Friday 6 September 2013

D-7 - Divine Madness

The Vanishing Rain of Inverness

It's awful.  From this screenshot of the BBC website you will see that everything I predicted in the last post has happened exactly as forecast.  The rain has both postponed itself and reduced its intensity and duration.  If it does fall the parched earth will soak it up in an instant, leaving the Findhorn resolutely unmoved.  I can't even cling to false hope for the Week (starts on the 16th), because the barometric pressure is heading off the scale.  At 1020 millibars the 2 salmon at Tomatin will need to stick their heads out of the water to relieve the pressure, and I haven't got any flies that operate in mid-air.

It's getting worse.  The Fishpal Findhorn page reported the first 100% blank week in living memory, and this week's party at Drynachan reportedly abandoned on Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail
And worse: the poor salmon are stuck outside the estuary waiting to run and every predator in the universe knows where to be each September.  Here's Danny the Bottle-Nose Dolphin having fun with a nice 16 pounder.  Of course there's no scientific proof that dolphins eat salmon.  It's probably only a coincidence that each April 260 of them take up residence in the Cromarty Firth off the estuaries of 10 major salmon rivers, where they remain until November.  If they do eat salmon, they need 2 good fish per day to meet their protein requirements.

Photo courtesy of Natural Scotland
Then there's Sammy the Grey Seal, but there's no proof that he eats salmon either. On the other hand, the largest grey seal colonies in the UK, which have grown by 20% in the past decade, are all coincidentally adjacent to the estuaries of the major salmon rivers.  It can only be a further coincidence that the arrival of Sammy's relatives in the Humber was contemporaneous with the return of salmon to the Ouse system.  If Sammy does eat salmon he needs about 15-20 pounds daily.

There's no proof in the UK, but the US fishery authorities are generally more robust.  Some years ago they decided to do something about the seal that had taken up residence at the bottom of a fish pass in a salmon river's estuary in Washington State and thus was heading towards gross obesity.  They couldn't shoot Sam as he had gained a degree of local celebrity, so they caught him, tagged him and transported him several hundred miles up the coast to a place thick with herring.  The fact that Fat Sam was back at the fish pass inside a week suggests that he preferred something there to herring. 

However, Danny and Fat Sam are both part of the natural system, so I shall await the arrival of Orca and Jaws the Great White to strike some balance.  But it's probably our fault to some degree.  We've cleared the North Sea of cod and haddock, the herrings are long gone, and the teeming masses of mackerel of my childhood are a distant and fading memory.  Not content with that we (well the Danes) simultaneously attacked the bottom end of the food chain, hoovering up the sand eels and sprats on which all the North Sea's fish depend, and especially salmon smolts in their outward migration, to make fertiliser, cow food and power station fuel.  How mad is that?  On that basis we can't blame Danny and Fat Sam if they've changed their menu, but I do wish they'd pick up the birth control habit and give the salmon fishermen a break from the effects of unremitting climate change.

You can tell from the rant that I haven't been on a river this week and so have nothing really interesting to say, but that's why I called this post Divine Madness.  On a saner note I list some tips for your preparation:

  • Don't forget to charge your camera battery and check the SD card.
  • Check the laces and studs of your wading boots: if laces are going to snap it will be on the Monday morning, so add them to your John Norris shopping list.  But buy them first because they're down at the wife's end of the shop.
  • Carry on making your list for flies, polyleaders (well there may be some water and you should ditch all those you used last year), leaders and tippet material.  I like Seaguar Fluorocarbon for its clarity, abrasion resistance and flexibility, but I know there's plenty of contrary opinion on fluorocarbon.
  • Add some knot glue to the list.  I use Loon Knot Sense but normal Super-Glue products work fine. Long ago I lost a huge trout when the knot failed.  I've glued knots since and haven't lost a fish to knot failure.  The salmon of my life straightened out both sides of a #8 double, but the knots didn't fail.
  • Have you got some Aquasure for emergency wader repairs?
  • Have you checked the weight of the gas bottle on your life preserver, and do you have a spare?
  • And remember there are lots of other things that you're responsible for packing into the car.  This may include all her boots, socks, wet weather kit, gilets, jackets, hats, gloves, which by their nature are viewed as being on your side of the business.

There's only one more post before departure, so keep the rain dance going and here's to tight lines.


  1. Brilliant.....again!!


  2. Genius.

    It seems we are all the same us fishers! I have to say, though, your preparation blows mine out of the water.

    I also see you suffer the same vanishing rain as I do on the Don. However, it doesn't look too bad for you on here:

    I'd also avoid the Deveron, as for the last few years it has been bone dry, especially in September.