October saw the 2017 salmon fishing season in Scotland draw to a close on many rivers around the country. Rivers like the Thurso, Brora, Dee and Tay amongst many others closed their banks to anglers through the course of the month. The weather was very unsettled in and there were frequent spells of heavy rain accompanied by strong winds affecting much of the country. If that was not enough, we also had the remnants of ex hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian batter Scotland during the middle part of the month. All this rain led to very unsettled water levels and this did not make for good fishing conditions on some rivers. Indeed, several fishing days were lost due to high coloured water on a number of rivers including the Tweed, Nith and Annan. Despite the difficult fishing conditions, one thing was clear, the autumn run did materialise in any great numbers across Scotland. There were some nice fish caught but most of these were older with very few sea liced specimens grassed in October.
In the Scottish Highlands, the Thurso river closed for the season at the end of the first week of October. Anglers enjoyed some excellent sport on the river during the last few days of the season. Water levels were good and decent numbers of fish were caught from most beats. There were large numbers of fish in many of the pools on the river. The vast majority of the fish caught were older. This is not unusual for the river as the Thurso is not famed for its autumn run just like many of its highland counterparts.
Catches on the River Alness were decent during the first half of October. There were several spates and Loch Morie at the head of the system was full. This ensured that there was good water until the end of the season. Unfortunately, towards the end of the month the rain just kept coming and the water became very unsettled. This seemed to put the fish off taking. There were decent numbers of fish seen in the pools but with the fluctuating water levels meant that they were proving difficult to catch. In spite of this, there was a lovely fresh sixteen-pound salmon caught on the penultimate day of the season which was great to see. The likes of the Beauly and Ness picked away through October but catches would have probably been better if the water had been more settled.
The River Dee finished for the season on the 15th of October. The last two weeks of the season proved to be a productive time on the river. There was good water and catches were well spread. Beats like Birse and Crathes amongst others enjoyed productive days. The last week of the season saw over two hundred fish caught from the river which was more than respectable. The good water conditions helped the tally and there were fish of over twenty-five pounds caught. The River Dee finished its season on almost 4300 fish which is a big improvement on last season and hopefully it is a sign of things to come next year on this great Scottish salmon river.
Catches on the River Tay during the last two weeks of the season were disappointing. There were some nice fish caught but most of these were older. The long-anticipated Tay autumn run did not materialise in any great numbers. Conditions did not help much, with water levels fluctuating on almost a daily basis. Some beats had decent numbers of fish showing but they did not seem to be keen on taking. This can often be the case when river levels are unsettled. It was the beats on the lower river which enjoyed the best of the sport but the middle river also picked away. The Tay opens in mid-January and anglers will have their fingers crossed that there is a decent spring run.
It was a similar story on the River Tweed in October with the lack of fresh fish. The weather was very unsettled across the Scottish borders and this made river levels fluctuate. Leaves were also an issue on some days as the heavy rain was often accompanied by strong winds. This meant that the river became almost unfishable for periods of time due to the amount of leaves in the water. Through the early part of the month the water was quite high and most of the fish were caught from the middle and lower river. As the month progressed, there were more fish being caught from the upper river which was great to see. The last full week of October saw water levels settle down somewhat and most anglers on the river enjoyed an uninterrupted week’s fishing. The autumn run on the Tweed has not materialised in any great numbers as the majority of fish caught from the river in October were coloured. However, towards the end of the month there were a few more fresh fish caught. Hopefully, this will be a sign of things to come in the upcoming weeks.
Most of Scotland’s rivers have now closed for the season. However, there are still a few salmon fishing opportunities available for those anglers who want to get their rod bent one last time. The River Tweed, Annan and Nith are all open for the next few weeks and given decent conditions, there could still be some good sport to be had.