When my friend Pat invited Michael and myself to fish the infamous River Lochy last Summer then there was absolutely no hesitation whatsoever. This was a river that had existed on my wish list for years and one which I had longed to fish given its prodigious history and reputation.
Unabashed by the Summer drought and daily temperatures of 27-29 deg c we set about exploring this stunningly beautiful river changing beat each day.
On arrival we were greeted by a somewhat long walk over the boulders in order to reach the water’s edge which highlighted just how severe the Summer drought and its effects were. The heat at the height of the day was fierce to say the least and saw Pat at one stage ‘cooling off’ as he sat in the river in his waders
Unabashed by the conditions we fished each beat hard each day trying every trick in our armoury in order to entice a fish from very small doubles to sunrays and small hitches. Pat managed successive follows on a sunray with the fish veering away each time . I managed to raise a fish two or three times in the fast water at the tail of a pool on a small hitch fly but again fish refused to take!
The deeper pools certainly had fish showing but despite our best efforts they seemed to be completely disinterested in any effort to take a fly, almost a “oh I can’t be bothered in this heat”.
However the conditions or ‘finicky’ the fish were, to be fishing amidst the absolutely amazing scenery with the Nevis Mountain range as a backdrop was simply breathtaking and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip, company and craic.
Hindsight is as always wonderful and having thought about our trip then we all agreed that some very early morning starts and returns to the river in the evening would most likely have been more productive. Great thing hindsight!
This is definitely a river worth fishing and one that I would love another go at for sure.
After suffering one of the driest Summer salmon seasons across Scotland for many many years we were all looking forwards to salvaging what was left of the 2021 Season and we were not disappointed.
Following all of the run up preparations, fly tying and general buzz and jokes the day finally arrived when we headed north, cars laden with gear, provisions and beverages.
All six of us had been studying the weather forecasts for days previously and one thing at least we were agreed upon was that rain was due mid week thankfully.
The six rods were ‘democratically’ divided into two teams, the “A Team” which included myself of course and the “B” team in order to ensure that we were well distributed across the 8 miles of water and of course to provide some ‘friendly’ competition.
Day one saw the “A Team” on the upper reaches where the initial small pools were formed within a series of gorges. The river was very low meaning that fishing may well be restricted to those pools that had sufficient holding water however with 8 miles and 35 named pools we figured that even in low water we should be able to find some good holding pools.
I had barely reached the bank or got setup when my friend Kevin was already tightening into his first fish! A bonny wee grilse of around 4lbs, a good omen of things to come.
The following video provides a taste of the week and its results
During these first couple of days there were fish landed, lost and risen in decent numbers even with the water conditions that prevailed. I paused frequently, for many reasons but often to just take in the absolutely stunning scenery and landscape that we found ourselves in, it was truly breathtaking. Other pauses on my part were more related to the exertioon of walking distances of 8-10 miles that we were covering in each of the 10-11hr fishing days and my utter lack of fitness. Given that we were fishing the whole week I decided to adopt a Marathon rather than a Sprint approach so frequent coffee and smoke breaks were in play for me.
On the Wednesday the much anticipated and very welcome rains thankfully began with an overnight deluge on Tuesday evening resulting in a good rise on the gauges. In fact for most of the morning the river was continuing to rise which afforded us time to explore some the dramatic falls at the head of the system before reaching for rods.
The fishing had been good the last few days but what a difference some fresh water made. With fish now stirred up and on the move then we were soon in amongst them with some great fish and sport for each rod, especially the “A Team” of course, amidst this wild beautiful place.
Lunch at the hut each day allowed tales of catches, fish won and lost and general rivalry to be exchanged. Bacon or sausage rolls and Angus’s steaming hot cuppa soup were particularly welcome!
The fresh water continued to provide some great action despite the noticeably short lived increase in water height which dropped surprisingly quickly during the next few days.
Evenings back at the lodge were very convivial where despite the physical tiredness the competition and rivalry concerning fishing rolled over to include the cooking as we each took a turn to produce a culinary masterpiece. Contrary to expectations there were certainly a few beers, malts and glasses of wine consumed following dinner. However it was not the sessions or ‘carnage’ that you might expect with six guys gone fishing, perhaps physical exhaustion also affected my mates and it was not just myself! So sleep was not an issue for any of us aside from the excruciating cramp I was awoken to on the first night which was only matched by the volume of snoring the following night coming from the next door room (Malcolm’s room).
This wonderful wee river continued to produce fish during the last few days even with the water having dropped back again. Each evening we had taken account and note of fish caught and lost each day and the sheer number and range of fish we were catching had begun to dawn on everyone as the tally kept growing.
Even with two days fishing remaining I had already surpassed by far my own expectations in terms of fish landed and was already heading for my best salmon week ever despite the fact that my catches are seldom ‘prolific’!
Despite of course bringing a vast armoury of rods and equipment the only rods I actually used were my 14′ 9wt Loop Cross SX (used only on the day when waters had risen significantly), a Sage X Switch rod made a brief appearance but by far the most used rod was the 10′ 7wt Sage X single hander which proved to be the most useful rod teamed with a Rio Trout Spey or Rio Camo Intermediate and short sink tips.
Interestingly 75% of my fish were taken on the same fly, a Phatogorva Brass Conehead Tube that I had tied a week earlier using a plastic price tag retainer to make the eyes as I did not have the black plastic needed. So the other 300-400 hundred flies remained in the box.
By the end of the week the place and the fishing had continued to deliver in terms of fish and sheer beauty. Our tally had now reached impressive numbers with the Keeper indicating that we had certainly had good week in terms of exceeding previous records. The “A Team’ had certainly led the way with Malcom contributing a ‘significant’ number of fish landed to the total fish caught over the week.
Fishing aside this was a truly enjoyable and memorable week for me for so many reasons. Given the really poor salmon season this year it was great to ‘recover’ some of the season with some unbelievable catches of fish across the week and the group with fish ranging in size from 4lb to 17lb. Yes these were coloured fish but strong and beautiful nevertheless. The surroundings alone cannot be understated where we had the majority of the river entirely to ourselves. Finally the company, craic and fellowship was simply brilliant. Thank you guys for a great week!
Whilst memories have been forged forever in my mind I am already looking forward to returning next year.
A short excerpt of a full video to follow of a wonderful weeks fishing in September 2021 to a “Wee Highland River”. A great week, great fishing and great craic. Watch out for the full length video to be released soon.
Smile! A face only a Mother could love! A 15lb fish from a trip far North for a few days this week. Unfortunately not a Springer, would have and will be a fabulous fish when mended. Carefully unhooked and gently returned. Dropped another shortly after this one. The upside to offset disappointment was that both fish took one of my fledgling attempts at fly tying, a “Dee Monkey” which is a good feeling. Overall great water and weather conditions making for a great few days and fantastic to get out again for a New Season .
A light hearted account of my Angling exploits, successes, failures and learnings amidst Scotland's beautiful Rivers and Lochs