bend of the pool makes it hard to fly fish. The steep bank behind makes overhead casting impossible and the dead water makes spey casting ineffective, as the line doesnâ€™t fish round to the dangle. With more water at spinning height, you can fish the pool thoroughly, but with the fly rod, itâ€™s all rather frustrating. The tail of the Home Pool leads into a long straight run, with a fishy looking crease down the far bank edge. Iâ€™d never caught from this section before, but I knew Ross had nailed a salmon here, on my first visit this year. My opening cast plopped the purple shrimp a yard from the far bank and it had swum only a matter of feet, before it was intercepted. The line moved steadily off as I tightened down and lifted into the salmon. Those opening seconds can be make or break, but a fully bent rod suggested a decent hook hold. The fish just hung out in the current, with occasional â€˜jagâ€™ if I increased the pressure. I had first hooked the fish at 11.45 a.m. and for the next ten minutes it stayed out of sight near the far bank. By this time it had moved upstream and round the corner and into the Home Pool itself. A shout to Kevin and he was on standby with his net! And this was the fish, a really short and deep hen salmon of 15lb 8oz. It was a belting fish, which clearly hadnâ€™t been in the river all that long. Most of the fish are pretty coloured at this time of the year, but every now and again you can be lucky enough to get a spanker like this. I rang Ross to see how he was doing. Interestingly heâ€™s had one at exactly the same time as me, so was this coincidence, or had they â€˜come onâ€™? To rub salt into Johnâ€™s wound, Ross had taken his fish from water that John had fished only half an hour earlier! Thatâ€™s salmon fishing for you. Kevin had to be away in the middle of the afternoon, so that left the three of us concentrating on the top half of the beat, where the best fly water is to be found. The Cow Drink pool is another good pool at this height of river and so Ross and I encouraged John to fish that through. Despite giving it a good try, John failed to get any interest from the fish, which regularly showed through the run he was fishing. The light started to fail just before 5pm when we saw Ross re-appear to show us the pictures of a coloured cock salmon he had just landed from the under the wire pool, in the gloaming. So that was two fish for him that day. The season on the Annan normally finishes on the 15th November, but it has now been extended for a fortnight to the 30th November, on a trial basis, but with compulsory catch and release. The reason is that there are an increasing number of clean fish being caught at the end of the season â€“ possibly early spring fish, who knows? Anyway, it looks like there might now be time to fit in another visit before the months out? Itâ€™s a five hour round trip for me and I sometimes envy these locals who have such fine fishing on their doorstep. Thereâ€™s a popular misconception that good salmon fishing costs a fortune. It doesnâ€™t have to. Day tickets can still be had on other Annan beats in November for Â£20/day. http://www.fishpal.com/Scotland/Annan/?dom=Annan The locals who fish the Dryfeholm beat with me, probably fish once a week throughout the season as the river has some superb brown trout, grayling and sea trout as well as the salmon. For them, each day works out at less than a tenner. I would say thatâ€™s pretty good value in anyoneâ€™s book.