(Strathspey Angling Improvement Association SAIA)
The Grantown Association is fortunate to have 6 miles of double bank fishing on the Spey and 12 miles on the river Dulnain. The Spey fishing is divided in to two beats, Upper Castle Grant extending from Slop Thomas upstream to the New Bridge and the upper beat from the New Bridge up to the Broomhill Bridge
The Upper Castle Grant beat is fly only unless the river is in spate above 1' 9'' on the New Bridge gauge when spinning is allowed. Fly only restrictions apply on certain pools on the upper beat when the river is below normal summer level.
The Upper Castle Grant water is classic fly water with fast runs and good holding pools including Clach na Strone, the Lurig and Long Pool. The upper beat is mixed water with excellent fly water at Inverallan, Tarric Mor, the Bends and Little Stream while the other pools can be anything from smooth steady flows to almost static loch like water more suited to spinning and worm fishing.
In it's heyday the Association water could return 5 to 600 salmon and 1000 sea trout. In recent years the salmon returns have showed a great improvement (400 to 500 fish) unfortunately the sea trout numbers are not what they were although the Association has recorded nearly 20% of sea trout taken on the Spey so far this year.
Membership of the club is restricted to persons resident in Grantown, Cromdale, Dulnain Bridge, Carr Bridge and Nethy Bridge however day, week and visitor season tickets are available from Mortimers Tackle shop in Grantown.
The Dulnain is one of the major tributaries of the Spey second only to the Avon (pronounced locally as the Aan). On it's day the Dulnain can be a prodigious piece of water for both salmon and sea trout. In years gone by it was indeed rated as superior to the Spey for salmon and judging by the run of fish I witnessed in October 2003 I can believe this assertion.
So what about the pools! There are a total of 32 named pools on the Spey, I hope the following guide to the pools will help you find your way quickly when you make that must do visit.
When left or right bank is referred to this is as if you were looking downstream. The Spey is a big river, fast flowing and rugged I strongly recommend that you use a wading staff and wear a life preserver at all times.
The Upper Beat
Pool 1, The Nethy Pool.
By far the longest pool on the Association water, the Nethy Pool extends from below Broomhill Bridge to the bend above Dulnain Mouth. The pool is in three parts, the upper being decent fly water to below the island, fish the left bank. From the island down, the river is slow flowing over a gravel bottom. Look out for potholes when wading as the bottom undulates. The lower bend can hold numbers of fish from May onwards. A shooting head system would work well here as the river is very wide at this point.
Pool 2, Dulnain Mouth.
Dulnain Mouth fishes from both banks, bait and spinner from the right bank and fly from the left bank, a highly productive stretch of water.
The right bank is accessible by either driving down to a car park at Boat of Balliefurth Farm or by walking down from Broomhill Bridge. The left bank is accessible by driving down through Ballintomb Farm onto the old railway line. Do not drive across the field, the farm manager is tolerant but he does have limits.
As to the fishing the pool above the mouth of the Dulnian is best fished from the right bank although some of it is decent fly water from the left bank. Fish lie towards the right bank particularly around the overhanging alder bush and down to and through the run below the mouth.
The run from the mouth of the Dulnain is fly water, its a sin to bait fish it. Start from the mouth of the Dulnain fishing down stream wading out along the gravel bar which cuts diagonally towards the right bank. Don't go wading in too far especially in the evening, you will be surprised at how close the fish come in as the light fades. As you wade across aim to bounce the fly of the boulders on the far bank, fish lie very hard in to the rocks and a take can come instantly, be warned.
The pool fishes from the right bank all the way down to the trees.
Pool 3, Balliefurth Pool.
The Balliefurth Pool is accessible from the route described for Dulnain Mouth. It fishes best from the right bank with some fly water above and below the fence. Fish lie towards the middle to the right bank.
From the left bank the pool fishes well with the fly but be careful when wading, there are under water sand banks with very steep drop offs into deep water. Fishes well at night for sea trout and don't let the close proximity of the old Clan Grant hanging tree and Celtic Standing Stones and burial sites put you off, it's not at all eerie!
Pool 4, Poll an Eilean.
The Island Pool is a long slow stretch of water holding good trout. Reconned as a salmon and sea trout water in the past it is rarely fished nowadays. It is hard to see the island until the water levels fall, it's about half way between Balliefurth and Poll Clach. The right bank is clear while the left bank is heavily over grown.
Pool 5. Poll Caich.
Accessible from the roadside car park on the south river road to Nethy Bridge as it crosses the Auchernack Burn. Walk down the track and turn upstream after you pass under the old railway bridge.
The left bank is accessible by driving down through Gaich Farm Yard. Make sure you close all gates, this is a cattle farm.
These directions apply for Poll Caich, Saddle Pool, Bushes, Auchernack Burn Mouth, Little Stream, Upper and Lower Bends and Tarric Mor.
On first impressions you might not think of Poll Clach as fly water, but there is a good flow on the right bank and fish lie there. Wade out from the left bank and cast towards the far bank. The pool is bait or spinning water from the right bank, fish lay up in the big eddy on the right bank.
Pool 6. The Saddle Pool.
Good fly water which can be fished from both banks. Fish through the pool by the old Scot pine into the wide glide that flows down to the bend. The fish lie in the middle to left side of the pool. There is a hot spot towards the middle of the river just above where the alder trees start, look for surface swirls which indicate submerged rocks, that's the spot (and I've given too much away at that!).
Pool 7, Bushes.
Fishes from the left bank. If you look carefully you will see that the pool is wadeable if you enter just above the stone in the river on the bend, you can fish all the way through into the 'V' and with care, down through the the run on the left with the alder trees along the bank. A wading staff is essential if you intend to do this. Fish can lay up in pockets all through this run.
Pool 8, Auchernack Burn Pool.
So called on the right bank, the Auchernack Burn Pool is pool 7 on the left bank, Bushes. Start to fish from above the burn mouth, wade with care, fish lie close in. Fish through into and down the fast water that leads to Little Stream. Give particular attention to the 'V' glide, fish can stack up in there at times.
Pool 9, Little Stream.
Little stream fishes from both banks with more fishing water available from the right bank. It's a bit of a stumble of a wade so take care, the fishable water is in the middle to right bank water. Just at the end of the run as the water flows into Upper Bend you should look for a strong swirl indicating submerged rocks. This can be a good holding spot.
Pool 10, Upper Bend.
Upper Bend fishes from both sides of the river and fish run both sides too. On the right bank you can wade down through Upper into Lower Bend. The bottom is undulating, in summer it can be weedy. There are two rocks to watch out for, both are holding spots. When the lower rock is submerged fish right through, it is another hot spot.
On the left bank enter the pool at the marker and fish down to the large tree on the bend, fish lie in the tail of the small pool and through the mid stream water as you approach the tree. Continue wading past the tree, it's a fairly good wade. Expect fish to take at any point including on the dangle.
Pool 11, Lower Bend.
From the tree down the wading is relatively easy, belly deep work. Look for surface swirls, they indicate lies. Fish right into the 'V' as the water flows into Tarric Mor. It can be a very hot spot to fish. The story goes that an old chap used to come up every year and all he fished was the the 'V' for a week, and he did well.
If you walk down from the parking at the gate to Gaich Farm watch out for the power lines half way down.
Pool 12,Tarric Mor.
For the fly the Tarric is best fished from the left bank. Terrific pool at times. Start in the fast water at the neck of the pool, it's a rough wade in a strong flow so take great care.
Look for the main flow, that's where you will find the fish, either in the flow or along the crease between the flow and the large eddy on the right bank. If you can reach it place the fly just into the the eddy and bang in a good up stream mend so the the fly hangs when it fishes across Expect a take at any time but most especially when the line straightens out and starts to belly downstream.
You can wade down to below where a burn runs in on the left bank fairly easily but be careful if you go further, the water deepens towards the bank and it is a hard upstream slog to come back upstream.
On the right bank you can fish the top of the pool to where the eddy meets the main flow, after that it isn't wadeable, but it can be good especially when fish are running.
Pool 13, Craggan Sands.
Down stream of the island below the Tarric is Craggan Sands. A deep stream best fish with the spinner or bait, although I have waded onto the island to fish the fly down the sand spit trailing below the island. Watch out in lower Tarric and Craggan that sand is dodgy! Access either by walking down from Tarric or up from Inverallan car park.
Pool 14, Poll Scriordan.
Best fished from the left bank, walk up from Inverallan over the timber bridge. Wadeable with care at the top, fish lie from middle to the left bank. You might need to back up or use a retrieve in the lower stretch as it is quite slow. The glide on the left bank at the bend can be interesting when fish are running, start here when you commence to Pool 15, Poll a Clachan.
Pool 15, Poll a Clachan.
Easy access, just drive up to Inverallan Cemetery for pools 15, 16, 17 and 18.
You are moving into hot property here with a series of quality pools down to the New Bridge.
Like Bushes the river bends and the water is wadeable heading out diagonally to the right casting into the deep water on the far bank. Fish lie middle to right side especially in the 'V' as you transit into Pool 16.
If no one is waiting to start at a marker you can fish continuously down through pools 15, 16 and 17 which is highly recommended as this is one of the most productive stretches on the Association water.
Pool 16, Poll a Clach.
Enter at the marker, this pool is best from the left bank and can be waded throughout. Fish tend to lies middle to right bank and is particularly interesting as you move into the ''V'' at the tail of the pool.
Fish lie mid 'V' right hard up to the rock outcrop on the right bank. If you can, fish right through into Pool 17, Poll Clach an Lois down the side of the trees on the left bank.
Pool 17, Poll Clach an Lois.
Fishes best from the left bank a but can be fished from the right bank in key places. Fish this pool thoroughly through the whole length, there are so many holding spots.
Firstly the 'V', hammer it, especially the crease with the back eddy above the large boulder on the right bank. Fish hold here in numbers.
Below the trees in mid stream you will see the swirls of a big submerged boulder, fish lie above and to the right of this spot, hammer it.
Below the submerged rock fish out towards the centre to right bank, you will see the likely spots where there are submerged rocks, again hammer it right into the glide on the right hand bank.
Below this the fast water can be useful if you don't mind a rugged wade, fishes best off the right bank though.
Pool 18, The Finnock Pool.
Nice water but watch out for the power lines, they are a real concern.
Pool 19, McLeods Pool.
Macleods is the right bank of the Finnock Pool, best when water levels are a bit higher than summer level. Fishes from the spit of rocks just below the trees right the way down to the alder trees at the bottom, Fish lie from the middle to the right bank, good all the way through.
Watch out for that bleeding power line, sods always build them in the middle of good pools don't they!
Pool 20, Poll a Cearan.
Badly affected by weed in summer this pool hold fish towards the left bank. I prefer to fish it from the right bank where you can wade with care right into Pool 21.
Pool 21, Polnagour.
The last pool on the upper beat fishes off the right bank, lots of good holding spots but not as productive for the fly.
Upper Castle Grant
You will need a weekly permit to fish Upper Castle Grant. Wearing a life preserver is mandatory on Upper Castle Grant
Pool 22, Slop Aindrea.
A rugged wade not for the faint hearted, fishes either right or left bank. On the left though you can fish the pools below the croys a bit better. Look for a large boulder opposite the top croy, there is s hot spot in that area.
Pool 23, Clach na Strone.
Fishes both banks, off the casting platform on the left bank and wading with great care on the right bank. I love this pools and both Slop Aindrea and Clach na Strone can offer excellent trout fishing from April to June.
Pool 24, Pol an Uaran.
Fishes from both banks. From the right bank you need to wade out about two thirds of the way across, rough terrain so watch out for deep pots - you must wear a life preserver and have a wading staff right down into Big Stream. Catch a fish of any size in here and you will have a bundle of fun.
Pool 25, Boinne Uaine.
Boinne Uaine is a continuation of Pool 24, the line of distinction being fairly moot.
Pool 26, Big Stream.
The last part of the run down to the Old Bridge, fast hairy water but very productive for salmon and sea trout, always worth the effort especially in low water in the evening. Fish around the submerged boulders.
Pool 27, Bridge Pool.
Absolutely no worming or spinning here at any height. Good holding pool. watch out for young lads dropping of the bridge in hot weather, a bit disconcerting!
Pay particular attention to the tail glide and spillway of the pool, but do not wade through past the point of the concrete spit, it is dangerous!
Pool 28, Poll na Creice.
Enter at the marker above the line of trees on the left bank, it gets deep but rises to shallows in the middle where you can wade right down into the Lurg (Lurig). Very fishy water. Look for a slab of rock on the bank, there is a lie mid flow from there.
pool 29, The Lurg.
Fishes from both banks. Fishing off the casting platform on the right bank is very good, fish can lie quite close in here. The Green bank below the big eddy is well worth a cast for salmon and sea trout. Watch out when wading here, it is an exposed submerged rock strata with a vertical drop into very deep water.
On the left bank enter at the marker by the Hut, wade out to beyond the large boulder and wade through to the bend where you come ashore to finish off the remainder of the pool. Top fly water.
Pool 30, Bun a Bhord.
Wade out from the trees at the end of the Lurg on the left bank. Mid stream you will see some rock sticking out of the water (if the rocks are submerged don't try Bun a Bhord). The water runs hard through a small pool towards the right bank. Can be especially good when fish are running through.
If you fish down the fast water to the long pool watch out for the power lines. Walking down the bank on the right bank be especially careful, a 15 foot rod comes very close to the power lines here, same on the left bank walking down to the Long Pool.
Pool 31, The Long Pool.
Fishes well from both banks. On the left bank wade out with care from the hut to a point 30 yards or so above the mid stream boulder. Fish down to below the boulder. In lower water you may be able to wade to the shore and continue fishing, but generally speaking you will have to wade back and cross to the bank the way you entered the pool. Fish from the bank right down to the fence where there is a particularly good holding spot.
On the right bank enter the pool just below the alder trees wading out so you can fish beyond the two rocks on the edge of the fast water.
In normal water you can wade all the way down through the long pool to just about where the path comes down for the lay-by on the A95. There is a big submerged boulder near this point which needs to be avoided, I 'mounted it' once and had a hell of a time getting unstuck!
I hate saying this but if you get a 6 foot spate in May to July, get a rapala on and have a bonanza (if you can stomach the slaughter).
Pool 32, Slop Thomas.
The last pool on the Association, not so much a pool as a powerful run with a less turbulent stretch in it. Good in April to June but it is one hell of a wade, not for the light hearted. Even experienced fishers take a dunking here.
Well folks that's the lot, I haven't been mean with the hot spots and will probably get stoned (with rocks) next time I visit this magnificent club water, hope it helps you to enjoy your visit. Let me know