The Flats - Milton Beat

The Flats - Milton Beat

Ghillie's Wise Words

The Flats can only be fished from the South bank. Access to the pool is easy from the Red Brae track. Fishing this pool poses a challenge different from any other FCW pool. The Flats is different because the pool is really a shallow run along the north bank, with a few mini groynes to provide resting places for salmon and sea trout. You need to avoid crunching gravel as you wade, and you must keep your profile low and your shadow off the water.

The pool, which is just over 100 metres long, is particularly challenging in low water, when it is essential to stand well back from the water, at times with the first 20 feet or so of your fly line lying on the bank and gravel margins. The water is shallow and clear, but quite fast flowing, over little scrapes and scallops where grilse and sea trout lie. The pool provides the most challenging stretch of fishing in terms of the requirement for stealth and good field craft of all FCW pools. Catching a fish from this pool, especially in low water, is a satisfying achievement, not to mention the mark of a skilled fly fisherman.

In the last three or four years I have found that the fast water immediately below the rocky cauld or RPJ at the tail of Lower Boat Pool nearly always holds salmon. To fish this section of the pool properly you need to enter the water above the RPJ and fish over the rocks into the swirly water below. Good fish, including one estimated at 25lbs and spring salmon as well, are caught here.

After thoroughly searching through this deeper water at the head of the pool, and concentrating on a very good lie about 10 meters down from the RPJ, you need to paddle rather than wade down the pool, ensuring that your fly drops into the water within inches of the north bank. If you can fish it without getting your feet wet, so much the better! I have been surprised on a number of occasions by salmon, grilse and sea trout taking the fly in very shallow water, sometimes being drawn away from the deeper holding water to take the fly well downstream. Fishing this section of the pool - the middle shallows - at night can be great fun. I have often caught a brace of nice sea trout there just as darkness is falling.

The tail of the pool begins with a chunky little groyne under the north bank and some lie boulders that create swirls on the surface at all levels up to medium, and it ends with the substantial RPJ at the head of Castle Stream. This section of the pool, shaped like a fan, has a tail which holds fish briefly after they have come through the harder current of Castle Stream. This section of the pool can be productive and very exciting to fish, especially after dark. In high water it is an obvious place to find a running salmon, pausing after the strenuous effort of ascending the RPJ.

Remember to fish the Flats 'fine and far off'!