A BIG salmon!

There has been a really very exciting catch on the estate this week. Here’s the full story:

Tom Buchanan is a keen angler, and has been regularly fishing on the River Lyon for the last 43 years. After some rain was forecast at the beginning of last week, he decided to see if there was any availability on the river. He phoned Hamish (South Chesthill Estate ghillie), who said there were day tickets available and agreed that conditions would be good. Tom and his wife Mary left their home in Glasgow just after sunrise on April 15th, and headed north.

On arrival, after picking up his detailed permit and dicussing with Hamish which pools would be worth a try, he headed to Peters Pool but the river was high with snowmelt and Tom’s heavy tube fly was fishing through the pool too fast, so he had a few casts with a black and Gold flying C to get down a little deeper. On the fourth or maybe fifth cast he hooked a strong silver salmon about the middle of the pool and shouted to Mary who was 50 yards away knitting in the car. Mary came down right away and helped him net a lovely fresh salmon about 15 lbs. Tom unhooked it and kept it in the net in the water and released the salmon from the net into the water. Mary took a photo of the release of this salmon which was later sent to Hamish for the estate records.

For the rest of the day, Tom fished most of the Chesthill pools but never saw or touched another salmon.

At the end of the day on Wednesday, Tom reported to Hamish and told him that as the water was dropping fast he thought that the the next day, Thursday 16th, may be very good for the fly and told Hamish that they were booked into the Coshieville B&B with Cathy and Ian to save rushing home.

So, on the morning of the 16th April, Tom and Mary headed to Gate Pool. With the water height at 1ft 4 in, he knew this would be a good height for this great pool. In no time at all he set up his Daiwa 12 ft fly rod with a sink tip, 18lb nylon and home tied monkey fly. This would get the fly down a bit as the water would still contain some snow melt making it seem colder than it should be.  Starting at the top off the pool he slowly worked down the pool, 2 casts 2 paces, covering all the water. Just opposite the seat a salmon followed the fly in and then took his fly. After about 7 mins of darting around the lower pool Tom brought the salmon into the side and netted it. A quick look with his experienced eye showed a very fresh fish of about 12 lbs. The fish swam away strongly after being unhooked.

After a quick cuppa, Tom decided that Rock Pool would be worth a visit next as the water was dropping nicely.  As this pool is particularly scenic, his wife Mary headed down to the pool with him to read her book.

Starting at the white water at the neck of the pool Tom cast his monkey fly out, letting the fly swing round in the current until it slowed down, then pulling in some line and recasting, lengthening the line each time. After the first full cast, the fly stopped and gave 2 knocks. The line then went taught and then the fish took off. After around twenty minutes with his rod bent double, battling to stop the fish going down the pool, which would have resulted in the fish coming off the line, Tom managed to bring the fish close to the side. With his wife Mary there to net his fish this should be easy. As the fish neared they both realised the salmon was way too big for his landing net. A quick plan was formulated to trap the fish between the bank, the landing net and Tom, risky but with no other options this would be attempted. Next time the fish came in, Tom guided it into the improvised netting spot. Tom pounced on the monster salmon and excitedly measured the salmon from nose to fork in its tail. With Mary taking photos Tom struggled to pick the fish up. He had caught a 34 lb salmon before and thought this one may be bigger, a bar of silver cock fish. This magnificent spring salmon was only lip hooked with the fly right in front of the mouth and after the fish was beached in a sandy part between the stones, Tom grabbed his tail with his left hand, supported the body with his right, and carefully laid him down in the soft grass. When Tom removed the hook it was almost straightened on the 3 legs but there was not one drop of his precious blood spilled as the hook was in a hard bit of flesh or gristle at the front of his mouth that did not bleed, great for the welfare of the fish that he never even spilled one drop of blood. The fish was held in the current for more than 5 mins before it strongly kicked away.

When packing up Tom checked his fly, the owner treble was almost straightened due to the pressure it had been under, which could have resulted in the salmon being lost at any second. The fishing gods had certainly been looking down on Tom! A fish of a lifetime. This salmon was measured using markings on his rod, it measured 44. 5 inches long, using various equations for calculating its weight we estimate its weight to be 35lbs.

This salmon is surely a contender for the FishPal Malloch Trophy for the largest Atlantic Salmon caught using a fly and safely returned each season in Scottish waters.

Tom was using an Airflo 450 grain Skagit fly line with an Airflo 14ft slow sinking tip and 4ft of Daiwa sensor 18 lbs BS monafilament to his own tied small Monkey fly.

Day fishing permits on the South Chesthill Estate cost between £15-£35 per rod per day and are available from 15th January until the 15th October. For further information, catch statistics and images, please refer to the Fishing section of the website. If you would like to book a permit, please contact Hamish on keeper[at]southchesthill.com or call 01887 877 233. From March to July, we offer a 50% discount off the price of fishing when taken with our accommodation.  This means you can enjoy salmon fishing for up to 10 rods over 32 pools for between £354 – £590 per week, including VAT! If you are interested in booking accommodation too, then please contact Alice on bookings[at]southchesthill.com or 0208 133 6026.

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