Scottish Fishing Days and Nights 1995
by John Gray
A very cold start to the season with no shortage of water. A
couple of hours at the end of March on Loch Earn produced one daft stock
fish of a pound which fell for a Kingfisher Butcher fished on a neutral
line. The water temperature was 3 Â°C. Brief trips to the Allan and
Earn have produced nothing. The playing fields pool above Cook's Dam at Crieff looks good - I'll try it for sea trout.
The River Earn returns for 1994 show that the sea trout and salmon
catches are about half the average, hopefully explained simply by the
low water conditions throughout much of the season.
I have joined the Earlsburn club (£20 plus £5 joining fee). I have been
up to the loch ( the lower of the two lochs lying at the head of the
Earls Burn, north of Carron Valley Reservoir - see the map to the
right ) twice in the first week of May, the second visit producing three
trout, the best a nice fish of 10 oz.
As at this time last year, May has been very cold and dry with a
continuous east or north wind. Hoping for a change in wind direction and
some heavy rain. It is about time now to start thinking of sea trout on
the Allan and Earn.
Tuesday 30th May
River Earn, Playing Fields, Crieff 10pm - 12.30am
The river was running high due to generation water and there had been
heavy rain yesterday. The River Allan also had a fair spate on Monday,
hopefully enough to bring in a few sea trout. I fished at Kinbuck for a
couple of hours and had a nice brownie about 10 oz.
On the Earn, the air temperature at 10pm was 11°C, water temperature 10°. The river looked too high for night fishing yet I had four offers and
hooked a cracking sea trout of about 3 lbs just above the tail of the
pool, which stripped yards of line and backing in seconds, jumped well
out in the stream and threw the hook. Size 8 long shank Ginger Pearl
with natural squirrel wing, fished on 10 1/5 ft Multitrout rod and DT8F
Aircel with sinking braided leader. The fish seemed most active between
11.30 and midnight. Must repair leak in chest waders!
Wednesday 31st May
River Earn, Playing fields 10 pm - midnight
Similar night to last night, river a shade lower but still a wee bit
high for night fishing. Only a half pound brownie - disappointing.
Friday 2nd June
River Earn, Playing fields, 10pm - 1am
1 sea trout
The river level had dropped a little lower again with the head of the
stone showing on the left bank. The height now seemed excellent for
night fishing. A very pleasant evening, calm and clear with only a
little cloud cover. The air temperature at 10pm was 18°C, water
temperature 11°C. At 1am, air temperature was 11° and the water 10°.
Lots of insect activity, chased by swifts and then bats. The midges were
not too bad. I began about 10.20pm in the top run and, after only a few
casts, hooked a good fish on the tail fly, a Cinnamon and Gold dressed
on a long shank 10. It fought strongly and the hook held this time and I
was very pleased to net my first sea trout from the Earn in over a year,
a lovely fresh hen fish of 2 1/4 lbs. I fished the 10 1/2 ft rod
and DT7F line, a nice balanced combination. I fished on until 1am for
only a half pound brownie, even after changing to a sink tip line. This
stream really is superb to fish, at this height it has an average depth
of maybe 4 to 5 feet. It is about a 100 yards long with two nice pools
below and a large holding pool not far above. It would be hard to find a
nicer looking stream, both for salmon in high water and for sea trout in
Thursday 15th June
River Earn, Willows
The river is running low. A clear but warm night, air temperature 15°C,
water 12°C at 10pm. Some activity from trout but no sign of sea trout. I
hooked one fish of a pound which may have been a small sea trout. Before
leaving I waded to the far bank to find that the pool deepens quite
steeply to about 5 feet near the stony bank under the willows.
I have heard that there are plenty of sea trout in the Earn but we have
had two weeks of the driest hottest weather possible with temperatures
reaching 30°C +. The rivers are very low.
We have had no rain for about 6 weeks. I did try the Coup at Crieff
recently but had no offers and only heard two fish move. The river is
very low but thundery showers are forecast for tomorrow night.
Friday 21st July
Two inches of rain fell over last weekend with further showers during
the week. Both the Earn and Allan had risen and are now running at a
good night height. I have tried both during the week with no success,
although I saw one sea trout caught at the Willows, a fresh fish of 3
lbs taken on a size 8 fly.
Monday 24th July
River Earn, Coup, 11pm - 12.30am
1 sea trout
I fished the tail of the pool above the Coup. A nice mild night with good
cloud cover and no wind, temperature forecast to stay above 10°C all
night. Trout and grayling were rising but no sign or sound of sea trout.
Fishing the 10 1/2 ft rod DTF7 line and two size 8 flies - Ginger Pearl
and Cinnamon and Gold, I hooked a half pound brownie straight away.
Minutes later I had a good take on the far side under the bushes. The
fish, a nice hen sea trout of 2 lbs, slashed on the surface for a while
before coming in very easily. It had gone for the Cinnamon & Gold on the
tail. I later had a grayling over a pound and a couple of missed offers.
Friday 28th July
River Earn, Upper Strowan 10.30 - 12.30
2 sea trout
A very warm night around 16°C, a thundery atmosphere but I saw only one
distant flash of lightning around midnight. I fished the pools at the
very top limit of the Crieff club water, starting at the overhead wires
just below the lower limit of the Comrie A.C. water. The river was
running very low but with some flow to work the flies. At this height
the pools were easily wadable all the way down.
I fished the Century 11 1/4 ft rod with a DT7F line and two Ginger
Pearls in sizes 8 and 10. Almost immediately I had a good take under the
bushes on the far bank from a very lively but slightly coloured cock sea
trout of 1 3/4 lb which was out of the water several times before coming
safely to the net. I fished down through this pool and the next, not
very expectantly as I had heard nothing moving, except one heavy fish
further upstream in the Comrie water. After coffee and a cheese roll, I
resumed near the tail of the Sewage Farm pool, where, on my first cast I
had another good take. This felt like a better fish, which stayed deep
before eventually coming to the net, a lovely fresh hen fish just under
two pounds, a perfect specimen . This was around midnight and,
disconcerted by a distant flash of lightning while waving around 11 feet
of carbon fibre, I fished the pool out and headed home, content with my
two sea trout. I have decided to keep no more than 2 sea trout per night
.... I should be so lucky!!!
The hot dry weather continued unabated until late August, when we had a
bit of light rain, with a wetter spell forecast for mid September.
Saturday 2nd September
Fairly constant rain today and more forecast for the coming week ... at
last!. I hear that dead fish have been reported on the Allan ...
presumably due to the long hot dry spell.
Monday 4th September
We have had about 2 1/2 inches of rain over the last two days. Alan has
gone up the Allan this morning. I went up in the evening, to find both
the Allan and Earn surprisingly low.
After rain overnight and up to midday on Tuesday, the Allan was slightly
high and coloured at 5 pm, just reaching a perfect height and colour
around 8pm when darkness fell.
On Wednesday both the Allan and Earn were too low for good fly fishing.
I had a couple of hours on the Earlsburn loch, where I rose about a
dozen trout ... and couldn't hook any of them!
Friday 8th September
River Allan 6pm - 8pm
After fairly heavy rain yesterday, the River Allan is running at a
perfect height, with about 4 to 6 inches of the stone showing in the
back run. About 10 salmon have been caught throughout the day. I fished
down the back run and round to the Kinbuck stream with no sign of a
fish. At 8.20 when almost dark, a fisher in front of me hooked but lost
a good fish. He was fishing sea trout flies (Greenwell and Claret
Bumble). A few sea trout had been caught earlier. I was surprised as I
had considered the water too coloured for success in the near darkness
... you live and learn!
Saturday 9th September
Very heavy rain in the east and north over the last 2 days has caused
floods on the Dee and Spey and, hopefully, the Earn! I took a run up to
Crieff in the early evening and fished at the playing fields. The river
was up a bit, running at a good night height but a little low for
salmon. Another foot of water would be ideal. I fished a 13 ft Daiwa
Whisker rod with a DT8F with sinking leader. The rod is a good length
for the Earn but might do better with a #9 line.
Wednesday 13th September
Drummond Loch 3pm - 7pm
Very little wind. The loch hasn't recovered from the "pea soup" algae
that developed during the hot dry spell. There is still some algae
evident but the loch looked fishable. There were very few signs of fish,
however, and I only rose two trout.
Wednesday 27th September
Although the Allan saw a rise on Monday afternoon, it is low again. The
Earn is surprisingly running at a good fly height, with the head of the
stone just showing at the playing fields. I fished all afternoon but saw
nothing. Perhaps the salmon have haven't had time to reach Crieff. If
this height is maintained for a few days the fish are sure to appear!
With rain forecast for the weekend, I will fish the Earn again next
Monday 2nd October
1 sea trout
River Earn, Crieff 5.30 - 7.30pm
The river is running at an excellent fly height, with the level an inch
or two up from the 27th. I caught a coloured sea trout of 2 1/2 lb soon
after starting on a size 8 Magus. I didn't see any salmon.
Tuesday 3rd October
River Allan 7.30 - 8.45am
Overnight rain has brought the river up to a perfect height. I fished
the KInbuck stream from the road side and was disappointed not to see or
touch a fish.
Wednesday 4th October
River Earn 9am - 3pm
The Allan was too low in the morning when I passed but rain during the
morning saw a continual rise through the afternoon. It was a good height
at tea time but I saw no fish.
At the playing fields, the Earn was at a good height in the morning but
no sign of fish. Heavy rain during the morning caused a sharp rise in
the Turret burn which ran very dirty. This was soon followed by a more
general rise in the main river, a rise which continued for the rest of
the day. I swapped the fly rod for the spinning rod about the middle of
the day, tying on a size 4 silver Mepps spoon, with little hope of
success as the river was so dirty. But a salmon moved about two yards
out from where I was wading. I cast the Mepp slightly beyond and
upstream of the rise and, to my amazement, the lure was taken
immediately. A dour struggle followed before I beached a very red cock
salmon estimated at 12 pounds, my biggest salmon to date. It was
Thursday 5th October
River Allan 7.30am
The river is high and rising, though not too dirty. I fished the fly for
an hour above Cromlix bridge with no luck. The Allan and Earn will
likely rise for the rest of the day as heavy showers are forecast. With
more heavy rain forecast for Thursday night, the rivers may be too high
on Friday but the high water may bring in a run of fish.
Friday 6th October
River Allan 8am - 9am
The river is running at a perfect height for the Kinbuck Stream but the
weather is wild - wet, windy and cold. Although the level was a foot or
two higher yesterday, there is no sign of fish.
On Saturday evening, the Allan is still high, with just the top of the
stone showing, but dropping and the weather is now mild and calm. In
just about perfect conditions, I fished until 7pm with only one small
half-hearted pull in the Kinbuck stream.
Monday 9th October
River Earn 8am - 9am
The Earn is running high and clear at the playing fields, with the water
covering the curved stone. There have been quite a few salmon taken on
spinners on Saturday and again this morning. Using a Wetcel 1 DT9 line
and a single Magus, size 8, I hooked and landed a fairly fresh fresh
fish of 8 lb after only half a dozen casts. The fisher in front kindly stopped
fishing to help tail the fish with his tailer ... which didn't work
but he managed to hand tail it. A strong fish which was fortunately well
hooked. I had to leave, as usual, before 9am!
River Earn 9am - 7pm
The river was running at a good fly height, with the head of the
stone showing at the plying fields, although the level rose slightly
through the afternoon. I fished fly all day with no result. Quite a few
fish have been caught over the last few days when the water was a bit
higher - mainly on worm and spinner. One fisher reported three sea trout
on a black flying C first thing in the morning from the mouth of the
Saturday 14th October
River Allan 7.30am - 9am
On Friday night the river was slightly high but dropping, so Alan and
I made an early start hoping for a good height of water. 7.30am is about
the right time to start at this time of year. We found the river level
just about right, with three inches of the stone showing in the back
stream. At 8 o'clock I hooked a nice, fairly fresh five pound grilse
just out from the sycamore tree and managed to net it within a fairly
short time. It took a size 8 Magus. I got back to the shop about
10am and Alan went back up to try to get a fish, having had a couple of
pulls early that morning .... with no luck apparently. I went back up
myself and fished from 5pm to 7pm. The level had dropped by four or five
inches, still fishable in the faster streams, but had no luck, although
I saw a few fish moving in Johnson's.
An AWAIA Autumn newsletter reports that sea trout appeared in late
spring, though not in great numbers. I must try for them in April/May
October 9am - 12 noon
River Earn "A Lost Fish"
The Allan was too high in the morning so I decided to fish the Earn
first and maybe try the Allan in the afternoon, by which time I
hoped it would have dropped to a fishable level.
The Earn, too, was a bit high for easy fly fishing, so I put up the
spinning rod with 200yards of 12 lb Maxima on a Mitchell 300 reel. There
were quite a few fishers above Cook's Dam, on both banks. I saw one or
two fish moving and suspected that a few fish would have already been
caught or lost. It was a nice day with the river level dropping slowly,
having been much higher the day before, like the Allan, which had been
up about three feet.
I began at the Playing fields with an assortment of spoons and
spinners, settling for a 15 gram red and silver flying C, a popular lure
on the Earn at the moment. Nothing happened until I reached the tail of
the pool ... then things got a bit hectic! I hooked a salmon in the
middle of the stream which seemed to hit the spinner normally enough
before leaping out of the water, a big fish which may have been anything
up to twenty pounds. From that point on, I had absolutely no control of
the fish, which immediately turned tail and headed for the sea. Over the
dam he went and into the pool below, taking line from the reel at a rate
of knots. I was wearing chest waders, so I stumbled, chest high in the
river, down into the next pool, trying, and failing, to keep up with the
fish. I then struggled on to the bank with the help of a fellow angler,
Jimmy, who had been alerted to what was happening by the anglers on the
Now things began to get interesting. We were on the left bank. Below
us was a very fast, narrow stream with dense trees overhanging the river
on our bank, impossible to follow the fish ..... until Jimmy
suggested that we cross the river and follow the fish downstream on the
far bank, which was more open. Now bear in mind that the river was
running high, and all the while the salmon pulling line from the reel on
his way seawards. He was now well over 100 yards away with no sign of
slowing. So, with only a moment's hesitation, I linked arms with Jimmy,
who was evidently in the mood for a bit of fun, and off we strode, waist
high, diagonally across the tail end of the pool, Now, in this way, we
were surprisingly stable in the strong current, four legs evidently
being better than two. Had I tried this crossing on my own, I would
surely have been swept away in no time. I wouldn't have dreamt of
We made it to the other side, still losing line, with the fish in the
next pool downstream, where it seemed to slow a little, allowing me to
recover some line as we reached the main body of the pool. But the
respite was short lived. The salmon resumed his downstream journey, out
of the pool and into the fast stream below, just upstream of the Crieff
road bridge. Again we tried to follow but were hampered by trees
bordering a deep hole near the right bank. Jimmy was game to continue,
him hanging on to the tree and me hanging on to him while manoeuvring
round the obstacle, with the salmon in midstream below. On the point of
getting a soaking, though, I called a halt and retreated to solid ground
upstream. The fish had decided to stop, now lying about 100 yards
directly downstream, immobile in the fast current, having taken us more
than 300 yards downstream, through two pools and across the river, all
in the space of about ten minutes. What to do now? I put as much
pressure on the line as I dared, with no response from the fish. It felt
as though I was hooked on the bottom. I then released some line from the
reel and allowed it to drift down in the current, hoping the fish might
move upstream against the pull of the line , but no. On winding in the
slack line and renewing the pressure, the line came back to me ... minus
the flying C. The fish had gone! I hadn't even seen him since his
initial leap on being hooked.
Now salmon don't, in my experience, usually behave in this way unless
foul hooked, and perhaps this was the case here - I will never know. On
the other hand, the line had broken just above the spinner, where it
might be cut by a salmon's sharp teeth. At any rate, it was without
doubt the biggest salmon I have ever hooked and the most unusual battle
I am ever likely to have with one, thanks to Jimmy, who seemed to enjoy
the whole affair. We made our way over the bridge and back upstream to
the starting point where we began again ... after a reviving swig from
the hip flask. A little later, fishing a black and gold flying C (Landa
13g) in almost exactly the same spot, I hooked a second, smaller fish of
five or six pounds, which stayed down, shaking his head to try to rid
himself of the hook, a tactic which seemed to work, because, when the he
was just below the rod tip, he came to the surface, shook his head one
last time and was gone .... not my day!
I left Crieff about midday and headed for the Allan, hoping for some
sport on the fly. I found the river running a bit high but clear. I
decided to give it a go, hoping it would drop to a better level by mid
afternoon. As it happened, it dropped very slowly and, as often happens,
was just reaching a perfect height at dusk. I did, however, have an
unusual catch just as it was getting dark. At the sycamore tree, I
hooked and landed what looked like a brown trout kelt of around 1 1/2
I fished the Earn again several times over the next week, in the
early evenings after work. Despite what appeared near perfect
conditions, I had no luck.
Tuesday 24th October
River Allan 7am - 9am
The river, after a spate yesterday, was running at a good height for
the lower half of the back run/ sycamore tree, i.e just covering the
stone, but a wee bit high for the Kinbuck stream. Robert had a coloured
cock fish of 3 lb just after 7am in the back run. I had one slight pull.
Both the Allan and Earn were a bit on the high side. I spun at the
playing fields for an hour or two and saw one or two big fish move
towards the tail of the pool and a few running up the edge of the stream
but the level was a bit too high for comfortable fishing - a nice
As the Allan was running high, I fished up at Greenloaning in the
hope that the level would drop more quickly further upriver. A gusty
wind rose making fly fishing difficult and heavy showers developed. I
saw only one or two fish move. I ended up at Kinbuck with the level
still a few inches too high.
Saturday 28th October
River Allan 7am - 9am
Following heavy rain over the last few days, the Allan is still
running about two inches above the stone but falling. It should be
fishable during the afternoon. A very cold but calm morning with mist on
the river - no sign of fish.
Tuesday 31st October
LAST DAY River Allan
The river at Kinbuck was running at a perfect height in the morning.
i.e. about three inches of the stone showing, but rain in the morning
resulted in a slow but steady rise for the rest of the day, though it
remained clear and looked very fishable. There were quite a few fish
showing up and down the river. Perhaps they were unsettled by the rising
river. The only fish I saw caught was a very coloured cock fish caught
and returned by Robert. A lovely afternoon, very mild for the end of
October. Indeed, the whole month has been wet and mild.
A disappointing season on the Allan. I have only had one salmon.
Other have done much better: Robert with 7, John 7, Geordie 11.
A poor season overall but an improvement on 1994 ...
Earn - 2 ; Allan - 1
Earn - 5
The main problem this season was the extended very hot and dry
summer, from mid June to the end of August, i.e. the whole of the sea
trout season. I heard that the Endrick fished very well for both salmon
and sea trout through the whole of October!