Category Archives: Fishing

River Avon: Photo by ejbluefolds CC 2020

Fishing the Avon

Known hereabouts as the ‘Fisherman’s River’, the Avon (pronounced A’an) brawls and rushes on its journey toward the River Spey at the Junction Pool. The Avon’s pools and runs offer excellent stocks of Atlantic Salmon and seatrout, depending on the time of year and the height of water. A delight to fish, there is something for every fishermen in the variety of fishing challenges on the Avon. The personal nature of the fishing experience on the river is appreciated by all visitors; one is alone surrounded by wildlife in a secluded river valley, almost stalking the fish in their lairs.

The fishing is divided up into six beats, mostly double-bank. Ten rods fish five beats, two per beat, daily through the week; one beat is kept fallow, for occasional use by the Estate. Rods meet the ghillie at the Avon Rod Room at the Delnashaugh Hotel before being briefed and shown to their fishing beat for the day. Each beat has a basic hut and parking for anglers.

Fishing Beats

Ballindalloch Estate offers six beats on the River Avon, mostly with fishing on both banks.

Beats 1 to 6
Five rotating beats of two rods supported by one ghillie; one beat fallow.
Marches with the Crown Estate and the Ballindalloch Castle Beat on the Spey.
All pools double bank except for on the top two beats

Dalrachie Beat
Four rods and does not involve ghillie support.


River Avon Gallery


Additional photographs provided by Charlie Allan and Mark Melville.

The huts at Ballindalloch

Fishing the Spey

Fishermen and women travel from around the world to fish the famous salmon pools of the Estate’s Castle and Pitchroy beats. These make up the three miles of double-bank fishing on the River Spey that the Estate manages.

Well known for its torrents and steep gradients, the River Spey travels more gently through the Estate and provides good stocks of Seatrout and Atlantic Salmon.

There are two huts, both have toilet facilities and there is one on each beat. Anglers gather there to meet their ghillies before heading out to fish their water for the day. Most fishing is done from the riverbank but there are two boats for use depending on the conditions and the pool being fished.

Fishing Beats

Ballindalloch Estate offers two beats on the River Spey. Our Castle Beat includes the famous Junction Pool, which is possibly the best known pool on the whole river.

Six rods supported by one ghillie.
Marches with Tulchan D and Pitchroy.
All pools are double bank.

Four rods supported by one ghillie.
Marches with Ballindalloch and Knockando.
All pools are double bank.


River Spey Gallery


Additional photographs provided by Charlie Allan and Mark Melville.

Estate Aims

The aims of management of Ballindalloch Estate are:

·       To provide a home for the current and future generations of the Macpherson-Grant family while also being a thriving family business.

·       To work together with all stakeholders to achieve a high standard of stewardship and land management for the benefit of present and future generations.

·       To adopt consistent policies for the conservation of the natural assets of the Estate.

These aims will be achieved by:

·       Contributing to the economic activity of the local area.

·       Maintaining efficient and considerate management policies for all areas of activity.

·       Ensuring an exemplary welcome for all visitors to the Estate, whether for tourism, leisure or business.

·       Providing good working conditions for staff and good living conditions for those accommodated on the estate, while ensuring equal opportunities for all.

·       Contributing where possible to the social well-being of the estate staff, pensioners, tenants and the local community.

·       Keeping costs under scrutiny and constantly improving the standard of financial accountability and management of the Estate.

·       Managing in an efficient and sustainable manner the natural assets of the Estate, and developing new economic enterprises where viable and appropriate.

·       Conserving the natural heritage of the Estate, and maintaining to a high standard all built heritage of importance.

·       Managing efficiently and sustainably the wild game resources of the Estate and providing a variety of shooting, stalking and fishing opportunities.

·       Managing the natural woodland and forestry plantations in a sustainable manner.

The Ballindalloch Estate

The Ballindalloch Estate is a privately owned and professionally managed family business in the heart of Speyside in North-East Scotland that employs more than thirty people.  The Estate consists of farmland, woodland, distilling, tourism, leisure, sporting, and renewable energy interests and a number of commercial and residential properties.  This activity is centred on Ballindalloch Castle, which is a listed building of national heritage interest, having been built originally in 1546, and is one of only a small number of castles in Scotland still lived in by the family of its original owners.

The Estate aims to maintain diverse economic activity in this rural area in order to make a significant contribution towards a sustainable rural community in keeping with its Highland surroundings.  Visitors are welcome on the Estate; the family consider that education is essential for people to understand the Estate’s role in the wider community.

The Estate is an area of approximately 9,000 hectares of farmland, woodland and moorland at the junction of the Rivers Spey and Avon in the North-East of Scotland.  The Estate straddles the Morayshire and Banffshire county boundaries and has changed little in its extent since the late Eighteenth century.  Ownership of the Estate throughout this period has been, and presently is, the responsibility of the Macpherson-Grant family.

The character of the Estate varies from the riverine landscape of the straths of the Spey and the Avon at around 450 feet to the moorland on Ben Rinnes and the montane conditions existing at the Estate’s march on the Scurran of Morinsh at 2,500 feet.  In between there is a mixture of arable and livestock farming land, both held in hand and tenanted, a variety of natural woodland areas and commercial softwood plantations, as well as areas of peatland and wetland.

The permanent population of the area is centred on the settlements of Marypark and Cragganmore, though the numbers are swelled considerably by those living throughout the area in the various properties and by those visiting during the summer months.  The Estate is situated in Speyside, seven miles south-west of Aberlour-on-Spey and fourteen miles north-east of Grantown-on-Spey.  These villages provide much of the support infrastructure for those living on the Estate.  The main businesses in the Speyside area are tourism, whisky distilleries, farming and country sports, together with the world-renowned food manufacturers Walkers Shortbread and Baxters Foods.

Access by road is straightforward since the Estate is almost bisected by the A95 Keith to Aviemore trunk road.  Minor roads lead off to Glenlivet and Knockando, while a number of single track public roads also exist.  Access by foot to the upland areas is simple, for instance by the well-signposted Speyside Way that crosses the Estate.  However, since the Estate is by no means an area of ‘wild land’ and has no hills of Munro height, the pressure from hill-walkers has never been extensive.

The Estate presently directly employs a full time resident Factor and more than thirty people full time, part time and seasonally; in addition the Estate provides work for a substantial number of local tradesmen.  The Estate is owned and run by the present generation of the Macpherson-Grant family, who live at Ballindalloch Castle.  The management of the Estate is headed by Guy and Victoria Macpherson-Grant who manage a number of aspects of the Estate directly.  There are seven tenanted farms on the Estate, as well as the Home Farms.

The Estate has a narrow choice in the economic activity it carries out.  Within the limitations placed upon it, the Estate looks to carry on a business that has several components, in order to generate sufficient income to reinvest in the Estate and its assets.  The following sections identify the various operations of the Estate, the key elements of its businesses and the aims the Estate has for those businesses.

There are three websites that provide full information for visitors to the Estate:




Current Conditions

The fishing season on Speyside runs from mid February until the end of September. Fishing at Ballindalloch does not usually begin until around the end of March.

The report shown below is generated from data collected at the Ballindalloch fishing hut on the River Spey daily in season.

25 July 2019

Water Temperature 10C
Air Temperature 6 c
Water Hight 2 f 3
Well done Mr Hutcheon 25ibs on your 79 birthday!
You can also find up to the minute information on current condition on the River Avon taken at the Delnashaugh on the SEPA website.

Fishing: Availability and Booking

The fishing season on the Spey and Avon runs from 11 February until the end of September. However, due to local conditions, fishing at Ballindalloch does not usually begin in earnest until around the middle of March.

Fishing on our two River Spey beats is usually let by the week, with room for up to ten rods, and can be booked to include self-catered accommodation at Marionburgh House.

Fishing on our River Avon beats can be let by the day or week and can include fully-catered accommodation at the beautiful riverside Delnashaugh Hotel or self-catering in one of our well-equipped Estate cottages.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Ballindalloch Estate for a week of top quality fishing. For current availability please contact us here or by phoning the Estate Office on 01807 500 205.

Fishing Beats

Ballindalloch Estate offers two beats upon the River Spey. Our ‘Castle’ beat includes the famous Junction Pool and is possibly the best known middle beat on the whole river.

Castle Beat, River Spey
Six rods supported by one gillie.
Marches with Tulchan D and Pitchroy.
All pools are double bank.

Pitchroy Beat, River Spey
Four rods supported by one gillie.
Marches with Ballindalloch and Knockando.
All pools are double bank.

Ballindalloch Estate offers six beats on the River Avon, spread over two area of riverbank.

Lower Beats, River Avon
Five rotating beats of two rods supported by one gillie.
Marches with Crown Estate and Ballindalloch Estate Water.
All pools double bank except for top two beats.

Upper Beat, River Avon
Four rods and does not require gillie support.

Rules and Safety

The River Spey is the home of speycasting and one of Scotland’s big four salmon rivers. It has the third largest drainage area after the Tay and Tweed and is the second longest after the Tay. However, its major attraction is its size and the strength of its stream – in the middle and lower river it falls on average 12 feet per mile – the gradient and volume of flow produce a unique experience for the angler.

An interesting aside, the Spey, unlike most British rivers, does not have a sizeable town at its mouth. The river is snow fed from the Cairngorm Mountains and in a good year this can mean the river staying high until early June.

Fishing Tackle.
The tackle required depends on the time of year and where you are fishing. If fishing the lower or middle Spey stout tackle will be needed during the spring and autumn, and even in the summer if there happens to be a flood.

When fishing in the spring or autumn long rods of around 15-16ft rods are used by many experienced Spey anglers, often with intermediate or sinking lines and/or sink tips. In the summer a 13-15ft rod with a floating line is usually sufficient although in times of drought a single-handed rod may suffice. It is advisable to ensure that your reel has plenty of backing as a large fish in a strong current can take a lot of line. Salmon are not known as leader shy so do be frightened to fish with 15-18lb nylon in the spring and nothing less than 10lb in the summer.

The choice of flies depends on the time of year you intend to fish and the height of the water. In the spring ‘any fly will do as long as it is a Willie Gunn’ is a commonly heard expression. During the summer months try shrimp patterns like General Practitioner, Ally Shrimp and Cascade – and who would dare fish the Spey without a Munro Killer in their box? In low water conditions a member of the Stoat’s Tail family is always good for grilse.

Waders and Clothing.
Chest waders are usually required on most beats. These can be hired or bought and can be a good investment. Neoprene waders or breathables with several under layers are required in the spring and will help keep out the chill although as the year progresses breathables will be most suitable. Warm waterproof clothes are also advisable as the weather in Scotland can be unpredictable; it is easy to take off a layer if you get too warm. In the interests of safety a floatation aid is highly recommended and is compulsory on some beats. Given the power of the Spey flow a stout wading stick is also advised.

Spey Fishery Board Salmon Conservation Policy

Scottish legislation requires that all salmon caught before the 1st April must be released. In order to protect the integrity of the Spey stock and to maximise their spawning potential, the Spey Fishery Board’s policy is that all fish caught up to and including the 31st May should be released alive. From the 1st June the policy set out below will   apply.

1. Catch and release:  Salmon

  • All hen salmon and hen grilse must be released throughout the season
  • Each angler must return the 1st, 3rd, 5th etc. cock fish caught
  • Throughout the season all stale or gravid fish must be released
  • Escaped farmed salmon must be retained.

Catch and release: Sea trout

  • All sea trout larger than 3lb/50cm/20″ must be released
  • All sea trout/finnock smaller than 1lb/35cm/14″ must be released
  • Each angler should only retain a maximum of one takeable sea trout per calendar day. Anglers are also encouraged to release their first fish and keep the second that is of takeable size
  • All unseasonable fish e.g. coloured fish, kelts, over wintered finnock and smolts must be returned
  • Release all stale or coloured fish

2. Method: Where possible anglers should be encouraged to fish with a fly; All hooks should be ‘pinched’ or barbless; Where spinning is allowed only one set of barbless hooks may be used on a lure.

3. Fishing effort: Where possible the numbers of hours and rods fished should be limited.

Conservation Policy: The 2020 Conservation Policy can be found here.