Finavon Castle Water Latest Report

Last updated: Sunday 4th February

After what has been an undeniably tricky season all over Eastern Scotland, please allow me to extend my own thanks and that of the Finavon Castle Water Partnership to all of our 2017 tenants for your time, fishing effort and patronage of FCW during the season. I enjoyed the time spent with you on the river hugely as always, and have once again left the season behind a little richer in terms of new friendships made and memories and experiences shared. I am always wary about focusing on numbers any more than is necessary, but at the end of the day the success of a season must to some extent be judged upon catch figures, particularly from the visiting angler's point of view. Therefore, let me give you the important figures before I move onto some other points. The 2017 recorded catches at Finavon Castle were a total of 108 Salmon & Grilse, and 121 Sea Trout. This is not a risible figure by any means, especially so in a year which was so tough on most of our neighbouring rivers. Within the above numbers, for me and others, are some fantastic memories; first ever salmon for Sue Trendell, John Charnock and Lucca Simpson, a first Finavon salmon for our new 50% owner, Edward Cumming Bruce, Ed Broadway hooking a 14lb hen in Craigo Stream in a heavy water before realising that the drag on his reel was broken… I could go on. Fishing though, as they say, is not all about catching fish and equal to the memories involving the capture of salmon and sea trout for me, are the everyday experiences of time shared on the river, conversations and laughter (about some surprisingly strange subjects!) had in the huts and the true satisfaction of watching people enjoying their time being at one with the environment at Finavon; and for these, I thank you all. Although last season was certainly hard work, my own feeling, and that which I picked up on from many other regular South Esk anglers is that, in the main, we didn't lack for fish overall in 2017. There were however, definite slow spells and times when there were not a lot of fish in the beat. We were once again beset by a long Spring drought which knocked out the bulk of our early fishing, followed by frequent fluctuations in water levels throughout June & July. This spelled the end of much hope for the sea trout shoaling up as we would all have liked, in a similar situation to 2016. In short, every fish caught in 2017 had to be worked hard for. There were once again masses of finnock being reported from the tidal stretches downstream of Kinnaird, and I myself witnessed a breath-taking show of finnock & sea trout in a feeding frenzy on the Montrose Basin in late September. It would have been a fine thing to have swapped the shotgun for a rod that evening. As we moved into the latter part of the season, there was again a marked and concerning absence of any sign of an Autumn run of salmon in 2017, which seems to be a concern shared on most rivers at the moment, and for which I am in no way qualified to try and explain. What I am sure of is that there were plenty of fish in the river which had crept in throughout the rest of the season to have a good chance of a successful winter's spawning. As a side note, I saw first-hand how successful the 2016 spawning had been in the upper reaches when I joined the EDSFB bailiffs on an electro-fishing exercise in Glen Doll. The fry densities of both species, but particularly salmon in the area which we fished were extremely encouraging. 2017 marked the first year of the new structure of ownership at Finavon, when we were joined by Edward Cumming Bruce as the new owner of a 50% share in the fishery. This has
been a great boost to us all, providing an injection of fresh ideas as well as the ability to begin implementing changes which have long been thought about. As a result of this, we have now been able to build a substantial croy to properly repair the damaged bank beneath the South pillar of the aqueduct. As well as reinstating the aqueduct to a structurally sound condition, over time, this should have the added benefit of helping to scour out some of the gravel which had built up in the shallowing head of Haughs, and hopefully deepen it again. There have also been changes in the tail of Haughs which have transformed it from a slightly monotonous pool to one which feels as though it only gets better and better the further down you fish it; initial experiences in the last few weeks of the season happily seemed to support this! We have plans in place with the objective of improving Indies beat, meaning that the tails of Melgund, Franks and Indies should hopefully be a different fishing prospect come Springtime. We have just finished adding another composting tree bog toilet to the fishery, which is designed to serve the lower two beats and is sited on the North bank next to the green tool shed in the Indies wood. Beeches on Castle beat is due something of a makeover this winter too, and the plan is to ensure that it can be fished easily from the bank in a big water by clearing back some of the overhanging willows and alders on the North bank. This pool holds a lot of fish, but it has become progressively more complicated to fish effectively over the past couple of seasons, particularly so after Storm Frank dug a great hole out of the North side making wading inadvisable in anything but low water. Finally, we are planning to finish the job of clearing out Gate Lodge pool on Milton beat with the objective of making it easier to fish. It will never be a completely straightforward pool to fish, however. Altogether, it looks set to be quite a busy winter at Finavon with the above operations being fitted around the usual winter routine of forestry, maintenance, paperwork and no doubt the odd post spate clear-up. I am hoping to have much of our 2018 availability online fairly soon after New Year and will make the knowledge public as soon as it goes live. I would ask anyone considering booking fishing with us next year to do so through fishpal, but please feel free to get in touch with me directly for prospects and information first, however. From Tony Andrews, Edward Cumming Bruce and from myself, best wishes to all for winter and we look forward to hopefully welcoming returning and new anglers alike in 2018. Iain MacMaster.

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