I think this is my 6th year of travelling up to fish the Deveron in Scotland. It is a wonderful river that is often overshadowed by the “big name” salmon rivers but I like it that way. It is the sort of place that is great if you know about it and you shout a bit about it Not too much that it draws too much attention.
This trip was different for a couple of reasons. Firstly that we decided not to fly. I am a little tired of the stealth costs of flying, especially when you are lugging a lot of gear with you. For this reason it made sense that we took the new fishing truck out to stretch its legs and I have always wanted to drive from the bottom of the country to pretty much the top.
The second reason is a pretty significant, and special one. It was to be Emma’s first fishing trip. I can’t really write how exciting this was to me and all the way up my fingers were crossed that we would have a good one.
We decided to split the upward leg of the journey by leaving on Saturday, staying in Kendal in the Lake District and then heading up to Banff on Sunday. Bar the usual traffic problems on the M6 we checked in to the hotel on Saturday night had a good dinner and excellent breakfast the next morning and headed north. That was, of course, before we made the obligatory stop at John Norris in Penrith. They very smartly open on a Sunday and the place was jammed full of fishermen making the trip up to Scotland who were eager to stock up on a few last minute essentials and even a few I saw who were getting completely kitted out for their fishing trips. It really is a nice store with friendly, helpful staff. It sort of reminded me of a store in Colorado The Dude and I visited a few years back that was the sort of place you wanted to visit before hitting the river.
As we made it just over the border into Scotland we passed over the Clyde as it snaked under the motorway. I think it was the third time we passed over it and looked to the left and it looked just like a stream from Mid West America. I really, really liked it!
When we got to the river on Monday it was just dropping, having come up a little. In my experience what usually happens is that after it has coloured it then goes a really dark peaty colour before clearing completely. As we are pretty much at the bottom of the river it means that the fish will run through pretty quick and so the top of the beats is the place to fish. That is where we started. We did see plenty of fresh fish along with a few coloured ones but no joys.
On Tuesday we were towards the bottom and again we saw some fish but we didn’t really feel like we were in the game. I did have a trout followed next cast by a small sea trout.
Wednesday we were back at the top and in the afternoon Emma and I had the very top beat and the water was starting to just about clear a little. I was fishing a pool lower to Emma but heard her let out a yell and saw the rod briefly buck before a fish came off. I ran up quickly to help but the moment had passed. That was only before I had got back in and again Emma was briefly attached to a fish. The really nice thing was that she just laughed it off and made another beautiful cast.
It looked like the fish were on and not long after my line went tight and I lifted into a fish. I was guiding Paul just before we made the trip and he described the salmon he had caught as being plugged in to the electricity. That sounds just about right. Emma netted the fish, abeautiful hen, perfectly which we admired briefly before letting her continue her journey upstream.
Thursday and we were back on the very lowest beats. Again Emma cast and fished beautifully and again was briefly attached to a fish that just didn’t stick. I had another small sea trout but despite covering the water well that was it for us.
Friday and the water looked really good but it felt a good deal cooler. Morning was quiet but after lunch it warmed a little and Emma chose her fly and decided the pool she wanted to fish. You know what? She was dead right as the line went tight and she lifted into a fish. I was standing by the truck putting an intermediate tip on my line as I had done with hers as we had fished fast sinkers all week.
The fish was hooked on the lip at the very tail of a pool and Emma expertly played the fish, keeping it under control. I headed out with a net and after a while the fish was netted. We thought we would keep the fish as it was a cock fish and Emma’s first salmon and so after dispatching, we hugged each other and I don’t mind admitting that I had a tear in my eye. It was the perfect moment and after all of the hard work Emma had put in she had been rewarded.
We had planned to fish the morning of the Saturday but thought that we would make the drive home in one go and so didn’t hit the water.
There were so many highlights of the trip but the main one is looking upstream and seeing Emma smile as she watched her line swing through the pool or being upstream of her and hearing her sing as she sent out another beautiful cast.
I don’t think it could have been a better trip. I think that the spinner outfished the fly that week but we wanted to fish the fly. It isn’t a snobbish, or certainly not an elitist thing – we just enjoyed making a nice cast feeling we were covering the water.
The other thing was that you don’t need a whole load of tackle or gear. As long as you can cover the water efficiently you are in with a chance. All we did was use a variety of differing sink tips and had doubles and various tubes. Emma used a Skagit set up which made life easy when you coupled it with a Circle or Double Spey.
Sometimes we get all hot under the collar with technicalities but there just isn’t always the need. We could easily say the Skagit line can land a little heavy on the water but when Emma had her first two takes it was in shallow, relatively clear water and the fish didn’t seem to mind too much. They are the ones who decide if we have done things correctly or not and they certainly don’t care how nice the loop was on the cast or if you have the latest “must have” fly on!
All in all though the fishing wasn’t the easiest but it was the most enjoyable. The truck was excellent (fishingmobile V.3), the food and accommodation outstanding and Emma, thank you so much for making this such a wonderful trip, I don’t think it could have been more perfect.