(Help Needed) Do you want to know if Kelvin Trout are safe to eat?

I have recieved an email from Craig Robinson Environmental Impacts Group – Fisheries Research Services

I am writing having seen your River Kelvin website, and I have a request to make, but first I will give some background to it.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has a remit to ensure that food is not hazardous to consumers. That remit extends to levels of environmental contaminants (such as heavy metals, dioxins, etc) in “wild-caught” food items, such as marine and freshwater fish and shellfish. FSA therefore commission research to monitor such things, and I am currently working on a project to identify suitable sites and obtain samples of coarse fish and brown trout for chemical analysis. The rationale behind the work was that increasing numbers of Eastern Europeans living in Scotland are likely to result in increased consumption of coarse fish, and the FSA had little information on the concentrations of environmental contaminants in these (although they hold data from farmed salmon/trout). In addition, wild brown trout may be more widely consumed than coarse species, and also spend their full life-cycle in one river system. Fish caught for the project will be analysed for an extensive suite of environmental contaminants, including heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs, and pesticides, along with compounds of more recent environmental concern, including potential “gender-bending” compounds such as phthalates and brominated flame retardants. Data from the study will be made available to SEPA and may highlight areas that require further water quality improvements.

I have contacted Doug Brown and been given the go-ahead to take fish from the Kelvin AA’s waters on the Kelvin and the Clyde, but I am short of the means to do so, therefore I wondered whether you (and/or any pals) may like to assist the project by collecting fish for me? In order to provide sufficient material for chemical analysis, half-a-dozen fish of about half a pound each are required. I am not sure about your preferred quarry, but I suspect it is trout and I would be very happy to obtain trout alone and not worry about pike, perch, etc. If you would like to assist, or would like more information, please contact me by reply to this email or on the phone number below. The advantages to people who fish the Kelvin/Clyde would be knowledge about whether the fish are safe to eat (the Kelvin AA could put up notices if they were not and so probably reduce poaching), and the data generated may also highlight whether further water quality improvements are required (SEPA will be provided with a copy of the final project report and with access to the data arising from the study). Any assistance received would of course be acknowledged in the project report and a copy of it would be sent to yourself.

If you have got this far through the email, many thanks for considering my request and I look forward to your reply,


PS if you were to assist, it would just be a question of hanging on to any fish that you caught (frozen and wrapped in kitchen foil) until I am able to collect them on a convenient date in October. If fewer fish were caught than I suggested above, then the analysts would simply measure a smaller number of contaminants.

I think this is a great opportunity to find out exactly what condition our Kelvin trout are in!

So – who is up to helping Craig?

His email addy is c.robinson(nospam)marlab.ac.uk

(replace (nospam) with @

Orvis Superfine “Trout Bum” 804-4 Fly Rod Review

So I have now used my Orvis Troutbum 8 foot 4 weight for the best part of a season – I had been looking for a nice four weight for lazy days on the Kelvin as well as something for low water conditions on the Clyde. It must be said that I am no expert caster however I know what I like and definitely know what I don’t like. I like a rod that has feel and personality, a rod that is nice to cast and makes catching trout a pleasure rather than a chore.

First Impressions

I won’t lie to you, I like my bling (as if you did not know) – it’s a curse that I have to bare. I was not disappointed- getting this rod out of its bag and tube was great – it was a thing of beauty…

The rod bag is well made and there was a smell of new rod newness – I am sure that rod bag had just been made the previous week. The tube is sturdy however its bottom is arched so you cannot sit it up unsupported.

I put the rod joints together and was impressed by the quality of the handle – I could tell very good cork has been used to make it. I have heard of poor cork and now that I have felt good cork I know which I like – the handle was like holding silk. It also has a maple wood and cork inlay reel seat which reeks class. The blanks also have little dots to align the sections – I always thought this was a gimmick however I have found them great and now miss them on my other rods.

The rod has an olive finish with gold wraps. It also has Orvis Superfine written on the blank with another “Troutbum” stamp further up the blank which I did not like – the first stamp was enough.

Good quality wraps – they looked like speckled tinsel..

You can probably tell by this point I like how it looks – however the proof is in the fishing rather than how something looks, so read on my friends…

Casting & Action

Ironically when I received this rod I was under the impression it was a full flex rod. Orvis have gone all fancy and now rate rods full, mid or tip flex. Full flex is a slow action rod (that’s a bit whippy to the masses) and tip flex is a faster rod (a stiff rod).  Anyway, I thought this was going to be a full flex as that is what it said on the Orvis site – turned out the site was wrong and it is a mid flex. No matter as long it does not cast like a wooden stick. I like my rods slow. The error on the site is now fixed.

I don’t like all this nonsense about using the fastest rod possible – thankfully, Orvis still realise people want to fish and feel the whole act of casting rather than just thinking about power and distance. Not that this is not a powerful rod it is – just on a smaller scale.

This did not feel like a “light” rod – there is an element of old fashioned weight behind it – I don’t mean bad weight I mean solidness – it felt like holding a rod – you know what I mean?

Initially I used this rod with a five weight line even though it is rated for a four. I would like to go all fancy here and say I was just overlining the rod to fish close quarters (I was) however the truth is I only had a five weight line handy at the time. I also liked my Lamson on the rod. It was lovely to cast. I suppose here is where my ineptitude at writing rod reviews come in – I can’t talk about tight loops etc as I just cast and hope the fly gets to where I want it. I did and …well… it did. The rod is lovely to cast, with my five weight line I could feel when it was ready for the forward push and it put out a fair bit of line.

Maybe a month later I found a four weight line and tried that – it was like getting a new rod. The rod again was lovely to cast – sure I had to use a little more effort with timing as it is easier to cast with an overlined rod however that was not a problem.

This rod is lovely with dry flies which is what I prefer to fish – accuracy was high and I never felt under gunned. I used the rod on the Tummel

The Tumel is a place where I would usually use a true 5 weight and I managed to fish the rod all day with no problems.

It felt equally at home fishing this wee stream that I found..

Initially I loathed using a dry and dropper with it – just did not feel right however as I got more used to the rod and the extra weight of the nymph it proved less difficult – dare I say I started to enjoy using the dry and dropper due to the bonus fish…..possibly!

Playing Fish

This rod quickly became my main tool of the season for trout. Like I say, It was as happy fishing a tiny stream as it was something bigger like the Kelvin. I also used it on the Clyde and it handled all the trout with ease. Damn, the rod is just fun to fish with!

I finally settled on my old vossler reel to go with the rod – the whole outfit reeks class (unlike the photo above) – which is handy really as when I am staggering down the bank I usually need something that is going to drag up points for style. I was able to bully trout and get them to hand with the minimum of fuss – this rod bends with a fish which makes using light tippets very easy as it acts like a very good shock absorber.

As usual you get the high standard of Orvis customer service so you know that  if you ever stand on it you will be up and running again in no time at all.

You can buy the from Orvis and fromSportfish UK – probably your local store will order one in for you.

Second Rule – find feeding Pike…

I thought it was perfect conditions for Pike today – it was cloudy, warm and a slight breeze. Turns out the conditions don’t matter if the Pike are not in the mood – turns out you have got to go hunting and change all your tactics. If the first rule of pike fishing is “First, find your Pike”, then the second is “find a feeding Pike” – well I managed to comply with the first rule no problem – although they just kind of sat there – or did a quick bolt as soon as my fly hit the water. I managed to winkle a couple out after a couple of hours however things were definitely different.

I ended up heading for another spot which was not shielded from the wind like my first spot. At this place the waves were crashing into the weeds and there were a few scary moments when the waves came right up my back. I will just stay for ten mins I told myself and then I will head home….

Bang, bang, bang – five pike one after the other – all on my white EP fibre streamer – they must have been sitting right next to the weeds hiding in the waves.

I walked along the shore and located another similar spot – another two although they were a lot smaller than the others – still it shows to go you that if Pike are not in the mood in one place then they might be in the mood at another.

Jurassic Lake – Fishbum Style

Check out the Jurassic Lake short film on the Loop site – 

Check it out

Loop are running guided trips to this place – I love their blurb:

This is the only place we have heard of where guests have fainted due to catching too many fish! Some visits to the gym before getting here is recommended.


That Friday feeling is great – you wake up in the morning and you just know you only have a few hours to go before you are the longest time period away from being back at work on the Monday – between those two points you must fill in as much time as possible fishing while still trying to maintain an ordinary life. You probably don’t have enough time to fit it all in. I certainly don’t.

I have been enjoying reading the posts in your new little bulletin board – I am very impressed that there are almost 60 members in just a few weeks. Members have helped me out with getting the formatting just right so things just look slightly dodgy as opposed to utterly terrible.

Every time I have a look in I have noticed a couple of members or a few guests having a nosey around. If you are a guest please join up and say hello and if a member please leave a message – would be great to hear where you guys have been fishing or what you learned from your last trip. I decided on adding the forum as I am not so egocentric to think you guys want to hear what I have got to natter about all the time.

I have noticed a big influx of visitors the last few weeks due to my adventures with fly fishing for Pike (that’s Northern Pike to my friends over the pond) and reader Scott has been regaling us all in the forum with his adventures at his local pond (no place names in the forum allowed, the last thing I want to do is be responsible for a particular spot becoming hard fished). Also on the Pike front is interesting discussions around wire traces and what material to use.

There have been a few posts in the Kelvin section and I see some old faces and some new ones are cropping up as the weeks go by – looking forward to some intense debate over the coming close season about what people think the best way forward for the Kelvin should be. I also loved hearing about an incident involving the local police and fire service and a well known Kelvinator – I will let you go and read it yourself. 

If you have not joined as a member please head over now and say hello – a bit like an addiction meeting where you are allowed to fully embrace and talk about your problem without feeling ashamed.

Some you lose…

Dropped my wife off at the hospital and then drove straight for the spot. A much better day all round – sun on the water and baitfish moving in the margins.

Before you pass by that picture above can I just point out how difficult it is to hold your rod in one hand while fighting a toothy beast – and taking a photo with the other!

Three distinct feeding times – one when I arrived (I caught three straight away), another around an hour later and then one when I left mid afternoon. Two guys dead baiting overnight made me a roll n’ sausage which was nice. I passed on the buckfast – it is the sabbath after all…

By far the best pattern was my white EP fibre roachy thing. I decided to keep it on even when it was chewed to bits – after this picture it caught another one.

Scott mentioned in the comments that his finger was burned because of all the stripping – I had to change position of my line finger  three times – only changing when they started to weep blood.

Campbell said I should get one of those kinky Michael Jackson gloves – I think that would make me look far too sexy for passing women.

Caught another fish that may have reached the double figure point – maybe just under – I cast towards some scattering baitfish and then there was an almighty WhhhhHHHHOOOOOOOOOSHHHH – at my fly – it was then engulfed and then I let the Pike know who was boss – he was,  however it kindly let me land him for a quick photo opportunity…

I think I might be getting a bit blase about catching these big Pike now – only kidding…. How can you get blase about creatures with a set of gnashers like these:

Still no PIke for me on the poppers – Next week I am toying with the idea of taking a boat out on one of the famous lochs for Pike – I have a free day to take up on a secret loch in the hills – however I may just head to the trossachs

Damn right, some you win!!

Some you win…

Fished for Pike all day, cast maybe a thousand times, caught nothing. It rained on and off and was cold and windy.

At the end of the day the felt sole was sucked off my orvis boots by a bog.



…and some you lose!

The pike quest……continues!

Where is this obsession going to end – it started out with a hankering for some Summer Pike around a month ago (that was when I last went after trout if you remember). Then after catching a couple of nice Pike I wanted to get a double figure fish…now I feel my old cheapo rod is not up the job and want a new sexy one and with a bit of luck it may be here for the weekend – mucho thanks to Loop.

Well my dear readers I finally got my wish. I caught a double figure fish on my own tied silver EP fibre fly – will put a picture up at some point – the fly that is. The take was quick and the pike put up a fair scrap..

My rod was bent almost double – I still feel it is too soft and am looking forward to testing out and reviewing the loop rod…

Something that I have read about and have now come to understand is the difficulty in estimating the size of pike in the water – also I suppose the difference in their fighting abilities. When you see a pike in the water and you are trying to land it, the beast may not actually look that big however when you are putting your hands near its jaws suddenly it gets a whole lot bigger – when you get it on the bank (rarely as you should unhook the creatures in the water) you can then fully appreciate the size of the fish – enormous sleek camouflaged dinosaurs that they are – they did not last a couple of million years for nothing I suppose. Ironically a bit of bad handling and they go belly up pretty quick so a bit of time is always needed to make sure they are fully recovered before they go away and sulk for a bit.

Of course my fishing buddy Campbell then blew my one out the water and only caught an even bigger one – this one was weighed by some very nice chaps who were dead baiting nearby – they gave it a good 14lbs.

It is funny catching these big Pike. There seems to be a whole lot of nervous giggling involved – like yes – you have caught an enormous fish but soon you will have to get the forceps out and get your fly out of its teeth. Campbell only caught this one due to getting his lucky hat from the car…

Talking of enormous teeth – check these babies out…

That was on a Pike skeleton we found – now tell me you don’t need a wire trace for these beasts?

Ironically I also caught my smallest pike on the fly – this cheeky wee monkey..

Some of the guys deabaiting were using bigger baits than that – hmmmm could I cast it? Now there is a thought – casting a deadbait with a fly rod – I suppose it defeats the purpose – probably the start of a rocky rod that ends with weekends camped out with bivy tents and little remote controlled boats – Yegads it even sounds appealing when I think about it…..control, control control….must use control before total obsession takes hold…

Of course – now I have caught a doubler (just) my quest is becoming more intense – now I want to catch one in the teens – a high teen at that. Oh yea baby – there will be blood involved I am sure!

Just starting out in fly fishing? 6 steps to success!

This post was prompted by a thread in the forum.

Every now and again people get in contact with me about what rod they should buy for the Kelvin or about tactics they should use. Well from now on I will direct them to this post as I say the same thing pretty much every time.

A typical river rod should be about 8 feet long rated for a 4/5 weight Line…that might seem confusing and it is kind of. Essentially a lighter line is for smaller fish and smaller flies and a high number is for big flies and big fish. 4/5 is nice and in the middle. I use a true 8 foot 4 weight – an orvis superfine troutbum. 

You will hear people and reviewers talking about fast and slow actioned rods. Essentially if the rod is more whippy then we say that has a slow action – if it is stiff we say that has a fast action. Generally speaking slow action rods cover casting faults (which is why I like them) as well as feeling absolutley lovely in the hand when fishing small streams. 

If you want to take your fly fishing seriously (and if you do you will never look at a smelly worm again) you will have to spend a little money on some half decent gear other wise you will wander along wondering why your casting is poor and really not enjoying the whole experience of fishing with a fly rod. 

 Without further ado here is my plan for your eternal happiness..

  1. Put away your spinning rod and never touch it again unless you surely “must” spin for Salmon – it will only be a distraction on your journey!
  2. You need a new rod and general overall outfit..   Sportfish do a cracking deal on an orvis outfit that comes with rod, reel, fly line backing leader and tippet – you cant go wrong with an orvis…go and buy it from sportfish now. Make sure you select the first rod – the 8 foot six for a 5 weight. 
  3. For flies – I use the same flies I use everywhere FLies 1 Flies 2 . Essentially, some cdc&elks, some comparaduns, some klinkhammers and some pheasant tail nymphs will do the job. You van buy them from the GAC or through Flying Hooks.
  4. After getting all that stuff you need to do some reading because if you dont you will never catch anything or learn how to fish the fly properly…I recommend this book. You could even watch a dvd about it as seeing is believeing – try this one. You should try and suck up as much information as you can – The Orvis Podcasts are another good place to get info on techniques,
  5. While you are reading as much info as you can, invest in some casting lessons – contact this guy and book an hour or two. It is not as expensive as you might think. Alternatively various fisheries do casting instruction although it may just be a bloke that can cast that shows you – if you go with a proper instructer then all your faults will be ironed out quickly.
  6. You could also read a little about insect life

And that my friend is how you will become a fantastic fly fisherman!

If you do all that you will thank me in a couple of years, as it will be a couple of seasons before you really “get it” – I promise you when you do “get it” you will be amazed!

Milngavie Fly Dressers Autumn 2008 Program

Milngavie Fly Dressers are starting their Autumn and Winter classes once more. The classes start on the 2nd October and a detailed program is available (if you contact me I can forward you it) Alternatively you can go ahead and contact Alberto himself.

The class is a mix of experienced and novice tyers so don’t be shy nip along and say hello. 

You will learn how to tie:

  • Lake Dry Flies Daddy Long Legs / hoppers
  • Hair wing salmon flies / rat series
  • Grayling bugs
  • Eumer tube system
  • Pike Flies
  • and much much more 🙂
The venue is Milngavie library Thursdays 7pm – 10pm
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