Well folks, that’s the first few days of the 2013 Tay salmon season over and I must say, what a start the river is off to!
We were graced on opening day with perfect water conditions at Taymount in what looked like a winter wonderland. The high pressure and lack of wind made fishing today a real pleasure.
The opening ceremony at Taymount was hosted by Taymount Estate laird John Lindsay along with head ghillie Cohn O’Dea. Alex Graham gave a first class speech prior to John Lindsay piping us down to the river to have the first cast of the season at the Majors cast along with a toast to the season ahead.
As you would expect early in the season, many kelts, baggots & rawners (unclean fish from last season for the non fishers out there) featured in the catches where spinning for the most part was the order of the day. Even with the lack of a Taymount springer in the morning, the day was by no means dull. A few heart stopping moments were had with at least 3 of the fish caught. In the morning John Lindsay hooked and landed 2 clean looking fish whilst harling. After careful examination the fish were identified as late running fish and as such could not be counted.
At one o’clock we stopped as usual for a superb lunch that was provided by Cohn’s wife Gail, her spreads never disappoint!
After lunch it was swap around where the Linn Pool rods headed to the top end for the short afternoon session. It was not before long that the radios came to life with ghillie Mike reporting a silver fish landed from the Majors cast. Again on careful examination and a general consensus of opinion, it was agreed that this fish although in excellent condition should be checked by the fishery board.
I am pleased to say that this fish was confirmed as a true spring salmon which makes this the second year that Alex Graham has caught the first springer of the season on Taymount.
Overall, all the rods had a great day’s fishing with everyone having a bend in the rod.
Elswhere on the river, there were some decent catches and an impressive opening day over all.
Gordon Nicol gave himself and Portnacraig Pitlochry Beat a great start to the season with a magnificent deep springer estimated from its length and girth to be about 21 lb. It was caught on a yellow and black tube fly on Pitlochry bank at the Moulin Burn Mouth just after noon and carefully released. The capture was witnessed by fellow club members Iain McLaren (who netted the fish) and Ross Gardiner (who took photos and helped measure the fish). Well done Gordon!
To Kenmore, the first cast of the Tay season was made by Perth Provost Elizabeth Grant shortly after 9:30am. The river at Kenmore was thronged with anglers thereafter. I was told of two fish being caught locally a beautiful 18 pounder and a fish of around 13 pounds.
All the permit monies were donated to AFYD – Angling for Youth Development. Opening day and the evening gala dinner raised well over £90,000 (yes ninety thousand) pounds for AFYD, CHAS and other charities. That’s the angling community putting something back!
Ally Gowans has advised me that the attendance at Kenmore was between 300 and 400 people. Several entries were received for the McTaggart/Kenmore trophy competition for the best springer caught and released anywhere on the Tay system and this was won by Gordon Nicol from Pitlochry. Ally himself taught Gordon to fish for salmon just two years ago so quite an achievement.
Down river at Dunkeld, a ceremony to mark the opening of the season, organised by the Dunkeld and Birnam Tourist and Angling Associations, with the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB), the Tay Foundation and the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, took place at the Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel.
A piper led anglers to the riverbank, where drams were shared before the fishermen’s boats – and the water – were blessed with a dousing of whisky.
River board chairman Bill Jack said: “It is pleasing to note that numbers of large spring salmon, for which the Tay was always celebrated historically, seem to be recovering.
“2012 saw the highest average weight of spring salmon in the Tay since 1987. The average weight is now over 12lbs, compared to 10lbs a few years ago.
“Starting five years ago we have seen a sustained resurgence with many more spring fish in the high teens and twenties of pounds and 2012 was the best yet.”
He said the introduction of catch and release had more than likely played a part in the improved figures.
Mr Jack added: “Before the advent of catch and release all big spring fish caught by anglers were killed.
“Now they are able to continue their journeys upstream to spawn and help produce the next generation. It is vital that we retain our spring conservation measures so that this recovery continues.”
Fishing managers are said to be expecting a good opening day with the river running at a good height following less rain and far colder weather.
The biggest salmon caught with a rod in the UK, was landed on the River Tay. Georgina Ballantine reeled in a 64lbs fish in 1922.
The opening day tally on the river so far is as follows:-
Stobhall 1, Taymount 1, Ballathie 1, Lower & Upper Islamouth 3, Meikleour House 2, Murthly (1) 1, Murthly (2) 1, Newtyle 1, Dunkeld House 2, Dalmarnock 2, Lower Kinnaird 1, Portnacraig 1.
This was certainly the best opening day for overall catches and conditions in recent years, lets hope this trend continues.
Taymount today (16th Jan) like the rest of the river was sitting well below 0 degrees for most of the day, as such only kelts were caught on the beat and for the whole river with the exception of Pitlochrie & Catholes, Glendelvine and Meikleour House who all had a single fresh fish.
Back to Taymount now and as always, the craic was great and the extended lunch was superb. Although no fresh fish were caught on the beat there was no disappointment from the rods.
For those of you braving the river tomorrow, we wish you tight lines and again best of luck. If you have any pictures or reports then drop us a line or two to email@example.com
Here is a short film from the opening day events at Taymount. We will have a full 30 minute feature on Field2StreamTV in around 10 days time.