The Forss House Fishings
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by Thurso, Caithness, Scotland

Estuary

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Weekly Fishing Reports 2019

13/10/19 Our last week of the 2019 season was a bit of an anti climax. Only 5 fish were landed in what were ideal salmon fishing conditions. It really seems that most of our fish have already relocated to the upper reaches of the system but contrastingly, there are still good numbers showing on Beat 1.

It's been a very mixed season, the disease which was prevalent at the start of spring didn't help as it was still around in July and many rod holders were reluctant to even make the trip North to fish which was completely understandable. Despite all this we still managed to record 153 in the return book. Hopefully we will have a successful spawning in the next month or so and a disease free 2020. 

07/010/19 Apologies for the late submission of this report as I was away in Edinburgh for the weekend. Ditto last week, nothing was easy despite the good water and the presence of decent numbers of fish. No doubt got other things on their minds now I'm guessing. The weather has turned really mild again, something that doesn't seem to turn the fish onto the take at this time of year. It could still be difficult connecting in the last few remaining days of the 2019 season.

29/09/19 The 8 fish that were landed last week were hard fought for. We had the water and the fish however it was apparent that the water temperatures were consistently higher than the air temperature which inevitably made things that much harder. On a more positive note, Chris Ramus took our biggest fish of the 2019 season from the Byre Pool on Saturday afternoon. As the season draws to a close, it would be great if we could get a few days where we have frost on the ground in the mornings which would have been the norm a few years back. I'm convinced that would get our fish back on the take.

22/09/19 The early part of last week proved to be the most productive despite it being windy and at times bitterly cold. A total of 6 were grassed during this period. From then on in, the sun arrived and temperatures were in the early 20s, hardly a cloud in the sky and barely a chance of a fish. Quite disappointing given the week we had previously. The forecast, if accurate is showing some rain and unsettled weather into the week ahead. We could do with a top up for the last 3 weeks of the season. The gauge at Crosskirk was just on 5.5 inches when I was over earlier on today.

15/09/19 Our best week of the season so far with a total of 25 for the week! Allan Lambert and Dave Martin fishing together accounted for 17 of those landed, well done both. We have 8 inches on the gauge now so a wee top up would be welcome but it was interesting to note that the majority of last weeks catches were made in the streamy shallow sections of the beats. I would anticipate further good sport next week if rods are prepared to persevere.

The forecast for next week looks fairly settled although there is definitely a feel of autumn in the morning air now. The swallows have all but gone and we are hearing the gaggle of the greylags overhead at dusk.

08/09/19 Some good sport last week with a total of 18 grassed and others which simply fell off! The best news is that of the 18 only one had any sign of disease and that was a fairly old cock fish. There appears to be good numbers of fish throughout the system now and if we can hold onto our water for the week ahead I would expect further good catches in week 30. As one owner remarked yesterday "there should be no noticeable effect in the spawning numbers despite the disease earlier on" 

I would advise any rod owners visiting for the last few weeks to bring plenty of warm clothing with them. Autumn has arrived earlier than normal in Caithness this year. Brrrrrr!

01/09/18 With only a couple of rods on the river ad hoc last week and a lack of decent water it was inevitable that we only managed to record a couple more in the book, there were however a few lost as well. It rained all day Saturday pushing the river height way above the gauge at Brogie and our biggest spate of the year. There is yet more rain due on Monday and showers forecast for most of the week so things will be tricky to say the least, really too much water now! Beat 1 in theory, should have the best flow through it as the rest of the river apart from the section below Brogie bridge is likely to be running way too fast. Time will tell. Another week ahead without a full compliment fishing which is disappointing although understandable.

25/08/19 As I anticipated, last weeks angling effort was very light indeed so 8 more in the book isn't too bad a result. The majority of these fish were taken on Beats 3 & 4 and in my opinion there appears to be more fish above now than below however as always Beat 1 will hold many fish in it's depths so it's difficult to judge. We could do with a top up now just to keep the scoreboard turning over but that doesn't look too likely in the next few days. The electro survey work is being undertaken this week at Lythmore and 2 more sites above Westfield bridge. Finally, I'm sorry to report that there are still fish exhibiting signs of disease with just the slightest subtle red marks on their undercarriage.

19/08/19 I got back from Aberdeen late last night so I was delighted to see that Julian Brindle had added another 6 to the book on Saturday after a busy afternoon at the Falls Pool! Considering that only 2 rods were fishing on a fairly ad hoc basis, we did pretty well in recording 12 for the week. Looking into the next few days we should have pretty good water so I would expect further catches however it does seem that by the middle of the week angling effort is once again likely to be light.

11/08/19 Not too bad a week considering the amount of rods here and the way the water was rising for most of the week. There is still signs of diseased fish about, no dead ones but the subtle red marks are present. Around 6 of this weeks total of 12 appeared infected with what for now remains the "mystery disease". I'm hoping to get the full lab results in this week from the Fish Health Inspectorate which may tell us more though I very much doubt it considering how widespread this infection is throughout Europe and Scandinavia.

Next week should be perfect for fishing, with lower temperatures and some very good water although it's disappointing that we only have 3 of the full compliment of 8 rods here to fish the river and even then some of the fishing will be on an ad hoc basis. 

04/08/19 You could easily blame the weather for the poor fishing and that would be true in part, however if I'm honest there doesn't appear to be fish in the river in significant numbers. Those that are present are in the main small grilse which for one year olds should be considerably bigger that the 1.5lbs to 3lbs that are showing.

There is heavy rainfall forecast for Monday, hopefully we will see a change in fortunes then. The bay should be black with fish by now. It isn't...

28/07/19 Conditions were far from ideal the past week with muggy hot weather dominating and with temperatures as high as 27c. We managed two clean grilse for the week which were something of a relief given the prominence of the diseased fish of late. I'm happy to report that this mystery disease appears to have slowed right down with only 2 dead salmon discovered this week and both being quite old fish judging by the state of decay.

This may have something to do with the increase in water temperature to 58f as the saprolegnia fungus which appears to ultimately kill the fish is less prevalent in warmer water. I'm not going to pop the corks just yet though.. Next week we have only a handful of rods here to fish so overall effort is likely to be light.

21/07/19 It would be great to report that there have been no further signs of diseased fish especially with the good water we have had for the majority of the week, however that is not the case. I'm sorry to report that of the 10 fish caught this week, 4 were showing various stages of the disease with even a couple of new fish showing subtle red marks on their undersides which in any other circumstances you would just put down to gravel rash. I fear I may be back to picking up corpses in the weeks to come, I really hope I'm wrong... 

14/07/19 I spent a lot of time last week removing dead and decaying fish from the river due to the disease which has affected many rivers in the North and into Norway, Sweden, Ireland etc. Despite this we managed a couple of unaffected grilse during the week although naturally fishing effort was light. Next week we still have the remnants of the midweek spate so good water but not many rods. Fingers crossed that we have seen the last of the fungus that is blighting our stock this year..

 

11/07/19 Apologies. I have been devoid of internet access past few days so my weekly report is obviously delayed, infact I don't really know why I suddenly have internet this evening but hey.. I have to report no change in the amount of diseased and dying fish that we are encountering on the river. I have personally taken out at least 40 dead fish now with many more exhibiting signs of fungal infection. It's a dreadful job, the stench and the flies are almost unbearable. Today we have had plenty of rain so hopefully we will get a good spate to flush these once proud fish out of the system and we can start again. It's anyone's guess if the disease will manifest itself in any new arrivals though.

30/06/19 I picked out 3 dead fish on Friday and will have to remove around 12 tomorrow. Dead salmon can only be removed from the river by warranted Bailiffs. There are a good number of salmon on Beat 2, unfortunately, all with obvious signs of the Saprolegnia fungus and there will be further fatalities as the week progresses. Extremely worrying times. It took many years after the UDN outbreak in the 60s before a recovery and back then, there were far more fish about. We can really only hope that this is a one off event. Any rod owner should feel free to contact me on my home number of  01847 841324 (unless otherwise informed) for further information on the current status in relation to diseased fish at Forss. Ultimately it will be up to individual owners to decide whether to fish or not. 

23/06/10 Another 6 added to the return book. Sadly every fish caught had the Saprolegnia fungus and 5 were killed. Very heartbreaking to see such quality double figure fish in quite such a condition. The results of the bacterial samples are not yet known so far, so fingers crossed that it's nothing too sinister. We have heavy rain forecast all day Monday so I'm hoping for a big spate to wash out these weakened fish and hope that any new arrivals come in healthy. Time will tell. NB Please see below for self catering accommodation which has recently been brought to my attention at nearby Westfield.

Overlooking River Forss at Westfield, 4 miles from Thurso


Comfortable well-equipped self-catering bungalow, sleeps 4 (1 twin, 1 double + single)
 
Dogs allowed (2 max)
 
Ample parking, shed available, etc, fibre wi-fi, internet TV
 
2 nights minimum let from £59 per night
 
Contact Scott Bamford for further details & availability 07787353585 or bamford74scott@yahoo.com 

16/06/19 We had good water all week so I'm quite disappointed with just 2 quality fish grassed however that doesn't really paint last week's picture as at least 8 more fish were lost! I was down at Crosskirk earlier and there is 8 inches of water showing on the gauge and with a few showers forecast, water conditions should be fine for at least the next few days. Next week we have fewer rods on the river but we should hopefully still fill in a few more spaces in the Return Book come the end of week.

09/06/19 A strange week indeed! With the water we had at the start of the week I was convinced that the fishing was bound to be fairly good, this proved not to be the case with just 3 for the week. It wasn't until the Saturday that fish were seen running the Falls in any numbers but they were uninterested in any of the flies that were presented to them. The conditions on Beat 1 were far from ideal, with long periods of either sunshine or a complete lack of wind. As is usual, the fish were running straight through the upper beats although there were a couple lost at the start of the week. We still have 8 inches of water so we should in theory do okay next week especially if we get some newbies coming in off the tide, but as last week has proved, there are no guarantees with salmon fishing!

01/06/19 Unless I get a phone call later we will have to be content with 5 new entries into the book. Given that for the vast majority of the week fishing effort was confined to Beat 2 I'm happy enough especially with so many fish lost along the way during the course of the past 6 days. Looking ahead into next week, more rain is forecast for tomorrow which has the potential to disrupt Monday's rods, however it's always best to arrive at Forss with a full river than an empty one and there will be fish to record next week with the good water we have at the moment.

NB.I would advise all owners/tenants to fully read and understand the amended Code Of Practice especially with regards to the guidelines in relation to hen fish which can be kept.

25/05/19 Some positive news at last! Although the conditions remained the same throughout most of the week we got some water on Thursday through to Friday which gave us 9 inches on the Brogie gauge come the Saturday morning and enough of a rise to encourage fish into the system. A total of 5 were taken on Saturday ( rods are still out) to 15lb, all bars of silver. The forecast is showing further rainfall for Sunday so the prospects for next weeks anglers are looking very good indeed.

19/05/19 The drought conditions continue. The long range forecast doesn't look too encouraging either, and the bay is still devoid of fish waiting to run, probably a good thing given that there's absolutely no chance of them being able to get further than the Falls. I was up on 3 last week cutting the banks and you could easily get across the river just above Donnie's with a pair of slippers and still have dry feet. The rain dancing has been far from effective so far..

12/05/19 Ditto from last week I'm afraid and the overall weather pattern looks none better for the coming week. I'd like to be able to report fish in the estuary but for now they aren't there in any decent numbers.

05/05/19 Another very poor week with nothing more to add to our tally. If I'm honest it's very difficult to imagine much change in our fortune until we get rain. The very cold winds we have had in the second half of last week haven't helped and they still persist now.

28/04/19 Peter Raybould had a brief encounter with a fish in Rock during his week and that is really all that there is to report on. A very poor week with a lack of water being the main culprit, the cold Easterly winds adding to our woe. The prospects for the coming week look equally as poor with bright sunshine forecast. The only real chance of a fish is an early morning start or a late evening cast but with salmon fishing anything is possible..

21/04/19 Weather conditions and a lack of water didn't help us last week. We went from a very cold Easterly wind at the start of the week to around 20c by the time Friday came around! Highlight of my week was Mauritia Kirchner who had travelled from the Faroe Islands and took a tenanted rod for the day and promptly put 2 in the book! Mauritia has fishing lodges and guides from her home in The Faroes, details can be found at www.mauritiakirchner.com.

The prospects for next week and indeed for the next few weeks look pretty grim unless we get some more water, this season already has a sense of deja vu about it..... Lets hope the forecasters have it wrong!

 

Mauritia Kirchner's fine 12lb specimen taken from Grahams last Wednesday (returned).

14/04/19 Nothing wrong with last weeks fishing with a further 5 recorded! It was extremely pleasing to see that all the fish landed were returned in accordance with the latest Code of Practice guidelines including a first fish on the Friday. The water we did have has now dropped off to just 4 inches and we still retain that cold Easterly wind though it's due to swing round to the South later on in the coming week. There will a good few fish now that will have dropped back down to the depths of Beat 1, however getting them out of there is never easy unless the conditions are right. Next week our main problem will be fishing effort as again we are down to just the one rod until Thursday. Tight lines!

07/04/19 Mike Shepley took our first of the season from the Falls Pool on Monday with just 5.5 inches on the gauge, a sealiced cock fish of 7lbs which was safely returned. The rain never really stopped then for 2 days and the river was really unfishable until the end of the week when Ruth Dudgeon took a fine 8lb specimen from Byre on the Saturday. Considering we lost over 2 days due to high water and with only 2 rods fishing for the majority of the week I'm happy enough. The prospects for next week look pretty good however it seems that already we are 2 rods down due to other commitments. The cold Easterly wind is due to stay with us well into next week which will inevitably have an effect.

Victoria Ross presents Mike Shepley with the bottle of  

Administrator Victoria Ross presents Mike Shepley with a bottle of the "Wolfburn" for returning the first fish of the 2019 season. Well done Mike!

 

31/03/19 With no fishing effort in the past week it comes as no surprise that we are still waiting for our first fish to be recorded in the 2019 season. A top up of water would be welcome now with just 7 inches on the gauge however with the work that was undertaken on the outflow in the past 2 years we still have plenty of water for passage should our fish choose to run into the river. Looking ahead into next week I'm quietly confident that a rod will be bent at some point. Is it too much to expect the weather to remain relatively sedate?.. 

24/03/19 I was away in Inverness over the weekend so I never got to record river levels for Saturday. I can confidently predict a rise  though with some truly horrendous wind, rain and sleet for most of today. It can't be a lot of fun being a new born lamb in these conditions, and the fields are rapidly filling up with these white fluffy juveniles. Fishing effort has been relatively sparse and this coming week will be the same with only two rods out and with such poor weather predicted. I'm still confident of a first fish in the not too distant future though.

16/03/19 No rods have been out since my last report so no fish in the book. River heights have remained consistently high during the week with fresh rainfall most days just as the water was clearing. It's a fortnight away before our first owners arrive to do battle and if we can hold onto the conditions and water there's no reason for our first fish of the 2019 season not being taken then.

10/03/19 With just 2 rods out on Saturday morning the river has been left alone really since opening. We had some really heavy rainfall during the middle of the week which has given us good water however I awoke this morning to a light covering of snow and it's now bitterly cold, winter has returned!

We are a few weeks away before rod owners arrive but there's plenty to be done on the banks in the meantime.

03/03/19 Apologies, due to technical difficulties with the website this has been the first opportunity I have had to post in the New Season.

Piper Alasdair Miller led a procession of anglers and guests to the Falls pool on Monday the 11th Feb 2019 to mark the opening day of the 2019 season. The nearby Wolfburn Distillery ( what a fine dram it is too!) sponsored this years event and Brand Ambassador Mark Westmoreland toasted the river in the traditional manner. Kate Newham made the first cast of the new season. Bacon rolls and refreshments were later enjoyed in the comfort of Forss House Hotel.

Since Opening day the river has been barely fished. It was encouraging to find the remains of a freshly run fish which the otter had taken on the 16th of February. The weather has been so mild that the Falls would not now serve as much of a barrier to fish that have entered the system.