I was allowed out of work an hour early so managed to get to the loch before Alex who was stuck doing some grueling task imposed no doubt by people who do not understand the needs of an angler.
I blew up the bladders in the tube for its maiden voyage of the year and got all the rest of my gear together, I had settled on a 5 weight as the forecast was to be for warm conditions with a light wind. I walked up the hill with the tube on my back with the rest of my stuff in the tube bag. I had learnt my lessons from the last time that minimal stuff is required with a dedicated place to put everything. Last year after getting back to the car after a day’s fishing I realised I had dropped a rod and started to walk back to the loch however thankfully a wild eyed gamekeeper picked me up and drove me back as he was checking his deer. I would never be so lucky again.
I mused that the first few times I set up my tube it took a while whereas now it seems to take just a few quick pumps and it is done. I attached the straps and it was on my back with the large tube bag in my hand with all my stuff, I looked like an enormous Trout Catching Ninja Turtle and began the 45 min hike up to the loch. My first view of the loch was good, trout rising all over and a gentle breeze.
I put on a two fly cast and backed into the loch. I experienced the usual moment of blind faith panic as my ass came down to meet the inflated tube seat, I always think that the whole thing is just going collapse under water and I am going to be upside down not only looking like a chump but also a dead chump which is in fact the very worst of chumps. I was wearing my life jacket however I have always mused that if you are wearing a life jacket on a float tube that has four distinct air chambers what horrific accident must occur for you to need to inflate your life vest. If one of the bladders burst then you could still get to the shore and even if the worst came to the worse and you had to swim you would still have a couple of bladders you could use for a float. Still, it takes up no space at all when the lifejacket is on and is soon forgotten about so it is better to be safe than sorry I suppose.
I backed into the loch and had a few casts, immediately I started getting plucks and pulls but nothing stayed on. Usually this is the last place you end up after drifting the whole loch however I had decided to leave the far end for when Alex arrived. Plus the fact I was hot and sweaty after the walk in, wearing thermal long johns under waders and walking uphill for 45mins starts to chaff a bit.
I worked my way out of the corner, I was disappointed that none of the trout I covered took and I had a worry that maybe none of the trout would even look in my fly’s direction the whole evening (this happens surprisingly often) and I worked my way around a corner all the time working my two fly team – within a half hour I had my first trout in the tube. I realised I might be pulling my flies too fast so slowed right down and had my first trout of the day.
It took the fly under the water and bored deep, I think this may have been my nicest of the evening. It was a good dark wild brownie and was perfect. Before long I had its relative and I started to work my way back to my starting point to meet Alex.
We met up and dumped the rest of our stuff and it was a hike up to the top of the loch and then while Alex strolled confidentially a few hundred yards down an embankment I picked my way gingerly any minute thinking I was going to be impaled on something.
We set off from the shore and were immediately into fish – on my bank the wind died down so I went on the hunt for a riffle. I found it and started getting plucks and pulls again, some trout stayed on and some did not.
And that was it for the evening – a thoroughly fantastic evening with lots of wild brownies to the tubes, crashing takes on the surface with trout pouncing on the fly and then cartwheeling through the water. Spotting a rising trout, casting to it and feeling the unmistakable electric feel of a trout pluck, pluck plucking at your fly until eventually it properly takes it. Alex had drifted over and we slowly drifted together on my bank as an otter was patrolling his and we chatted as we took pictures of each other catching fish.
At one memorable take my rod was bent and what felt like a good trout bored deep and even took a little line from my hand, it fought like a big fish however when I spotted its flank it looked smaller than it should. I suspected that I had foul hooked it however as I brought it to the net I realised the awesomeness of the moment “Fucking double hook up!!” I told Alex “Fucking double hook up!” he agreed sagely!
As the sun dropped further I found myself casting to trout right at the end of the loch and even though they crashed into my fly and they were on for a few moments were gone just as quick. I doubled my species count not long after my double hook up by catching a nice perch which put up a nice scrap on the 5 weight.
As the sun dropped even further I tubed across the loch and even though I was still getting the occasional pluck the action died out. I did not mind and found myself realising that this was one of those fantastic sessions where you have forgotten the number of trout caught, after 5 or so the number becomes less important as it is just about fishing and having fun.
This will certainly not be my only trip out on the tube!