Fishing at Amat


The Amat beat is fortunate in having so many pools (some 70+) and strategic junction pools, those that introduce water from different burns. Salmon are known to return to the wrong rivers at times but usually sort themselves out, drop back and get the right one after a time. However, this erratic behaviour happens in rivers as well. Their lies may change by going a short way up a tributary and then returning to the main stream. Either way it is always a good idea to fish these junction pools, where water courses merge, with care.

There is no law of trespass in Scotland, so one can walk to Croick church, Glencalvie Lodge or even Alladale. The only thing to avoid is stalking parties during the season, so it is best to telephone when one plans to go. A map of just Amat is available from Ann.

The two fishing cottages we have available are both situated on a cul-de-sac arm of the road (with the ghillie living halfway between them) ensuring peace and seclusion. They are sufficiently separated from each other for privacy, yet, within 5 minutes walk of each other. So tenants are well able to mess together if both cottages are taken by one party. Each cottage is provided with drying facilities and both cottages have line of sight connection with a communication mast.

A salmon caught before breakfast when the angler sees fish movement towards the fly is special. At this time Nature shows herself and fishing both banks gives an extra thrill. I recall raising a fish, waiting five minutes and raising it again. The fish was toying with my fly just rolling over. So, carefully marking the spot, I drove round and cast from the other side. This time, on that slightly different angle he made it into the game book. The day, whatever happens next, is already a success.

Amat is also fortunate to have the use of 4 bridges to maximise sport from good double banks. Twin banks are also advantageous when creeping up on the other wildlife which is always plentiful. This year saw the arrival of our first pair of red kites who hatched young in a Scots fir between the drives.

Red squirrels flourish since reintroduction 5 years ago. They do well, but are often run over on the road.

Please be aware of the squirrels while passing the SSSI which stretches from the telephone box to the end of the tarmac at Glencalvie.

Squirrels at Amat

I do recall suddenly becoming aware of the approach of Merlin engines. Then from out of the remaining early morning mist came a WW2 bomber, flying low, with a dustbin hanging out of its belly. This housed a radar, later used in adapted form by early warning Comet airliners named Nimrods. I waved and wished them well through the surrounding hills when the skipper would be relying on the radar picture to skip round those misty crags, whose tops were much higher than the plane, at that moment.

If barometric pressure is rising or at least stable, the chances of a "take" from a "before brekky" fish once the air temperature has risen are good. In these circumstances the old ghillie here used to say "Don't strike". Let go the wee loop of line you have trapped with one finger. This maximises the chance that a fish, messing around with the fly, will hook himself when he turns to retire to his lie.

My father-in-law used a long rod. On many occasions he was standing well back from a known fish lie to avoid spooking a fish in clear water. In medium to highish water however a twelve foot rod is long enough as the extra flow increases the peaty water haze and hides the angler's approach. In these conditions every lie can be covered from one bank or the other. It's the stalking, leading to the successful take that gives me the maximum satisfaction. The "Dibble" technique, fishing, two flies, drawing the surface fly back across the surface and noting where the fish that rolls over it came from, can be very rewarding.

Jonny Shaw, 26th August 2021

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