Sunday, 11 November 2012

End of season action

After what could only be described as a slow season at best hopes were high for the end of season trip up to South West Scotland. As this was a family trip i had to be a bit careful not to over do things. Having a six month old daughter one has to compromise! so, with the car packed with fishing tackle, outdoor clothes, guns and Dog (and a few baby things) we set off for Auchencairn, our base for the next week. I had spoken to a friend near Dumfries and he had booked the fishing on the middle Nith.

Once we arrived and un-packed I checked out the nice bay we had, by coincidence, managed to book our cottage right next to and was pleased to see large skeins of geese landing on the flats by the tideline.

As luck would have it the river Nith rose by 3' two days before the fishing so it looked like we'd be at the river at the perfect time. I awoke at about 3am to the sound of a vicious rainstorm lashing the house, the storm raged for hours and my hopes for good fishing sunk. I contacted John in the morning who confirmed that the Nith was not fishable. I decided to go and have a look at the river Urr near Dalbeattie as this was very close to our accommodation and can fish well after a spate in the 'back end'. The Urr is a spate river that has a run of large fish that run lat in the season. the 'Grey backs', as they are known locally, run late and large and fish in the 20lb class are not un-common.

Once a ticket had been purchased I tackled up quickly but even as I was doing so the river started to rise, within about an hour the river was un-fishable. I decided to take a good walk down the beat and look at the various pools as i decided to come back the next day as no more rain had been forecast.

The following morning the river had dropped nicely and had a nice peaty tinge - it looked perfect, judging by the amount of cars in the various access laybys I was not the only one who thought so!

As I fished through the pools I met a couple of locals, although perfect conditions they were not hopeful, this year had been terrible and there had been talk of a trawler being caught with 6 miles of fixed nets in the Solway illegally taking tens of tons of Salmon destined for these rivers. I had read about this somewhere and it was a story I was to hear repeated by several dis-heartened anglers. As I fished through the lower beat I came to the upper section which was heavily crowded by 10 anglers who were visiting for the week so couldn't really get near any of those pools.

After watching one of the party land a nice hen fish of about 10lb I decided to venture up to the top beat.

I managed to fish my way down the busy beat by jumping into the available spots as they became vacant. I managed to fish down to the bottom without seeing a fish. The same stories of no fish were echoed as I chatted with various anglers although a couple had been lost and a fish landed so there was still hope. There was about 1 hour left so I decided to concentrate my efforts on a spot I had been advised was holding a couple of fish. After about 3 cast I connected with a small grilse, this fish was very small, probably only about 2lb. It was very fresh and perfectly proportioned, the fish was quickly landed and slipped back, not quite the 'Grey back' I was anticipating.

As I fished down to the tail of the pool I had a savage take with a big swirl, unfortunately (and sickeningly) the fish did not stick. I sat down for 2 minutes which felt like forever before re-casting, thinking hopefully the fish might come again. Nothing happened so I cast again, nothing happened, on the third cast the rod arched over and the fish was well and truly hooked and hit the surface just below me angrily thrashing about. This was a big fish and after that first frantic outburst appeared to be well hooked. Below me was a long bend of very fast water with a tree about 100 yards down this fast run. The fish, predictably took off down stream at a steady un-stoppable pace. I sprinted down river navigating the rough boulder strewn band with amazing luck and managed to get below the fish, once again it surfaced in front of me in a small sack and I could see it was a very broad deep fish that was easily around the 20lb mark. Once again the fish took off down river and as I was now nearing the un-passable tree I tightened the drag up to give me chance to slow down the fish whilst the rod could be passed around the tree. As I was about to reach the tree the line went slack and the fish was off, I reeled in and was left with a treble hook missing one point and the remaining two had been straightened. I was not too upset initially as the adrenaline was flowing and my heart was racing but as the adrenaline wore off the gravity of the situation sunk in and the 'what ifs' kicked in.

I decided it was time to call it a day and a close to my season after this exciting but regrettable episode. The Urr is a lovely little river and I hope that the poor run this year is only a 'Blip' as I'd love to come back and land one of the 'Grey backs' that cruelly eluded me. Afteral, there is always next season!!!!!!!

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