Upper Floors 14-15 February Report
Fished Upper Floors with underghillie, salmostalker and my friend, Larry. The aim was to try to catch a spring fish .
Larry and myself arrived at the Roxburghe Hotel about 7pm on Sunday evening. It is some place and looks like Hogworts when you drive up to it (see - http://www.roxburghe-hotel.com/) . underghillie and salmostalker were coming down first thing on Monday and we would meet them at the Hut.
River was about 3ft on the gauge with threats of further rain. However, after a chat with Colin, the Head Ghillie, hope was not totally extinguished as he thought we would be able to get a few casts. One weird thing was that it felt like a summer's night that evening, more like August. Incidentally, every time I have fished the Tweed in early to mid-February, it has been unseasonably warm at some point during the day or trip; even to the extent of flies hatching!
underghillie and salmostalker were there when we reached the Hut on Monday morning. The ghillies arrived and we tackled up. It was great to catch up with Colin and Ritchie again and I really was looking forward to fishing with them again. Only Larry was using a floater with a fast sink tip, the rest of us were on Intermediates or faster sinking lines. We all were using large copper tubes though as the water flow was really strong and the fish would tend to be at the side of the main stream.
The Hut at Upper Floors
From the left, underghillie (stopping excessive camera flash!), salmostalker, myself and Larry
It was six of one and half a dozen of the other as to who fished where. So underghille and salmostalker went to the Top while me at Larry fished the Bottom end.
I started fishing the run down from the Slap while Larry fished the corner. After a few casts with my 16 ft Merlin, I was getting warmed up, so much so, that the Wading Jacket and jersey came off and I fished in my shirt sleeves until Lunchtime. The run I was fishing was deep at the edge - you could not get in the water - a pain for Spey Casting but not impossible. Thank god, I had at least had a wee warm up out at the DTX Demo on Sunday otherwise it would have been a waste of prime fishing time.
I was fishing a Temple Shrimp.The red and yellow looked to be just right for the prevailing conditions of high water/colour. I reached the corner without even a hint of a touch; it was time to try something different so on went the Black and Chartreuse job. Ritchie popped along to see how I was doing. He's some caster is Ritchie and he effortlessly fired out the whole of my Mach 2 intermediate about 40 yards on his first cast! Ach well, it is something for me to aspire to this season. Larry went across the river in the Boat while I fished down the corner. Again, the perfect weather did not result in anything concrete, despite several Kelts starting to show late morning.
Back to the Hut for Lunch, we all met up again. underghillie and salmonstalker had managed three apiece. All kelts, rawners and baggots. Nothing fresh. I forgot my flask so no Pot Noodle for me. Maybe that was a mixed blessing.
The weather turned during lunch and it became a few degrees cooler - not a great sign. We swapped over and Larry and I went to the Top end where I was dropped off at the Pumping Station to fish The Weetles. It is a great bit of water - very fishy - but, being a real townie (ie soft these days), I have to confess I did find it a pretty hard wade. Felt as if my ankles being given a right good going over by a sadistic physiotherapist.
After fishing hard, I clamboured out about 150 yards down, tired but knowing I had really tried to cover the water as well as I could.
I rested out of the wind at the Pumping Station and called Colin. Larry had managed a Kelt. I was chuffed for him. We swapped over and it was my turn in the Boat. Not a flipping touch despite the kelts all poking their heads up with a few yards of the boat. They were having a laugh all right.
I was even doing Double Speys with my left hand up due to the strong downstream wind. It took me a while to figure out why my Single Spey was collapsing! But the Double Spey did the business. Larry was soon ito his second Kelt and we landed to help him release it.
When we gathered at the Hut, we found underghillie and salmonstalker had had a few more Kelts but nothing fresh as yet. Back to the Hotel for a freshen up (certain parties - who will remain nameless - took longer than others to get to the Hotel and found it necessary to go "shopping" at the Queen's Head) and then back out again to Kelso for our meal at the Cross Keys and just what the doctor ordered on a Monday night in Kelso.
On to the Queen's Head again for a wee bit chat etc with poshtoshman - Ian Wilson of Borders Gun Room and inventor of the Posh Tosh, Lee the Ghillie from Carham and James and Tim who were fishing Hendersyde. A goodnight's craic indeed. In no time at all, it was back to the Hotel courtesy of a lift from Lee and a good night's kip. The fresh air must have been getting to me as I only woke once (and, no, it wasn't the Chainsaw-like snoring of Larry! What a noise. He's going wear out his nose one day)
After the usual excellent breakfast at the Hotel, we checked out and got ready for Day 2. Water was down 6" but still a bit high. Sacre Bleu, we could now spin, it being 15 February! And on such good fly water. In reality, it is just as appropriate a method as fly at this time of year and in the prevailing conditions.
I fished down The Slates with my vintage 18g Gold Toby while Larry persevered with fly. The wading is really good at The Slates, much easier and less bumpy than at The Weetles, even though you are in deeper, up to the bottom of your wading jacket pockets at times. Despite fishing really hard and covering every bit of the water, I only managed one Kelt.
Ritchie releasing my Kelt
It was really bizarre as you would have thought the fish would have been really going for a Toby in such water and conditions. Must have been the East Wind. Nonetheless, I was pretty chuffed with myself as I had not fished with a spinning rod in Spring for nearly 30 years. I was also delighted to keep up my record of christening a new rod with a fish first time out - something I have maintained every since I started fishing for Salmon in the Spring. The new UglyStik Lite 2.7m I was fishing with is an ideal rod with a fixed spool and 18lb Maxima. It fishes very effectively and I really prefer the shorter handle on it for ease of use. It fits nicely under the elbow, unlike these lumpen Hardy and Bruce and Walker rods
Lunchtime and we find out that underghillie has managed a Springer! Fantastic.He is first into the new 2011 book for the Beat. Great achievement and the ghillies are equally pleased that he has managed it. He and salmostalker had a few other Kelts etc as well during the morning.
We swap over again and we fish the bottom end. Colin has me sussed out and tells me to persevere with my spinning rod! (I am not in the same league casting wise as the other three. And certainly not in underghillie's who, I was reliably informed, was casting 10 yards further than the rest of us. He seems to be quite good at the old casting lark, apparently.
Meantime, I am boated twice down a nice run on the south bank. first with the Spinning rod then with the fly. Again, it is a mystery to Colin why nothing takes. I get two tugs - and that is my lot.
I am then sent to fish the run opposite and down from the Slap with my spinning rod. Again, I give it my best shot. Only point of interest is I managed to snag my lovely Toby on the only obstruction in the Beat. I improvise and make an Otter from driftwood lying on the bank. It works and I retrieve my Toby. The hook is bent but who cares? I find I am almost as chuffed as catching a Kelt! That Toby is an old friend of mine and I am so happy to get it back. It is a 1978 model and caught me a Springer before - a 10lb fish from my home river, the Forth on 10 March 1978! I swap over to a Silver Toby and fish down to the bottom of the South Bank. Nothing, only see one Kelt all afternoon when the east wind drops around the back of three pm.
Before I know it, it is 5pm and I am off the Hut to pack up and depart for home. Lovely water, great craic, excellent Ghillies and fishing partners. The Hotel and staff also was top end stuff and could not fault it. Really pleasant place.
Return home knackered but full of good experiences and memories. So close and yet so far. That's fishing for salmon. Definitely a case of same time, same place, next year.
Just for the record, here is a picture of the flies I was using over the two days. First three on Day one and the Gold Willie Gunn on Day two.
Read more: http://troutandsalmonforum.proboards...#ixzz1EBvskRQn
Great report and pictures Alistair, thanks for posting! Looks like a great stretch of water.
Thanks for that.
Many regard Upper Floors as the best Fly Water in Scotland and I would find it hard to disagree.
Excellent report, very well written.