Although some of the great North rivers, Thurso, Helmsdale Naver, open on the 11th January, 12th this year no fishing on the sabbeth. The main opening day is the 15th, today.
The 17lb salmon was released which is somewhat of a novelty for opening day on the Tay.
I was on the Ness which is shortish river draining Loch Ness of monster fame into the Moray Firth. Famous for being the home of Grant of the Vibration rods The air temperature was a pleasant 5C and water temperature a chilly 35F, Please do not ask why I quote air in Centigrade and water in Fahrenheit but it is the thermometers that measure that way. I was fishing the town water just above the Pringles woollen mill, just below Scott McKenzie’s beat. I was wearing 5 mm neoprene chest waders over my tweed +4s and a fleece over the whole lot. I was using my Bruce & Walker 18ft Powerlite, XLT 9/10 cut at 22 feet with a type 6 19ft sunk tip, loaded on to an 4 ˝” Hardy perfect and a 1 ˝” Brass tube. I was fishing the right bank, the wind was perfect, none. The sun was shining, beautiful; I’ve had worse days in April..
When I arrived the river was quiet the Invernessians do not bother with pipe bands and pouring good whisky away. There was a couple of old guys throwing metal work into the river so I chatted as I put the rod together. All of a sudden his rod bent and he played a well mended 14/15lb kelt (down streamer) which must have been a lovely fish last year. I walked upstream and started fishing down behind him, the water was high and I was having trouble keeping the D loop from the vegetation on the bank, eventually I caught the rod tip on a branch above me, not many people use 18 footers I see.
I the walked upstream to where a long diagonal weir runs across the river. The river is shallower here allowing me to keep clear of the undergrowth. I had the river to myself so was concentrating on my casting gradually lengthening the line till the cast collapsed. Glancing down I noticed that the splice was just off the reel, ok I was really trying and the sweat was pouring down my face. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself daydreaming away thinking how super life is. All of a sudden the line pulled tight and the old Hardy fairly screamed five feet of line shot up the rod, by the time I had woken up and stopped the line the fish had gone. Definitely a kelt with an aggressive take like that, he said reassuring himself. Nothing else for the rest of the day but a lovely start to the year, by 3 o clock the temperature started to drop towards zero, in these short winter days the taking times are just around midday when the temperatures rise that little bit.
Oh the fly Willie Gunn what else?