A mixed bag in a hectic week

Been out three days this week and caught up with three good friends on other days, writes Bob Smith.

Good news from Thrunton Long Crag fishery – I called in there to see Chris and Jill to find out how things are developing.

Changes all round – firstly the lodge is looking closer to completion. The wood-burning stove is ready , the kitchen base units are all fitted and the disabled toilet is nearly there. The last time I was at Thrunton the diggers were busy with the second lake, now the lake is filling up and has two metres of water in it.

The main lake, which opens next spring, looks better as the grass grows and matures around it. Plenty of work still to do, but the effort and enthusiasm are there in abundance and everything will be ready for spring 2014, I am sure.

Last Saturday saw the last day of the salmon season on the Tweed and its tributaries. A regular angler asked me to go with them to toast the river and cast a line on the Whiteadder.

The river was in good fettle and running clear. The day was bright with only the slightest of breezes. We did not see any fish to catch, but almost every pool had a dead salmon or sea trout in it. Sea trout up to four pounds and salmon weighing ten pounds in various stages of decomposition. Sad to see the bodies, but they have spawned and hopefully the eggs will hatch and continue to provide a healthy and vibrant river. We toasted the river and thanked it for all the pleasure and sport it had given us throughout the season.

I also met up with Willie Farndale, the head bailiff for the Northumbrian Federation, to chat about the 2013 season. He agreed with me that it was far from being one of the best we have experienced.

With very little rain until the last month for fishing, salmon and sea trout were very difficult to tempt, never mind catch. However, the latter part of September and October had provided many anglers with fish, some rods catching up to five and six fish a day! Trout fishing was much better throughout the whole season and stocking larger fish had proved to be beneficial.

However, concern about the numbers of cormorants and goosanders on the Coquet was discussed.

We both agreed that there are far too many of these birds on the river and licences need to be obtained to control their numbers.

Anglers are optimists and so hopefully 2014 salmon season will be one of the best for years.

Two days’ fishing the still waters could not have been so different. The day at Whinney Loch saw us fishing in a very strong north-westerly and it was decidedly cold. Trout were hard to catch at any level. Some fish were rising, but nobody could tempt them with a dry fly on the surface. Jimmy and I caught on black buzzers, pheasant tail nymphs and bloodworms. It was a good challenge.

Fishing at Chatton was completely different. There was no wind,it was very bright and the temperature was a very pleasant 14 degrees, excellent for December. Alan started with a bloodworm pattern, but that did not bring a response from the trout.

He changed to an appertiser and soon landed a nice fish of three pounds. I had one soon afterwards on a Diawl Bach. We both caught another two fish on buzzers and small lure patterns.

After lunch, it was so warm we decided to shed a couple of layers and just fished as if it were a lovely summer’s day.

Now that the salmon season is finished, it is a good time to have a look at the tackle. The fly-lines need to be washed , cleaned and wrapped around a bicycle wheel so that they do not gain any memory over the close season. Leaving lines on your reel over the winter can cause the lines to remember the tight coils on the reel, so that casting and retrieving the fly-line with coils in it does not make the job of casting and catching fish any easier.

It does not take very long to look after your fly-lines in this way and it can make such a difference.

The latest news is that at a meeting of the Northumbrian Federation Trustees it was decided to keep the price of all types of permit the same as last season. This is welcome news for all anglers who fish the Federation beats. The details are on the Federation website, which is proving popular.