Tag Archives: Fishing

Dalmarnock on The Tay

2nd February, 2022

Undaunted by a blank first ever visit to the River Tay the previous week I was keen to try it once more if only to get out and cast a line. One of our group the previous week had landed a beautiful wee Springer of 8lb and I was keen to try and follow his example. After carefully trying to predict a weather ‘slot’ between the gales and heavy rain of the week I opted for the Wednesday which appeared to be more favourable. My good friend and passionate salmon angler Pat had agreed to join me for another day on the beautiful Dalmarnock beat.

The Stepp’s Pool

Car packed with both fly and spinning gear, although neither of us were particularly keen to spin, we headed off.

Upon arrival we were warmly greeted once more by Ghillie Colin McFadyen and his young colleague Andrew. We had the beat to ourselves and decided to fish the top end of the beat in the morning and the lower pools after lunch. After some of Colin’s most welcome coffee and ever helpful guidance and advice we headed to the top of the beat.

The upper part of Dalmarnock we both really like as it has some great fly water, easy wading and absolutely beautiful surroundings with the hills and forest to the East. The weather was decent with temperature around 8-9 deg c and dry overcast conditions. It was hard to fail to notice the extent of tree damage and felling on the bank by Beavers whose works (damage) appeared to have accelerated even since our last visit the week before.

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The previous week I had struggled to get a decent line out blaming this that and the other including the sinking shooting and heavy tip and fly followed by my poor casting ability which never was in the ‘great’ category.

Following this frustrating first day out of the new season then, in despair I had ditched the sinking shooting head and S5 tip, taken some casting tuition and armed myself with a new Carron 65′ intermediate line.

Not all of these ideas proved to be successful however as I really struggled with the new sunk Carron spey line in the morning thinking perhaps I had been too ambitious and changed too many ‘variables’ at the same time!

Using a mix of flies including Dee Monkeys, Gold Bodied Willie Guns, Haugur we fished the upper part of the beat at “Dalmarnock Bank Pool” before moving downstream to fish “The Stepp’s Pool” without either rods contacting anything.

By lunchtime back at the lodge we were certainly ready for a break, food, coffee and a recharge. Personally I was certainly in need of a rest having ‘struggled’ all morning to get to grips with the new Carron intermediate line with mixed success. In order to avoid further frustration and shoulder damage I decided to change setup and reverted to my old standby of the Rio Scandi Versitip line with the 15ft sink tips.

Fed and rested then after lunch we headed downstream stopping firstly to fish “Sowerby Pool“, which proved to be an interesting pool even if fishable section was short at current levels.

Sowerby

We then headed for the “Ram’s Horn Pool” above and the “Oak Tree Pool” below the road bridge with myself opting for the “Ram’s Horn Pool” above the bridge firstly. I really like this pool with its easy shingle wading and good flow.

I could see Pat below me just beyond the bridge as I carefully covered the water enjoying surroundings and the welcome ease of casting with the scandi setup.

Dalmarnock Beat courtesy of Dalmarnock Fishings

By around four fifteen with a distinct chill in the air and with light and energy fading we decided to call it a day and headed to the car.

Despite our best efforts we had not connected with anything neither Springer or Kelt but this had not dampened our enthusiasm as we agreed that it had been a good, enjoyable day and great to get out once more.

Thank you once more to Colin McFadyen for his warmest of welcomes and for sharing his knowledge and advice.

We will certainly be back for another day and hopefully some silver.

The beautiful River Lochy

July 12th-14th 2021

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

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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.

A couple of days on Loch Lomond

28th – 29th May 2021

Friday 28th May saw us leaving the Leven in convoy heading for two days on the loch. Struggling to able to contain their excitement were two eager young anglers Adam and Cameron and their Dad Michael in the other boat with Michael. Before leaving I was encouraged to ensure that I accepted a walkie talkie from the boys in order to share news of catch reports instantly between boats.

Young Cameron ‘showing the way” with a lovely Lomond Sea Trout

Flat calm conditions did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm with the calm only disturbed by the occasional clunk of the striker weight signalling a take. In my own case these takes proved to be no more than a small pike alas.

Young Cameron did however show the way on day one and put the ‘older’ anglers to shame by catching his first Lomond Sea Trout, a lovely wee fish of around 2lbs.

Following a night on Buccinch morning saw us back out on the water with renewed enthusiasm and heading north towards the Ross Isles. Fish remained elusive with conditions proving similarly difficult. With the need for sustenance a priority we met ashore at the Ross Isles for an outdoor ‘roll on sausage’ .

Fishing down the Loch without further reports then excitement of the day before and a late night had taken its toll and we decided to pull in the rods and head for home after lunchtime.

No salmon to report but none the less a very enjoyable couple of days on the ‘Big Loch’. The boys already asking when they can go again!

River Annan – Cleuchhead

22nd May 2021

A favourite beat on the Annan and after weeks of patiently waiting for a decent rise in levels finally Saturday looked like a sustained rise in height at Cleuchhead.

On arrival water was high and coloured and dropping – ideal but a chilly cold wind blowing upstream.

We covered the lower river with spinning rods initially and almost immediately I managed to lose a half decent trout to the rapala.

The morning was hard going for me after this but produced some lovely brown trout and sea trout for Kevin and Malcolm.

The afternoon saw me with the fly rod and a Dee Monkey on the upper section of the beat. As if to mirror the morning I had just begun when I got a decent tug as the fly swung across the main stream and a healthy bend in the rod. Sadly the bend in the rod lasted only seconds following some serious head shaking as the fish made it’s exit. The chilly cold wind continued to make its presence known as I continued to fish down the pool at Jimmy’s before opting for a walk to the car and a coffee.

Kevin, Lewis and Malcom continued to add to their tally of browns and some really great looking sea trout up to 3.5lb and managing to move at least one salmon.

A great day however for myself, despite being out-fished yet again by the McCormick Clan. The total for the day I think was something like nine brown trout and at least five sea trout.

Another enjoyable day at this lovely beat on the Annan

Loch Tay firsts

19th April 2021

My first and very memorable introduction to Loch Tay on Monday 19th April. As it happened it was a day of ‘triple’ firsts!

A kind invite by friend and experienced angler John Bell saw us loading the boat and slowly nosing down the river and into the Loch. As we made our way we caught sight of a beaver going about its business and evidence of their ‘woodworking skills’ were clear to see. Our spirits were high despite the decidedly cold conditions and little sign of the forecast light winds.

Entering the loch it was hard not to be impressed by the stunning beauty of the mountains and hills rising along the its banks.

Fishing the morning in all but flat calm conditions the only noteworthy interruptions were several nice brown trout, not our intended prey however.

Relying on John’s knowledge of the loch’s likely holding areas we fished on through lunch without stopping or fish aside from the occasional trout. Shortly after lunchtime a noticeable wind appeared which lifted our spirits and hopes.

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As if in response to the change of conditions we were suddenly jolted into action when the striker weight on the inside rod clattered to the floor and the rod buckled. Based upon a prearranged ‘agreement’ I took the rod whilst John attended to the other two rods. My initial thought that the lure was hung up on the bottom was instantly dispelled as the rod bent and a lump of silver leaped clear of the water just off the shore! This was a strong fish which certainly made its presence known with some strong runs and leaps and its complete refusal to comply. I of course in an adrenaline fuelled state had this fish down as 20lbs. After some further runs and some scary thrashing below our feet and initial refusals to come near the net John skilfully and deftly netted the fish of around 15-16lbs (unweighed). An absolutely beautiful piece of silver with that stunning bluish purple hue. After a brief photo and a few minutes to recover, this beautiful fish bolted once more back into the depths.

With congratulations, hand shakes and me grinning from ear to ear we reset the rods and set off again circling once more over the same lie. Literally minutes later the ‘poker’ rod buckled and with roles reversed this time John lifted this rod as I attended to the others. Alas as John lifted into the fish the rod almost immediately went limp signalling a missed opportunity sadly.

We continued to fish in earnest for the remaining few hours with no further action aside from the occasional brownie. Heading back into the river I still had that smug grin and the feeling of appreciation having had such a great (first) day on the Tay, actually three firsts in one day – first Tay salmon and my first springer of the year and a PB salmon!

A huge thank you to John Bell for sharing his experience, knowledge and company.

I found out later that in our drawing of straws to decide who would have first rod chance that both straws were in fact the same length! John had graciously ensured that I would definitely get the first rod chance, thank you John for a truly memorable day of firsts.

Thank you also to Grant Tigwell at Loch Tay Fish ‘n’ Trips for your excellent boat hire and assistance – see link below http://www.lochtayfishntrips.co.uk/index.php

Kinkell Fishings – River Earn

Friday 30th April 2021

Undaunted by the lack of water and a very cold easterly wind five of us tackled up at Kinkell Fishings on Friday 30th April. My setup was the Loop SX 13’3″ 8wt paired with the Evotec G4 and a Loop Tactical SDS line and a range of tips. Some of our team opting immediately for the trout rod others like myself determined to persevere with some light salmon setups. Despite conditions being against us I could not help but be impressed by the absolute beauty of the surroundings and stretches of water in the heart of Strathearn. The beat comprises 32 named pools, providing an exceptional variety of fly water but at certain heights of water, spinning is allowed.

The beat is split into the Upper and Lower sections, with 16 pools on each. These are fished by 8 rods on a rotational basis with 4 rods on each beat. The Ghillie Sandy freely shared his 20 years of knowledge and experience of this beat at every chance and could not have been more helpful and at time appeared almost ‘apologetic’ for the low water conditions.

Having split into two ‘teams’ we fished the upper and lower beats respectfully before switching at lunchtime when experiences, stories and ‘moans’ were shared. I think that the overriding common comments were that this was a stunning beat and held many great pools and runs – if ONLY we had about 12-14″ more water!

Conditions throughout the day ranged from blazing sunshine to hailstones and a freezing north east wind and despite this we gave it everything. Some switched to trout setups at lunchtime with some success whilst die hards like myself persisted with the salmon gear plumbing the depths of any of the deeper pools with a range of flies. and tips to no avail. Some of the pools and runs on the far bank just screamed that they would produce a ‘tug’ despite the low water.

Packing up and admiring all of the flies, photos and malts in the fishing hut I could not help reflecting on the challenging but thoroughly enjoyable day I had experienced, noting that this was a beat that definitely warranted further visits when conditions improved. Thank you to Michael, Pat, Kevin, John and of course Sandy (Ghillie) for making this a fabulous day . “I’ll be back…”

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.

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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)

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.