Ladies Day River Spey
Fourteen ladies travelled to Speyside from across the UK for a special introduction day to salmon fishing on the River Spey this month. The exclusive Knockando Estate, one of the most spectacular and beautiful beats on the river was host to the event organised by The River Spey Anglers Association. Knockando estate lies in the heart of Speyside and comprises of some 16,000 acres of woodland, moor and hill. Three and a half miles of river flows through the estate and is split into 3 prime beats; Knockando, Lower Pitchroy and Phones all offering exclusive double bank fishing from the bank and boat. I was lucky to be invited to be one of the coaches on the day along with world spey casting champion Bill Drury, Orvis Pro Guide Jock Royan and GAIA instructor Cliff Johnston. Arriving the day before we met the ghillies and were given a guided tour of each beat. Sandy, Archie and Euan have a wealth of knowledge and experience of their beats and have introduced guests of parties fishing their beats to salmon fishing. I was asked if I would like a cast after walking the beats and I opted for a cast on Lower Pitchroy. The fast flowing Spey with snow melt entering the system was a few degrees cooler than I had hoped for and was pleased 8 pairs of neoprene waders had been packed. 7.30am Saturday morning Lower Pitchroy was alive with members of the River Spey Anglers Association who were busy assembling rods, equipment and a registration area. The ladies started arriving on the beat from 8.30am onwards and the lodge filled up quickly with ladies trying on neoprene. If you have worn neoprene waders you will appreciate the noise and laughter from the ladies inside the hut. There was a buzz on the river bank and a bright, cheerful atmosphere. After the introduction to the day from RSAA Chairman Craig Mackay and the Estate’s Factor everybody gathered to watch world champion Bill Drury give a spey casting demonstration. The demonstration was enjoyed by all, including the seasoned salmon anglers from the RSSA. The ladies were then taken to their respective beats by the ghillies, coaches and members of the RSSA where they spent the morning learning the art of salmon fishing and casting a double handed rod. Lunch was served in each hut and consisted of 2 varieties of home made soup and homemade bread. A selection of sandwiches, quiche and profiteroles with fresh cream and fudge sauce, washed down with a glass of Prosecco. The ladies were suitably refreshed for the afternoons fishing session. I was helping Kirsty perfect a double spey in the afternoon on Knockando beat when she hooked in to her first ever fish a wee sea trout. She played it well and won the prize at end of the day for the first fish – well done. Susie quickly followed with a well mended kelt that gave a great fight. Phones beat the ladies had plenty of heart stopping pulls of their lines and Donna Claire hooked into a good sized fish and unfortunately lost it. The day concluded with the ladies returning back to Lower Pitchroy, more fizz and a self penned poem by Donna Skelly about the King of all fish, recited to the guests. A wonderful end to a fabulous day. Many thanks to RSAA past Chairman, Melville MacDonald, who contacted me back in January 2014 and asked if I would like to help on their ladies day. To their new Chairman Craig Mackay whose attention to detail and boundless energy along with all the members of the RSSA who made this day so very special for everyone. Craig McKay, Chairman of the River Spey Anglers Association said “A unique day for RSAA in welcoming 14 ladies form all over the UK. There has been an astounding level of interest in this over subscribed event and we will surely be doing it again.” “Since the day we have received calls from 5 ladies who are now buying waders” Many thanks to Malcolm and Karen Anderson from Caledonia Fly Company who supplied all the salmon flies for the day and pink hats for the ladies. Feedback from the ladies: Thank you for arranging a superb day truly memorable.I thoroughly enjoyed it, not only the fishing but the very friendly atmosphere and camaraderie with everyone. I could get used to those sort of days on a regular basis (every month as a starter!!!) As this was the first one of its kind for the Spey – What a success. I hope you enjoyed organising the day and got as much pleasure out of it as I did.