The River Findhorn rises in the Monadhliath Mountains above Strathdearn and is fed by numerous tributaries as it flows into the Moray Firth at Findhorn Bay. It is set in stunning scenery, unfolding from wild and mountainous moorland to rocky tree-clad gorges and, over the last few miles to the sea, flat farming land.
The river is renowned among salmon anglers who fish from the start of spring through to early autumn.
Banchor Beat is also known as the Laird's Beat of Cawdor Castle to which it belongs. It reflects all that is magical about the River Findhorn with its scenery and the opportunities to take all classes of salmon from an array of pools and streams. It marks the start of the rocky wooded gorge which ends over 20 miles away near Forres.
The beat is served by a pedestrian suspension-bridge, fish from the south bank with two rods, and extends to about three quarters of a mile. The north bank is too sheer or awkward for casting but there is good holding water.
From the upper march above the Buck Pool to the end of the beat below the Cow Pool, salmon can be taken in low, medium and high water conditions using traditional or modern fly patterns ranging in size from 12 doubles to Waddingtons. A 12-13 foot double handed rod with a No 9 line is ideal for high to medium water but real excitement can be achieved in medium to low water by using a single handed sea trout/grilse rod of 10-11 feet equipped with No 8 line. Most pools and streams allow overhead casting but in places the ability to Spey cast is useful.
In high water, the best pools tend to be Buck, Douglas and Cow Pools. The Grave Pool, Black Stream and the tail of the Big Rock Stream are best in medium water. In low water, the best results come from the neck and tail of the Buck Pool, the neck of the Grave Pool, the Round Pool, White Stream and the Throat of the Cow. A successful low water technique, best used on the single handed rod, is to strip a Collie Dog through the pools and streams. It excites the fish and can deliver fascinating follows and takes.
Early in the season, the most productive pools tend to be the Buck, Grave and Douglas, with the Cow Pool beginning to deliver results from June onwards. From late spring into summer, when grilse are prevalent, success will come from the Grave and Round Pools, White and Black Streams. Pay particular attention to the necks and tails of all pools. In September the best results are likely in the Buck, Douglas and Cow pools which are the main holding pools on the beat.
Between the Cow Pool and the end of the beat, running between the bank and the island, is a productive stream for grilse. In suitable water conditions, it is worth wading to the far side of the island where grilse will also tarry on their way upstream.
Throughout this delightful beat, the water is interesting and - depending on water conditions, which apply to any salmon river - capable of delivering great sport. But this is not a beat for the faint hearted. It requires fishing from the tops and sides of large rocks and, once a fish is hooked, great care in taking it to the net.
The services of a ghillie experienced on the River Findhorn can be engaged on a daily basis by Banchor anglers booking the beat.
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