Nine Maidens - Castle Beat

Nine Maidens - Castle Beat

Ghillie's Wise Words

The pool below Pheasantry is tucked in between the high south bank and the wood known as 'David's Wood' that extends from Red Brae to the Haughs Aqueduct. '9Ms' as we call this pool benefits from being downstream of quite a steep gradient up into the tail of Pheasamtry. In big spates or in cold water temperatures salmon are reluctant to make the effort to swim up through the fast broken current preferring to stay in the relative calm of 9Ms.

Good fieldcraft is required to fish the head of this pool. Because you approach the pool from the high bank on the N side of the river you are silhouetted against the sky and are therefore liable to spook the fish lying in the relatively shallow water at the head of the pool. So, creep down to the water, preferably ten or fifteen yards upstream of the RPJ. Then with short casts fannning out to cover all the water downstream, gradually work you way down the pool, making sure that your fly lands close to the S bank.

When you are past the RPJ you can start wading, which is easy because the bed of the river is firm gravel. Fish the pool all the way down the 200 yards of glide flowing over 3 or 4 feet of water. Concentrate on the tail of the pool where there is a deeper pot and where big sea trout, salmon and grilse often lie up in the shade and shelter afforded by the dense S bank foliage. Good fish have been caught in this lower section of 9Ms, but, like the rest of the pool, good fieldcraft and silent wading are required to ensure success.

My personal view of 9Ms is that this is not an immediately inviting pool. It is a bit tunnel-like, but, make no mistake, it can be highly productive. Humans may find it a bit enclosed and not obviously a fishy place, as so many of FCW pools are, but salmon and sea trout like to lie there because of the shade and security it offers. One aspect of the pool that stands out is it's terrific wildlife: you will see the whole range as you quietly fish this pool, from kingfishers to otters, squirrels (red of course), roe deer, ducks and, believe it or not, the occasional common seal!

This is a pool for the experienced fly fisherman, and I am in no doubt that time spent fishing it properly will be rewarded.