Scottish Fishing Diary 1989

Needle Tubes and Tube Flies

Scottish Fishing Days and Nights 1989

by John Gray

Fishing Diary 1989

Diary Archive
1985 1996

In addition to my Endrick permit, I have taken a season permit on the Callander Town water on the River Teith, so the start of the salmon season on 1st February saw me on the Gisha pool at the lower end of the Callander Town water on the Teith. Spinning a light black and gold 3 inch Devon minnow, after only three or four casts, I hooked a fish of six or seven pounds, probably a kelt but a good start. This is a lovely pool, which I will try later in the season for both salmon and sea trout. There were no fresh salmon taken on the first day - a few kelts and a 3 pound sea trout.

It has been the mildest winter on record. Plenty of rain until April with several high spates. Very cold during March and April with no sign of salmon on the Teith. The netting has started on the Forth at Stirling. I will try for sea trout at Callander late April/early May when the river drops to a lower level. I have taken a season permit for 50. I had a day on Banton Loch early April and had a 3/4 lb rainbow on a small shrimp fly - a very cold day with an east wind.

I have persevered on the Teith during late spring and early summer, hoping for a sea trout but with no success. I have concentrated on the lovely water at the lower end of the beat. It seems that there is a better chance of sea trout at night up above Callander at the confluence with the Leny.

It has been an exceptionally dry and hot summer, with only about three days of rain from May to July. All the rivers are very low. The driest, hottest summer in about 15 years. There was possibly one early spate at the end of June but it seems that the Teith has been running too low to attract fish up from the Forth estuary. A change in the weather at the end of July saw 2 days rain, giving about 1 1/2 inches in three days, probably not enough for an Endrick spate. There have been reports of large shoals of fish moving up the Leven around the end of July into Loch Lomond.

Wednesday 3rd August

River Leven - 10 pm - 1am

Fished the River Leven at the back of the industrial estate at Renton. Using a size 6 black and red lure, I hooked a finnock of 3/4 lb. Had a few more offers as the tide came up at 12.30am

Friday 11th August

The River Teith was running at a good height for daytime/evening fly. It is necessary to wade to fish the fly well at the lower part of the beat. No sign of fish running. Large numbers have been waiting at Stirling for rain.

River Endrick 11pm - 1am Meetings. Very few fish showing but five fishers on and two fish caught. The Endrick has had two small spates in the last week and is now at a good night height. One more good spate should hopefully bring a good run of fish up from the loch.

Sunday 13th August - Midnight

There had been heavy rain overnight on Saturday ( over 1") but not much of a spate. A slight flow on the Dam but no sea trout present yet. A good flow at the Meetings but with a bit of colour. No sign of fish, though some reported at the Pots. Still need a good spate.

Tuesday 15th August - morning

Fished above the Aberfoyle Road Bridge. River running coloured but clearing after very heavy rain ( over 1") the previous night. There hasn't yet been a big spate, although fish seem to have been running over the Pots for the past few days.

Evening - I and a few others had fished the Dam till midnight with no result. Tried the Meetings, where there were three others. one fish of about 1 lb caught and another two lost. I had no touches. The river is running at a good night height. Fish should now be running but still need a good spate.

Wednesday 16th August - evening 

1 grilse

River Teith, Gisha Pool. River running clear about 18 " of the wall showing. At 9 pm I caught a fresh grilse of 4.5 lbs near the tail of the pool on a size 10 Kamasan treble (red, black and silver) fished on 14 ft Greys rod, neutral line.

 Very heavy rain Saturday evening and most of the day Sunday 20th August (roads flooded)

Monday 21st August   5.30 am - 8 am

3 sea trout

The Dam, Endrick - The top of the stone was just showing at 5 am and the water running clear. A fairly dull morning, not properly light until 6 am. No fish showed but they came on for half an hour between 6 and half past. I had three, two very fresh, and lost another, all around the two pound mark. Peter M had one. Fly - size 10 Kamasan double, silver, red and black shrimp (2 fish) and black, red and orange shrimp (1 fish), fished on a Masterline neutral line (chestnut). This is the first sign of sea trout in the dam. Still no salmon.

Tuesday 22nd August    1 am - 4 am    

Dam - A mild drizzly night. No fish moving early on. Only four small sea trout taken all night with a few lost. I lost one about 1am at the top of the pool, which took just as I began retrieving. Reports of salmon at the Pots but no sign of them up at the Dam yet.

Wednesday 23rd August   6 am - 8 am

River Teith, Gisha Pool. 18 inches of the wall showing, a good height. Saw only one fish move at the tail. I had two small touches .... a fish???. Some rain later in the day but not a lot. Endrick should be running at a good night height.

Wednesday 23rd    10.30 pm - 3 am  

 3 sea trout

Cowden Mill Dam - A fairly dark, mild, drizzly night. Only three other fishers. River quite low with only a slight flow despite light rain on and off all day. I had three fish between 1am and 3am, two at the head of the pool just below the beech tree (2lb and 2lb 10oz) and one at the tail (2lb) with a further fish lost. I fished 2 flies, one size 8, one size 10, with maggots fished on a WF8F Gallion line on a Bob Church 10.5 ft Allrounder (home built). The fish at the tail was taken on the fly/maggot dropper while stripping a wake lure on the tail with fairly fast figure of eight. May be worth a try more often! All fish fairly fresh hen fish, probably having run into the pool that night. Three other fish taken. Still no sign of the bigger fish but I saw a lovely 8lb cock fish taken down at Dalnair on Monday.

Friday 25th August     10.30 pm - 3.30 am

4 sea trout (Alan 2)

Peter M had one when we arrived and had lost another. No other fishers on a dark, mild drizzly night! Alan had a nice sea trout of 5 lbs at the head of the pool about 11pm and another at 2lb later on. I had four - two at the top of the pool and two at the tail (2, 2.5, 3, 4 lbs). Peter M ended the night with 5 and Peter G arrived late and had one. There seems to be a good run of sea trout from 2lb upwards. The salmon will hopefully arrive on the next good spate.

Monday 28th August    12 midnight - 5 am

2 sea trout             

Dam - a cold clear night with very few fish showing. Alex started in the top run while Peter and I fished through the lower part of the pool to the tail. Alex had three fish in the first hour under the beech tree. By 4am, Alex had four, Peter had four, Murray had 2, most being taken at the top of the pool. I had had no touches until around 3.30, when Alex gave me a cast of two of his favourite sparsely dressed size 10 flies (TBS and Butcher). Loaded with 5 maggots each, I had 2 fish (3 1/4 and 3 lbs) and lost another in half an hour, all taken under the beech tree. Was it the flies or the taking place or just luck? I will tie a few similar flies anyway, as they beat my usual spiders on the night. Alex finished the night with 5 fish, with one at 6lb and one at 4lb. Total caught 13.

Tuesday 29th August      10 pm - 3 am 

1 sea trout

Dam - A clear night turning cloudy and very close later. Rain promised for the morning. River running very low with only a slight flow. I had to wait to get on, with a total of 8 or 9 fishers on the pool. I had one fish of 1lb 10oz in the middle of the pool about midnight on one of Alec's style of flies. 5 fish taken in total. Some light rain Wednesday morning.

Thursday 31st August      6 am - 8.30 am

2 sea trout

There had been heavy rain most of Wednesday until about 6pm with the river rising steadily. A good spate had followed overnight, falling by daybreak.

Dam - The stone just showing and the river dropping. Four fishers. Billy S had a sea trout of about 5 lbs. Colin had one about 6 lbs. I had one run down the pool with no success so decided to give Coolies Lynn a try.

Coolies -  7am - 8-30am   With the river running at a good height, I took 2 sea trout (2 1/4 and 3 1/4lbs)  on a size 12 Partridge LW size 12 silver shrimp, one of them taken with bright sunshine shining directly downstream.

* Locked car keys inside the car, borrowed John's car to drive home for spare, opened shop late at 11am.

Friday 1st September     10.30 pm - 3 am

4 sea trout

Dam - only five fishers on the pool when I arrived, so I only waited minutes before starting. A cool, clear, calm but moonless night. Sufficient flow to keep a floating line on the move. Most fish were taken around and above the beech tree. Alan M had 2, Frank M had two. I had four fish 1 1/4 (returned), 2 1/4, 2 3/4 and 3 lb, two above the beech tree and one at the stone. Again, none at the tail, although some big fish moved down at the bottom end. I also lost a good fish in the run when the hook broke on striking. Flies - size 8 and 10, later two size 10s. Totla catch for the pool when I left at 3am - 9.

Monday 4th September   Midnight - 3 am

1 sea trout

Dam - A mild, calm, dark night with the river running very low. Very few fish moving. Four or five fishers. I had one about 1 3/4 lb just after midnight in the run above the beech tree. Robert M had one about four pounds later. No other fish caught. Need another spate now.

Monday 11th September     Midnight - 3 am 

1 sea trout

The gate in the Dam is now shut. The level is a bit higher but there is no flow. A clear cold night with no moon. The farm light was on for an hour or so. Alex and I had one fish each around 1am in the run above the tree, both fish 2 lb. We have had no rain now for a week.

Saturday 16th September    6 am - 8 am

Alan 1 grilse

Heavy rain on Friday from 11am to 6pm produced the long awaited spate overnight but the river had dropped a bit too low for the dam by daybreak, although Colin lost a fish. Alan and I moved up to Coolies, where it was very windy but there was a fair flow through the pool with the river running quite clear. Alan hooked and landed a nice fresh grilse of 4.5 lbs - his first salmon - in the fast water at the top of the pool, on an orange and gold shrimp, size 12 fished on a floating line. The hook came out in the net.

Monday 18th September      Midnight - 3 am

After the spate on Friday, I had high hopes for the night fishing tonight. A mild night with the moon obscured by cloud, and a number of fish moving in the pool did nothing to dampen hopes. About nine fish had been caught on the previous night, Saturday. It was not to be, though. Only one small fish of a pound and a half was caught by Colin. It seems we need another spate to bring in a fresh run.

Thursday 21st September     6.30 am - 8.00 am

 One lost

Heavy rain on Wednesday morning had put the river into a high spate, which had dropped back to a perfect height by daybreak on Thursday, with the water just covering the midstream stone at the top of the pool. I lost a grilse of about six pounds at the net. It had taken a red and silver shrimp. Alan also lost one on an orange and gold shrimp. Alex, Billy and Robert all had a fish each. I had three more offers but did not connect. There now seems to be a good stock of salmon in the river with about a dozen fish taken from the Dam for the day.

Monday 25th September (Holiday)    7 am - 5 pm

1 salmon

River Teith, Callander - The river was at a good fly height with about two feet of the wall showing. I had one salmon of 9 pounds in the tail of the Gisha Pool on a dyed red shrimp (bait) and lost another of the same size later in the morning. No other fish were taken from the Gisha. A few fish had been taken at the weekend, following the spate of last Wednesday/Thursday. The river up here seems to fish well three to four days following a good spate.

The Endrick hasn't fished well at night during September. The last spate of the month brought in a run of grilse but not many sea trout.

Wednesday 27th September      4 pm - 7 pm  

1 salmon

River Teith, Callander. I fished the pool at the very bottom of the beat, just above the caravan park. It was a nice bright afternoon with occasional cloud cover, with the river running at a perfect fly height for that pool, i.e. the top stone was just covered. I hooked a fish on a size 10 treble silver and red shrimp beside the stone on the far side opposite the gate. A nine pound cock fish, very strong, which fought well with two long runs to the far bank, coming out of the water at the end of each run. I managed to net it after a hard fight on the 11 ft single hander/neutral line. Peter G had an 8 pound fish on the lower Teith the same day on the same fly. This fly has done well in the few weeks since I first tied it, having accounted for 5 salmon and four sea trout.

Wednesday 18th October

2 salmon

The first half of October has been very dry and the rivers have not been worth fishing, except the Leven which has had a good season. This morning I fished the Endrick at Kiltrochan but the river was too low with a lot of leaves. The Teith was at a good height, with about 18 inches to 2 ft of the wall showing. A few fish were moving and I tried everything - shrimp, spinner and fly. My first fish was taken on a large orange and black Canadian Wiggler in the bottom pool from the lie beside the stone on the far side opposite the iron gate, a 10 1/2 lb cock fish, fresh with seal damage on its flank. The second fish, a fresh 10 lb hen, was taken on a small red shrimp (bait) from the tail of the Gisha, under the trees on the far bank. Alan played it to the net. The Teith seems to fish well during September and October at Callander, given water to bring fish up from the lower river.

Wednesday 25th October    Dawn till Dusk

3 grilse

Cowden Mill Dam - Rain early in the morning saw the river rising for the first few hours but it steadied and dropped during the afternoon, until about 5pm when it began to rise and colour again. The wormers on the far bank had about eight fish, with six fish taken on our side in the afternoon. My three fish, at 5 lb 6oz, 5lb 14oz and 6lb 14oz, were caught early in the afternoon on a size 10 and 12 red/silver shrimp. A good number of fish were taken upstream around the milk bar area, too, with John Baird taking three.  A good end to the season!

1989 Season

A very poor season for sea trout with the driest summer this century (dry from April to mid August). There were only two good weeks (beginning 21st August) fishing for sea trout on the Endrick but a fairly good back end for salmon, and the Leven, by all accounts, had a very good year.

Sea Trout .............. 21 (Alan 2)

Salmon/Grilse .......... 8 (Alan 1)

My salmon ..... Teith - 5  (biggest 10.5 pounds) ; Endrick - 3 (in one day)

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Book - Sea Trout Nights



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River Leven Map

The River Leven




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River Teith Map

The River Teith at Callander



River Teith Fishing

River Teith below Callander


River Teith at Cambusmore

Cambusmore Fishings, River Teith



Cambusmore Fishings, River Teith

Cambusmore Upper Beat



 Salmon Spinhead

HMH Tube Fly Tool



Grays of Kilsyth

Salmon Flies

Trout Flies

Fly Fishing Knots

Sea Trout Fishing

Sea Trout Flies

Tube Flies

The Tube Fly Shop


 Slim stainless steel salmon and sea trout flies







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