The uppermost beat of the NAA water is Holmerose, a left bank (on the left looking downstream) beat which starts about 400m below the Cantray bridge. The first pool, just below the start of beat marker which is on a tree, is the Layby but it can be hard to cover from our bank due to trees. The next few hundred metres from the marker are rarely fished but the streams may reward a bit of exploration. Next come the Garden pool, again difficult from our bank, Holmerose, Boulder Pool, Holly Tree and finally the last pool on the beat, the Old Bridge pool, a deep hole under the bridge.
Kilravock beat, which is the biggest and most productive beat on the river, is again a left bank beat, starting immediately below the Old Bridge where there are a few likely streams before the first named pool, the Salmon Stream. Next is a good holding pool, the Castle, and below this more streamy water and the Tits pool, named after long tailed tits which nest on its banks. At a bend in the river the Gate pool, a good fly stream, is reached. Below this we find the Gate Run, and further on the Barbie Pool (look for Barbie on the trunk of the tree – she has been there several years). At a bend in the river where there is a prominent outcrop of sandstone there is another deep holding pool, the Quarry, and below this is a fast and sometimes productive stream just above the 1746 vintage White Bridge where there is ample parking. A new road bridge is planned at this point. Below the bridge, on the corner, is the Cottage Pool, another holding pool, followed by streamy water before the river narrows to form the Sluice Pool. Budgate Pool is next, near Budgate Farm.
Below this is another Layby pool which joins on to the Long pool; fish can be taken all along the latter's length depending on height of water. We now come to the Pigs pool, so-called because there used to be a pig rearing operation opposite it. This is a shallow fast run, but it can be productive when the conditions are right. More fast water lies below this pool and a couple of streams are worth trying before the next named pool, the Cockles. The NAA side has a steep, tree lined bank on the upper half of this pool making it hard to cover.
More shallow, streamy water follows below the Cockles, with two or three unnamed but productive pools before we reach the Milton Pool, a slow deep glide. Below this is a footbridge and below that a fast run,Milton Run, good for fly. More likely streams follow before the Long Pool is reached; fish lie here at the neck and near the tail, which features submerged boulders. Next we have the Gauges which used to be a good holding pool, but which has shallowed off though it is worth putting a fly through the fast water. Below this we reach the confluence with Cawdor Burn, forming Cawdor Pot pool. This pool can be good but this depends on the way gravel has been deposited after a spate- this can be quite variable.
A few hundred metres of fast shallow streams with croys, which can be productive in high water, lead us to Blair-na-fade Pool which has a croy at its head and a good stream over most of its length. After one or two little streams the angler reaches the Firs pool - a nice long fly pool, especially if the water is a good height.
Just below the power lines the left bank is badly eroded and trees are continually falling in at this point. The water is often diverted to form a pool, and currently there is a good stream at this point, well worth a cast. The next pool, the Dogleg, used to be very good, but it now has a huge tree stump in it which effectively ruins the pool both from our and Cawdor's side. Below this the right bank is armored with large boulders and there is a good stream, called the Hut Pool although the eponymous hut is long gone. The next few hundred yards are fairly shallow and streamy but there are one or two pockets that sometimes yield a fish. Further down is a croy, with a bench on the Cawdor side which is in memory of popular NAA member Tony Hartwell. Tony's Pool has a narrow neck and rapidly shallows; it is not as productive as it used to be. The same can be said of the next pool down, Lower Tony's, which is also formed by a croy. A few yards further on we come to Lennon's Pool, a long pool where some years ago Jim Lennon landed a 30 pounder on worm. This used to be an excellent high water pool but in recent years it has become shallow due to a build up of gravel following the 'Hurricane Bertha' spate from which it never recovered.
Below this the river divides into two and rejoins at the Secret Pool, another pool that was once good but which has declined in recent years. This area is subject to erosion and changes frequently. The river divides again below here to form a small island with an attractive deep hole – the Island Pool. Some productive fly streams separate this from the Slabs pool, a deep holding pool with its left bank armored by slabs of runway concrete from a wartime aerodrome which was situated nearby.
After some streamy water we come to the Kidrummie area, where there is a series of croys which form the Seat Pool, Green Road and Colin's pool, the latter named in memory of a popular NAA member who enjoyed fishing there. This is a pool which always holds fish, but they may be hard to tempt!
Next we arrive at the Flood Bank, a lovely fly stream which has sometimes been very productive. The river widens here and there is a shingle 'island' which is only a true island in high water. The main stream forms a fast run with reasonable depth which is excellent fly water. At the tail of this the river bends sharply to the right and then curves left into the Hangar Pool which is a long pool with a wooded far bank. Most fish are caught in the upper regions of this pool but even in low water they can be found all down the pool under the far bank.
A third of the way down the Hangar pool there is a notice on the right bank which marks the start of Geddes beat; below this point both banks, (the left bank is still Kilravock) can be fished by NAA members. Initially there are a few runs but the top one is the only one with decent depth and the angler will find little of interest until the next named pool, Graeme's Pool. Here, on the right bank, the angler should pause and read the dedication on the cairn to Graeme Moffat, a young lad who loved to fish here. On the left bank at this point there is a good fishing hut. After Graeme's there is a nice stream called Upper Jock's and below that Jock's Pool itself, a long and productive pool with deep water under the armoured left bank. Below this is an unstable area which is subject to frequent changes with almost every big spate; pools form and are lost on a regular basis but it is always worth a cast between Jock's and the next named pool, Allanaha. Here there are a couple of croys which form two attractive and productive pools but below the last croy the river widens and becomes slower with few lies until the river nears the Spindrift site where there is a deep hole with a narrow neck which sometimes holds fish – Spindrift Pool. The river curves to the right below Spindrift but there is little depth or cover to induce fish to lie until, just past a sand cliff on the left bank, we reach Geddes Corner, a lovely pool with a fast run under the tree lined right bank. Below this the Geddes burn enters the river from the right bank and the river forms a good fly stream over a rocky bed before it passes under Howford Bridge.
Town Water Beat
The NAA can fish both banks of the Town Water beat. Below the bridge Howford Pool can sometimes be good but like many other pools on the Nairn it can change between spates and is subject to erosion damage. A hundred metres further down is Howford Pot, a deep hole where fish often lie under the pile of debris which gathers on the right bank. Below the Pot the river takes a bend and runs over rocky shelves - good fly water - before opening out into the Sand Pool, which is normally fished from the right bank. Further on we arrive at the Red Rocks pool and then one of the best holding pools, Firhall. Next is the Granites, usually fished from the left bank, and then Whinnieknowe which is fished from the right bank. The Flukie Bed is worth a try and below a footbridge the Jubilee pool is an excellent stream fished from the left bank. As we near the A96 road bridge we reach the Factors pool where fish rest after coming in off the tide; apart from a few shallow runs below the bridge that is the end of the NAA water.
NB: The RIGHT bank (looking downstream) from Cantray bridge to the marker notice on the Hangar pool at Kildrummie is PRIVATE FISHING.
G Rennie 2018