Last weekend saw salmon fishing draw to a close on the mighty River Tay for another year. We were lucky enough to be fishing on the final few days of the season on the fabulous Kerocck Beat. The Kercock Beat is an excellent Lower Middle River Tay beat, which produces good numbers of salmon all year round. It can be especially prolific towards the end of the season when large numbers of hard fighting salmon can be caught. The beat has a wonderful mix of fast flowing runs, and deep holding pools and some of the fly water on the beat can only be described as being mouth-watering. As there is such a great variety of pools on the beat, Kercock fishes well in most heights of water and with experienced ghillie Gary Harkin at the helm, a salmon is never too far away for his guests. So, to say were looking forward to our fishing was a bit of an understatement!
Kercock has a reputation for producing big fish
It was a dry but cool start to the morning on our first day. Gary said that we would be fishing the Cottage Stream Pool first. This was music to both mine and my wife, Samantha’s, ears. The Cottage Stream has to be one of the finest pools on the entire River Tay. It is just made for fly fishing and a delight to fish. Samantha fished the head of the pool and I fly fished the tail of the pool. The water was dropping after a lift the previous day, and conditions looked good. We saw a few fish during the first half of the morning but failed to generate any interest. We then decided to fish the Croys Pool before lunch. This is another excellent pool on the beat, and it was looking in great order. The fly was swinging around in the current at the perfect speed, and I was just waiting for the line to tighten. There were decent numbers of fish moving, but they appeared to be playing hard to get.
The Cottage stream
We were glad to be in the confines of the superb fishing hut at lunchtime. It was windy, and there was a chill in the air but being in a warm hut made such a difference. The other anglers fishing the beat had also seen fish, so we were optimistic for the afternoon ahead.
After lunch, Gary suggested that we fished the Boatlands Pool. The Boatlands Pool is the furthest upstream pool on the beat. Gary was going to take us up to the pool in the boat. As the water was high, he suggested that we gave harling a go, before we went on to bank fish. We could not have been harling for more than five minutes when the outside rod buckled over. We could not believe that it had taken so little time. It really showed what an intimate knowledge Gary has of his beat. Samantha played the fish which put up a good fight running hard downstream on a number of occasions. Gary managed to expertly manoeuvre the boat towards the bank, and I dropped the anchor. The fish started to tire and came to the surface after around ten minutes. Gary made no mistake with the net, and the fish was ours. The fish weighed around ten pounds, and after a quick photograph was returned to carry on with its journey upstream.
Samantha lands a nice fish!
We fished the Boatlands Pool from the bank for the rest of the afternoon. We saw plenty of fish moving towards the far bank, but unfortunately, our lines did not tighten. Nevertheless, we had a very enjoyable afternoon. There was heavy rain forecast overnight, so it was likely the river would be rising in the morning.
We arrived at the beat the following morning, and surprisingly the river appeared to be steady and clear. It was only going to be a matter of time before the river would start to rise quickly. Gary suggested that we fished the Cattle Drink Pool which is located at the bottom of the beat. This can be a highly productive pool during the summer months and often where big fish lie. Just like all the pools on the beat, it was carpet slipper wading. We both fished the pool hard, covering every inch of the water to the best of our ability. We again saw plenty of fish moving. It was strange that with so many fish showing how we could not induce a take, but that’s salmon fishing. We finished the morning having a cast in the Cottage Stream. It quickly became apparent at this point that the river was now rising fast.
After lunch, we were fishing the famous Dungeon Pool. The Dungeon is another fantastic pool on the beat. It is very deep and holds fish from the opening day of the season onwards. In high water, the fish can lie tight to the far bank, and there were a few fish showing which gave us optimism.
The productive Dungeon Pool
We fished hard during the first part of the afternoon in spite of the river rising fast. Downstream it was great to see one of our fellow anglers land a cracking fish on the fly and this gave us some hope. By mid-afternoon, the leaves in the river were horrendous, and the water was rising at an alarming rate, so we decided to call an early halt to proceedings. Thankfully, it was forecast to be a dry night.
The final day of the season dawned bright and mild, with very little wind. The river was running clear and dropping. There were far fewer leaves in the water which was an added bonus. In the morning, we started off by fishing the Pulpit Pool. This is a great high-water pool on the beat which is deep and slow. It is exactly where you would expect a big autumn salmon to be lying. We saw a number of fish in the pool and some of these were fresh. We were staggered at how we did not get a take. Before lunch, we had a cast at the tail end of the Boatlands Pool but fared no better. You could understand not getting a pull if there was no fish on the beat but this was obviously not the case, as we were covering fish regularly.
The deep Pullpit Pool
In the afternoon, we fished the Cottage Stream Pool. If there was one pool on the river that we could finish our season on, it would have to be the Cottage Stream. We saw a number of fish including a few big silver salmon. We both covered every inch of the pool and were expecting to get a pull on almost every cast. Unfortunately, these Tay salmon were playing hard to get.
So there it was, the end of another year, on the mighty River Tay. We had a fabulous time during the last three days of the season. The company was great as always, and it was a pleasure and a privilege to finish the season on the Kercock Beat. There were fish in every pool, but unfortunately, we just could not catch many of them, but hey, that’s salmon fishing!