The Forss House Fishings
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by Thurso, Caithness, Scotland

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River Superintendent's Annual Report 2020 - Forss House Fishing Timeshare

 

 Forss House Fishing Timeshare River Superintendent's Annual Report 2019

 

 River Opening The river opened as usual on the 11th February, with around 20 owners and guests being piped to the Falls Pool by local piper Alasdair Miller.

The river was toasted by Mark Westemoreland, Brand Ambassador of The Wolfburn Distillery in Thurso.  The Distillery were kind enough to sponsor this year's event and also provided a bottle of whisky as the prize for the first fish of the season to be caught and released by a rod owner and also for the largest fish of the year.  The first cast of the River was made by Kate Newham, after which coffee and the traditional bacon butties were very kindly provided by Forss House Hotel.

 Despite some fantastic water levels in the early few weeks of the season, the river was barely fished and we had to wait until Monday 1st April before our first fish was taken from the Falls Pool by owner Mike Shepley.

From then on in, things became rather difficult with our water falling away and bright brassy conditions which did nothing to help us.

By the end of week 13 the gauge was showing zero and only another 8 fish had been recorded in the return book.

Worse was to come when it became apparent that we had diseased fish in the system along with the many other rivers in Scotland and further afield.  A heartbreaking sight, the majority of these spring fish were well over 10lbs and some over 15lbs. The Fish Health Inspectorate from Marine Scotland attended the river on the 4th July and 5 live samples were obtained from the Falls Pool.  The results from the laboratory concluded that all the fish had various abnormalities, the only consistent thing present in all fish being Salmon Gill Pox (a naturally occurring virus).

As we went into August the diseased fish became less and less obvious and fortunately by the end of September just the very occasional fish was observed with signs of ill health. No positive conclusions have yet been established as to the cause or source of this disease.

Fishing Facts and Figures From weeks 1-20 a total of 31 fish were caught with 15 returned (48.4%).  A breakdown of Beats/fish is as follows with numbers returned and percentages.  Beat 1-19 12 returned 63% Beat 2-83 53 returned 63.8% Beat 3-26 26 returned 100% Beat 4-25 25 returned 100% Our total for the 2019 season was 153 with an overall percentage returned at 75.8%..  It's good to see a healthy overall return figure but slightly disappointing that over half of the spring total were killed.

The biggest fish of the 2019 season was caught by Chris Ramus at 18lb from Byre Pool (safely returned). 

Electro Survey After last year's low water levels and subsequent sporadic spawning, it comes as no surprise that the fry count was down on previous years. Coupled with the disease issue of this year, Rod owners should therefore think very carefully before dispatching fish in the coming season.

Poaching Activity Two potential poachers were discovered about to spin the Falls Pool in week 20 and were “advised to leave”. They were reported to Thurso Police who have since put a marker on their vehicle.

A new section of walkway was installed downstream of Long Pool in the early part of the year, replacing the section that had been displaced by the landslide in the previous year. The bank at the Falls Pool where holes had developed due to spates were concreted, as were the steps leading into the Bothy door. Wire netting was replaced/renewed as necessary at various locations throughout the Beats. The shed roof at Humpy was repaired, re-felted and also the main structure painted. In addition to the normal grass cutting work, next year's work will include cutting back shrub/tree growth downstream from Lower Wood. The ivy at the Falls (a fly magnet apparently!) and other vegetation which impede casting will be cut back and further repairs to the Falls Pool bank will be necessary. The bothy will also require a lick of paint.

Summary:

A difficult year for everyone concerned. Many Rod owners understandably made the decision not to make the journey because of the diseased fish and those that did, decided at an early stage, to either abandon the week or chose to do other things. Although most owners turned up to fish the last few weeks of the season, the fish which were plentiful were stale with very few fresh fish about. The high water temperatures made even connecting with these older fish extremely difficult even though the water levels were ideal. All things considered, our total of 153 for the season isn't too bad especially when you factor in the weekly angling effort which rarely exceeded 50%.

 

 

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