Saturday, January 15, 2011

Opening Day Arrives!

I arrived at 10 am to find that, in spite of a rapidly rising and colouring river, already swollen by heavy rain and a catchment full of thawing snow, who else but Donnie Whiteford was playing a fine mature cock salmon of about 20lbs on fly at Portnacraig.  It could so easily have been a springer.  We have high hopes of improving runs this year.  Instead it was a great slab of a fish wearing red tartan, the clan affiliation of which was not ascertained.   Club President, Jimmy Ross, protected by an umbrella, toasted the occasion with some of his sloe gin.  No throwing of good whisky into the river for us!   I and several other members (Opening Day is club-only) tried to emulate Donnie's success.  However, we were soon defeated by the conditions and, as expected, the Dam began spilling impressively and the river level carried on rising all day.   No doubt Jim Kennedy will add to this note if anything else of note happened.  I gave up after a couple of hours.  Donnie, on the other hand, went downriver to try again.  Years ago, I would have tried as hard as that.  Way back in 1976 (Yes, really!), I took a 12 pound springer at the Dam on Opening Day, then returned two days later to catch  two more of 21lb and 27lb, all on a yellow-belly devon with a weight up-trace.  Two of these fine fish were taken by hanging the devon in deep water close to the tail of Portnacraig Rock (Pitlochry Bank), much like harling from a boat.  Give it a try, but don't fall in!   I had to wade chest-deep among bushes (wearing thigh boots) to land the 21 pounder but, being a softie, went home to change and returned to get the 27 pounder off Portnacraig.  Eat your heart out Donnie!