03-19-2003, 03:04 PM
Ok I'm halfway through my spring week on the Spey. Conditions are taxing to put it mildly. There is a high centered over the UK.
The water is low +6" on summer level I expected 2 feet. The water temperature is 38 F The air temperature starts at 27F and goes up tp 70. The weather is bright and sunny.
Water temperature suggests a fast sinking line/tip with a big fly but there is not enough depth. Overhead conditions suggest a floating line and a small fly.
As you might have guessed neither works neither does the middle route. I have tried the sensible big fly in the morning /evening floater and small fly mid day nothing. I have a severe case of sun burn.
I know it is called fishing not catching BUT I'm running out of ideas. The scenery is spectacular as is the wildlife but I need a fish.
03-19-2003, 03:35 PM
Whats the water clarity ?
If clear, small dark weighted nymph (what ever is the preferred one for Spey) fished on long leader deep and slow.
Fish the shaded pools and structure.
Otherwise put one of those big streamers I sent you, you may wake them up and get a big surprise.
03-19-2003, 04:34 PM
Water Clarity, like gin.
Tried the Collie Dog (wake fly) trick this afternoon, I'm glad we are thinking along the same lines. Bear in mind there might not be fish in all or any of the pools. There has only been 90 or so fish taken off the whole system.
03-19-2003, 04:39 PM
I thought you might have one of the hip mounted side scan fish finder radars, like some affluent anglers (not me) are purported to have.
This way you only fish the pools which have fish, a novel idea !
Good luck, just don't give up, think of all the great exercise and fresh air you are getting flinging the spey equipment. Good upper body work out. Might want to try the scottish mouth wash for luck also during the day.
P.S. Dark nymphs drifted deep and slow
03-19-2003, 07:39 PM
It's not traditional, but some small rock worm like fly is killer on steel in cold clear H2O.
Perhaps something tied in a smaller size like a 7 or possibly smaller hook. My only exposure to them proved the fish to be fussy. Saw a guy hit one on a smelt pattern while fishing the St. Marys river, this was in cold clear water.
Whatever happens time in the water sure as hell beats time 6' under the soil.
03-19-2003, 10:34 PM
Greetings Willie Gunn,
Some words from Frederick Hill on the Dee, yet, perhaps, equally applicable to the Spey:
"The greased line can be very profitable in March when conditions permit as I can remember in 1932 when six of us were fishing the Dee twelve miles above Carlogie. There had been severe frost at night and grue kept coming down the river till midday, when it usually cleared off. But on the 10th, a strong sun helped to clear the grue away a little earlier. The top pool of this beat was short and rocky with a quiet deep hole on our side of the stream. A fish had been showing here for the last few days and everyone of us had tried him wih large flies and baits, but he ignored them all. When my turn came, the water temperature was 37 degrees, the air 42 degrees and the sun was shining strongly. I put on a No. 1 Blue Charm but nothing happened. When I was changing to a No. 4 Jeannie, the two gillies on the other side came up and shouted across with a laugh 'You are trying the fine art far too early for up here!' But I hooked and killed the fish, a nice one of 16 and 1/2 lb. and had the laugh on them!"
03-20-2003, 12:46 AM
I give an Ally's Shrimp is about size 6 or 8 a try on a long leader with a floating line. And I would use it in black or purple is the original range/red/black did not work. Also, I would tie it on a standard weight hook instead of a low-water hook to get it to sink between 4 inches and a foot below the surface.
Another possiblity is to use a dark colored Irish Shrimp style fly tied on a heavy size 6 or 8 hook. Again with a floating line and long leader. This should get you down, but not on the stones.
The third possiblity is to use an intermediate sink tip, short leader, and either of the above flies or a dark spey fly of about size 4 or 5. something like the Lady Caroline or Black King.
These just might work since the water is summer low' but the temperature is normal winter low. Seems like you need to get down, just not on the stones. And since the water is low and clear, a small darkish fly seems to be in order.
03-20-2003, 09:28 AM
Try the Green Widow at about 9:30-10:00am when the sun is bright. Since nothing else has worked, you have nothing to lose.
03-20-2003, 02:26 PM
Today conditions were slightly less testing there was at least cloud cover. The water temperature crept up tp 42 during the afternoon.
I gave the floating line with a short sunk tip a go, still no success but at least it was a change.
I tried the Ali Shrmp route again nothing, so tommorrow the Green Widow will get a swim.
Topher Browne, I wish there was the same number of fish about in 2003 as there was in 1932, oh to be on the banks of the Dee or Spey in 1932 with a 16ft carbon rod and a weight foward line a pair of neoprene waders. I could do some damage.
Whatever happens it sure as h*ll beats working.
03-21-2003, 08:40 AM
Too bad you have such slow going. Now with some cloud cover you might fare better. If the sun gets back I suggest what has worked well for me when the Dee has been low and the sun really nasty (of course it works in Norway and Russia, too).
I use an ordinary Hardy sinktip (slow!) and lengten my leader to 20', making sure that the tip section is at least 8' of 10-12 pound test fluorocarbon (0.27-0.30mm). This long and slighly submerged leader in combination with a small and sparsly tied flie (a plain #10 Silver Stoat or my own Pale Rat) fished much slower than usual often has done me good. This even when the water temp would call for a larger fly.
The slow speed is interesting as I normally like to fish square and fast, and rather mend down than up. But with the sun blazing badly it seems like it pays to give the fish time to see the fly well in all the reflections that the sun creates.
As always there are no golden rules. This stunt has saved my neck more than once, though.
Earlier today I spoke to a Scottish friend whose family sits on the Western Elchies and Upper Arndilly beats. He said the going was much better than in the previous years. Arndilly proper had about a dozen last week. Our beat on the Dee had 13 to 3 rods last week, so it all sounds alarmingly promising....!!
Hope you get them during the Saturday!!
03-21-2003, 03:00 PM
Arndilly is doing OK Wester Elerchies is worse than last year with only 6 for the season. I'm fishing Wester Elerchies this week. Only one for the whole week.
I had two good pulls in successive casts but no hook up. Later I had a well mended kelt. Things are getting better.
I'll try the long leader tommorrow.
03-21-2003, 03:14 PM
What fly did you have on when you got the pulls?
03-21-2003, 03:26 PM
I gave the Green Widow a swim but nothing. I then reverted to a Willie Gunn old habits die hard, when fishing the Spey in the spring the question is usualy which Willie Gunn.
03-22-2003, 01:02 PM
and for you that were worried I eventually caught and released a springer this morning at 10ish. The water temperature was up to 42 which probably made all the difference.
16 ft B&W, Xlt with 10 ft fast sinking tip 3 ft 15lb nylon and 2" Willie Gunn basically what I began the week with. if it was too easy no one would bother. All the experimenting made the week fun, but it would be nicer to get the first fish in a bit sooner.
03-22-2003, 10:28 PM
Glen Deveron and I saluted your success on the Spey while I was tying some new flies tonight !
03-22-2003, 10:50 PM
Here are my new Show Girls - Back Side view I tied with Glen Deveron tonight. As you can see Glen had an intrinsic influence on her new design.
She is quite flashy and still in proto type phase of development, thus I have deliberately not shown the head of the fly.
These look great in the water, move and flash, etc...
03-22-2003, 11:58 PM
Will Atlantics take something that gaudy??
03-23-2003, 01:06 AM
Well done, Malcolm!
Had you gotten that springer early in the week, with no more to follow, you probably would have remembered it all as a dour week where the intial joy and confidence eventually would have been swapped for frustration by week's end!!
Three years ago an eldery friend fished the Dee with us for the first time. He was skunked by Saturday lunch, whereas I and my other friend had caught a few springers each. (In Scotland one normally fishes from Monday - Saturday) In anger and frustration he asked if we, regardless of the rotation scheme, would allow him to start at the beat's top. (This water is just across from Wood's "Grey Mare".) His intention was to stubbornly fish every inch of the 2 km long beat through.....
At that stage we felt so badly for him, that we would have allowed anything save the "Garden Fly". He took off with the looks of a man who is off for the woods to put his beloved dog down.....
Just prior to dinner Rolf "the machine" entered the long Malt steep pool where our fishing hut is. He looked like a stooped down gnome by now. Any attempt to contact him was returned by grunting and repellent sounds. 25 meter casts sailed out and were fished round - 5 feet between casts. Concealed in the shade of the hut we saw him disappear into that pool's great tail. He was not to have dinner, we both agreed. Ours became a rather stale one - fingers crossed for a miracle to happen.
After dinner I quicky fished the top water through for a lovly sealiced 10 pounder, that I quickly returned with a promise to keep it secret for all but our ghillie. Back at the hut my other friend was sitting with a malt in hand and a puzzled look at his face.
"Any news from the machine?"
"No..... What about you?"
"No.... well, I kind of lost one at the top....."
"Funny, I did too here in Maltsteep..."
"Just at the bank?"
All of a sudden we heard livid voices from down river. The ghillie and a very wet Rolf came strolling like a young couple in love. Every 10 yards they stopped and hugged and some clear liquid of amber color was donned straight from the bottle.
The miracle had happened! On the last croy at the very lower border Rolf had sent a last loop of line out to let the fly trail through a black seam well in to the opponents water. The fish took him deep into enemy territory in a long and sweeping run through the "Mill Race" rapids. Rolf being a Viking took the river too, as the ungroomed bank of this "no mans land" with overhanging trees and dense rhododendron bushes was inpassable. The fish (and Rolf!) was landed by their ghillie and even by him agreed to be of over 12 pounds, which is a fine fish for the Dee.
Our ghillie had waited at the border to exchange the "prisoner" for an unknown and communly shared quantity of malt.
Peace was restored. Remember: Persistence pays!
03-23-2003, 01:52 AM
Thanks sharing the story. I talked with Gordon about springers, but it will have to wait for another year!
As Richard Adams profoundly says, "There's always a chance if your fly is in the water!"
Quite the pick-me-up,
03-23-2003, 04:59 AM
I really enjoyed your story. There is nothing worse than being fishless when everyone else is catching. The more you try the worse it gets.
Per - wonderful story!
With your permission I'd like to nominate that we capture it into our Chronicles section as a short story so that will not get buried into flytalk.
03-23-2003, 07:47 AM
Great tale, did you ever tell Rolf about your secret success??
My only exposure to Atlantics(St. Marys river) proved them to be the oddest fish I have ever encountered.
Fished a pool hard for hours, resting it properly only to have some one come up with a huge smelt pattern and zip one on his 3rd or 4th cast.
03-23-2003, 10:17 AM
Malcolm has an early prototype of my Show Girls to try in Scotland. Perhaps there will be a bold atlantic to chase it ? We know steelhead and pacific salmon will and violently at times.
Heck the pluggers put big wobbling hot n tots lures in their face which just drives them crazy into taking.
03-23-2003, 10:24 AM
Was I supposed to fish with it? I thought it was for hanging on the Christmas tree.:hehe:
One of these days when there is a big dirty spate and everyone has gone home I'll give it a go.
03-23-2003, 08:13 PM
They could be used when you decide to use "The Schock and Awe" strategy on those atlantics.
03-23-2003, 09:04 PM
If you shock and awe Atlantics you will be left with an empty pool.
Never heard of hot n tots being used for them either.
Thats probably one of the reasons why they never really made it big in our part of the GL's. No one caught many because they used steelhead and pac. salmon tactics on them.
Save your popsicles for the steel they are not as picky.
03-24-2003, 12:43 AM
Those Showgirls would work fine up at our Kharlovka and Rynda rivers at the Kola's north coast, at least in the very early season when the rivers often are high and the last ice still might be on tour down the system. Big and flashy flies fished deep often result in the rod being all but snapped out of one's hands with an explosive and reel emptying run to follow. Fish rarely are under 15 pounds with many being well past 20. A time for men!!
My crude favorite for early days, the Animal Garden, sports a metallic Royal blue body with a bright yellow bucktail wing and tail intermixed with PLENTY of red and golden lure flash. Normally it is tied on a 1" copper tube with an overall fly length of 4-5".
Thanks for all the nice comments regarding my little "Rolf" tale. By the way, we never told Rolf of the fish we too caught that day.... If you Juro find it worthy for the "chronicles" I am more than happy to let you move it. (I assume that I retain the copywrite?)
Then, in late April on the Dee one needs #6-10 sparesly tied flies off a light tip or a full floater. So different from early Scandivavia or Russia....
03-24-2003, 08:54 AM
Per is right on the money (as usual),
At our camp on the Margaree in October, we fish popsicle-style flies almost exclusively for fall-run Atlantic salmon. The original "Popsicle," the "Showgirl," and a combination of marabou that imitates a "Willie Gunn" are our best producers.
Fall-run salmon are a different breed than the summer-runs of the Gaspe' or the Miramichi. With water temps around 42 degrees and spawning only 4-5 weeks away, they are much closer to winter-run steelhead in behavior than summer-run Atlantics.
In fact, I call the Fall season on Cape Breton "Steelhead fishing for Atlantic salmon....."
03-24-2003, 10:16 AM
Thanks for the independent verification that they will work for atlantics at times. Let me at those Atlantics with these girls ! I will be working on the micro versions soon. I am really getting into these types of flies, the boxes are getting full with these marabous.
Malcolm, I say give it a go on the Spey, I did send you one or two I believe.
I will send you some of the new ones I am working on. let me know what colors you would like, I can see a willie gunn popsicle/show girl version on the way to you.
03-24-2003, 11:01 AM
Sounds odd to me, if the pros say pink/purple/chart works for them, I stand corrected.
I think next time I go up there (St. Marys) I'll stick to a smelt pattern. Couldn't believe how well that worked. Will leave the popsicles for the kids anyway.
03-25-2003, 02:48 PM
Yes I have heard the smelt patterns work well up there.
Maybe this is the year to do it ?
03-25-2003, 06:23 PM
If you go you need a guide just to cross to the berm and find the really good pools.
That water moves and moves fast. You are fishing right below the set of barriers that control the flow out of Lake Superior. The wind at times blows so hard and swirls that you have problems finding a shoulder to cast off of. If you are lucky you'll get a calm day with a 10-15mph wind.