After a very successful season in 2019 considering the numbers of fish that ran the Tyne being well behind average, with nearly 10,000 less migrating our system, 2020 had a lot to live up to and should have been a year to remember, it was going to be, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
February was a very slow month on the river, with a combination of big water, bad weather, and a lack of anglers on the water, possibly put off by the poor previous season they had. It wasn’t until March when things started heat up, and that didn’t include the weather, as early March was absolutely baltic. I was, however, lucky enough to be invited by a great friend Eugene to join him last minute on a trip to the Findhorn, a stunning spate river situated in the northeast of Scotland, and a river id always wanted to fish. During the journey up, Eugene filled me with stories of the giants that migrate this river, and that we had some near-perfect conditions to fish in, minus the freezing weather.
After a fruitless but very enjoyable first day, we got the news that the country was going into lockdown, we had 2 days left and had to make every second on the water count. Without thinking, we had left our waders and boots in the fishing hut, and as you can imagine, they were frozen harder than a pair of penguins balls. As the day went on it warmed slightly, and we eventually had a water temperature close to 5 degrees, still very cold but going in the right direction eventually. It was the end of the day, and we’d come to a bit of water that doesn’t usually get fished very often, and Eugene being the guy he is, decided to do a bit prospecting and fish a bit further, by this time I’d had enough and was winding my line in when I heard him screaming FISH ON, it took me a few seconds to realise what was going on and that he’d obviously hooked a proper fish. After charging through the woods I eventually got down to him with the net, as always he was calm and collected but a bit quieter than usual, I noticed the rod was literally bent double, and that he had the drag stacked right up on the reel, then he muttered the words it’s a big fish. After a pretty heavy battle with the fish going back and forwards I saw it, in my head I thought 15, but then it turned and caught a glimpse of its flank, it was a monster, the biggest I’ve seen with my own eyes, now I don’t usually panic but my head was racing, it was the first fish I would net of the season, and a special fish at that. After a good 20 minute scrap, I saw an opportunity to go for her, and with one scoop she was ours, was an incredible feeling, even tho it was his fish I still went crazy. Around 28lb of stunning Scottish silver, a spectacular fish, and a multi spawning female, I still smile to this day at the thought of her, as always she was kept in the water and we managed a few quick snaps before letting her carry on her journey.
After a spectacular day 2, I wasn’t really holding out for much as I felt our good luck had been used up, but as this was our last day due to covid restrictions we decided to give it our best. As the previous day’s nothing happened at all during the day, I managed a few kelts which kept us on our toes but were starting to give up hope and starting to get really cold again. At around 3 pm we decided that we’d have one last run-through one of the likely pools, and with a quick change of tactics I started fishing through it, not really paying much attention due to the cold and being wiped out, but a matter of moments later I had a solid take, nothing like the kelts id previously caught, I knew instantly this was a spring fish, and a solid one due to its power and weight. The fish took me into the backing once and motored across the pool numerous times, on each occasion making me a shacking mess expecting the worst, but with good teamwork, and me being harder on the fish, it was ours. Now, this was a special fish for me, not only because it was knocking on the doors of 20lb, but because it was my first Scottish salmon, and what an incredible fish, absolute perfection, and not a scale-out of place, what a fitting way to end our Scottish adventure than seeing her swim off into the depths.
We left Scotland to come home and literally got put into lockdown due to Covid, this would have a huge effect on the coming months, not just on the fishing but everyone’s lives, it certainly makes you appreciate what you have, and what you do so much more.