Annandale offers some outstanding trout fishing for the discerning angler. The river boasts an extremely diverse range of aquatic insects that can be relied to hatch pretty much throughout the year. In addition to that the swarms of minnows that appear during the summer provide high protein snacks for trout. The trout gorge on this rich food supply and regularly grow to sizes in excess of 4lb with average sizes approaching 2lb. Although there is a small amount of stocking carried out at Royal Four Towns the bulk of this fishery is entirely wild and currently largely unexploited except by a small band of anglers that are 'in the know'. Because this fishery is almost entirely wild you cannot expect the trout population to be massive. Some searching for feeding fish will be required. The vast majority of anglers who currently target these fish put the majority of the fish they catch back and this is important as competent anglers could easily empty large stretches of river over the course of a season if they were to kill everything they catch.
In March and April the streamy parts of the river will have large hatches of March browns and dark olives that will readily be taken by early season trout. These rises are often short-lived affairs and generally peak around the middle of the day through to early evening. At this time of year there is plenty of time to fish and get back to the pub before closing time! If there are no fish rising remember they still have to eat and well-presented nymphs will score well.
May and June are probably the peak times for insect activity and large hatches of olives, false march browns and needle flies will be the main sources of surface activity. The fish may lock onto one particular species or life stage, which may not be the most numerous. Towards the end of May into June the brightly coloured Yellow May Dun will appear. Despite its size and obvious colour the trout seem to ignore it when it's hatching but very late in the evening when the spinners return to the water the rise can be fantastic. Sedges like the caperer will appear also during June The hatch can be annoyingly prolific with these tiny sedges crawling all over your face getting into your ears and hair. The fish love them but sometimes they become very difficult to attract to your fly as your artificial will just be one of the thousands of real flies that they see on the surface.
An Annan Brown Trout(fishtecImage)
For the trout fishermen July and August seems to be a bit quiet on the Annan on the insect front. There will be large hatches of smaller olives and chironomids but in the main the larger fish will be ignoring them. They have good reason for this. Large brown trout cannot rely on insects alone to grow. The larger fish by now will be almost entirely predatory and spend time mobbing the vast shoals of minnows that inhabit every reach of the Annan. Few people try it but success can be had by fishing very large (size 4 and 6 long shanks or 2ins tandems) sculpin patterns slowly along the bottom in likely places. This fishing isn't delicate but you are 'matching the hatch'.
September can see a return to surface activities with a second hatch of dark olives appearing. This second generation of flies tend to be a bit smaller than the spring ones but the fish do seem to gorge on them when they get a chance. Indeed in September the fish do appear to try and eat everything in sight in preparation for spawning and the long winter ahead where food may be a bit scarcer.
Most beats on the river do not offer a specific trout ticket and you will have to by a permit which allows you to fish for salmon and sea trout as well, but in reality the pricing of these is so competitive that fishermen will find most of the rivers fishing outstanding value for money irrespective of the species they are targeting.