Tag Archives: Fishing

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.

An introduction to the beautiful North Esk

I was recently kindly invited to fish a private beat on the North Esk by my good friend and very experienced angler Alan at the end of July. Needing absolutely no persuasion I jumped at the chance to fish two days at the end of the week. The river had risen substantially earlier in the week and Alan and Stuart who is also a very experienced salmon fisher had landed some beautiful salmon, grilse and sea trout examples of which can be seen below.

Upon arrival and after a great walk through of each beat and the various pools I couldn’t wait to get a line out the next day and also give a new LOOP outfit purchased during lock down a first outing. However when Alan indicated that it would be a 4.00am start this rocked me somewhat – was he serious?

After a 4.00am start, as can be seen I did connect albeit briefly with one of the locals during first early shift but alas it didn’t stick after charging towards me. Hearing my curses and seeing my disappointment Alan did try to console me by saying that this running towards you trait was what they had been doing all week! One bonus was that the fish had taken one of my ‘fledgling’ gold bodied cascades that I had tied during the close season.

Unfortunately fish proved more difficult to tempt in the falling water despite each pool being absolutely full of fish. I have never that I can recall seen so many fish in a river but despite repeated efforts during early and evening sessions they did not appear to be tempted by various patterns or spinners. Alan did say that this was common when the river height had dropped to low levels. Upon reflection, as always, perhaps it may have been worth pulling a large sunray or hitch across their nose may have produced a reaction or even a big ugly muddler!

What a truly wonderful few days on this beautiful iconic river.

Thank you Alan and Stuart for your kind invitation, advice and tips so freely shared and I look forward to hopefully being able to fish this stunning water once more.

The Junction Pool on the mighty River Tweed

The Junction Pool on the mighty River Tweed

An invite from friends and fellow accomplished anglers Kevin and Malcolm McCormick to have a day on the infamous ‘Junction Pool’ on the Tweed needed absolutely consideration before saying definitely yes! Kevin’s lad Lewis also joined us adding some youthful energy to the group. Renowned around the world the Junction Pool considered as the Holy Grail by anglers everywhere and the chance to spend a day fishing it was a huge chance not to be passed over.

Kevin and Malcolm are accomplished anglers well known for their detailed knowledge and success on local rivers such as the River Leven, Endrick and Fruin as well as the Earn.

Recent heavy downpours had helped raise the level and the previous day’s catch report was encouraging – 2 salmon and 22 sea trout!

Upon arrival the Ghillie Billy indicated that only one of the previous day’s fish were caught on the fly and that the river remained too ‘dirty’ for the fly. A little disappointed I started to build up the spinning rod looking at the new Loop Cross SX and Classic still in the car boot, perhaps later I would get the chance to give it a swing for the first time. Before going further I have to confess that I feel much more comfortable casting and controlling a fly than I do a spinner which I don’t often spend much time fishing.

Fishing with Malcolm we kitted up and set off to fish the lower part of the beat for the morning session. After a fairly quiet start, aside from me falling over almost immediately whilst wading saved only by sticking out my arm under the water! Malcolm was soon into some takes and and the first of several sea trout. One of which freed itself by running into the bank just before the net was lowered!

The legendary “Junction Pool” HJ1st July 2020

Malcolm then hooked and landed another sea trout of around 3-4lbs just below me as we fished down this stretch. It was then I started to notice the sheer energy and focus that Malcolm fished with. It was clearly noticeable to me just how much he was in ‘a zone’ casting upstream, across, downstream and working the lure, two paces then casting, changing lure and repeating the process. The sheer intensity with which he fished was apparent.

By mid morning Malcolm had already covered twice the water I had given my frequent ‘rest breaks’ and stiff shoulders and back. We broke for lunch with Malcolm having hooked and landed another nice sea trout and the realisation that I was being outfished!

Back at the fishing hut Kevin and Lewis had reported also landing a couple of nice sea trout and several missed opportunities.

After a welcome break for lunch of BBQ’d wild boar sausages and beef burgers we were now on the Junction Pool beat rowed across to the far bank. This is a magnificent stretch covering about 200m upstream and downstream of the confluence where the Teviot joins the Tweed. We had already spotted several decent looking salmon moving in the pool. With renewed energy and a change of lure I set about trying to even up the scores – even slightly. It wasn’t long however before I was netting another stunning sea trout for Malcolm, thoroughly deserved! Just as I slipped the fish over the net the phone rang from Kevin to excitedly share that he had just landed a 12lb salmon having lost a decent sea trout just before this.

Malcolm with yet another beautiful Sae Trout….well done!

Malcolm and I both commented on the stop start nature of the takes, even on separate parts of the beat. I fished on determined not to have a blank card and was rewarded with several good pulls but nothing that would stick. Meantime Malcolm had risen a very large sea trout twice from its lie but despite changing lures it refused to take. By now my rest breaks were becoming more frequent and I spent more and more time admiring the scenery and beautiful surroundings and realising just how out of shape I was.

A beautiful Tweed Sea Trout

Despite being out fished totally by these guys I had a great day, some great craic on one of the finest salmon pools around. By the end of the day “The Team” had one salmon (12lbs) and some six sea trout, none of which I could claim.

I did with some encouragement get the chance to swing the new Loop outfit at the end of the session sticking a big Gold Willie Gun on for a few casts from the near bank before we packed up. A nice feeling rod and setup and one which I will be swinging in earnest shortly in search of silver either locally or on another new water.

A huge thank you to Malcolm, Kevin and Lewis for a memorable day which will stick with me not only for the venue but for the company and also for the learning and tips obtained from these guys.

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.

Time to kill

With the relentless weather and torrents of water everywhere there’s nothing to do but prepare, maintain and check gear for when the deluge and gales finally subside. Not used this particular line treatment before from Loon for floating lines. Advertised as line cleaner, conditioner, and UV block for fly lines. If an when weather finally relents cannot wait to get a line out as going stir crazy!

Shiny New Pin

All of the countless hours of scraping, sanding and preparation are now finally behind me.  Despite my moans and groans it’s true to say that “it’s all in the preparation” as I am really please with the results.

Following several coats of preservative, primer, bilge paint and four coats of varnish I am at last now able to look towards the start of the new season with excitement. A few jobs still to do, including fitting of a new floor, wiring and some smaller jobs but can’t wait to get out on the water. Acknowledgement and sincere thanks to Thomas McBride for his help and advice in getting the painting and varnishing progressed and completed.

Looks too good to get wet, just hope I’ve not made surfaces too slippy for landing all those fish!

 

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.