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.

Another Game Fish – The Grayling

What to do in the close season has always been a source of frustration and boredom for me. So in my attempts to find a way to continue fly fishing when the Salmon and Trout seasons ends I have finally decided to “start” to get to grips with chasing a new prey  – ” Grayling” or “Thymallus thymallus” a fully fledged member of the salmon family “Salmonidae“.

First stop was to try to understand the “basics” in terms of equipment for nymph fly fishing for these beautiful looking Game fish. Having sought some advice and read many reviews I finally opted for a setup from Snowbee. Whilst not having tried it on the water yet my first impressions of  this beautiful little 10ft 3wt Fly rod from Snowbee (“new style handle”) are good. It looks well made and finished to a high standard and weighs in at practically nothing at an amazing 82g!! Speaking of weight I can’t wait to give it a swing. The reel – a Snowbee Spectre 2/3wt is also a tiny lightweight, especially when compared to my more familiar salmon fly reels.IMG_0198

I never fail to be amazed at the availability and quality of freely given generous help and advice by fellow anglers, many of whom I have never met in person and have only conversed via Facebook. Help offered even extended to an invite to join them on the water in the coming days chasing Grayling. Next step was to understand how to setup this rod in terms of line, leaders etc. My thanks to all who patiently explained the basics here, in particular thanks to Albert Davyboy Tatlock and John Bell (The Lomond Angler) for their patience in responding to my repeated and frequent naive questions.

From all of the valuable help and advice then my aim is to load the reel with backing then Ikon Tactical Nymph Line then 2x or 3x Dohiku Fly DK French Nymph Tapered Leaders – Dark Olive / 15m or 10m depending on conditions, to which I will attach 2x Stroft LS New Low Stretch Tippet – 0.12mm / 50m using 2x Stroft Rig Rings  – O.D. 2mm – yes 2mm rings !! These will be fun to deal with given my eyesight.

For choice of nymphs or bugs in terms of pattern, size and colours then this is still a complete black hole. As is understanding the required technique as to how to fish them. To assist I have gathered some books, some courtesy of Santa from which I will hopefully pick up some further information during the next few weeks. Of course no amount of reading or asking is a substitute for learning by doing or trying so the first chance I get I will be on the water to “learn by doing!” and also to “learn by failing too ” no doubt!

Watch this space!

 

Winter Maintenance – “Bottom Scraping”

23rd December 2018

What better ways to spend the weekend before Christmas than start to strip boat down in a freezing cold workshop! Having only purchased the boat last season I was keen to strip it right back to assess condition of timbers and refurbish (with appropriate guidance and advice). It is after all good, in my opinion, to know what’s keeping you afloat.

So armed with breathing mask, IR Paint Stripping Lamp, multitude of scraping tools and flask of coffee I got stuck in. Deciding to tackle the two coats of red anti-foul paint and undercoat I soon realised that this was going to be a long slow process! Breaking for a coffee and sandwich lunch I assessed my progress – roughly about a quarter of the hull stripped after three and half hours, slow but steady. Continuing after lunch for a few hours I managed a few more planks before calling it a day.

Whilst slow going it was somehow satisfying to start to discover “What lies beneath” all the many layers of paint. I will undoubtedly need to call upon some expert advice with regards to the condition of several timbers closest to the keel once entire hull has been stripped of paint, varnish and a great deal of sealant which was loose or waterlogged in many cases. Still lots to do but how else would you spend your Christmas holiday?

After a quick sweep up it was out into the fog and home, via the clubhouse bar of course.

 

Angling on Lomond on the first day of Autumn

Saturday 1st Sept. 2018

Saturday 1st of September, the first day of Autumn already and I arrive at the Angling Club for an early start to another day on the Loch with my friend and fellow angler Michael arriving just ahead of me. Just before eight o’clock we make our way up the river with dense low mist swirling just above the water. Like a scene from Apocalypse Now I think with a smile checking the banks for the enemy “charlie“.

The route we had roughly agreed was to fish the Boturich shore before crossing towards Inchmurrin and along the islands towards Blamaha. From there we would head northwards to at least Rowardennan.

I had barely left the Leven and laid out the rods when the “striker” weight on the inside rod jumped! Weed or fish? It turned out to be a small perch of about a 1lb beautifully marked which was quickly and carefully returned.

The mist had started to lift providing beautiful and dramatic scenes with the islands and mountains poking through the remaining mist. A tinge of Autumn colours were now becoming more evident on the treelined shores as we ran along the islands of Inchmurrin, Creinch, Torrinch and Inchcailloch. The now flat calm conditions providing a stunning mirror image of the shoreline. I noticed that Michael had stopped some distance ahead. I watched through the binoculars with excitement and interest whilst he was standing with rod in hand playing a fish. It turned out to be a small pike which whilst giving a good account of itself was not our intended prize.

Turning northwards at Balmaha we continued and having left Inchfad behind I decided to check the lures for weed and I was surprised to find a tiny minnow hooked on the treble of the zebra toby. A personal record for the smallest fish I thought and no chance to safely release it unfortunately.

Carefully working the shore as tight as we dared we continued north weaving in and out  of each bay and inlet in turn then around “Ross Isles” without any further contact. Breaking for lunch just below Rowardennan for a stretch of legs, a “fry up” and an adjustment of rods and gear as well a blether. Deciding upon a route home we were soon off again,  sailing south back down the east shore again before crossing amongst the islands of Inchconnachan and Inchtavannach and then down the west shore. I was not familiar with this route so appreciated Michael sharing his experience of this part of the loch.

As we left the end of Inchmoan the wind had noticeably started to blow creating quite a wave as we made for Rossdhu and “The Golf Course“. Aside from the increasingly blustery conditions the run down the east shore was unfortunately uneventful with no contact by either boat. Reflecting upon the fact that eight lures deployed over a the distance we had covered today had failed to produce any results it would be easy to become disheartened. However despite the lack of fish it had been a good day and good company amidst the ever changing and breathtaking colours and scenes of Loch Lomond that we are blessed to have on our doorstep.

Angling on Lomond

Wednesday 29th Aug. 2018

As the season marches forwards and still chasing that first Lomond salmon I set off for another day on the water. It has to be said I think that if it was only about the fishing then I would have quit long ago on this quest. Thankfully Loch Lomond has so much more to offer than purely the fish, although one would be nice! On each outing I’ve already noticed the changing colours and scenes of its unbounded beauty.

The route for today was to fish firstly the west shore taking in the usual marks that included The Fruin mouth, Auchentullin Bay, Finlass Water and the Golf Course with a stop on Inchmoan for lunch before heading along the south shore of Inchmoan and across towards Balmaha and then homeward past Boturich Castle.

After a few uneventful first hours carefully navigating my way northwards and trying to remember all of the gratefully received tips and advice regarding each location I finally heard the welcome sound of the striker weight jumping and the reel screeching. I lifted the “inside rod” thinking it may be weed given the area I was in and initially believed this to be the case until the rod suddenly bent into an arc as the fish sprung to life. I impatiently reeled to see the fish and tried not to curse as I realised that it was a small pike of around 5lbs.  Given the size of the fish I decided to leave the remaining rods out and bring this fish in which I was to later regret as it cost me a lure on the bed of the loch, lesson learned.

No further takes ensured as I headed for Inchmoan for a quiet lunch and a stretch of the legs. Loch Lomond Wed 290818aLoch Lomond Wed 290818bLunch it was but quiet it was not as almost as soon as I opened the sandwich box a troop of ducks was quickly followed by a family of swans padding up the shore to join me. After a “busy” lunch I met some fellow anglers who had also decided to lunch on the island and after a lot of helpful chat and advice I set off re-charged and enthused once more.

Loch Lomond Wed 290818f

Working my way as tight in as I dared along the “long” and “short” points of “the moan” without any offers I then headed east towards Balmaha taking in the south shore of Inchfad. Turning south at Balmaha I noted that the stiff breeze that had whipped up the water. Seeking some shelter I headed along the south shores of Inchcailloch, Torrinch, Creinch and Inchmurrin but being a south west wind this did not make much difference to the increasing roll.Loch Lomond Wed 290818dLoch Lomond Wed 290818i

Finally deciding to call it a day I headed across the loch from Inchmurrin to Boturich wanting to fish the east shore homewards. As I crossed I reflected how quickly the scenes and conditions can change from flat calm this morning to a bow slapping roll.

Another enjoyable day on “The Big Loch” and a genuine thank you again to all those fellow anglers for so freely sharing their knowledge and experience as well as offering much welcomed encouragement.

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Another good day on “The Big Loch”

Saturday 25th August 2018

Despite previous failures to hook and land my first Lomond salmon I was eager to get on onto the water. You can’t beat a tryer after all as they say. Having checked the weather forecast about a dozen times during the past two days the boat was prepped and loaded. After only a few clumsy collisions as I reveresed out of my new mooring onto the river I was off slowly making my way upriver behind another angling boat, very slow.

As I left the river and entered the loch I noticed the flotilla of Ranger and support boats and suddenly remembered it was the date for “The Great Scottish Swim” event with contestants already ploughing across Drumkinnon Bay. I headed east past Balloch Park thinking that the loch would most likely be busy today with this being a bank holiday weekend. I continue to be surprised how shallow the section off Balloch Park is even well offshore. My planned route was to troll along the east bank past Boturich before heading across to Inchmurrin and along the south shores of Inchmurriin, Creinch, Torrinch and Inchcailloch. From there I would take a familiar route from Blamaha north to The Ross Isles up to Rowardennan and then across the loch and fish homewards down the west shore.

Being a fly fisher and new to this trolling business then amongst a multitidue of other subjects that I have been trying to understand is “trolling speed”. As always other anglers have been more than helpfuil with suggestions. Dependent upon lure type then most seem to agree that a brisk walking or jogging speed is best. Having no idea as to what speed I am actually trolling at I decided to measure my trolling speed on this trip. I used an App for this on my Iphone called”Speed Box” and after several readings then it appeared that my idea of a fast walking speed was 3-4 knots. For me to troll faster I think will need more familiarity of the various shoreline and underwater features (hazards!).

Fished up and along the east shoreline having covered the north shores of Inchmurriin, Creinch, Torrinch and Inchcailloch without any offers, not even a pike! I was captivated by a pair of magnificent Ospreys perched above me on the shoreline, beautiful.

Passing Cashel campsite I slowed to allow a windsurfer to come out from the shore only to almost colide with him five minutes later as he decided to return to shore! Despite my shouts and curses he was blind as he was behind the sail on his board and could not see me (again). Reminder that I must fit that horn lying at home to the boat. Sailing up to The Ross Isles I pulled in at my favourite wee bay for lunch and stretch of the legs.

Heading out after lunch I decided to give “The Ross Isles” a quick figure of eight before I headed north towards Rowerdennan. The wind was now starting to blow fairly briskly (for me) from the north and just below Rowerdennan I decided to cross the loch in hope that west shore would offer some shelter for the run home. A bit of a swell as I made my way across the loch trying to keep bow into the wind before reaching quieter water on the west bank.

Fishing as close to shore as possible and exploring as many of the bays and marks as possible I made my way down toards Luss. No action or interest stopping several times to clear weed or try a change of lure. Continuing down I was reflecting on the days events, or lack of them when some of our fellow wet bike loch users screamed across my bow at Duck Bay Marina clearly in some hurry to get somewhere! As I approached the river mouth I was surprised to see that “The Great Scottish Swim” was still underway as I was directed clear of Drumkinnon Bay area by the Rangers.

Another good day on the Loch despite seeing or hooking any silver, chatting with some returning fellow anglers at the club then there were no reports of anything landed from the loch that day. Whilst not good news in itself I admit I was heartened at this information which made me think at least it’s not just me then.

 

 

An enjoyable few hours on the River Kelvin at Balmore

23rd August 2018

With recent reports of fish now being landed or lost on the upper Kelvin I decided it was time to spend a few hours this afternoon on the Kelvin at Balmore, the first time this season. Despite the water height was showing as at only around 0.4m at Killermont I was keen to give it a try anyhow. After setting up during yet another thundery downpour I headed to the river crossing the field of the “cows with attitude” (long story) who duly obliged by surrounding and following me! Yes wimp I know.

River was comparatively clear but low and slack as I headed up to the Junction Pool where I planned to fish back downstream to the car with nothing showing aside from small trout rising. Continue reading An enjoyable few hours on the River Kelvin at Balmore

A few hours chasing sea trout on the Clyde Estuary

Monday 13th August, 2018

After receiving a very welcome text invite from my friend Michael to join him for a few hours on the Clyde Estuary I was soon wading out to join him. Just as I was wading out to meet him a huge fish rose a few metres to his right, yelling to alert him I thought that this was a healthy sign of things to come. Despite a heavy sky conditions were good with a gentle wind behind us as we followed the last of the outgoing tide out. After a quiet start with nothing showing I opted to replace the blue and silver miniature flying C (really a big mepp) with a 10g silver toby. After just a few casts this produced a take which I promptly lost contact with after just 20-30secs. This was followed by another take by a larger fish which I managed to make stick this time to be safely released. Clyde Estuary 130818eThis was great as I seemed to be surrounded by fish rising and taking very close in to the end of the retrieve. I noticed another angler below me fishing the fly which after a few shouts turned out to be Colin Ferguson who was also amongst the fish. The action continued with these strong little fighters of around 3/4-1lb and by around 9pm I had hooked around 5 or so with one released and another “escapee” which after landing managed to wriggle loose from my hand just after removing hook. I have some ideas as to ways to improve the takes to landing ratio of these feisty wee fish. Watch the highlights of our evening in video below:

During this time I suddenly caught sight of a shiny black head that had appeared around 30m in front of us. A feeding seal which proceeded to stalk it’s own prey and at once stage we were treated to a frenzied display as it pursued and caught a sizeable fish, presumably a salmon. Needless to say the takes became few and far between after this unwelcome visitor made its appearance. Shortly afterwards Colin drew our attention to another fish predator this time a magnificent Osprey soaring overhead no doubt looking for its own next meal, a fabulous sight. I had never seen any Osprey on the estuary prior to this.

Given the appearance of the seal and the inevitable impact on our takes we decided to call it a day at around 21.30. No huge fish landed but a great evening’s sport, wildlife and scenery all in a couple of hours. We are lucky indeed to have this all on our doorstep.

A big thank you to my friend Michael for his very welcomed invite and for sharing his experience and local knowledge. Good to meet (or shout to) Colin Ferguson who I later discovered landed 5 and lost 5 on the fly which is fantastic.

No huge fish landed but a great evening’s sport, wildlife and scenery all in a couple of hours. We are lucky indeed to have this all on our doorstep. Image below courtesy of Colin Ferguson taken whilst fishing the fly below us.39050566_10157906157404657_3626821391497560064_o

Gates open – Water at last! – River Leven

Tues. 7th August, 2018

Rumour had it that the barrier gates were to be opened on Tuesday and sure enough I got a message via Facebook that “gates were open now…”.  Apparently Loch Lomond levels had reached sufficient height to allow gates to be lifted. So given the choice was either home chores or fishing then within an hour I was parked at Bonhill Bridge and setting up. Noticed from water guage that water was still rising and coloured with lots of debris being washed downstream. Deciding that eventually water would settle and clear  If ever fish would be encouraged to run then it was today! High tide was not until around 8:30pm however undeterred I started at The Bonhill Pool with a slow sink tip and a size 9 cascade. Fished slowly down the pool, the water was still murky and lots of weed, branches and rubbish coming downstream being collected it seemed by both my fly and my landing net behind me. Completing the pool and after a break for coffee and catch-up with other anglers I headed for The Piles having changed fly for one of John Richardson’s hi viz cascade doubles.

Another angler at the piles was spinning without any contact so far but was quick to point out that this was the best water conditions for months. Starting at the top bend I slowly worked down the run wading deep. Water was starting to settle and whilst still a lot of weed around things seemed to be clearing. Reaching the middle of the run a couple of bait anglers arrived and set up below me. Not a problem and I decided to take a break and rest my legs, the bait anglers were quick to point out the best runs and to remind me not to discount fish lying close to the near bank. After a great deal of chatting I decided to start once more at the top of the run and work my way down once more before having to quit for the day as I had an appointment at VOLDAC that evening. Re-covering the same run without any contact or seeing any fish moving bar a small fish rising just at the end of the run I covered the whole stretch with the bait anglers having decided to move upstream. I was forced to call it a day at 16:30 with some regret since water was clearing and high tide was due later that evening. Nevertheless a good few hours filled with expectation of a running fresh fish.

 

 

A few hours on The Leven at dusk

Saturday 4th Aug. 2018

Saturday evening I decided to meet up with Lee Taylor who was already planning a few hours on The Leven at the McKinnons stretch. As this was an area of The Leven that I had never fished I was grateful to Lee, once more, for giving me the heads up on this and the other sections of the river. Upon my arrival and parking there were a number of local anglers already fishing and once more they freely and openly gave me the run down of the various pools and runs, particularly for the fly. I am forever grateful for such information and generosity so my thanks to Danny, Craig and the other local anglers.

After setting up I set off to explore and to find Lee,  which I did fairly quickly even though we have never met face to face until this time. Lee kindly walked the section highlighting the various runs, pools and historic holding areas and lies. I was impressed at the really good looking runs with relatively easy looking wading including Boathouse Hole and Garden Stream and others whose names escape me.

Lee suggested that we move upstream and give the section at Westclox (Polaroid) Bridge down until dark. This was a great looking stretch with easy wading (currently) and as Lee indicated fish tended to be found holding against far (Renton side) bank along the wall and under the trees or running the “channel”.  I fished from above the bridge continuing under and down this run with Lee fishing about 200 yards below me. He is just about visible wading below me in the short video. We continued down this stretch with me failing to connect with anything but as I later learned Lee dropping two fish, one good sized fish too!

We decided to call it a night around 10.15pm as darkness began to fall and for me my eyesight being tested for both casting and wading in the dark. A great couple of hours even if no contact made however now familiar with basics of another area of The Leven thanks to the kindness of fellow angler Lee Taylor.

 

A first on the Lower Endrick

Friday 3rd August 2018

Given the low water conditions I decided that the Endrick looked worth a cast as guage was showing 0.535M at Gaidrew. My initial thought was to to head to Ballochruin Bridge but after seeking some advice I was told that lower sections may prove a much better prospect. It was suggested that I try the run at the Meetings Lynn pool together with  some really helpful information from angler Lee Taylor.

Arriving around 10.00am I parked up beside one other vehicle and quickly began to get geared up. As I was preparing another angler Bob came wandering up from the bridge path and after commenting on low water conditions was quick to explain the pools, runs and even flies, even kindly gifting me various lovely self tied flies. Always amazed by how freely and generously other anglers offer to share their experience and local knowledge.

After blethering for about 30-45 minutes I set off deciding to take the advice and start just above the “Island” upstream of the footbridge. I had already decided that low water conditions would not prevent me from enjoying the day and that I would treat this outing as a “recke” of this unfamiliar beat. Fishing down some beautiful runs I quickly realised I was too heavily loaded in terms of sink tip and flies and I was bringing in weed from the bottom with regularity. I carried on however deciding to see if runs deepened any as I worked downstream.

Reaching the footbridge I decided that a cold drink and some lunch were in order and began heading back to the car. On route I met local angler Colin where after we both bemoaned the water conditions he also kindly shared his detailed knowledge and experience of this section of the Endrick. It seemed I had made an error “skipping” some of the runs that I thought were unlikely to hold fish. Thanking him for his help and advice I headed for the car.

After some lunch I decided to lighten up the tip and drop several fly sizes opting to add a slow sink tip and two size 14 doubles. Refreshed I headed off to explore upstream of the footbridge. I fished “most” of the runs down to the once prolific Meetings Pool Lynn where the Endrick and the Blane meet. No interest thus far but had a good feeling about the Meetings Pool where perhaps some running fish may be lying awaiting next rainfall. I worked along the pool without success before moving to the tail of the pool which was a fast run with some interesting looking lies under the trees on far bank. The downside here was that the run was strewn with submerged trees and stumps making casting and controlling the swinging fly “interesting”. After connecting with one of these stumps I hooked and landed a few beautiful wee salmon parr despite my attempts to allow them to shake themselves off.River Endrick Meetings Lynn 03088d

Below this run is a section of submerged and fallen trees that resembles more a mangrove swamp than a Scottish river which I chose to leave. About a 100 yards after this I came across a lovely looking run which whilst only 2-3 feet deep looked promising. I slowly worked my way down this run trying not to create a cloudy disturbance by my wading. All around small trout and parr were rising and almost immediately I hooked several more of these wee fish before briefly contacting with something a bit larger for a mere few seconds unfortunately.

By know it was around four o’clock and I had only explored about 75% of the dog legged section of the Endrick. I decided to walk the remaining section before cutting across the field to the footbridge and the car. At the end of this section there is a long “interesting” deep pool with a steep sandy  bank on my (right hand) bank. My thoughts were that due to the steep drop on my bank this would be probably best fished from the other bank. Stopping for a rest on the bench I spotted another angler walking upstream towards me, it was “Ben” whom I had met and also chatted with earlier. After joining me we spent the next 30 minutes blethering but once more being offered some great advice and tips in addition to ben sorting out my landing net which had been dragging on the ground almost all day, thanks Ben.

We both walked slowly across the field and back to the cars me planning to pack up and “Ben” trying to decide to stay here or move to the Leven.

Whilst no fish for me I felt contented as I had enjoyed the day, learned a great deal and had discovered and explored a new beat for future outings.

Once again I am indebted to those local anglers who so generously shared their knowledge and advice. Particular thanks and gratitude to Lee Taylor for his kindness and patience in his numerous messages outlining the locale, tactics and other details.River Endrick Meetings Lynn 03088c