Thursday, 7 October 2010

Last Day Of The Season, The Esk, Buccleuch Estate.

I spent most of my childhood growing up in Whitecraig so, one thing is certain, I know every inch of this water. Its a great stretch that seems to get better every year, gone are the days of over stocking 15 to 20 years ago which didn't kill of the native stocks but definitely made them smaller and few and far between. Before then, pollution was the main factor. Paper mills were the Esk's main industry back in the 50's and 60's, The Esk was known to run whatever colour the paper mills were using on that day.

Just above the A1 bypass bridge, where I started, There are signs of an older industrial past. All the way from here, up to the home farm, you find very old ruins that are quite clearly old mills of one sort or another dating way, way before the old paper mills.

The Old Mill

From this building at the A1, you can follow a old dyke up to another mill ruin just bellow the home farm. I would love to learn more about what all this once was, I have a feeling this has something to do with the area above the mills being called the Cowpits, but may be wrong. The only other thing I know about this area, other than the fishing is, no head teacher or person in authority will ever find you down here, I certainly found that out when I was a nipper.

Looking Down Towards The Old Mill

The plan was to hunt out a sea trout but, as the sun started to peek through the early morning rain clouds, that plan was put to the back burner for a bit. Shame though, the rain over night had put the river up a little and added some colour to the water. Trout were moving though, its definitely not short of them any more. Grayling are also to be had down the lower reaches of the Esk, over the years I've had a couple decent ones.

The Stane Bridge Above Home farm

From here the fishing started, as expected, plenty trout moving in all the same places. The largest of the day was the first, about 9 inches, just up from this bridge. Caught on the nymph, just under the surface.

First Of Three From The Same Pool.

Just a bit up from the bridge you pass a very steep sandstone cliff on the other bank, its a beautiful place down here, I don't think I appreciated it as much when I lived down this way.

Another Trout

A wee bit along the path and I stumbled upon some mushrooms, some puff balls which were easily identified and one I wasn't so sure about. I never took any books with me so just picked them and put them in my bag anyway to take home to see if they were edible.


I got home later that day to find that I picked some Death Caps, I think they were anyway. My girlfriend reminded me at this point, she would never eat anything I make from any wild mushroom I may find....Ever!

Death Caps.....Yum!

Just up from here, past the new bypass, you start coming near where the North and South Esk meet. It is one of my favorite parts of the river, from where the two waters meet you have about 75 yards of very nice runs and hidden pools.

The Waters Meet

And Another Trout

You cant help notice the difference in water colour in the two rivers. For sure, we had a lot of rain the night before which had turned the water colour in both rivers but, I have seen both rivers at their lowest and still, you can see it. The South Esk always has this cloudy tinge to it, is this right? Is this pollution? I don't know.

The Glass House

On the way up the South Esk you pass this. On the other side of the river, you find man made sandstone caves. This whole area was one large landscaped Victorian garden, it must have looked unbelievable in its day.

From there, I then walked over past the Buccleuch house, on to the North Esk where just under the bridge lies the first weir on the river.

North Esk Over The Bridge

Now this is where I go on a bit of a rant.
I have fished this water for over 20 years now, over the past few years I have fished the upper Lasswade stretch the most. I have caught on a fair few occasions some rather large brown trout that were definitely not wild, like this...

The only part of the whole river that is stocked is the Musselburgh and District Angling Association stretch, way down the bottom. In order for this fish to run that far up, it would have to pass this weir first....

A Good Six Foot High Jump

And this about 2 miles up.

Iron Mills Weir, Even Higher!

I sat and watched a good sized sea trout trying its best at the first weir, it had no chance!! I imagine with a good bit more water, it could have made it, but the next one also? Its quite an effort for one wee fish to ever get that far up. I have thought about this a hell of allot, I don't think they could be coming from anywhere else and this wasn't a one off! I've had a good 5 or 6 over the past few seasons but, Polton is as far up as I've caught them and caught the majority of them.

Last Trout Of The Season, From The Weir Pool

Well, that's that. The 2010 brown trout season is officially over for another cold dark winter. I should still manage to get a cast in here or there for a wee grayling or sea trout over the next few weeks but, this is the time I start bedding down for hibernation and looking out the fly tying gear. I've never really been a winter fisherman, its just too cold. Once or twice though, I have been known to drag myself out to a trout pond over the cold months, I get bored with this fast though, normally within the first 4 hours and go home thinking I shouldn't have bothered. Its just not for me, catching big fish is not the thing i enjoy about fishing.

Being lost in my own world is what its all about for me.


  1. Good to read about the fishing in the Esk. I spent many a day or evening there in my youth,(30 years ago) fly fishing, and never used to catch a thing. Most memorable event was being disturbed while fishing below the weir at the start of the Grove, by some school friends, as I turned to speak to them I was taken by a big Sea trout- I was so stunned I never managed to keep it on the hook!
    Would like to hear more about the fishing there, might even make the trip over for a day out if its worth it next season. Where do you get permits these days?

  2. Hi there Kenneth. The grove stretch is the only part of the Esk you require a permit and, to be honest is not my favorate part. I dont think stocking is good for any river and, as i said, this is the only stretch that is stocked. If you make it through next year, try Roslin Glen, its beautiful. Hope to see you on the banks next year.:)

  3. Maybe we could meet up and u could show me the good spots!

  4. Yeah! Always up for that. Shame its so late on though, was down there a couple of days ago and it looks like winters kicked in, not one fish seen all day. Give me a shout next year and i'll deffo be up for a wee tour.

  5. cool
    I was fishing a fishery at the weekend- took a nice fish on the dry fly- quite amazing for 31st October!