Tag Archives: fly

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.

Video

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.

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!

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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

Fly-Tying trials and tribulations

27th November 2019

On these long cold , dark nights what else is there to do but try to learn something new and prepare for the season ahead. Gradually feel I am starting to get the hang of some of the basics, with some cursing and swearing at thread breaks which thankfully are becoming less, I am very slowly able to produce something recognisable. They ‘mystery’ that was the whip finish tool has finally been overcome after many attempts and expletives.

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1″ copper White Willie Gun (Davy McPhail)

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1″ plastic Green Highlander spey tube (Davy McPhail)

Probably not the easiest patterns to start learning to to tie but enjoyed the challenge and Davie McPhail’s videos are invaluable. A special thanks to Dave McPhail for sending me some of the heavy duty tubing which I struggled to source, thank you Davy for your kindness. An enormous thank you also to everyone far and wide for all the helpful advice and support on Facebook without which I would probably have quit!

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McKenzie Cascade on Gold Patriot (Davy McPhail)

Now I plan to concentrate on some doubles including cascades largely as a result of such advice in order to try to practice ‘the basics’. Observations thus far is the amount of ‘waste’ materials – where there seems to be more on the carpet than the vice! Other factors is the constant on-line orders for yet more materials when you start to tie something new!fullsizeoutput_78a

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.