April 3rd to 8th, 2023

The beautiful North Esk provided a great chance to get the 2023 season fully up and running. With great trepidation and some great company we were each really looking forward to a great week on this beautiful river at Stracathro.

Below is a summary video of our week at Stracathro:

Given the rains that we had seen during March we walked down to the river on the Sunday evening and we were somewhat disappointed to see that the gauge was only sitting at around 1ft. There was some semblance of rain in the forecast for midweek but we were not sure how much or exactly where it would land.

Undaunted we eagerly started fishing this lovely beat at Stracathro which is probably only around 1.25-1.4 miles in length. The gauge had risen slightly by around an inch or so overnight but nothing significant. Setup for me was a switch rod with a floating line and a selection of tips and a 13′ rod with a Rio Game changer Skagit and 10ft intermediate tip.

Monday morning and at almost exactly 11pm I hooked and landed a sparkling silver fish of around 15lb on the Lower Junction Pool.

After recovering from the excitement, just ten minutes or so later I was in again on the same pool and the same fly – a 3/4″ copper Willie Gun! This was another beautiful fresh fish of around 8lb which once again was safely returned.

At this stage I was starting to believe that , despite the lack of water, we were in for a fantastic week. I tried to remain ‘grounded’ and not get too smug with two fish in the bag already. However there is a great (rare) comfort knowing on Day One that the ‘pressure is off’ and you can relax a little. On the subject of relaxing I did manage a first by actually falling asleep briefly whilst resting on the bank to watch Kevin fish down the pool.

We did have a fantastic week on this lovely river, however for whatever reason or explanation the fish ‘switched off’ after that first morning. The other guys did lose or connect briefly with some fish throughout the week and I also lost one down in the Upper Weir Pool but for some reason they proved stubborn and largely disinterested in whatever we presented – large flies, small flies on or below the surface or deep! The only possible thoughts here was the very low water and perhaps more importantly we had some version of a very chilly east wind with us all of the week.

Whilst it would have been great to see everyone landing some fish we did have a very enjoyable week with some great company and much whisky, guiness and food consumed.

Already looking forward to next year!