Top 10 Association Waters
(Photograph: Fly Fisher Group, The Naver)
Fishing Scotland's finest rivers doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. Weaving all over the country, mile after mile of hugely underrated salmon and sea trout fishing eludes the attention it deserves - The Association Waters.
According to The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards, an estimated 15-20 per cent of the national salmon rod catch is from these waters. Here is a selection of rivers throughout Scotland offering fishing at prices that are hard to refuse:
1. River Findhorn - Forres Angling Association
The Association water consists of four miles of double bank fishing on one of Scotland's most scenic rivers. Fishing is on the lower, wider stretches of the river as it makes its way into the Moray Firth at Findhorn Bay. Methods include both spinning and fly fishing, with some fly only pools. Fish can be caught from as early as February, with double figure springers regularly netted, and the most productive months are July, August and September.
Daily Permit - Feb to May £25, June to Sept £35
Weekly Permit - Feb to May £110, June to Sept £175
2. River Nairn - Nairn Angling Association?
The Nairn Angling Association holds eight miles of some of the best Association water in Scotland. Nestled within remote settings as the river flows through Strathnairn, the fishing consists of some seven beats, with a variety of pools providing some excellent fly water. Often referred to as The little Gem, the Nairn Association water has plenty to offer both locals and visitors alike.
Daily permit - £25
Weekly permit - £135
3. River Spey - Abernethy Angling Association
As one of the Big Four, it's one of the rivers that most of us have only dreamt about fishing. However, despite its mighty reputation there are a variety of association waters on the river offering a realistic and affordable opportunity to cast a fly onto these legendary waters.
The Abernethy waters are made up of six miles of double bank fishing, with 15 named pools, and is available to visitors staying in Boat of Garten, Nethybridge, Dulnain Bridge and Carr-Bridge. Fly, spinning, and worm fishing are permitted with certain pools fly only when at a certain height. These waters offer both fantastic salmon, grilse and sea trout fishing, with a five-year average of 65 salmon and grilse and 167 sea trout.
Daily permit - £40
Weekly permit - £150
4. River Creed - Stornoway Angling Association
Draining from remote moorland on the Isle of Lewis and weaving its way to the lower picturesque stretch through the Castle Grounds woodland, this is a gem of a spate river. The association water consists of four miles of double bank fishing, with 20 named pools and two lochs. There is plenty of fishing, and although you may have to jostle with a local to get onto the best lower pools, your effort will more than likely be rewarded. Five-year average is 180 salmon and grilse - with 318 caught in 2007 - and 158 sea trout.
Daily permit - £45 (inc. £5 deposit, refundable on return of completed catch return)
5. River Deveron - Turiff Angling Association
With its peaty water rising in the high hills above the Cabrach, the Deveron is something of a secret due to its famous neighbours: the Dee and Spey. However, to overlook this river would be a foolish mistake.
The Association water consists of just three quarters of a mile, but despite its length, this stretch offers eight spectacular fly fishing pools, with spinning and worming permitted in periods of high water. Double figure salmon are not scarce, with a 30lb fish caught in October 2002. From June onwards, the sea trout arrive with an average of 2-3lb.
Daily permit - £30
Weekly permit - £150
6. River Helmsdale - Helmsdale Association Water
Possibly the most prominent salmon river in northern Scotland. For those of you brave enough to face the bitter weather, the Helmsdale offers a decent chance of catching salmon from as early as January 11. Passing through the village of Helmsdale, the association water is a mile and a half long, half of which is tidal, with lovely fly water and fast streams, including the Flat pool, one of the most productive spring pools on the entire river.
The average annual catch is approximately 150 salmon and grilse. The river also has the benefit of compensation water meaning that fish are able to run in from the estuary all year round.
For more details, contact Ronald Sutherland on 01431 821372
7. River Cree - Newton Stewart Angling Association
Situated in the heart of Newton Stewart, the Association water on the Cree is both productive and affordable. With 12 named pools and nearby parking, this stretch offers the chance for early springers in March and April, whilst the most productive fishing is in August and September. Night fishing can also be had for those wishing to pursue a sea trout or two.
The river is fly only in low water, with spinning and worm permitted when the river has risen above the markers. The association water has a five-year average of 104 salmon and grilse and 114 sea trout.
Daily permit - £30
8. River Ness - Inverness Angling Association
The Association has fishing available on the three miles of river from the estuary at Beauly Firth. The lower beats make their way through Inverness, giving you the opportunity to cast a fly under the shadow of Inverness Castle. The main runs are from July to October, with fresh-run, sea-liced salmon often caught on the very last day of the season.
Daily permit -Start to May 31 £15, June to End £25
Weekly permit - Start to May 31 £75, June to End £125
9. River Naver - BettyHill Angling Association
The Naver is a relatively unknown Highland gem, despite almost rivaling the mighty Helmsdale. It is also one of the most exclusive rivers in the Highlands; however, visitors have the opportunity to fish the lower beat at the incredible price of just £20 per day. The association water consists of one and a quarter miles of fishing and is fly only, allowing up to three Rods per day (so get in there quick!).
Daily permit - £20
10. River Teviot - Jedforest Angling Association
Although not as notorious as the mighty river it feeds, the Teviot is still a great river in its own right, with strong early runs generating fish into double figures, plentiful grilse during the summer, and the best of the fishing in the back-end producing salmon in excess of 20lb.
The association water consists of five miles, broken into two beats, with spinning allowed during the first month of the season.