Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Thurso River Nightmare

My posts on salmon fishing in previous years have been exuberant affairs fuelled by good catches of fish under favourable conditions, notably a good flow of water in the Thurso or Wick rivers.In the run up to my week on the Thurso beginning on July 15th, I watched with horror as the river level and catches fell sharply through June into July when heat added more fishing misery to the drought. As the week began, only Beat 2, nearest the sea was recording small catches of the fish who come and go with the tide into the lower reaches of the river.
    Standard tactics for low water require small flies and early mornings before the sun gets on the water. Beat 5 was my Monday territory including the Island Stream shown above. Under normal good fishing conditions, only the green island in the distance is visible so all the extra 'islands' reflect the drought. I fished the beat without success until the sun was well up before giving in to the conditions. I repeated the exercise the following morning on Beat 3 before giving up for the week faced with even more sterile conditions on the higher up beats. The Thurso is fed from Loch More above Beat 13 and the picture below left shows a vast shore which is normally deep under water. In the picture on the left, the river shows her bones at Westerdale. Fingers crossed for my next week in September.

     The following week I was invited to fish with friends on the Alness, about 80 miles south of Wick. It was suffering from the drought but still seemed to have a better flow of water than the Thurso. The fishing was unsuccessful but the saving grace was the scenery and the streamy boulder strewn water providing plenty of lies for fish. It's marked down for a revisit under better conditions.

Novels by Alan Calder

The Glorious Twelfth

 The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon 


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