I have had a hankering to get up to the Tummel recently. It’s a funny river, it can be a wee bit all or nothing. More often than not it’s nothing, but when it is good it is very good. At this time of year if the Grayling are out and about it can be a lot of fun and of course you have the bonus that the Brown trout are still fair game for another few weeks. Also as Autumn heads this way it is a bonny area to be in, especially on a nice day. Usually there is a lot of mist around on the surrounding hills and as it lifts you get the Autumn colours on display.
It’s still a wee bit early to get the full colours of autumn, you can really just start to see a hint of yellow in the broad-leaved trees but when day time temperatures are still as high as about 20degees Centigrade in the sun and not particularly cold in the shade of the trees in morning, its still glorious to be on the banks of this river with its very characteristic Highland Pebble/boulder beaches.
The water is still shown as on it’s Summer lows according to the SEPA gauge but there is usually still a bit of flow as water is passed into the river from the Hydro Dam at Pitlochry. However I have a theory that on these bigger rivers in Summer time, and especially when rainfall has been lower than we might normally expect at this time of year, that the better fish take the cue to head downstream into the lower reaches of the main river below. In this case that would be the Tay, but I tend to think the same holds good for the Tweed and the Clyde. The lower reaches may not always be the best for the average fly angler used to covering water by wading, where these big rivers might be somewhat slow and deep.
But you pays your money and takes your choice, when I head out to fish I think probably my first thought is getting away from it all, where can I go that I will see few if any other anglers, then I think about catching fish. Yes when it comes to fishing I can be a little bit of a loner, I do like to do as I please and be in control of my day. Not always, but a lot of the time.
So I headed off to the Tummel, not super early but I was parked up by 9am and was at my first fishing spot before ten. I do tend to be a bit of a faff when it comes to getting ready, deciding what to carry, and putting gear, not necessarily just fishing gear, into my bag. Will I take the drone? with or without the controller? Go Pro or not? What about something to eat, will I come back to the car at lunchtime or is that a hassle? It all takes time I am afraid, and I reckon for those not used to my ways it would probably be a pain in the arse for most. But that’s how I roll and probably why I am happiest on my own.
I started with a Klink and dink set up, with the water low I thought maybe this would stand a good chance of both attracting those fish looking up but also cover those on the bottom, and I tied a size 18 nymph about 50cm’s under an “indicator” Pheasant tail klinkhammer. Fishing a pool above some rapids that drop to a more promising spot, I think it was my first or second cast when I lifted as I noticed the top fly go under and realised there was a small fish on the nymph. it was likely a small Parr and there were evidently a few about. The lift was enough to fling the wee fish off! and I didn’t need to bother unhooking it.
VLOG: River Tummel
I carried on down to a faster stretch of water that is more characteristic of pocket water though actually fishing directly in the between the boulders that evidently disturb the flow is a bit of a challenge given the pace, depth and uneven nature of the bouldery bottom. I wouldn’t say its hard wading entirely but it is very uneven, and one minute the water is at your shins, a foot away its above your knees even as you apparently head back towards the side.
I took my time to fish a good stretch of this water with the Dry/nymph set up but I realised I was still probably getting no where near bottom out in the more promising water. I had two options, lengthen the length between top fly and nymph ( but realising the point fly would likely still not be heavy enough to get down before it was washed away downstream, I opted to change to a two nymph french leader type set up. But in case I wanted to change back to conventional fly line, rather than swap reels to my french leader reel, I decided to tie on a nine metre carp leader, then a length of 8lb indicator nylon and finally a 6foot length of tippet with initially one dropper and a couple of fairly heavy jig hook nymphs. Initially I tried typical attractor patterns but later gave more imitative patterns a go too.
I was getting down better now and felt I was fishing this fast water quite well but though I had what felt initially like a few pulls and knocks I am pretty sure they were most likely just snags on weed, or maybe little plucks from those Parr that seemed to be about.After fishing the entire run fairly thoroughly with nothing to show for it, it was about lunchtime and I had a rather pleasant sit in the by now, getting quite warm sun, and enjoyed the surroundings with a mug of Heinz Cream of Tomato soup. Where next?I had fished lower down on this stretch before but the water was higher and I seemed to recall it being quite hard wading but I opted to at least have a look.
East Haugh on the Tummel
I noticed a corner in a slight dog leg bend of the river that I was going to fish but as I was trying to keep to working upstream to increase my chances of sneaking up on a trout I decided to start in the steadier wider flow first then work up to where I really fancied. This proved difficult. Though the broader section appeared to have an OK flow and depth, it proved to be too fast and probably too shallow. Though I never got deeper than knee deep it really did feel like you were living dangerously when you got any further into the flow and were asking to be knocked off your feet. While I generally wear a life vest on the Tummel as the gauge was so low I left it behind, and to be fair, even if you were to get knocked over the depth was unlikely to be a problem, nor the temperature which was really perfectly tolerable on bare hands, but its a miserable way to end your fishing day prematurely, trudging back to the car with waders full of the river!
A Tummel Brown Trout, not big but welcome
So I gave up in the really fast water and carried on to fish a pocket behind the corner and soon finally managed to hook into a nice wee Brown Trout. Nothing massive, probably a little shy of half a pound but it gave a good account of itself before swimming off. It seemed some fish were sitting in the slightly slower ( and quite shallow water) in this wee corner pocket. I am pretty sure I had a few more wee “rattles” as I fished up here, though nothing else was for taking a proper hold.
Then as mid afternoon arrived I moved down to the very bottom of this section. I remember looking at this the last time I was on this beat and the water was too high to tackle this part. The banks are quite steep, but the bottom is actually a lot more manageable to wade here, having been scoured clean of the pebbles and boulders( presumably because this part of the river bed is constantly under the influence of the river where the further you get to the edges, its more prone to drying and rocks being discarded here out the main flow. The pace too was much more even and I was able to fish a fair distance out. I was going to start at the very very bottom but a fish moved near me where I stopped to have a look and so I decided to fish the top third while I knew there was something there.
I did get a few fish but nothing of any size, two or three small Parr and one small Grayling, and funnily enough nothing where I observed something move. All the fish seemed to be out on the edge of the main flow just where you might expect. The bottom two thirds though seemingly identical depth and pace yielded precisely nothing. But it didn’t matter, what a glorious day to be on the bank. Next time I suspect the water will be higher and it might be a lot colder!
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