On The Beat- with Keith Cromar, Park
Keith Cromar is Head Ghillie at Park. He has been with the estate since 1987 and learned his trade there under the guidance of the late Major Foster, who was a renowned angler. As Head Ghillie, Keith is responsible for 3 miles of double bank fishing, (let as two separate beats) which includes some wonderful fly pools.
Park fishes in all water heights and anglers have a rich variety of pools. In low water, the tail of Cooper’s into the Long Pool down to the Sheeoch Burn is a great spot for a fish in low water. The bend at Upper Kirks has fished well since Storm Frank. It’s a spot where Keith and his rods have had to relearn how to fish it. There is a fine line between under wading and over wading the pool. If you judge it correctly there is a sweet spot, discovered with some trial and error, where the fly swings perfectly over the lies. The top of Greenbank is a good cast and can be a lively place when the grilse are in.
In higher flows, several other pools burst into life. The Lower Kirks can fish with up to 3′ on the gauge, while the bottom of Greenbank into Castleton will also fish. Castleton itself, is a known high water pool and Keith likes it to have between 3′ and 4′ of water pushing through it.
The House Pool is a good spot for a running fish, there is a lie at the neck, which is worth fishing a few times in a day as there is often a fish resting there before pushing on. The best heights for the House Pool are between 12″ and 18″.
The famous Cellar Pool fishes in all heights. In high water, they are closer to the north bank and as the water drops they move south and can often be picked up under the bushes and trees hard into Park South.
The Durris Stream is one of the top pools on the beat and, probably the whole river. It is a pleasure to cast a fly here. It fishes in in low water and up to around 25″. The beat widens into a large wide section beginning with Jetties, flowing through Redwell and Ashtree. A water height of about 30″ is perfect for this part of the beat. There are little clusters of daffodils to look out for. These were planted by Major Foster to mark his favourite taking spots.
Bakebare has some interesting wading and in Keith’s opinion is the best place to hook a fish as the fight is usually eventful! Hooked fish get their tails in the stream and can empty a reel in short order.
Duffers is well named. It is only a short cast and ‘if he’s there, you’ll get him,’ says Keith.
The Bridge Run is a summer pool and can be exciting in low water for grilse and summer salmon. There is a pocket of water at the top, which, if approached properly, will deliver good sport in July and August.
In the spring slow sinking shooting heads, such as Sink 1 or Sink 2 work well, paired with a Willie Gunn, Monkey or Park Shrimp are good choices, according to Keith. Later, as the water drops and warms, a floater and tips will suffice.
The Stoat’s Tail originated at Park, created by the late George Cooper, who ghillied there for many years. One of the favourite versions of this famous pattern is the Yellow Stoat. When the river falls and clears in summer, a 1/4″ Yellow Stoat, a favourite of Major Foster, on the full floating line can be a deadly way of approaching Park’s salmon.