Monday, 10 September 2012

Thurso River fishing 2012

I always look forward with anticipation to the first week in September, now a fishing ritual in the calendar when I join US friends Barrie Hesp and Amos Smith on the Thurso River in Caithness.For the weeks ahead, the weather forecast is anxiously studied, hoping for sufficient rain to give a good flow in the river ensuring that fresh fish will be migrating up through the beats. While the river has fished well over the summer, catches have been declining in the continuing absence of a good spate of water. Nevertheless we've seen the river much lower so the overall situation was not without hope.
      This year I started on Beat 5 in the middle section  of the river. This includes a pool, The Island Stream, one of my long time favourites. Expectations were exceeded with a nice 5lb fish at 8.00am in the morning on an orange cone-head fly in the fast run into the pool, not long after starting. The significance of such an early fish cannot be overestimated. Right away it means you won't have a blank week, the pressure is off and you can relax and enjoy the fishing. At the bottom of the pool beside the island I got a second fish around mid-day, on a small orange cascade fly, in calmer streamy water, consolidating the excellent start of earlier. In the afternoon I changed location to the bottom of the beat and completed a hat trick taking a nice fresh run fish, a bar of silver, on the same orange cascade fly, from the Trawl Pool. Three fish in one day was a record for me, noted for posterity above.
      For day 2  I moved down to beat 3, always a good beat for me. However a westerly gale blew up and fishing got gradually more difficult and we were finally blown off at lunch-time. Day 4 took us up to the top of the river on beat 12. It has produced very few fish lately and certainly none for me. It is however a picturesque stretch with Strathmore Lodge in the background.
On day 4 I had beat 10. I soon hooked a large fish in the Dalemore stream. It was as black as the ace of spades and very strong. After ten minutes it got off and I retrieved my orange cone-head with considerably straightened hooks. The loss wasn't a big deal. It would have been returned anyway. In the afternoon I went down to the bottom of the beat to fish the delighfully named Horse Pools. The  Upper pool has a weir with a gap in the middle through which the water rushes. I saw a fish rise there and cast over it with the same orange cascade fly that had been successful in the Island Stream on day 1. I got no interest so changed fly to a tiny Stoat's Tail, a very simple concoction made traditionally from black Labrador hair. That did the trick and I landed a nice 7lb fresh run bar of silver.
On day 5 I moved downstream to beat 8. I spent most of the morning on the fancied pools at the bottom of the beat. I hooked a fish on the lower Broken Bank pool but it didn't stay on. In the afternoon I fished the top of the beat and was quickly rewarded with a 6lb sea liced fish in the strong run into the Dale Stream. Again the orange cone-head worked well in strongly running water. The picture shows the fish with the Westerdale mill in the background. Soon after I got a second fish in the very fast water of the Lower Mill Stream just below the mill in the picture.

Final day 6 was spent on beat 6 where I finished the week with a very small 3lb fish taken on the orange cascade in the Chapel stream.

Overall a satisfactory week with a total of seven fish, a record for me on the Thurso. Roll on next year!

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder published by Willow Moon. eBook and paperback from all Amazon sites. Reviews at

1 comment: