All posts by The Dogged Angler

A truly passionate Angler this is a light hearted account of my angling trips, adventures, successes, failures and learnings.......discovered amidst our beautiful Scottish rivers, lochs and breathtaking scenery.

A beautiful Autumnal day on Halleaths beat of the River Annan

7th November 2020

Needing little persuasion I gladly accepted a suggestion from my friend and experienced angler Pat for ‘one last’ outing for the Season. To be honest I had resigned myself to packing up the rods for the season. However I had not previously had the chance to explore this further part of the beautiful River Annan and what an absolutely stunning section of the River Annan.

Having had some really valuable and helpful tips regarding this beat from my friend Kevin I arrived full of anticipation. Pat having arrived before 8.00am was already visible upstream of the car park casting in the mist that still clung over the water.

We spent some considerable time, perhaps too much, working our way down from the corner above the car park carefully covering each section, some more than once. Fish were evident in abundance from the point I arrived and some very sizeable fish too. However with fish jumping behind, in front of us and over the line neither of us seemed to be able to tempt them despite our best efforts and various fly offerings.

Having regrouped at lunch time to compare Kevin’s notes and maps and agree tactics we set-off reinvigorated determined to seek out some of the pools and runs downstream from the big pool at the car park.

We fished below this main pool, a lovely big run which is deep on our (right) bank but shallow in the middle of the river entering at the first point where depth permitted. In hindsight this was perhaps not the smartest tactic as fish most likely were also lying close to our bank. However like gold prospectors we were blinded by the sight of yet more fish rising just off the far bank once more.

We fished this whole section steadily, enjoying the easy wading in the middle and the good flow. Despite our best efforts neither of us however managed to connect with or even rise any fish despite there clearly being fish around once more. Two other anglers passing us confirmed that they too were struggling to gain the interest of the fish. Undeterred we decided to check out the section below this straight. This long run we had just fished ends with a right bend and an enticing pool before it widens into an enormous pool and ox bow lake. Pat opted to fish down into this really big pool and I fancied the bend and pool below the straight that we had just fished. The choice of my 11ft 7wt Sage X Switch setup seemed to be well suited to this water.

As I fished this section I was treated once again to fish showing above and below me and even over the fly as it landed just off the far bank of this bend. Curses had long given way to wry smiles as I now began to accept the fact that despite the number of fish around they simply did not appear to be in ‘the mood’. With the light fading and the sight and sounds of a large flock of geese on the wing I decided to call it quits and go find Pat.

There certainly were a good number of fish in the pools that we had fished and we had only scratched the surface of the pools and sections of this beautiful beat. We had not even covered the additional pools downstream including ‘The Creamery’ etc.. but agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed the day and this beautiful beat. Back at the car park we learned that neither of the other rods had yet managed to entice a fish which whilst surprising given the numbers of fish in the system was in some way ‘reassuring’ and not down to our skills, tactics luck or whatever.

We both agreed that we would love another day on this truly lovely wee section of the Annan.

“One Last Throw”

Friday 30th October 2020

It was a final chance on Friday at least on my own (Lomond) system to get out and wet a line since the weather forecast was brutal for the actual last day of the Season.

Driving to the Endrick then almost every car park or familiar parking areas were busy with cars, in fact I don’t recall ever seeing this lower and middle sections of the river so busy. Hardly surprising given the end of season approaching and forecast for Saturday.

After getting set up and a blether and a coffee at the car park, myself and fellow angler Colin headed for the water.

Given the recent rain and rising water I had swithered as to where to start, eventually opting for “Cowdenmill” and hopefully fishing downstream to “Kiltrochan“. An infamous and normally productive stretch but one until now that I had yet to fish.

I was also keen to “road test” a new line set up before the season ended in the form of a new “Trout Spey” line from Rio. This line with a 22ft head performed really well and proved easily capable of turning over a 6ft sink tip and heavy FITS TTT fly. Whether simply roll casting or spey cast it seemed ideally suited to this wee river where trees and branches behind and above always made any backhand cast a high risk if not impossible. All in all another great line from Rio and so much more enjoyable than having to work my normal Rio intermediate sinker for every cast.

Video “One Last Throw” 30th October 2020

Upon arriving at Cowdenmill I was pleased to see that the water looked great and reasonably clear without the debris and leaves I had feared. Fishing down the pool behind Colin we covered all of the likely areas noting the annoying obstacle of a tree stump that stubbornly remains right in the middle of the pool.

Working downstream we waded across (gingerly in my case) and fished a great looking section named the “Corner Pool“. Toward the tail of this pool I had noticed a decent fish splashing a couple of times and of course made several unsuccessful attempts to cover it.

Having almost reached the very tail of this pool I opted to take a smoke break and have seat. As I sat I watched this same fish as if in defiance continuing to show itself as if to say I’m still here. After finishing my cigarette and opting for a change of fly I walked a few yards back upstream determined to give this fish one last go. The fly had hardly hit the water when all went tight and I held my breath as the fish initially opted for the far bank then downstream towards a weir, fast water and eventually a bridge. Rightly or wrongly I tried to slow or prevent this run whereupon the heavy bend in rod suddenly disappeared as the fish and hook parted company! Cursing heavily (edited from the video) and retrieving my rod from the water below me I thought what an idiot why didn’t you simply let it run and deal with the fast water!

“The Corner Pool”

After meeting an chatting to a couple of anglers at the footbridge neither of whom had managed to land a fish yet I walked downstream to fish a stretch I had been keen to try – “Kiltrochan“.

Working down this narrow straight run I saw several fish rising, including what looked like the smallest well coloured wee grilse that I think I have seen and tight to the far bank which is not so far at all given the width of water here.

Wading down the edge trying to cast over my left shoulder so close to the bank was awkward but luckily no great distance needed. As I neared the bottom of this run there was a cold chill now in the wind as the sun was getting low I decided to call it a day for now and for the season on this beautiful stretch of the Endrick. A good day despite losing the only fish and roll on next season.

I learned later that my friend and seasoned Endrick angler Malcolm McCormick ‘collected’ that fish I lost in “The Corner Pool” as a wee ‘bonus’ to the 11lb fish he had caught earlier.

Until next season.

A Fun Day on Lomond

Saturday 17th October 2020

With the 2020 Season fast coming to an end the chances to get out on Lomond were rapidly reducing. My good friend Michael’s two young Grandsons Cameron and Adam both fanatical anglers already had been desperate to get out on the Loch with their Papa for weeks.

So with weather conditions on our side we set out from the river with the boys and their Father, also Michael, in Michaels boat. Full of chatter and excitement before leaving I was presented with a walkie talkie from Cameron who advised that we were to keep each other informed at all times of any fish caught. The other three walkie talkies went with Michael and the boys in his boat making sure I would be ‘fully kept up to date”.

Great to have anglers Cameron and Adam on board

The boat to boat comms started even before we had left the river and into the Loch with constant checks as to whether anything had been caught. Conditions were calm with little in the way of a wave but the day after all was really about the wee ones who were desperate to see a fish regardless of type!

Just above Boturich one of the pokers let go with a sudden if short lived take for when I lifted the rod there was a brief bend before all went slack followed immediately by a call on the radio from the boys in Michael’s boat ahead of me asking if I had a fish!

Lots of chatter and jokes all the way up the east shore and on crossing the Endrick Bank the inside rod with the orange tiger toby suddenly announced a take! After retrieving the other rods I lifted the inside rod and quickly realised it was a small pike of about 8lbs and commonly found in the shallow water on the Bank. After a short tussle the Pike tossed the orange tiger avoiding the need to bring it to the boat. Throughout this time the radio was noisy with chatter with Cameron and Adam excitedly wanting to know what was going on. I found out later and we laughed as apparently when they learned I had a fish on both of them announced that they were in the wrong boat and wanted to change boats and join me!

We fished North up to Milarochy Bay and the Black Rocks before heading across to Buccinch for lunch and a break and a catch up.

After the fire, lunch and some time collecting pine cones we were off again and Cameron and Adam now getting their wish and switching to my boat in the (false) belief that they may stand a better chance of seeing a fish in my boat.

As we headed South we passed one of the tour boats and the boys had everyone on board waving in return. Our peace was broken when their Dad came on the radio to announce that they had a fish on whereupon I had to tell them to sit down as a was worried that they were planning to literally jump ship! It turned out to be a false alarm in the way of a prank or joke on their Father’s part.

With no further action our next break was on the ‘spit of Inchmurrin’ for a respite and run around for the boys. Before leaving the boys were asked if they wanted to continue to fish down the Loch home or just to sail home and get home sooner. To our surprise they both announced that we should fish home.

Crossing over to cover Luss water outlet we then fished South without further events, realising that my boat was no luckier they had returned to their Papa’s boat.

Lifting the rods just above Duck Bay we headed for home with some fun in racing and sailing in tandem on the way.

Not the best days fishing by any means but a really enjoyable fun day for the boys and for the adults. Thank you Cameron and Adam for sharing your knowledge, experience and company.

Exploring the Middle Endrick

23rd October 2020

Met up this afternoon with experienced angler Kevin McCormick this afternoon who kindly agreed to meet show me some more stretches of the Endrick.

Kevin not only showed me some more of the beautiful middle Endrick he only produced a lovely Endrick Salmon in the process!! Thank you Kevin yet again for so readily sharing your knowledge and experience, so much appreciated.

Kevin with a lovely Endrick Autumn Salmon

Another first – Cardrona on the River Tweed

Tuesday 6th October 2020

With the end of the season fast approaching I jumped at the chance to fish yet another new water for me. My good friend Stuart very kindly had invited me to join him on the famous Cardrona beat on The Tweed and I couldn’t wait to explore this great beat and to squeeze in yet another new water before the end of the Season.

Having done as much asking and reading as possible I arrived slightly later than agreed eager to see the water and get setup. Whilst online information available from SEPA gauges is a modern bonus and extremely helpful I have found that this online resource is only useful once you can relate the height information to ‘normal’ or to a particular area of the river. After the massive downpour and rise in height to 6’3″ on Sunday 3rd Oct. the river had settled to a height of 2’4″ when I arrived. This sounded ideal and added to our optimism about the day.

After setting up we set off to firstly explore the beat upstream of the MacDonald Hotel just to firstly see the conditions and to familiarise ourself with the various eight pools.

Exploring the right bank we were immediately aware of the height of the water and the challenge that we later faced in finding which pools we could actually safely wade. My casting is at best ‘intermittent’ and deteriorates markedly when forced to cast from the bank. Undeterred and eager to get a line out we fished from just below the road bridge downwards finding some good areas where we could get into. We fished hard working our way downstream accompanied by a chilly downstream wind seeing the odd fish turn or splash, usually behind us. A resident fish in a pool named “The Dirtpot” of all things which has a large outflow pipe of a burn from beneath the road above persistently reminded us it was there but seemed totally disinterested in any offering that we presented.

VIDEO

By lunchtime we had explored most of the beat and retreated to a nearby cafe “Nashy’s” for coffee a roll and a strategy meeting. The cafe unfortunately was closed but offered a welcome seat were we could break into the packed lunch.

Before starting off again Stuart had fetched his single hander in order to try to improve casting options to those areas proving tricky to get a line out. I had been musing during lunch that given the height of water then my favourite orange and gold 7cm rapala would have been a handy alternative but this was not an option given that spinning was not permitted after the 14th September.

The river slowly dropped during the afternoon to around 2′ making things slightly better. With the wind dropping and an increase in the temperature then this seem to point towards more favourable conditions with trout increasingly starting to rise below us. We fished the accessible pools and stretches all the way downstream once more.

Following yet another change of fly to a gold bodied Willie Gun 3/4″ copper tube I fished down a pool called “Lower Nutwood” trying to cast to the tree lined far bank. I had started to see increasing numbers of fish showing as I worked my way down and was admittedly distracted admiring the amazing Autumn colours when I had the first decent tug of the day just as the fly began to swing around. Buoyed of course by this first real sign of interest, aside from wee trout, I carefully and steadily turned my full attention to fishing the pool as well as possible. Alas no further pulls and starting to weary I decided to retire to the bank and the bench to await Stuart who was fishing below me and had since disappeared around the bend.

Admiring the spectacular scenery and the birds of prey soaring high above the hills opposite I decided to call it a day. Upon his return Stuart fished a few pools as we made our way back upstream and we both agreed that it had been a ‘challenging’ but very enjoyable day despite the lack of interest by our prey. It had indeed been a very good day I thought as I wearily struggled to remove waders and pack up the gear. According to the wonders of GPS my watch should that I had walked a distance of 14.4km which was a surprise but a good one.

As anglers we are a hard lot to please and never fail to find one thing or another that impacted my (our) ability to land fish. High water or not this is a beautiful beat and one definitely worth visiting again. Thank you Stuart for your company, experience and advice.

Loch Lomond Fly Fishing Competition

19th September 2020

This my second participation in the Loch Lomond Fly Fishing Competition and it has proven to be a challenge for me in the past with the previous year being extremely tough with bright sunshine, flat calm and cloudless skies. The forecast for this year’s event looked worryingly similar.

With entry fee and lottery tickets purchased I was off heading out of the river with all of the usual excitement and trepidation. My good friend and fishing pal Michael and I headed up the river at the same time. Having done some research and kindly been given some deeply secret tips on drifts and locations I headed up the western shore towards the Luss area first. My biggest concern was and had been the weather with forecasts of bright hot sun and little wind.

Fished hard all morning up at Luss area in really bright sunshine and virtually calm conditions before heading to Inchlonaig for a bit of lunch and regroup. The loch was bussing with please boats, kayaks and craft of all kinds.

Revitalised and having set the world to right we decided to give the north shore of Inchlonaig a try as there seemed to be a bit of a wind on this side at least.

With little in the way of interest and only a couple of fish sighted we decided to head down and try our luck along the shoreline of Inchfad. The drift looked much more promising down at here at Inchfad however once more we failed to raise any interest.

Having given it all we had we decided to head in to the ‘weigh-in’ on Inchmurrin. The winner Paul with a fine bag of three sea trout of around 3-4lb was duly awarded a well deserved cup and some fine prizes. After congratulating the well deserved prize winner and some chin wagging we headed for the river and home.

A really good day despite the challenging conditions and the distinct lack of fish in my own boat! Plenty of time to rethink and plan for next years event.

Images courtesy of Michael King (BIPP)

The scenic River Tummel in Autumn

Saturday 5th September 2020

The first Saturday in September found myself and my good friend Michael on the beautiful River Tummel at Moulinearn.  This was a day original booked for earlier in the year during April but unfortunately was a victim of the V+Covid-19 restrictions. Neither myself or Michael had fished the Tummel this late in the season and didn’t quite know what to expect. Upon arrival just after eight o’clock the first thing we discovered was just how low the river was as I quickly learned what 0.3 on the Pitlochry SEPA gauge meant in reality. The second thing we noticed was a solitary otter swimming in the top pool.

Determined not to let the low water conditions dent our enthusiasm we quickly set up noting the cold wind blowing downstream. After all despite the relatively low water there still seemed to be plenty of flow in this sizeable water.

Working our way downstream we carefully fished each run and pool without sight or contact with any fish. Meeting no other rods we appeared to have the beat to ourself with the only other encounter being several canoes and rafts suddenly and silently appearing behind us whilst wading.

By mid day the sun was now beating down and we were starting to feel the heat with neither of us having turned any fish. The only fish that I saw was a wee Grilse louping in the “Rock Pool” Fish or not the scenery and surroundings on this beat are simply breathtaking with huge pines on the far bank an abundance of wildlife and mountains in the distance as a backdrop.

We fished hard and despite success we eventually decided to call it a day around three o’clock agreeing that it had been a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing day.

I later learned from a friend that The Tummel is probably best known for its Spring run of fish which is why we have previously booked the river for April and it is also has a decent run during latter part of September when the bigger mature fish move up from the Tay. We will hopefully be able to return to our April booking next season.

A Memorable Day on the River Annan

Cleuchhead River Annan – Saturday 29th August 2020

When my good friend Kevin messaged me and asked if I was interested in joining him for a day on the Annan on Cleuchhead the following Saturday then there was nothing to think about.

Kevin and I had fished the Annan a few weeks earlier at Hoddom which was my first experience of the Annan and a great experience albeit we failed to connect with any silver. Kevin did as normal manage to produce some results in the form of several nice sea trout and brownies in contrast to my all too often blank session. The water at Hoddom on the day was high and coloured requiring the spinning or ‘cheating stick‘ to come out. I have to say that spinning for salmon is not my preferred method compared to the fly, perhaps it’s a confidence or comfort thing.

The day on Cleuchhead got off to a frantic start as I managed to sleep in and as the driver I had a mad scramble to get out of the house whilst trying to both waken up as well as check to ensure I had not forgotten anything. I was due to pick up Malcolm, Kevin’s Brother and his fishing friend Colin who were of course already waiting as I drew up to collect them. The abuse and ribbing continued all the way down the M74 with me then managing to overshoot the exit to Ecclefechan just to crown things off.

Upon finally arriving we excitedly setup and decided fishing pairs, the river was big and brown and once more the ‘cheating stick’ was considered order of the morning at least with fly possible after lunch.

Kevin, his Son Lewis and myself headed downstream with Kevin kindly and generously explaining the various pools, lies and sections of the beat as openly as always.

Watch video to see what happened next.

It was not long before the shouts of fish came as Kevin’s rod bent into a good fish which after racing and leaping around the pool turned into a lovely Salmon of around 9lb. A great start and I really hoped that I was not about to be ‘out-fished’ by both of the McCormicks yet again.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1162

Feeling that the vision lure I had on was not working for me even after only twenty minutes or so I then opted for a more familiar lure in the form of an orange and gold rapala (tay rigged). On the first, or second, cast suddenly I was into a decent fish which initially seemed intent in only going downstream or airborne once more. After Kevin deftly landed the fish on the slippery bank I promptly announced it was about 10-11lb only to be brought back to reality by Kevin shouting “no it’s 9lb”. Indeed landing fish was tricky given the steep overgrown bank and high water conditions any option to unhook fish within the net was simply too difficult.

During the next hour to my absolute delight I managed to hook two further beautiful fish around the 7-8lb mark both strong and reasonably fresh run. In fact after landing the second fish I began to dare  to think this could possibly be my lucky day and I might just might even manage to beat Kevin for the first time ever. At 2-1 this seemed a real prospect I mused and when I hooked a third fish then I was cock a hoot. For once the mobile phone traffic between Malcolm and ourselves was us calling them to report ‘another’ fish landed.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_115d

Just before lunch Kevin shouted as he leaned into what looked like a decent double figured fish and after a real tussle a magnificent fish of at least 20lb was in my net. Unbelievable fish and fantastic morning with five salmon between the two of us and several fish dropped. To make things even better Malcolm had called to say that he had lost two fish but Colin had landed a fish of 18lb and also dropped two fish.

After lunch and rotating beats we headed upstream towards ‘Alice’ and ‘Jimmy’s” pools feeling buoyed by such an incredible morning. Despite continuing to fish hard it seemed to us that the fish had ‘gone off’ with little but a few trout and a couple more dropped fish to show for the afternoon. We learned later that Malcolm had gotten his tally started finally with three salmon of 15lb, 10lb and 3lb all fresh! Colin meantime had a major adrenaline rush when hooking a massive fish of 25lb which promptly emptied his reel of line in one huge run which sadly ended by being broken off before he could react…..woah.

Whilst we were packing up I could only keep repeating the same phrase ….”what a day!”. The Annan Bailiff’s had asked in the morning if we could send them some photos for their Facebook page, well we certainly can do so. ‘What a Day!” Cannot wait to go back, maybe get a fly line out next time. A day to remember in the coming Winter nights….even if it was with the “cheating stick!”

A huge thanks to Kevin, Malcolm, Lewis and Colin for freely sharing their knowledge, advice and company.

A couple of days venturing up “The Tap End”

Having spent most of my first seasons on Lomond fishing the “Bottom End” of the Loch, my fishing pal and myself decided we were ‘ready’ to explore the famous “Tap End”. From all accounts by seasoned Lomond anglers then by mid July the ‘Tap End” was likely to hold fish and this was evidenced by recent catch reports on the Loch.

So with the usual excitement, trepidation and boatloads of gear, tents, fuel and firewood we set of off.

I didn’t need to wait long for some excitement as I suddenly struck one of the rocks at Boturich hard. A teeth clenching moment as the boat mounted the submerged rock and ran the length of the keel before the engine ‘bounced’ beside me! I was glad that I had packed a set of dry clothes, including fresh underwear. That will teach me for getting over confident and fishing tighter each trip and for smirking critically at the cruiser I had witnessed aground on these same rocks only a week before!

As if this was not enough fun, almost immediately afterwards the inside rod let go signalling a fish. Breaking with protocol I lifted the inside rod to see what was on it only to see the gaping mouth of a largish Pike break the surface. Thankfully it managed to free itself without much further fuss and I was able to try to relax after the early scare.

The ‘magical’ Tap End

The “Tap End” is a ‘magical’ place and is entirely unlike the more gentle contours of the bottom end with its many islands and shallow bays. ‘Tap End’ bears more resemblance to a Scandinavian Fjord with it’s sheer mountain faces and deep drop offs into black depths. Fifteen yards from shore and you are fishing in fifty to eighty feet of water. With no roads, or noise on the eastern side and little in the way of other boats the ‘Tap End’ is an awesome unspoiled enchanting place.