Sunday, 31 January 2010

Fish & Flies On Film

I have to admit when it comes to collecting fishing and flytying videos and DVDs I am hopelessly addicted.I am a sucker when it comes to acquiring angling related tape and disc. My collection has too many titles to mention. I confess some are not brilliant as I can't resist a bargain but I do treasure most of my collection. My prized possessions are my collection of Oliver Edwards Masterclass DVDs. These are quite simply the best Flyfishing and flytying videos ever produced. I love nothing better than sitting down on a cold winters evening and watching the master at work. You may have noticed at the top of my post a photo of my mobile phone.Yes, what you see there is a video of Oliver Edwards.This might appear odd to some but sometimes when the fishing is dull at Hillend and I'm in need of a rest I will settle down somewhere in a sheltered spot at the Lochside and watch these clips until I'm ready to start fishing again.Some would say I was sad
to have such a thing on my phone. I disagree. I have quite a few video clips on my phone. They come in handy whenever I feel bored at work or when I'm sitting in the car waiting on my wife completing her shopping etc.
I couldn't enter a post on my blog about flytying videos without mentioning the excellent Davie McPhail videos. There is only one available in the shops but quite literally about one hundred free video clips on his You Tube Channel which you will find a link to on my links list.
In my opinion Davie is up there with Oliver Edwards as two of the best tyers in the country. I have been lucky enough to see both in person giving flytying demonstrations. Davie at the Glasgow Angling Centre and Oliver at the British Fly Tying fair at Stoke last November.
I haven't got enough space or time to mention everything in my collection but will leave you with another two recommendations. A Passion for Angling and Arthur Ransome's Rod and Line narrated by Michael Hordern.In many experts eyes A Passion for Angling is the ultimate in angling films. Try them for yourself you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Nae Fish!

Well folks. I have been blogging for just over a month now and as yet have not entered many posts about the art of actually catching trout. Most of my posts have been about fly tying, moaning about the weather, rambling, books, lochs and burns but there hasn’t been much in the way of trout catching apart from the odd wee report from last year which I have been utilizing to get the blog up and running.
Please don’t give up on my blog just yet as come the 15th of March I hope to start filling these pages with up to the minute reports about my exploits at Hillend Loch and wherever else my angling travels take me. Don’t get me wrong as I will continue to have blog entries about fly- tying and the weather etc and whatever else catches my eye. I believe that my blog is a great example of proving that there really is more to fishing than catching fish.
Here is an account of a wee day out I had with my wife last year that helps explain that theory….

It had been a while since my wife last asked me to take her hillwalking with me. A good few years infact. After visiting a well-known outdoor shop she got kitted out with some new boots and stuff. Her intention was for us to take to the hills on Easter Sunday. I did not want to let her down so I didn’t tell her I was actually planning a wee fishing trip that weekend. I decided on a cunning plan. By way of a compromise I delicately asked her if she wouldn’t mind if I took my fishing rod with me to the hills. Val to my surprise didn’t mind at all.
I then went on to explain that she had better take it easy and not take on anything too strenuous. I told her of a hill that I thought would be ideal for her born again desire for hillwalking.
The hill that I suggested was Glas Bheinn on the fringes of Rannoch Moor. I knew this hill would have fantastic views overlooking Rannoch Moor and it’s numerous lochs and lochans.
This wee hill which rises gently from the car park on the A82 looking over Loch Tulla has a couple of wee lochans near its summit and directly North West lies the Dubh Lochan which was my desired destination as I had long fancied heading to that water for a few years now.
As we departed the car park, the lone piper who was there for the benefit of the gullible tourists unwittingly piped me and my wife off on my first wild fishing trip of the year. As the sound of the pipes faded in the distance the new sounds that we became aware of was the squelch of our every step. This sound was to stay with us for the rest of the day as this walk is very boggy indeed. We made progress up the hill by following a deer fence. At one point we actually saw a deer on the skyline. After half an hour or so I had to have a pit stop so to speak. After some adjustments we carried on our way. Just when the summit was within reach I noticed that I wasn’t carrying my fishing rod anymore. My language was choice when I realized that I must have left it leaning against the fence when I had that first “wee” stop.
My wife laughed as she planked herself on a rock and waited on me going back down to retrieve my fishing rod.
Fishing rod recovered we splodgged on. The first sight of Lochan na h- Achlaise and the Black Mount came into view then Loch Ba and the whole shooting match of Rannoch Moor and beyond as we reached the summit.
We sat at the summit for quite a while as we took in the fantastic panorama before us. We lunched and took quite a lot of photos. I absolutely adore this area and would without hesitation say that the summit of Glas Bheinn is the perfect place to appreciate its beauty.
Anyway after some considerable lazing around at the summit we decided to splodge on as I had some fishing in mind. Just a short distance from the summit were a couple of wee lochans. One of them looked as if it might hold fish so I set up my new outfit and set about trying to find out if indeed it had any trout. After an hour or so I gave up. I still don’t know if it holds anything other than water as I blanked.
As I already stated this was my wife’s first hillwalk for a few years. Her legs and feet were sore and she didn’t fancy descending down to the Dubh Lochan which I’m sure has fish as there are burns running in and out of it. Then having to climb back up to Glas Bheinn. So we decided that we would head back through the splodginess back to our starting point where we reflected on a very enjoyable day.
I wasn’t disappointed as the pictures I got more than made up for the lack of fishing. If I had been on my own I would have headed down to the lochan then walk south east to the unnamed lochan where I’m sure one would encounter troot. Then descend down to the Water of Tulla and follow the track back to the A82 and back to the car park That’s one for the future. I would imagine that the terrain down by the lochans would be rather boggy so that might be a bit off putting.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Burns Day

This being the 25th day of the first month of the new year I'm sure you will be aware that this is the day that people from all walks of life the world over celebrate Burns. I felt it would be appropriate to mark the occasion on my Blog with some verse from Rabbie. Try as I might I could not find any poems in his collection with reference to trout or fishing. Maybe I didn’t research deep enough. There are tenuous links to fishing though if you think hard enough as he did pen some beautiful words about rivers and streams such as Bonnie Doon, Brigs o Ayr , Sweet Afton, Banks of Nith and The Banks of the Devon. The Tweed gets a mention in Such a parcel of rogues and a line from My heart is in the Highlands as follows…. Farewell to the forests and wild hanging woods, farewell to the torrents and loud- pouring floods. See, they had climate change in those days too.
So by way of consolation I would like you to join me in a toast to Burns. Yes the Burns of Hillend Loch. Raise yer glass in praise of The Lily, The Daisy, The School The Shields, The Bracco and the North Calder. Over the last two hundred years they have been the spawning grounds for the trout that have given so much pleasure to so many people who have fished Hillend Loch

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Hillend Loch Today

Went for a wee trip up to the Loch today to see how the place is looking what with all the ongoing construction work on the south shore in preparation for the new railway link from Airdrie to Bathgate. Much to my surprise the Loch surface is still covered in ice. Excuse the quality of the pic as my batteries ran flat in my camera just as I was composing a picture of the Loch,so had to make do with the phone camera.
The other pics are of the Braco burn. The burn had to be diverted as sections of the south shore of the Loch have had to be filled in with thousands of tons of rock to accommodate the rail track and cycle path. It's a touch sad that instead of skillfully constructed bridges such as those in these pics are being replaced with plastic pipes to direct Hillend's burns. Time will tell if the meddling of the spawning burns will impact on the number of natural breeding trout in the Loch.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Desert Island Books

I would like to bring to your attention two books which I would consider to be my Desert Island Books. In many ways one can draw comparisons between the two but in other ways they are miles apart quite literally. One was written by a Lancastrian Englishman the other a Glaswegian Scotsman. Both men don’t really need an introduction as they are famous the world over. The authors in question are Tom Weir and Alfred Wainwright.
Climber broadcaster author and all round Great Outdoors man Tom Weir wrote his first book Highland Days, in a tent during wartime service with the Royal Artillery in Belgium in 1946.
The book begins with Tom explaining that he finds it hard to believe that the memories he began to put to paper in a guard tent in the summer of 1946 were thirteen years old. Tom’s first book recalls vividly his early years of exploration when he turned his back on the drab Glasgow tenements of the Great Depression and set out on a voyage of discovery of Scotland on the peaks, lochs, corries, glens and, not least the people of Scotland.
Fell walker, Artist and author and expert in all things concerning the Lake District. Wrote a personal journal in 1938 after completing a long distance circular walk in the Pennines from Settle in Ribblesdale to Hadrian’s Wall and back. The backdrop of the imminence of World War II and the news he receives during his travels adds poignancy to his “ A Pennine Journey”
Alfred Wainwright never intended his words and thoughts to be published. His journal was intended as a personal work for him to reflect on when ever he chose to.
In the 1980’s AW became somewhat of a celebrity after the publication of his Lakeland guides and his TV appearances and such was coaxed into publishing his personal account of his pre war journey in 1938 which went on to become known as “A Pennine Journey” some 48 years after he first penned his work.
Both these books strike a chord with me as they remind me of how I set out on my personal journey of self-awareness. The year was 1988 and I was still looking for direction. That direction I was looking for was “North” to the Highlands of Scotland. Where I found my true self in the mountains of Glen Coe and Glen Nevis.
My love of the mountains led me on a journey all over the country experiencing the mountains, glens and lochs and eventually led me to the Hills and Dales of the North of England and eventually onto my current passion which is fly-fishing.
I digress. I have read my two favourite books many many times and no doubt I will read them over and over again in the years to come. These two works of art never cease to inspire me and help cheer me up when ever I am feeling down.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Birds of a Feather

Last Night I told my lovely wife that I was off into Glasgow to spend some money on a bird.You should have seen the look on her face before I explained to her that I was driving into the Glasgow Angling Centre for a hen cape,some Partridge feathers and hooks.
Anyway that's my poor attempt at humour out the way. I got a hold of some partridge Klinkhammer hooks to tie more of these klink style flies that I have been tying all week. The Klink you see above was tied with one of these hooks but to be honest I think I prefer the profile of the Kamasan B100 as I reckon the abdomen would hang lower in the surface film and ultimately be more tempting for the fish. What do you think?

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Getting Better?

Been at a bit of a loose end today.That was a great excuse to spend a considerable amount of time at the bench trying to perfect my klink style tying. I feel I'm getting better. I feel this is an improvement on my earlier example. Let me know what you think.

Feelin" Klinky

Over the last couple of days I have been dabbling in an attempt to tie Klinkhammer style flies. I have never tied this style of fly before as the style I enjoy and feel comfortable with is Traditional Loch Style flies. It's always a good idea to try something new as you will become an all round better tyer by learning new and exciting methods of tying. There are one or two things I need to brush up on in this particular example... First of all I will have to get the proper style of hook to give the pattern the correct profile for an emerging insect. A Kamasan B100 has been recommended to me by the Forumites on Wild Fishing Scotland.A smaller thorax and then I might just have nailed it.
I'll be off to the GAC soon for some hooks and no doubt a whole load of other materials that I will add to my ever increasing vast collection of Fur, Hair and Feather.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Tying the Grouse and Orange


Whilst at the tying bench tonight I thought I would make a video entry for my blog,demonstrating how I tie the North Country Spider.....the Grouse and Orange.I have had good success with this pattern and it's close relative the Orange and Partridge on the lochs around Loch Ba on Rannoch Moor I would normally tie this style of pattern on a size 14 hook but for the purpose of this video clip I used a size 12. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Black Cuillin, Trout and Clegs.

Today as I type this blog entry there are only 62 days to go until the start of the Brown Trout fishing season. This has me anticipating more days in the hills like this report of a fishing trip I made to the Highlands last July.
My two friends Alex and Willie informed me that they were heading up North to acquire a Munro tick and thus complete the full set of Fannichs, Na Coileachan to be precise. They kindly asked me if I would be interested in accompanying them. I used to be a regular on their mountain days but bad knees and an ever-increasing beef mountain have put an end to my long treks into the mountains and now do lesser hills and shorter walks. I agreed that I would go for the weekend but would head into the Fannichs to do a bit of fishing instead as that would be less demanding.
If I told you that I was on the Black Cuillin during the course of my weekend among the Fannichs you would perhaps think that I was deluded or quite possibly had got my geography mixed up but you would be wrong. All will become clear.
We departed the Central belt on Friday afternoon and arrived at our Highland base camp, The Aultguish Inn, in the early evening. After settling into our bunk house accommodation we moved into the operation headquarters -The Bar, to discuss our plan of action for the next day. Over a fair few bottles of fine Scottish ale it was decided that they would approach their desired destination from the parking area at the end of Loch Glascarnoch on the A835 but would drop me off first a further 3K along the road at Loch Droma Dam as I had decided that I would target Loch Sgeireach for a “troot or twa”.
I awoke on Saturday morning a little fragile after being on Skye’s finest the night before but was soon right as rain after a good hearty breakfast in the Inn.
As planned the night before I was dropped off at Droma Dam. No sooner was I walking along the track up the Alt a Mhadaidh when I was attacked, yes mugged, assaulted call it what you will. They caught me unaware and came at me with great force and ferocity. I was totally unprepared for this unprovoked attack. I was utterly helpless as I struggled to get those bloody cleggs/horse flies off me. My face and arms were left blooded and swollen as I struggled to get into my rucksack for my hat, fleece and skin so soft for protection. It was too late though as the damage had been done and it was now a case of damage limitation. I struggled up the track in the blistering heat overdressed and exhausted as I reached the weir where I would leave the track and aim for the bealach between Beinn Laith Bheag and Creag Dhubh Fannaich.
As I ascended the heather hillside a light breeze picked up which reduced the numbers of those nedish insects, but a few still accompanied me as I eventually reached Loch Sgeireach.
I sat and had my lunch and swatted away the cleggs as I contemplated how to approach my fishing on the loch. I set up with a two fly cast, which consisted of a Black spider with a mole fur body on the point and a yellow, and partridge on the dropper. I began fishing the loch where it narrows in the middle. It was quite shallow there but a few trout were splashing about here every now and again. Within seconds of my first cast I received my first bite at the loch. Unfortunately it was another blasted clegg. A couple of casts later though and I was into one of Sgeireach’s rising trout. Small and lively is the best way to describe these fish. As is the norm when fishing these mountain lochans I didn’t linger too long in the one spot. I fished all along the north shore and caught around a dozen fish or so which were all pretty much the same size and missed twice as many. After a couple of hours I reluctantly decided it was time to make my way back down but first I thought I might as well make my way to the summit of Beinn Laith Beag where there was a brief escape from those un mentionable insects. I contemplated walking east from the summit and making my way down to where my mates had started their walk but decided against it as I was unaware of what the ground would be like underfoot for my top heavy body and dodgy knees so I decided to get back down the way I came up as I at least knew what to expect.
The descent was actually not too unpleasant, as the air had cooled with a brisk breeze which meant I was Clegg free. It wasn’t too long before I was back at Droma Dam where I lay down with my rucksack as a pillow and had a welcome rest with the wind blowing up the glen at my back and waited on the arrival of my mates. After three quarters of an hour there was still no sign of them so decided to walk along the A835 to the car where I left a note under the wiper blade stating that I was hitching a lift back to the Inn as the Black Cullin were calling me. A very nice bloke from Lewis on his way to Inverness kindly stopped and gave me a most welcome lift to the Inn where I made for the bar right away. The first bottle of Black Cullin was gone in two thirsty gulps the second at a more leisurely pace as I reflected on a very enjoyable wild fishing experience.
When my two Munroist friends arrived from the hills I was pleased to see that I was not the only person to have been assaulted by the thuggish cleggs. Over a lovely Aultguish meal and yet even more Black Cullin we swapped tales of our day in the hills and tried to outdo each other like three little school boys by showing off our clegg bites. My friend Willie won hands down as his face and arms were in a terrible mess.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Thinking Ahead

I've been busy at the bench tonight.With a trip to Caithness in the summer planned my attention has been drawn to the flies that are popular in the far North. After doing some research it would appear that they like to have a light coloured collar hackle at the front of their patterns up there. White , cream or as in this particular example a light dun colour would appear to be popular.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

North Calder Water

I was determined not to let the cabin fever set in this weekend therefore I went for a stroll down the Monkland Glen today and walked along the banks of the North Calder Water. The North Calder flows for 12 miles from it's source at the Black Loch near Limerigg then after a short distance it enters Hillend Loch then snakes it way into the River Clyde at Daldowie on the outskirts of Glasgow.
I last fished the NCW a couple of years ago. Biggest fish I had was a half pounder but also had many more bandies. Came across a deer today down the Glen. That was the first time I had seen one down there although friends have been telling me that they are down there in considerable numbers. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to get a photograph of the beast. The NCW moves at a much slower pace than the deer. Hope you enjoy my photos.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Cabin Fever

The coldest winter for thirty years has me dreaming of balmy summer nights at Hillend Loch when the hatches of flies and free rising fish will be in great abundance. Feeling that soft warm breeze on my back as I cast my flies from the big moss into a hatch of the great red sedge seems like an age away. If you are anything like me I think you too might be feeling a bit of cabin fever coming on. It’s at times like this that get me looking forward to spring and summer and start planning trips for the forthcoming season. I love nothing better than pouring over my vast collection of OS Maps, angling books and magazines for inspiration.
I could spend all evening with the OS sheet number 15 spread over the floor. There are enough lochs and mountains to last one a lifetime of fishing and hill walking on that particular map.
There is a saying that “The journey is as exciting and important as the destination” I can empathize with that.I feel that is true in tying flies too.I find tying flies every bit as exciting as fishing. Tying flies sets the imagination on fire. It gets you thinking about various situations at any given time in the angling season and making adjustments to patterns and expressing your thoughts and ideas on what the fish will be looking for and tying accordingly.
I digress. I received a very interesting phone call just last week from my friend Tam. He informed me that this year our Big Fishing Adventure in the Highlands would be a visit to Caithness. First thing in the morning I was off through the snow into town to purchase the relevant OS Map. I have been enjoying virtual fishing excursions since acquiring this map with visits to Loch Watten, Loch Calder and Loch Toftingall.After reading all the relevant literature about fishing this wondrous area of the Highlands the one fly pattern that seems to keep cropping up is the Watten warrior. I guess I am going to be busy tying this fly which up until now I was not aware of. The most pleasing aspect about the flies that appear to be popular in the Caithness area is that they appear to be tied in my favourite style…Slightly overdressed and bushy. I’m going to have fun preparing for this trip.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Tying a snatcher style fly

Here I am tying a snatcher style fly. I have found this pattern to be quite an effective fly at Hillend. One night in particular springs to mind when Colin and I could do no wrong with this fly in the boathouse bay

Hillend from above

Thought I would share this aerial photo of Hillend Loch as it won't look like that from above anymore because of the construction of the new railway.

Rock 'N' Roll Fishing

As the snow continues to fall and cause havoc all over the country it has pretty much made me housebound and as such has got my imagination going wild....

I prefer the company of friends whenever I go fly fishing don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed solitary outings in the past but for me they can often be lonely experiences especially when its cold, wet, dark and fishless.
I had arranged to wet some flies at my local Loch with my mate Alex one evening but he decided at the Last minute that he was otherwise engaged. As it was June and the big sedge was on the water I decided not to let the chance of good sport go a begging so I reluctantly decided to go solo.
Instead of fishing alone some people might perhaps take along their dog for company but since I’m not a dog owner I chose the unusual alternative of my Mp3 player for companionship.
Normally when I’m fishing I like to enjoy the sound of the wind blowing through the grass and the music of the water as it laps against the shore so to block out natures harmonies with my earphones might appear to be sacrilegious.
I made my way over to the big Moss, which was to be my stage for the evening, and the fish were to be by captive audience. I hope no one heard me as I sang a long to the tunes in my pocket. I varied my retrieve depending on which style of music I was listening to at the time. I was willing a fish to take as I listened to The Stones “like a rainbow “. Nobody would have believed me anyway if that had happened and so it came to pass that I never actually caught anything that night. As I made my way home in the car that night I reflected on my night of Rock n Roll fishing and I came to the conclusion that the best thing about fishing with earphones on was that they at least kept the midges oot ma lugs.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Welcome to 2010

Happy New Year to all my visitors. There are only 73 days to go until the start of the fishing season. Watch the winter nights getting lighter now.