Still quiet.

Ronald Sutherland

Last week was not a memorable week on the Helmsdale. Grilse were practically non existent and some rods only managed to save the blank for their week! Temperatures were below average but the river was running fine on summer level, the missing ingredient was fresh running fish in any numbers. Some stragglers were caught and the Badanloch rods of Ian Muir and Chris Wall probably had the best of it with 8 between them by Friday mainly on our tiny Willie Gunn Conehead TDs.

Locally, one grilse was caught by Phillip Marshall whilst seatrout fishing, Phillip also had some nice seatrout up to 2.5lbs. I have been out on the water also experimenting and developing some fresh new deadly seatrout flies which will be in the new Fulling Mill catalogue coming out in the autumn, watch out for them, they are stunners and I predict they will be the biggest selling seatrout flies in 2015 if the popularity of our CDC doubles is anything to go by. Seatrout are still in the estuary here and will give sport until the grilse arrive - hopefully we do not have too long to wait.

The word from other rivers in the North is the same, not a lot happening yet. One highlight being a clonking 20 pounder for David Raper on the Brora Well Pool. The fresh run fish was caught on a Willie Gunn and returned.

Chris Wall with a solid 12 pounder to start his week on Badanloch rods from New Stream beat 3 above.

The Willie Dog Crimp conehead doing the damage this week -

Ron with a 3.5lbs seatrout taken on the Black CDC double which has had a very good month! -

A close up of the lethal teeth and black CDC on this ferocious cock seatrout.

Don't forget to ask for a demo cast with the sensational Loop Cross S1, we have a 15ft rigged up and ready to roll with the perfectly balanced Loop GDC Shooting head. Please call in advance to book a trial with this amazing rod and line as they are often out on the water -



Waiting for the grilse.

Ronald Sutherland

The fishing slowed down last week on par with history. In a week dominated by high pressure the fishing was always going to be a challenge but a few rods did have some success. Beats 3 & 5 fished best and the first fish came off loch Achnamoine, beat 6 above. Astonishingly this water barely sees salmon anglers cast a fly in anger and is generally used as a few hours trout fishing for the kids. I'm all for giving youngsters and beginners the opportunity to fish, it is especially important to keep them interested but in the opinion of many it is high time locals were given the chance to situate a boat on this loch and pay fair rent for the opportunity.

The loch holds salmon from April onwards, as soon as fish are over the falls you have a chance there but it is merely paid lip service as far as serious salmon fishing goes. It is a considerable waste of good fishing which could be enjoyed by many more anglers. The loch is not big but size is not the issue, it is the lack of rods. For those of you familiar, Loch Achnamoine is bigger than loch Askaig on Borrobol and roughly the same size os loch Arachlinnie on Achentoul estate. A locally managed trouting boat on full catch & release for salmon would create a real buzz!
It will not be entertained....and that's why the outcome of the Freshwater Fisheries Review will be so ruthless in parts of the highlands.

Loch Achnamoine looking North West towards Badanloch and the dam.

The Association water only produced seatrout and some good bags were caught early in the week. One of our junior anglers Jordan Marshall was delighted to catch his first of the season at 1.5lbs on a Butcher double. The fly catching most is the Black CDC double ( pic below ) up until last year CDC was not used in any seatrout patterns. I wanted to try a wet fly close to the surface and tied up a few flies on doubles with the buoyant leggy style feather and it was an instant rip roaring success! Seatrout love to hit flies very close to the surface (as some of the classic Welsh surface lures prove) and they hammered the CDC from the word go. I am now working on expanding the range.

It is quiet on the salmon front everywhere at the moment and less than 30 were reported last week but we are hopefull that the grilse run will start in earnest soon. No salmon were reported from the Association water.

The deadly Black CDC seatrout fly - buy it here now -



Signs of improvement.

Ronald Sutherland

A reasonable week on the Helmsdale began with a respectable score of 5 for the Hamilton Stubber party on beat 3 fishing Badanloch rods. Generally rods were struggling to come across fish and by midweek the river exploded into spate once again. Thunderstorms were menacing and widespread and the fishing suffered. Friday reported some promising scores with around 17 fish off and the week probably ended up scoring in the 40s. The Association water produced 1 fish for local veteran Geordie Sutherland from the Flat pool at 11lbs, given the high water it was always going to be a struggle for this stretch.
Alistairs continue to catch as many fish as any fly on the Helmsdale so I have conjured up a few new options to try below.

Alistair Flamethrower

Sunburst Alistair

Golden Badger Cascade Alistair

Whilst the fishing is flatlining, The gossip coming from the Freshwater Fisheries Review on the other hand is really hotting up. Being involved in many Fishing Forums and in constant contact with fishing Facebook friends, shop customers and Fishery Board members from around the country I have to say that it seems we are in for big change in the management of fisheries in Scotland. The Review Group are laying out the legal basis and structure for radical new Fishery Boards/organisations as we speak, catch up with the latest here -

Interestingly, people seem perfectly happy reading this on their Iphone 3G as they drive around in cars which think for themselves and almost drive on remote control.  We use space age rods and aerodynamic lines which cast out of sight, we surf and check river levels and weather conditions on the internet and high tide on our latest App! most of us even book our fishing wirelessly online! Why then such consternation when it comes to modernising the sport of fishing? For some it would seem that its fine for the world to move on but don't mess with salmon fishing! Lifestyles and consumer demands have changed beyond recognition in recent years, the Status Quo does not cut it. We know exactly what's coming in the fishery review and we all have to deal with it and move forward instead of floundering around in a neophobic time warp! The leisure industry is huge and Scotland has much to offer. Communities, businesses and anglers want the same thing, good fishing, economic benefit and prosperity from it. The piscatorial landscape in Scotland is on the edge of unprecedented reform. Heads will roll, fishing is now under the microscope and far reaching change is inevitable.

On another note you may have read some correspondence in the Trout & Salmon magazine "Letters" section recently with regard to the lack of salmon running the Helmsdale during dredging in the Harbour in Jan/Feb. Well for those of you who have being following this, here is the latest letter/reply from me to Andrew Graham Stewart which unfortunately was not published!

In reply to AGS Helmsdale river dredging (June edition)

I have also been furnished with the Helmsdale river counter stats but not by the Helmsdale River Board. At the time of writing they have confirmed that they do not have this years information so I (like Andrew) have also had to contact Marine Scotland Montrose for early season numbers. They conclude that a paltry 11 fish slid over the counter amidst the period of dredging during the last week in January and first 3 weeks in February when no fish were caught. The biggest spike in the last 7 years occurred immediately after the dredging ended and by March 24th a superb score of 46 springers graced the books.
We can read all sorts into this and compute weather conditions, temps, rod pressure etc, but, what Andrew's fish counter assumptions cannot tell us is that most of these end Feb/March fish were caught below the counter and completely negate the relevance of counter stats in relation to this issue.

Andrew also points out that traditionally few salmon run between the last week Jan and last week Feb. This is common knowledge and normal but it is not normal when conditions and water levels are good that we do not catch any fish for one month, this was the point!

So, rather than boring us all here by hurling distant monthly petty pot shots at local angling opinions and insulting people by calling them "arrogant" his time would be better spent lobbying the Scottish Government on out of control Grey seal numbers and the proliferation of mixed stock costal netting stations. If this was a thread on an internet fishing forum we would probably be on page 20 by now, I'm afraid there are no winners here and at this rate I don't think I will live long enough to slug this out monthly in a magazine.

A settled spell of weather is on the cards for next week so we should enjoy some sport with the sea-trout again and hopefully salmon too.



Where are the fish?

Ronald Sutherland

last week was basically a non event and hardly worth reporting on. After a reasonable start to the week and the arrival of some nice sea-trout, the weather turned unsettled and the fishing was dire. Tuesday saw a slow small rise in the river which put paid to the sea-trout fishing and by Thursday we had another rising river and one of the biggest spates of the season crashing through the whole system. Normally when a big June spate kicks in we catch lots of coloured springers amongst fresh runners, not so this time. On Friday and Saturday the upper beats were settled and perfect but the only event worth noting was the sheer lack of fish. The whole week produced around 20 - 25 fish and one grilse was reported.

The Association water got off to a promising star Monday when Alistair Jappy grassed a cracking 12 pounder from Roaries Rock and yours truly bagged a 3.5 and 2lbs sea-trout at night, more were caught on the night and things were looking up. But as mentioned earlier, things became unsettled and that put an end to local sport. After the big rise, the flat pool was in superb order Friday but very little sign of fresh fish running apart from the odd sea-trout.

Prospects for next week - who knows, turn up and see!. There is availability on the Association water and a few fresh grilse should be arriving along with summer salmon, water levels are good.

We have a batch of our new RS Willie Gunn Mylar tubes tied up again (below), these have fished superbly all over Scotland and abroad in the last few seasons but stocks have been very limited as the fly is difficult to construct - please order your supply ASAP as these beauties will be snapped up!

A plump sea-liced sea-trout from the Flat pool and the river in spate at the top end of the Association water.



Another good week

Ronald Sutherland

Apologies, short report this week, time constraints!

The Helmsdale fished well in the end with around 50 fish reported however, sport was patchy. The Association water was well attended on the visitor front but fish were on the run and not hanging about on the lower river, 2 were caught on the local water.

Ian Muir with a fine example of what was running last week, a cracking 12 pounder landed in Little Rock pool beat 6.

The Naver is also producing now and a snippet from 2 rods fishing the rotation last week shows just how good (when there is water) after landing 23 cracking salmon for the week.

Keith Webster with a typical bar of Naver silver

Ghillie Colin Campbell weighs another fine fish in his Mclean weigh net before release. Captor John Mackay (middle) and Dee McColgan look on. A conehead Baby TD did the trick and the fish weighed exactly 12.5lbs. Most of the fish were caught on coneheads which you can purchase right here!

The Kazcade conehead, one of Ron's deadly Specials in June, a real proven killer - buy now right here -