Monday, 28 December 2009

Isle of Lewis

Last summer I went on my first ever fishing trip to the Isle of Lewis. Here is a slide show and a concise acccont of our splashing about in the Lochs over there.

video

I finally managed to achieve what I have long been yearning to do – visit the Island of Lewis for the purpose of revelling in the delightful fishing locations the Island has to offer.
My three friends, Peter, Tam, Scott and I arrived in Stornoway on Thursday the 6th of August in delightful weather. The plan for the next four days was a spot of sea fishing, on day one. Loch Bruaich Bheibheat for troot on day two. Day three on Loch an Fhir Mhaiol for troot and the chance of sea troot and salmon. Finally on day four Peter and I fished a Loch that I have been informed not to reveal. Tam and Scott went sea fishing again.
Thursday 6th August.
Once we had settled into our very nice but cramped bunkhouse accommodation at Laxdale Holiday Park, we assembled our sea fishing gear and set off for the coast near Calbost. In the rush of excitement to get there as soon as we could I forgot to lift my camera but Scott had his so we did manage a couple of pics. I am a pretty much a novice when it comes to the sea fishing lark so I had to be tutored on how to fish the deep water from what I considered to be a precarious rocky outcrop. Tam and Scott had fished this mark before and caught a considerable amount of Pollock so hopes were high of a repeat. I was instructed to fish an assortment of jelly worm and other various rubbery lures in all colours of the rainbow. My three friends were soon into Pollock. I was struggling to get any sort of bite in the strong wind. I couldn’t understand why I was getting nowt while everyone else was catching Pollock from a 1 ½ up to 4lb. Scott took some time out to assist me. Apparently I wasn’t letting the line hit the bottom and therefore not working the lure up through the water properly. I eventually managed a couple of Pollock and a Macky. Collectively a fair few Pollock were landed. Most were put back but some were kept for the table.
A very enjoyable half-day was concluded by a rather scenic journey back to Laxdale where after a scrub up we relaxed with a Chinese take away and a couple of drinks then anticipated our next fishing trip by blethering and pouring over the map of our next intended troot fishing location.
Friday 7th August.
We were up bright and early for one of Scott’s famous Thunderfart breakfasts [Coatbrig style] which set us up for the day. It wasn’t the healthiest of options but insured that we didn’t need much to eat until the evening.
This time I made sure my camera was the first thing I packed as we would be passing the renowned Grimersta system on our journey and was keen to get a couple of pics.
Tam had organized the fishing for the day through a friend of a friend on Loch Bruaich Bheibheat. The walk in proved to be a tad rougher than we expected. We tramped through bog and ditch for 5 ½ km passing a couple of lochs along the way that looked rather tempting but our sights were set on Bheibheat. After a couple of hours we reached the loch and the boat, Scott and Tam very kindly bailed out the boat and invited Peter and I to go afloat first as they fancied bank fishing first. As we set out on the loch I was appointed rower. This turned out to be a mistake because in my eagerness to get fishing I forgot to secure the rowlocks. So when I lifted the paddle to adjust it I clumsily raised the rowlock too and dropped the damn thing into the loch. We were not in deep water but couldn’t find the blasted thing.
It was a bit of a disappointment to say the least as we had been informed of all the likely spots to try on the loch. All was not lost though as everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable day bank fishing for numerous lovely troot in a wondrous Hebridean wilderness setting. It was four happy but weary sweaty fishermen who eventually negotiated the sodden moor back to the car. Not much was said on the return journey back to Laxdale, as we were absolutely shattered. After a shower and a bite to eat it was off to bed for all four of us as we were on a mission.
Saturday 8th August
After yet another Coatbrig style breakfast we were bursting a gut to get out on our next fishing sortie. On this Occasion the fishing was arranged once again through a friend of a friend on a Scaliscro Estate Loch. This time the estate had a arranged for an outboard motor to be available. All we had to do was walk for a mere 15 minutes down to the loch and the Bald Headed boat. The catch was that we had to take the outboard back to the estate. We were advised on where to fish so we were not disappointed.
As I mentioned earlier there was actually a chance that we might encounter Sea trout and salmon on this loch, we were not disappointed, as Peter was first to come across migrating troot. Tam also came across the silvery troot. Scott and I had to content ourselves with the abundant broon troot.
Most of my fish were caught while afloat on the loch. On various traditional flies. To be honest there was not one fly better than any other. I speak for all four of us when I say Clan Chief, Bibio, Mallard and Claret, Black Zulu and my dabbler patterns were all successful. Much to our surprise we happened to come across a couple of anglers belonging to the Stornoway angling club on a boat. Apparently they did quite well too. The pattern that was most successful for them was a Black Muddler.
It was getting on 8’ O clock when we decided to pack up. I offered to carry the outboard back some of the way but Tam relieved me of that task as he said he would do it. I think he probably regrets my offer as he was actually not very well on the Saturday night. A mixture of dehydration and over exertion ensured Tam was off early to bed while the rest of us enjoyed a fair few wee drams and a rather enjoyable bottle of red.
Sunday 9th August
We awoke on the Sabbath refreshed and ready to travel to the West coast. Not sure if locals mind visitors angling on a Sunday we tried to be discreet and keep a low profile. Once again Tam arranged everything for us. Peter and I were directed to a loch where no one would see us. Scott dropped us off and within seconds we were over the hill and out of sight. Tam and Scott had arranged for a small boat at Bhaltos to take them out to sea the arrangement was that they would help with pulling in lobster pots. As it happened their Bhaltos contact could not get the engine started. The very friendly local took them back to his house for a bite to eat and tea. Then directed them to a mark where they fished from the shore for the rest of the day. Pollock Gurnard, Dabs and mackerel werer all landed.
Peter and I had a wonderful day in glorious surroundings and caught many fish in a variety of sizes Most were released but some were kept for the table. We were informed that our loch had been the sight of an experiment. Apparently the loch had been stocked a few years ago with young sea trout that had been raised in cages elsewhere. We were told, as there was no outlet burn of any significance they obviously couldn’t get to sea and therefore would take on brown trout characteristics. You can make your own mind up from the pics.
Unfortunately there is no boat on this loch. It would have been wonderful if there were. We had to content ourselves by wondering along the shore. Again no particular fly outshone any other. I just tied on whatever traditional fly caught my eye in my box. The fish didn’t appear to be that fussy either.
At around six thirty we reluctantly made our last casts on the loch, packed up and headed up over the hill to the road where we took in the beautiful view of sand and sea and waited on our friends return.
The journey back to Laxdale was a sad one, as we knew that our Lewis fishing adventure was over.. For a year at least.
The next day as we left Stornoway I gazed back at the Island with great fondness and felt really privileged to have experienced its beauty. A number of hours later I was back in Airdrie all I was left with were a few fish and happy memories. I’ll be back.

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