Thank you all for your guesses on this one. There was a much wider range of weights, with a range of over 18lbs from top to bottom. And the average of all guesses was on the low side, by about 10%, coming in at 40.4lbs. The actual weight of the fish was 45 1/2lbs. Nobody got it correct, but congratulations to Garnock who came nearest, just half a pound low.
This fish came from exactly the same lie as the 41 1/2lber that the young boy got with me, featured back in post 364. It was in the renowned Bridge Pool, which produced so many big fish over the years. It was a pool that fished best in high water, and the main part of the pool didn't really hold fish in lower water, but there was a deep hole right under the bridge, close to the stanchion, that could only be fished effectively in the very lowest water levels. It was clearly a place where a big fish would hole up - as you can see, this one had been in the river some little time - and when the water dropped low enough they could sometimes be winkled out. Being almost in front of the lodge, there was fortunately someone on hand with a camera who was able to capture quite a nice action sequence of this one:
Looking for a spot to land the boat:
Safely on the bank:
It won't be ready for a few minutes...
Can you bring it round this way?
It didn't like that!
If kicked and came off the gaff halfway up the bank - always a worrying moment!
Charlie this has been the best thread on here for ages. I last Ghillied in Norway in 1993 and still miss it. What a fabulous array of fish and a sad historical testament to what the salmon farmers have taken from the world. I fear we will never see their like again.
Yes, exactly there. There's a big deep backwater immediately below the bridge, which makes it a less than ideal place to land a fish, but if you go further downstream on the right bank it's quite shallow and rocky, especially when the water is that low, and the left bank below the bridge is much too steep. So if the fish won't allow itself to be led upstream (which this one wouldn't) that's the least worst place to land a fish at that height of water. The problem is that fish, especially large ones, just tend to stooge round in the backwater without really taking any long runs, so it takes a long time to tire them out. Incidentally, there's another backwater just above the Estuary pool where we used to catch fish - I gillied a 40lber from there for a lady who was 8 1/4 months pregnant (not easy to find anywhere to put the rod butt, as you might imagine!) and that behaved similarly; it stayed in the backwater for about half an hour before we could persuade it to do anything, and when it eventually moved out into the main current we then had a frantic downstream dash to keep up with it, which involved climbing over a wire fence - again an interesting operation for a lady in that condition, but she didn't hand the rod over at any point, even when getting over the fence! The story is told in a book called 'Salmon and Women', which a few people may have seen.
Loxie - yes, we were both very fortunate to have seen fishing like this; as I said earlier in the thread, I don't think that at the time I realised quite how lucky I was. As you say, when you look at what the fish farms have destroyed it makes you rage - or weep.
That last fish was the largest one I gillied in my time at Bolstad, and with that, I think I will bring this thread to a close. I do have pictures of a few more 40lbers, but they're not particularly interesting. Thank you to everyone who has kept this going - it's been a happy trip down memory lane for me, and I'm glad that some of you have found it enjoyable too. A few final thoughts:
Those of you who have been following and playing along for the past 11 weeks will perhaps have noticed that there wasn't a 50lb fish among them. Rather surprisingly, in the years 1984-89 there wasn't a 50lb fish landed from Bolstad. There would usually have been one every couple of years at least, and of course there were fish lost in those years that were estimated by experienced gillies as being in the 50lb bracket. The nearest to that magic figure was Terry Goulding's 49 1/2lber which he caught on fly on 1st June 1989, and which was chronicled both in Trout and Salmon and also Buller's Domesday Book.
As well as hopefully providing a bit of a distraction while we have been locked down, one of the reasons for my starting this thread originally was to look at how pictures can sometimes be deceptive, and there have been a few where the average of all guesses has been up to 20% out - both over and under - particularly the ones that I chose early on in the process because I thought they did either make a fish look big or small. So pictures can certainly be deceptive at times. But on the whole, and particularly as people got their eyes in (after all, most of us are unlikely to have seen a fish of this calibre so won't have much in the way of a benchmark), I think the accuracy of the collective wisdom of the forum has mostly been impressive.
I will leave you with one last fish - for a bit of devilment ??. Unlike the fish I have posted, which were all killed and weighed, this one was returned without being weighed so we cannot know for certain - though we do know what was claimed for it!
Having now seen quite a lot of pictures of large fish with verified weights and got your collective eyes in, I wonder whether the collective wisdom of the forum might like to revisit the so-called Beast of Boleside and give an opinion of its weight?
Great thread and learned as much from being way out as getting it right. The main lesson being that you need a really good picture taken straight on, along with something level with the fish that you can get a measure on, to have any hope of getting a decent estimate. The picture of the Boleside fish is very poor for getting a decent estimate but judging by the guys hands, I would estimate that fish to be around the 30lb mark. I would struggle to estimate it much higher even if it was a picture of one of your Bolstad fish. Might just be the poor picture though and I`m miles out.