Anyone that knows me understands I am not keen on loch fishing or competitions. So why then have I just taken part in a competition on a loch and had a thoroughly great time. So good in fact that I am really looking forward to my next session on a loch.
From beginning to end we had a great time at the Highland Wild Trout Challenge on the 14th and 15th of July 2007. Fishing buddy Alex had suggested we take part ages ago and after a quick that sounds like a good idea I then almost put it to the back of my mind, the even then caught up with me and was upon us like a flash.
I was paired with Douglas Fairbairn, winner of many competitions and expert at working the bob fly however he must have been thinking he had drawn a dozer considering I have only fished lochs from a boat much less than a dozen times. We all had a few drams before getting in the boats, Alex had warned me that the competitors liked a whiskey to settle the old nerves before the comp and I managed to gulp down a few before waddling off to the boat.
However the guys in this competition are professionals (professional whiskey drinks that is) and I watched as many more drams were drunk as we all belted (it took us almost 2 hours) up to the top of the loch
The size limit was 10 inches and I certainly caught many just below that mark and a few just above it the first day. I am still in awe how hard these loch trout fight; even on a 7 weight rod these trout were giving a good account of themselves usually after vicious takes.
We camped out on the Saturday night after an evening session on “Little Loch Shin” which is stuffed with small trout.
Sunday was more of the same, the day flashed by and I caught some bigger trout but nowhere near enough to win a prize. I think I was around midway on the table – not bad for a bloke that fishes rivers I thought.
I did not like to think about the ethics involved in fishing this competition. All the trout caught over 10 inches had to be killed (unlike the river competitions) however I am assured the loch is stuffed full of trout and can handle the occasional harvesting. All the trout were put in a box and were given to the local hotel. I have heard of some horror stories on the big lake competitions where anglers were simply putting there catch away in bins as there freezers were so stuffed with stocked rainbows they could not think of what else to do with them. I am glad to say I can never see me go down that route.
I think if Alex and I had just travelled up together we would have probably done better, for a start we would have headed to places that only he knows about and we would have no time constraints put on us. As it was on the Sunday we headed out again after the competition and caught even more trout, we got rained on and I was freezing but not wanting the evening to end. Alex was particularly impressed at my lack of moaning – something which I am renowned for apparently.
I was certainly not moaning about the welcome I received at Alex’s parent’s house, I was most grateful for a warm bed and a meal.
Yegads, who would have thought after the hell I went through at University I would want to go back and do a post graduate course. Unfortunately I have and this has curtailed fishing time. No evening sessions until I batter through two essays (which is a rather fine incentive I must say) however I have been fishing on the Clyde the last couple of weeks. A few buddies and I went for an evening session and got rained off ending up in a pub, the Italian dry fly guru still managed to tempt some trout though.
An all day session on Sunday, Mike of Tamanawis turned up,
I glanced at his hair line but it still seems as thick as ever. I told him to bring a massive hatch of flies but all he brought was heavy rain. I still managed to tempt some trout including this rather nice one.
Alex and I had sausages and bacon for lunch and an evening meal, he tried to tempt me with a beer but I settled for a few sips of his to keep the old head clear for the evening action which then did not materialise.
Actually, now that I think about it I will be fishing this weekend as I will be fishing in the Wild Trout Challenge on Loch Shin in Sutherland. Considering I have only fished in a boat around a dozen times and won’t have a Scooby what I am doing I am looking on it as a learning experience.
So, in summary, where I have been fishing as been poor but the Kelvin I hear is on top form with lots of nice trout being caught.
Back from holiday on Monday after a 24hour journey – up at and headed to the upper Clyde as I thought that might be my best chance for a trout. The Kelvin and its tributaries I reckoned would be out of action what with all the rain I have been hearing about and the stretch I wanted to fish on the Clyde is not affected by the rain as much.
The weather was mild but with heavy rain showers every hour or so, I did not see any trout rise the whole day – the trout I caught were all on a prospecting dry fly – a CDC and Elk.
I was sitting scanning the river when I felt my foot crunch into something; it turned out to be a dead signal crayfish. They are an invasive species imported from the states in the 1970s to be commercially bred for food. In no time they had taken over streams and rivers formerly inhabited by British crayfish, damaging plant, fish and invertebrate life.
They burrow up to 1.2m into river banks, in some cases have undermined them, and as a final thrust, they have spread ‘crayfish plague’ (Aphanomyces astaci) – fatal, not to them, but to British crayfish.
A vast section of the Upper Clyde has a ban on angling because of them – I am not sure why, I think it is because they are trying to eradicate them.
My last trout was taken on a dry fly just when I thought things were heating up…
It is strange, as Alex went fishing in the evening to find the river high and dirty. Strange how it changed in such a short period of time.
As you are aware I have no adverts on this site, I have ran ads in the past and did not like the way they are so in your face. I know I am never going to make much money from my blog but what I do get now and then is the offer of products to use or books to review. Occasionally I have contacted companies for specific products to review – rarely do I get a response.
However, I am an affiliate of Amazon which means anyone who clicks a link to an Amazon product that I have discussed and buys it means I get a few pence. There are a number of reports through the system that I found interesting. These reports not only tell me how much I earned over the timeframe selected but shed some light on what items people are purchasing. I am affiliate for both Amazon UK and Amazon US as the systems are seperate – I thought I would share the top two products for each area. You can of course buy the books or read more about them by clicking the pictures.
Number one by far is “Matching the Hatch” – it gives an easy summary of all flies you would expect to find in a UK river categorized by spring, summer and winter. You may notice up on the right hand side of this diary there is a box showing what I am currently reading. This book pops up pretty much all the time as I am constantly using it as a reference – it is easy to read and follow. This book stays in my bathroom for me to read when I am, er, sitting on the loo.
If you want to learn more about hatches you will regulary encounter when fishing and dont know where to start this book is for you.
Number two is “Trout Hunting” by Bob Wyatt. This book is a contrast to the first book as it is long on philosophy and short on instruction. This is no “how to” book but musings on what might make a trout take a fly amongst other things, when I say other things I mean if it was a “how to” book it would be a “what to think about when trout hunting” Classy pictures of flies and how to tie them – Mr. Wyatt pushes his deer hair emerger and how easy to tie it is when ironically it is damned difficult. If you can learn to tie it though then you have a fly for all occasions. This book is on my bedside table pretty much constantly.
Strangely it was a DVD that came in at number 1.
I reviewed it a while ago and did not think I did it justice at the time. Essentially if you have ever seen a hard core pornographic film you will know what the “money shot” is, essentially it is the moment when the gentleman reaches his peak of satisfaction and the….well I guess you get the picture. Well, if the “money shot” was the moment when a trout is hooked on a dry fly (and I am sure the gentleman hooking the trout is at the peek of his satisfaction) then this DVD is packed full of “money shots”
Philadelphia on the Fly: Tales of an Urban Angler – Ron. P. Swegman. This little book pipped the post to second place and I was glad at that. I reviewed it a while ago and really enjoyed it. It is a nice personal book full of quirks – everything you would expect from an Urban Angler really 🙂
The first thing that struck me was there is no real “how to” books or DVDs in that little mix. I suppose “Matching the Hatch” is kind of instructional although you can catch trout without knowing the names of the flies hatching – it does make it more fun though. The second thing that struck me was the lack of some of the greats in the list, like Robert Traver and John Gierach – I think they are two writers I write and admire the most.
Just in case you missed them head over and check them out.
Four married guys go fishing. After an hour, the following conversation took place. First guy: ” You have no idea what I had to do to be able to come out fishing this weekend. I had to promise my wife that I will paint every room in the house next weekend.” Second guy: ” that’s nothing, I had to promise my wife that I will build her a new deck for the pool.” Third guy: ” Man, you both have it easy! I had to promise my wife that I will remodel the kitchen for her.” They continue to fish when they realized that the fourth guy has not said a word. So they asked him. You haven’t said anything about what you had to do to be able to come fishing this weekend. ” What’s the deal?” Fourth guy: ” I just set my alarm for 5:30 am. When it went off, I shut off my alarm, gave the wife a nudge and said, ” Fishing or Sex” and she said, ” Wear a Sweater.”
Two days to go before I am off to Brittany. That was a possible two evening sessions; I say was, as tonight I was planning on a session on a tributary of the Kelvin and unfortunately it did not happen. It was a warm humid evening which is optimal conditions but I got roped into tidying up the house. By the time I was free it was and no point in hitting the river.
Sunday was so good I decided to take a half day on Monday from work and go back. Of course all the trout by this point had eaten there fill, where on Sunday you could hardly place your fly on the water without catching a trout yesterday the river seemed all but devoid of trout apart from the occasional “gloop”
A bad days fishing is better than a good day at work though…
I got to the river and tackled up, sure the conditions felt different but it was just a little brighter right? Surely that would not put the fish down? I walked down the river too see a few trout rising in a large pool with a nice long run on the side closest to me, it looked promising, excitedly I cast to three rising trout, they all take my fly however something goes wrong each time – the fly ends up a few feet away from me with a distinct lack of fish. Unlucky, I am thinking, it was not until I walked further downstream that I started to wonder if something was in fact different – for one I was sweating and I could feel the sun on my face – I took my sweater off and stowed it in my pack. I worked my way upstream, only seeing the occasional trout rising like someone clicking there fingers on the surface of water. They are not regular risers I immediately worked out (Emanuele would say they are being sporadico) however still plugged away for a few more hours. Something has got to happen I kept saying to myself – phoned Mike for a bit of inspiration however he has “other” things on his mind, said he might come down later for a session and when I left at 8ish he had still not arrived. There was “some” action though, I basically stood motionless in some bushes at the end of a long pool and just waited, and waited and waited a bit more. Eventually some blue winged olives starting hatching and a couple of solitary trout responded – I caught one and spooked the rest.
Singing to the fish…
It was nice fishing alone and having the whole river to myself, I talk to myself a lot and sing songs as I am at peace with the solitude and like my own company (some of my fishing buddies will be glad that I don’t sing when they are present)
The trout I caught came to a blue winged cdc and a rendition of “Will Your Anchor Hold” (click the link and sing if you have never heard it – always a tear jerker at a funeral although good for tricky trout) and then the chorus of “High Voltage” by ACDC – yup I have an eclectic musical taste.
Communicating with Cows…
On the way back to the car I decided to try and communicate with the cows, you know I think I was actually getting somewhere; I had just perfected a kind of low throaty “Mooo” when my the old ball n chain phoned and spoiled the whole atmosphere.
I am going away for two weeks to Brittany on Saturday so do not expect to hear from me, I will have my rods with me but doubtful if any fishing will be done. Possibility of a session on Thursday evening after work on the Kelvin or even a tributary but we will see….
Emanuele picked me up; I was ready to go as soon as he arrived. The day looked promising, rain was forecast for later but the sky was mostly white with the odd dark cloud and patchy blue.
I have known and fished with Emanuele since around July 2004 – old time readers of the blog will remember him as the master of the dry fly- he still is, although has not been doing much angling the past year due to having a baby. I would probably say that out of all my fishing friends he is the one that has taught me the most. As soon as we started fishing together my knowledge rocketed – not just about fishing and entomology but about the ethos behind fly fishing. When I have been having a bad day (surprisingly often) and then caught a fish a loud “Well done” will ring out in his thick Italian accent. He is a mighty angler whose answer to just about every fly fishing problem is to “go microscopic”
He was also my first true fishing partner in my adult years and we have had many a good trout session together.
Alas, today was the start of a lot less trips together as due to his job he has had to move from Glasgow to Hull. Considering he moved to Scotland from Italy purely for the good trout fishing this is a bit of a blow. However, needs must come first with a young family to support and there will always be long weekends in the future – this I have been assured is reciprocal – just down the road from where he will be staying I hear there are some rather nice chalk streams.
Emanuele also introduced me to my other favorite spot of river (the unmentionable), the most beautiful place I think on Earth. I have asked my good wife to scatter my ashes there when I am gone (not on the Kelvin for the riff raff to pee on me), that is unless I actually drown there as the thorn in the side of this lovely nirvana is that the wading is outrageously difficult. The bottom is strewn with boulders and holes, moving sandbanks and sudden ledges which means you can go do knee deep to waist deep in a step. This is good trout water. On its day it can be very good – it can also act like a bloody stubborn donkey at times as well.
Anyway, for all these reasons I wanted Emanuele to have a good day, I wanted the river to give him a good send off.
I was not disappointed.
The day remained overcast, the rain did not materialize, hatch after hatch of small olives, blue winged olives and sedges. Trout rising from the moment we arrived until we left exhausted but happy. I hooked and lost a monster on the dry fly – later I would estimate it to be around 3lb – this with no exaggeration as I am getting a bit better at accurate measurements now. This turned out to be hard practice for me as my next big fish was taken at the exact same place a few moments later, considerably smaller but still one of my best trout at this stretch of river. Camera got all steamed up so a bit of a duff photo.
Trout after trout after trout.
Emanuele did very well too; every time I looked up he was releasing another fish.
It was only later when going through the photographs did I realize there was none of him today holding an actual fish – Makes it all the more necessary to meet up again soon.
Air pressure can do funny things to trout – all week it has been unsettled with gusty winds. Saying that it can do funny things to people as well, on Sunday I went on a trip to the Tay with a faithful Kelvinator and came home with a migraine. It was strange, the day was overcast and warm, and there were flies on the water in the morning and then nothing for the rest of the day. I even used a dry and dropper in some long runs that just should have produced some trout but the river seemed devoid of trout. We caught some trout when we arrived at the river at around 9am – a nice one too at around the pound mark – no photo unfortunately as I thought I would be catching more throughout the day anyway. A migraine hit as soon as we left the water and I was left gritting my teeth and trying to stop myself being sick pretty much the while way home – fantastic impression to give !
During the week I was down on the Kelvin for a little evening session with a pal. The trout were on and off again within minutes. I hooked two nice trout and managed to land one of them. The weather was very unsettled, big gusts of wind which is usually a good indication the pressure was changing. It was also quite cold for June. Does anyone else find trout tricky when the weather is changing? I don’t mean just windy, as it can be very good fishing on other rivers that I fish when it is blowing a gale but an actual weather front moving in?
As I settled down to watch the river due to a severe shortage for rising trout for extended periods of time I found a big tangle of what looked like around 20lb+ mono. It was just lying on some rocks – I am still trying to decide what should be done about “anglers” that leave this type of mess around. I think it would be one job for a good bailiff force when checking permits to check appropriate fishing tactics. But hey, what I think and what actually happens are two entirely different things.
Rob – a fine Kelvinator rose to the job of sending me a report with pictures of his trip to the Kelvin today:
Just back from an afternoon on the Kelvin. The river is a surprisingly good height after all the rain, but still carrying a bit of colour. No real hatch to speak of today,a wee chilly breeze saw to that. Saw the odd segde, yellow may and olives here and there though. I ended up catching a dozen fish mostly 8″-10″, and a couple a bit nicer, which i took snaps of. Hope your training isn’t too grim!
My day just got better after hearing about your session Rob !