My good friend and experienced angler Michael King and I had planned a long overdue two day trip on Lomond camping overnight in order to reach and fish “The Tap End‘. Having been talking about it for at least the past few seasons then plans were made, gear was readied and my own boat was now finally back in the water having been trapped in workshop for months as a result of Covid-19 lock down. As with many plans then these changed suddenly due to unexpected engine problems with my boat which was disappointing to put it mildly. To save the weekend trip Michael generously once more offered that we fish from his boat which saved the day.
Friday saw the boat loaded with all the camping gear, food, fishing gear and the kitchen sink and we duly headed out into the loch beneath heavy low grey clouds. Rain was forecast for later but I was just glad that the trip had been saved and we were off.
Fishing reports concerning the loch had been good during the last two weeks and consequently we were filled with even more than the normal anticipation of finding fish. Whilst the plan was to fish the upper reaches of the loch, known as “The Tap End” which neither of us had really explored, I was quietly hopeful that the “Endrick Bank” and Balmaha area may prove productive given recent catch reports.
With the loch levels way down compared to the start of the season we fished up the east shore past Boturich, Ross Priory and the usual bays carefully noting the now exposed jagged shoreline and rocks. Fishing as far into the corner of the “Endrick Bank” as we dared we turned and proceeded to cross the Bank trying to stay on the “shelf” between deeper water and avoiding the 1-2 foot shallows. Half way across the Bank the “inside poker” rod let go and we went into the now practiced drill of adjusting the engine speed and brining in the other rods quickly. There was little sign of panic since as I suspect that we probably both inwardly believed and expected that this was probably yet another pike or a wee sea trout since this had been our experience to date after two seasons on the loch. However complacency turned to pure excitement when Michael announced “it’s no a pike its a salmon!” as I stowed the last rod. The GoPro camera was on and recording before in an instant before I had put the last rod down and I turned to see the purple and silver flash as the fish which had launched itself at an orange and gold bellied Tomic. One that I had asked Tomic to copy from its Rapala competitor.
I cannot say how heartening it was to see the the flash of purple and silver after so many hours and trips. After a brief fiesty struggle in which the fish made some brief lunges and runs including a heart stopping moment in which I thought it was about to run under the boat Michael had it played out enough for me to slip the net beneath it! Resisting the natural instinct to shake hands in current times we resorted to shouting “well done” and “finally”! Well done Michael as we looked at the fish and then grinned at each other. What we did not talk about was the fact that minutes before MIchael had one of the “poker” reels in bits trying to get the drag and retrieve mechanisms to work again. Yes and it was this same rod and reel that the fish had just been landed safely on!
Still buzzing and adrenalin filled we resumed fishing working our way across the bank witnessing a large salmon jumping repeatedly as we approached Balmaha. I admit that I insisted that we cover the bank again at least once so we turned and retraced our course across the bank. No further contact however as we crossed and returned towards Balmaha and continued our journey north.
Given the forecast for rain later in the evening we decided to pull into Buccinch for lunch and to pitch the tents before heading back out. Mid afternoon saw us heading back out and once more heading up the eastern shore towards Rowerdennan. Turning around at Rowerdennan we headed back down towards Buccinch for food and sleep. They say that you should always “fish that last piece of water” or “be prepared for the unexpected” since as we a beat wearily and somewhat drenched approached Buccinch we were just about to start bringing in all the rods. Just as we were about to do so the same “poker rod” suddenly buckled as a decent fish swirled at the orange Tomic but failed to connect with it! Certainly an eventful day with plenty to dream about. It seems were were not the only ones with a smug grin on our faces as we arrived at Buccinch, Another angler had held off going out again until seven o’clock had hooked and landed a fish of around 14lb not far from our camp.
Day two (Saturday) saw us packed up and on the water again before seven thirty heading once more northwards aiming to fish as far up as we could in the time available. Weather had improved and the loch was showing it’s absolute splendour with blue skies and gentle wind. We fished all the way up or just past Rowchois without seeing or connecting with anything. Around mid day we turned and starting fishing our way back down with no further action. Crossing the “Endrick Bank” the wind had started to increase blowing from the south as we headed for home feeling tired but contented if a little sunburned also.
Well done again Michael and thank you for sharing your knowledge, company and of course boat. After many attempts, trips and much effort of loading and loading gear and equipment on and off the boat it was finally good to break the duck and land some silver into the boat!