As we all know, the 2013 season got off to a very slow start. This was partly due to the very low temperatures at the beginning of the season. March was the coldest month of the winter for much of the Highlands, with night temperatures dropping as low as minus 13C. The water was cold and early fish were subsequently reluctant to run.
Then there was the lack of rain. According to my records, here at Dounie, the total rainfall for 2011 was 107 inches. For 2012 it was 78 inches. For the 2013 season, up to the end of August, just 31 inches of rain had fallen. All that said, when it rained the river fished well, with most weeks providing very good fishing. And catches were spread pretty evenly through the season: March 1, April 18, May 35, June 6, July 9, August 11 and September 17. September can sometimes be a very good month,particularly late on, when the occasional early morning frost lowers the river temperature sufficiently to stimulate fish into a more aggressive mode. But it wasn’t to be. Though pools were well stocked, late September fish were very reluctant to come to the fly.
All too often Rods arrive to fish a new piece of water and the ghillie sometimes being otherwise occupied, have to fend for ourselves. It can be a little daunting, particularly for new anglers, even when pools are clearly named.
Last season, where the river bank allowed, I decided to mark the beginning and end of each pool with a short, unobtrusive wooden stob topped with a small acrylic disc coloured green to show the beginning of the pool and red to indicate the end. Though simple, it proved to be very effective, with quite a few guests commenting upon how useful it was, particularly in regard to how high up the pool they should start. More than one fish that should have escaped was probably caught as a consequence!
One notable fact regarding the 2013 season was the increased number of big fish now returning to our rivers, with three over 20 lbs caught on Dounie alone. Long may that trend continue.
Best wishes to you all for the coming season.
Kim Sawyer, Dounie, December 2013.