Tag Archives: Angling

Lomond Silver – June 19th & 20th 2020

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!

Lomond Silver 19th June 20
Michael and his first Lomond Salmon (10lb)

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!

First outing of the 2020 season on Lomond

March 21, 2020

Following a long winter close season and not to mention the increasing restrictions and health measures it was fantastic to get out on the “Big Loch’ for the first time this year. A big thanks to my friend Michael offering to put up with me in his boat as mine is still having finishing touches completed o it in the workshop.

With a bitterly cold wind and leaden skies we headed out of the river heading up the eastern shoreline past Balloch Park and then Boturich. We didn’t have to wait long before the poker announced a take, a small but beautiful silver sea trout. A good start we thought and before long we had missed two further larger takes, something I seem to be a dab hand or jinx at on Michael’s boat. We hit another small sea trout shortly afterwards before starting a troll across ‘the bank’, half way across the inside rod buckled violently and we scrambled into action gathering the other rods. Alas yet again our excitement was dashed as the fish failed to stay on shortly upon lifting the rod! Putting a positive on things we agreed, after the curses, that it was a promising further sign.

Running across the southern shoreline of Inchmoan we hit yet another substantial fish and we leapt into action, at least as fast as two 50 something old guys can ‘leap’. Our efforts were rewarded with exactly the same result, fish off and left looking at each other and examining the treble as if it were the culprit.

Crossing over to the western shoreline we followed the golf course shoreline as tightly as we dared and both thinking this was going to be the spot and 4th time lucky. This however proved to be unfounded optimism and we carried on heading south passing a fellow angler at the Fruin water.

We fished all the way down this shoreline until reaching Duck Bay at which point the rods were stowed and we headed for home and a heat.

A great day despite the cold and missing successive takes and we both agreed that it bodes well for the new season. Thanks Michael for your kind invite.

With a bitterly cold wind and leaden skies we headed out of the river heading up the eastern shoreline past Balloch Park and then Boturich. We didn’t have to wait long before the poker announced a take, a small but beautiful silver sea trout. A good start we thought and before long we had missed two further larger takes, something I seem to be a dab hand of jinx at on Michael’s boat. We hit another small sea trout shortly afterwards before starting a troll across ‘the bank’ half way across the inside rod buckled violently and we scrambled into action gathering the other rods. Alas yet again our excitement was dashed as the fish failed to stay on upon lifting the rod! Putting a positive on things we agreed, after the curses, that it was a promising further sign.

Running across the southern shoreline of Inchmoan we hit yet another substantial fish and we leapt into action as fast as two 50 something old guys can ‘leap’. Our efforts were rewarded with exactly the same result, fish off and left looking at each other and examining the treble as if it were the culprit.

Crossing over to the western shoreline we followed the golf course shoreline as tightly as we dared and both thinking this was going to be the spot and 4th time lucky. This however proved to be unfounded optimism and we carried on heading south passing a fellow angler at the Fruin water.

We fished all the way down the shoreline until reaching Duck Bay at which point the rods were stowed and we headed for home and a heat.

A great day despite the cold and missing successive takes and we both agreed that it bodes well for the new season.

So much to master “Every Day is a school day”!

I have during the past few months thrown myself into trying to understand the basics of fly tying. On the one hand this has proven to be a great way to pass the long dark evenings when fishing is not an option. One the other hand whilst really enjoyable, not to say addictive, it has been with mixed success and only heightened my absolute respect for those wonderful fly tyers who craft their beautiful, amazing and consistent ‘works of art‘. Aside from pure admiration, I often smile when I see facebook posts that are annotated with innocent comments such as “a small order created from the vice this evening….” illustrated with images of a 40-50 amazing creations! Aside from the quality of the flies shown I chuckle to myself thinking “assuming I could tie such beauties, 40 or 50 flies would take me the best part of 4-6 weeks!”.

Anyway what have I learned so far as an infant fly tier?

One – it’s not as easy as it looks but I am really enjoying the learning and the challenge!

Two – it’s compulsive, addictive and expensive to get started with constant orders for more materials!

Three – Listen to others – Including “Less is more” as so many of you have advised, thanks the message finally starting to sink in. Pay heed to advice so freely offered i.e. less material., less turns and to use the “false head principle‘ to avoid those clumsy big heads and keep head size to a minimum.

Four – Thank goodness for YouTube and Davie McPhail, Ryan Houston and others without whom I would be completely lost.

Five – Reduce time spent searching the table for things by starting with only what you need in the first place for the pattern that you are tying.

Six – Finally persistence and practice pays off eventually. Sometimes frustration takes over when things seem out of reach, including early attempts to master the whip finishing tool which often ended up across the other side of the room in the early days!

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So much to learn but enjoying the ride and cannot wait to try to tempt a fish or two on these first self tied creations – even if they are not the Miss World of fly tying. I fully expect that the vice may take second place once the season gets into full swing. Thank you to everyone for all of the the advice and encouragement.

 

A personal favourite pattern

Willie Gun Copper Tube Fly, December 2019

Continuing to practice basic tying techniques I opted for a Willie Gun variant courtesy of Davy McPhail. This is one of my favourite patterns and a fairly basic fly but a great choice for Spring and later in season.

Plan is to tie a few of these in different weights and sizes and tube materials (copper and plastic) in order to provide maximum flexibility on the water in terms of conditions.

Starting with 1′ copper tubes  I immediately was aware of just how small the 1/2′ versions were in terms of tying areaWhilst far from perfect I was quietly pleased with the first results. The 1/2″ version may not be so straightforward. Thank you once more to Davie McPhail.

 

Long way to go but starting to really enjoy this fly tying malarkey although still trying to come to terms with the basics.wnaGYfDLQcqJkDB3ePkUSA_thumb_bfc

River Endrick and the end of the Season approaches

Saturday 19th October 2019

As the end of the Season fast approaches Saturday found me exploring some new pools and runs on the River Endrick thanks once more to knowledge and advice freely shared once more by fellow angler Lee Taylor.

Upon arrival on this upper part of the Endrick and after a chat with the farmer whose land I would cross I headed for the river across fields and burns. My plan was to explore and fish two new sections of the river for the first time. It was immediately apparent that the river had risen by around a foot or so since the previous day when I had fished further downstream. I immediately regretted not bringing my wading stick as the heavily peaty coloured water made judging the depth impossible. With shady wooded banks and some great looking runs and pools beneath the overhanging trees this was a truly tranquil section of the river.

After adapting my setup to conditions – a floating line with a 10ft fast sink tip, short leader and a small red frances copper tube I was ready. The advice had been to cross the river here and fish from opposite bank towards bank I was currently standing. However without the wading stick and being a ‘chicken’ I made the executive decision that crossing the river at this height was not a good idea. I therefore started heading down to the next mark fishing wherever water and access permitted. After checking several times (with some phone calls and mr google’s assistance) I arrived at the next intended section – a long tree lined bend in the river with some lovely looking runs and pools beneath the branches on opposite bank. Thankfully this area was wadable allowing some casting clearance from trees behind me. I saw and heard several decent fish above and below me only added to the anticipation.

Gradually working down this run I soon came across a fellow angler and owner of the other vehicle parked when I arrived. He was grinning from ear to ear and just stowing the net after landing a wee grilse and his first salmon on the fly. Having congratulating him I continued to fish down behind him until he eventually disappeared after opting to move downstream.

Despite my best efforts I said goodbye to at least four flies, and leader in some cases, donating them to the overhanging trees on the far bank. Joy and a silent thank you came occasionally when the fly sometimes hit a branch or leaf opposite before sliding off and into the target water and landed exactly in the area intended! I noted some of branches were already adorned with flies from some similarly unfortunate casts like a Tibetan prayer offering of flags or cloth. Pink flies seemed to be particularly in evidence. There were certainly fish in residence here as they made their presence evident showing above and below me several times just to keep me engaged.

Stopping for a break after one strong ‘pull’ but no connections I reflected again on the beauty and solitude of this part of the river with the Campsies rising behind me tree lined banks and abundant wildlife of this wee river as it meanders across the fields of the flood plain.

Continuing I carefully resumed fishing slowly down this section to where it ends in some fast running shallow water before deciding to head back to the car and some lunch.

Given the extremely muddy swampy conditions at the car park I opted to drive down to another ‘drier’ section downstream and have lunch there. Upon arrival several other fellow anglers and friends were already setting up or breaking for lunch. During lunch experiences, successes and failures and flies were exchanged including the hooking of a small grilse and a wee sea trout landed.

Following lunch, coffee and a re-charge I opted to give this section an hour or so and after replacing the ‘missing fly’ from the ‘diminishing’ contents of my fly box with a size 10 red and yellow flamethrower gold double I headed off.

I slowly and carefully made my way down this now deeper run and pool than it had been the day before. With the target once more being the opposite overhanging bank I had now developed a technique to dislodge the fly when hangups occurred which they of course did. It worked to some degree and involved pulling and quickly releasing the slack line to try to dislodge or ‘ping’ the fly loose from the branch opposite before resorting to the normal pull and 50/50 hope. I had thought about tackling up to heavier leader just because of this issue but opted against this as I prefer to fish as light as possible for several reasons.

After about a further hour or so fish were showing but no takers I exited the end of the pool and with my back now complaining about the cold water I decided to call it a day. It had been a good day as despite any fish.  I had found (eventually) and explored some new areas of this beautiful wee river and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the day. Heading back to the car I was already scheming as to how I could squeeze in one last outing before the end of the Season.

 

September Lomond Splendour

Saturday 21st September 2019  “The Loch Lomond Fly Fishing Competition”

Saturday morning and having firstly registered for this years Loch Lomond Fly Fishing Competition I was soon heading up river. Other commitments had looked like I would not be in a position to get out so I was really over the moon when the planets aligned at the last minute. On the other hand the weather forecast was not just as pleasing with bright sunny skies and little to no wind. At Balloch Bridge I was reminded of the sad scene of a boat fire the previous evening where unfortunately the well known boat “Aurora” was destroyed.

Having checked the forecast yet again for the umpteenth time then with a ‘gentle’ wind from the south east forecast I elected to head for north shore of Inchfad in the hope of a decent drift along this shoreline to start with.  As I crossed over to and along Inchmurrin my hopes rose as the wind and wave strengthened, so much for the weather forecast I thought as the spray came over the bow.

Arriving at the north east end of Inchfad I was heartened to see that wind direction was right and a good wee wave promised a decent drift. I had opted for an 11 foot 7wt setup, Sage X switch rod, with 8 ft polyleader and a 15 foot leader with two droppers and a wee double to anchor things.  Second (spare) rod was more of an experiment and a chance to at least try out a recent acquisition a shorter 9 foot Sage Igniter 9wt with an intermediate sink tip and similar three fly setup. Yes too short and over powered compared to a ‘traditional’ loch setup but was keen to give it a cast for the first time.

I spent a good few hours fishing this drift hard a couple of times with not a hint of a rise! The temperature was rising steadily and by noon the sun was splitting the clear blue cloudless sky as I opted for a break for lunch. Following lunch I decided to give the Igniter a throw and was not disappointed.  This rod rated as “Ultra Fast” weighing in at just over 3oz in weight should require a licence. The line left the rod like a bullet even into the wind which was now in my face at times.  However even this newly acquired weapon could not produce a rise nevertheless.

With the sun blazing and the wind now moderate I decided to give the south shoreline of Inchfad a try passing a boat of fellow anglers en route who signalled their own lack of fish as we passed.

Fishing along the south western tip of Inchfad  I found what looked like an ideal drift between the tip of the main island and the wee island of Ellanderroch. Despite the bright sunshine and lack of cloud there was a good stiff breeze and a decent wave which lifted my spirits and hopes of connecting with something at least.

By mid afternoon the relentless sunshine and heat had not abated and I decided to call it a day. The weather may have not been ideal for fishing but what it did serve to do was to showcase the stunning beauty of the big loch in all its glory.

‘Screaming Reels’ – Lomond 13th July

Saturday 13th July

Saturday at last and heading out up the river I am brimming with the normal anticipation and excitement that has been growing during the preceding week further fuelled by reports of Grilse now being landed on the Loch.

See video highlights below! (Best played with Volume UP)

The day already warm with plenty of cloud and a good wee breeze things looked promising as I headed out of the river. I had hardly set the fourth rod when the inside ‘poker’ let rip with at least one other rod also joining in! I had connected with at least one fish and plenty of weed in the shallow water off Balloch Park. Sadly after a few minutes grunting and groaning I realised it was a lively pike of 10-12lb which was duly landed and safely released.

Continuing north along Boturich things had barely settled down when the inside rod buckled with the reel singing as I gathered in the other rods. A good bend in the rod signalled a good fish………alas another pike and not silver! Following some ariel acrobatics a healthy beautifully marked pike again of around 12lb was netted and released returning to the deep once more.

I had barely reset the rods just off the Hydro Station and thoughts of a coffee were dashed when once more the inside ‘poker’ let go. Thinking surely this time I tightened into what proved to be ….yes another pike would you believe it! Fortunately no need to bring it on board as it slipped the hook just beside the boat.

Rods out and reset once more I headed on past Ross Priory with thoughts returning to that cup of coffee. Not a chance as the inside ‘poker’ once again announced a take and I thought ‘fourth time lucky surely!’ . With the boat pitching in the rollers as can be seen I struggled to stand and almost joined the fish at one point before deciding being seated was better option. After a short fight with the fish and the rolling boat another beautifully marked healthy pike of around 12lbs which had fallen once more for the orange Tomic was safely landed and released.

Heading across the Endrick Bank towards Balmaha I finally got that coffee thinking what a busy morning but please please make the next take silver!

The cloud lifted and the sun appeared as I made my way past Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay before turning west toward the secret lost Isle of Buccinch for lunch and a stretch of the legs. Sitting on Buccinch in the now baking heat I reflected upon the events of the morning and admiring the shear beauty and solitude around me.

A change of lure here and there and I was off again heading south towards Inchfad in glorious sunshine and blue skies. After skirting the south shore of Inchmurrin I headed back across to Boturich shore and home past Balloch Park once more. No further contact but all in all another great day on Lomond and another week to plan and eagerly look forward to my next outing.

A cold day in May on Lomond

Saturday 25th May

A cold windy day in May heading out once more in pursuit of that, so far elusive, first Lomond Salmon. Despite the low water conditions news of several fish being landed on the River Leven in recent days this only added to the tingle of anticipation that just maybe today I would get off the mark. Buffeted by the wind as I entered the I headed upon the eastern shore past Boturich carefully trying to fish as ‘tight’ to the shoreline as possible. Identifying the usual landmarks and troll lanes proved challenging given the extremely low water levels with huge rock formations now exposed along the shoreline and ‘normal’ depths and distances from shore now changed and unfamiliar.

Crossing Endrick Bank the reel on the inside poker announced a take as the rod bent over and I struggled to stow the other rods quickly. No small feat given the ‘roll’ of the waves that had gradually increased. Turned out to be a beautiful small sea trout of approximately just over a pound. Impressed by just how much of a tusssle these wee fish put up for their size and after several acrobatic leaps it was safely in the net.

Onwards and past Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay before turning westwards to Buccinch for lunch, a stretch of the legs and a change of lures. Leaving Buccinch the wind was now blowing as I headed to over and along the north side of Inchfad before heading around and running between Inchcailloch and Creinch a couple of times.

From there I headed back across Endrick Bank with wind and swell now blowing hard and glad to get a little shelter on the far shoreline. With rain now starting in earnest I headed back down past Ross Priory and Boturich with no further offers. Despite the conditions and the lack of fish a very enjoyable day made all the better for the appearance of a single beautiful wee silver sea trout.

A few hours on the Clyde Estuary

11th May 2019

A beautiful Saturday morning and with only a few hours of available fishing time I headed to meet my fishing pal at Levengrove to try for some sport with the Clyde sea trout. Upon arrival we realised that the tide was still relatively high and decided to move down to Cardross by which time the tide should be at a better height.

A cold north westerly wind deceived the bright sunshine and it was decidedly chilly as we waded out to join several other anglers with the same idea. Whilst my preferred method is fly we were spinning with small lures which had proven successful in the past. Despite the difficult cold bright conditions a couple of anglers above and below us hooked into a couple of nice fish, one landed and one decent looking fish lost.

For ourselves then despite our best efforts and various lure combinations then there were no takers other than mussels which I noticed seemed to be actively taking my lure rather than being simply snagged! My first cast produced a sharp tug which I initially mistook for a fish only to find a small bunch of mussels where one had the hook firmly between its shells.

A great wee enjoyable spell despite the absence of any offers and it was just great to get out for some fishing in an otherwise non-fishing weekend. The only downside being that in my case my wading depth destroyed yet another IPhone despite it being in my top pocket of my wading jacket….. judging by the depth I seemed to be in a “hollow” which proved costly in the end. Looking for a waterproof IPhone lol