Tag Archives: fly fishing

A beautiful Autumnal day on Halleaths beat of the River Annan

7th November 2020

Needing little persuasion I gladly accepted a suggestion from my friend and experienced angler Pat for ‘one last’ outing for the Season. To be honest I had resigned myself to packing up the rods for the season. However I had not previously had the chance to explore this further part of the beautiful River Annan and what an absolutely stunning section of the River Annan.

Having had some really valuable and helpful tips regarding this beat from my friend Kevin I arrived full of anticipation. Pat having arrived before 8.00am was already visible upstream of the car park casting in the mist that still clung over the water.

We spent some considerable time, perhaps too much, working our way down from the corner above the car park carefully covering each section, some more than once. Fish were evident in abundance from the point I arrived and some very sizeable fish too. However with fish jumping behind, in front of us and over the line neither of us seemed to be able to tempt them despite our best efforts and various fly offerings.

Having regrouped at lunch time to compare Kevin’s notes and maps and agree tactics we set-off reinvigorated determined to seek out some of the pools and runs downstream from the big pool at the car park.

We fished below this main pool, a lovely big run which is deep on our (right) bank but shallow in the middle of the river entering at the first point where depth permitted. In hindsight this was perhaps not the smartest tactic as fish most likely were also lying close to our bank. However like gold prospectors we were blinded by the sight of yet more fish rising just off the far bank once more.

We fished this whole section steadily, enjoying the easy wading in the middle and the good flow. Despite our best efforts neither of us however managed to connect with or even rise any fish despite there clearly being fish around once more. Two other anglers passing us confirmed that they too were struggling to gain the interest of the fish. Undeterred we decided to check out the section below this straight. This long run we had just fished ends with a right bend and an enticing pool before it widens into an enormous pool and ox bow lake. Pat opted to fish down into this really big pool and I fancied the bend and pool below the straight that we had just fished. The choice of my 11ft 7wt Sage X Switch setup seemed to be well suited to this water.

As I fished this section I was treated once again to fish showing above and below me and even over the fly as it landed just off the far bank of this bend. Curses had long given way to wry smiles as I now began to accept the fact that despite the number of fish around they simply did not appear to be in ‘the mood’. With the light fading and the sight and sounds of a large flock of geese on the wing I decided to call it quits and go find Pat.

There certainly were a good number of fish in the pools that we had fished and we had only scratched the surface of the pools and sections of this beautiful beat. We had not even covered the additional pools downstream including ‘The Creamery’ etc.. but agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed the day and this beautiful beat. Back at the car park we learned that neither of the other rods had yet managed to entice a fish which whilst surprising given the numbers of fish in the system was in some way ‘reassuring’ and not down to our skills, tactics luck or whatever.

We both agreed that we would love another day on this truly lovely wee section of the Annan.

A Memorable Day on the River Annan

Cleuchhead River Annan – Saturday 29th August 2020

When my good friend Kevin messaged me and asked if I was interested in joining him for a day on the Annan on Cleuchhead the following Saturday then there was nothing to think about.

Kevin and I had fished the Annan a few weeks earlier at Hoddom which was my first experience of the Annan and a great experience albeit we failed to connect with any silver. Kevin did as normal manage to produce some results in the form of several nice sea trout and brownies in contrast to my all too often blank session. The water at Hoddom on the day was high and coloured requiring the spinning or ‘cheating stick‘ to come out. I have to say that spinning for salmon is not my preferred method compared to the fly, perhaps it’s a confidence or comfort thing.

The day on Cleuchhead got off to a frantic start as I managed to sleep in and as the driver I had a mad scramble to get out of the house whilst trying to both waken up as well as check to ensure I had not forgotten anything. I was due to pick up Malcolm, Kevin’s Brother and his fishing friend Colin who were of course already waiting as I drew up to collect them. The abuse and ribbing continued all the way down the M74 with me then managing to overshoot the exit to Ecclefechan just to crown things off.

Upon finally arriving we excitedly setup and decided fishing pairs, the river was big and brown and once more the ‘cheating stick’ was considered order of the morning at least with fly possible after lunch.

Kevin, his Son Lewis and myself headed downstream with Kevin kindly and generously explaining the various pools, lies and sections of the beat as openly as always.

Watch video to see what happened next.

It was not long before the shouts of fish came as Kevin’s rod bent into a good fish which after racing and leaping around the pool turned into a lovely Salmon of around 9lb. A great start and I really hoped that I was not about to be ‘out-fished’ by both of the McCormicks yet again.

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Feeling that the vision lure I had on was not working for me even after only twenty minutes or so I then opted for a more familiar lure in the form of an orange and gold rapala (tay rigged). On the first, or second, cast suddenly I was into a decent fish which initially seemed intent in only going downstream or airborne once more. After Kevin deftly landed the fish on the slippery bank I promptly announced it was about 10-11lb only to be brought back to reality by Kevin shouting “no it’s 9lb”. Indeed landing fish was tricky given the steep overgrown bank and high water conditions any option to unhook fish within the net was simply too difficult.

During the next hour to my absolute delight I managed to hook two further beautiful fish around the 7-8lb mark both strong and reasonably fresh run. In fact after landing the second fish I began to dareĀ  to think this could possibly be my lucky day and I might just might even manage to beat Kevin for the first time ever. At 2-1 this seemed a real prospect I mused and when I hooked a third fish then I was cock a hoot. For once the mobile phone traffic between Malcolm and ourselves was us calling them to report ‘another’ fish landed.

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Just before lunch Kevin shouted as he leaned into what looked like a decent double figured fish and after a real tussle a magnificent fish of at least 20lb was in my net. Unbelievable fish and fantastic morning with five salmon between the two of us and several fish dropped. To make things even better Malcolm had called to say that he had lost two fish but Colin had landed a fish of 18lb and also dropped two fish.

After lunch and rotating beats we headed upstream towards ‘Alice’ and ‘Jimmy’s” pools feeling buoyed by such an incredible morning. Despite continuing to fish hard it seemed to us that the fish had ‘gone off’ with little but a few trout and a couple more dropped fish to show for the afternoon. We learned later that Malcolm had gotten his tally started finally with three salmon of 15lb, 10lb and 3lb all fresh! Colin meantime had a major adrenaline rush when hooking a massive fish of 25lb which promptly emptied his reel of line in one huge run which sadly ended by being broken off before he could react…..woah.

Whilst we were packing up I could only keep repeating the same phrase ….”what a day!”. The Annan Bailiff’s had asked in the morning if we could send them some photos for their Facebook page, well we certainly can do so. ‘What a Day!” Cannot wait to go back, maybe get a fly line out next time. A day to remember in the coming Winter nights….even if it was with the “cheating stick!”

A huge thanks to Kevin, Malcolm, Lewis and Colin for freely sharing their knowledge, advice and company.

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.