The Ruel is an extremely attractive spate river of about 12 miles in length flowing through Glendaruel and into the sea at Loch Riddon.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there were 3 hotels in the Glen which were largely supported by their fishing and the annual catches on the river regularly exceeded 100 salmon and 600 sea trout. For various reasons the hotels have all now ceased trading, and in the 1980s, aquaculture arrived in Loch Riddon in the form first of rainbow trout farms and subsequently salmon cages. There is no doubt that sea lice problems and also escapees from the farms have materially affected the river and reduced the runs of migratory fish although recently the last farm in the immediate area of Loch Riddon was closed and the nearest farm is now situated some way distant at the head of Loch Striven.
Because of the closure of the hotels and also 'absentee riparian owners', the river has been very lightly fished in recent years but a few salmon and a good number of sea trout have been caught and the potential is significant. As with all spate rivers, the quality of the fishing at any time depends on water levels, and rain is needed to produce the best results. Whilst the season runs from March to the end of October, in practice migratory fish do not historically arrive until the beginning of June. Night fishing for sea trout has never been practised on a regular basis, but no doubt this is a largely unexplored potential. On all three of the beats which can be booked via Fishpal, there are pools which are comparatively easy to fish without being heavily tree lined.
Kandahar, which offers the fishing for just over a mile immediately upstream of the tidal beat, has historically been the most productive on the river and there are 13 named pools. This was once owned by the Ormidale Hotel. The Tighnariddon beat, which used to be the Glendaruel Hotel water and stretches to about a mile on the East bank, has 10 named pools and fishes best from August onwards. The Upper Beat covers about 5 miles further upstream of the Caravan park and there are numerous holding pools and many attractive runs. Normally a floating line or a sink tip is best on a rod not more than 11 ft and it is very seldom that one would fish with anything bigger than a size 10 sea trout fly. Traditional patterns such as Ally's Shrimps, Stoat's Tails and Cascades work well but as is usually the case, presentation is more important than the fly being used! There are parts of the river where it is useful to be able to wade, but much of the river can easily be fished from the bank.
All the fishing is on a catch and release basis.
Tucked away in the Argyll Secret Coast, the Ruel is what has often been called by visitng anglers 'a hidden gem' and although, as for all West Coast rivers, the spectacular catches of pre aquaculture days would seem to be a thing of the past, there still remains significant potential on very attractive water which for the most part is easy to fish.