Friday, 30 April 2010

Hillend Sky

My friend Scott and I went up to the Loch tonight for a wee try with the fly. We leisurely made our way from the car park, round, to Lowes Bay. We sat behind the big shelter someone has made with stones and tree branches and chatted for a while then finally got round to trying to catch some trout. I am sad to report that no fish were caught but Scott did get a take. Although I didn't connect with any trout it was worth going up to the Loch tonight to see the wonderful sunset and ever changing colours in the sky tonight as rain and clouds drifted over the Loch. I'm confident that you will enjoy this image I captured from Lowe's bay looking over to the North Shore.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Grey Day!

Iv'e not been at the vice much in the last couple of weeks or so,therefore I decided to tie up a few flies this afternoon before I head up to Hillend tonight for a a few casts. As I type this it's looking rather grey and wet outdoors. Most experienced fly fishers will inform you that one should use a bright fly for a bright day and a dull fly for an overcast day. With that thought in mind I tied the above fly for use at Hillend this dull and wet Sunday evening.I shall here by name this fly ...the Grey Day! I look forward to putting that theory to the test in the next hour or so.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

My Favourite Tackle Shop

I think I'm correct in saying we anglers sadly live in the age of the death of the wee local tackle shop. Therefore it's reassuring that there is still one wee shop in my town that is holding onto the traditional tackle shop ethos. When you go into this wee shop you just don't go in to purchase tackle etc,you can have a coffee or a tea,get expert advice, chat with other anglers and hear the local gossip about the local Lochs and rivers. Big supermarket style stores such as the one located in Possil along with other on line mail order tackle dealers lack soul. Of course you can have a hot drink there too but you have to get it out a machine for Goodness sake. The loss of many local tackle dealers in other towns throughout the country is depriving us of that small but vital tangible link with local fishing and fishermen. We anglers are suffering from that Globalisation thing in very much the same way that local food stores and clothes shops etc have been ran out of town by the multi conglomerate superstores and shopping malls. In the end these mega angling stores give you less choice as they will only stock the brands that they can do the best deal with rather than items and brands which the anglers would like.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Another Pike

After catching a a rather ugly Pike last night I went up to the Loch this afternoon hoping to have better success with the trout. I fished the narrows, the boathouse bay,the side of the woods, up by the Island, The point of the woods, The Three trees, right round the back of the woods without success. Then I decided to have my last half hour at Lowe's Bay. Soon I was into a fish . I knew it wasn't big and I was thinking it might be a wee broonie or a perch. Imagine my surprise when I brought a very, very small pike to the surface. Well at least it was a better looking one than last night, in fact it was a wee beauty.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Ugly Hillend Pike

Hillend tends to be too busy for my liking at weekends so I decided to wait until about 6 O'clock tonight before I went up to the Loch as most of the day ticket folk would have packed up and gone home by then.I parked next to the Eastercroft Care Home and wandered over to the Big Moss. A bitter North East wind was blowing in towards me so as you can imagine it was not the most pleasant of locations to try and get a good line out. I persevered and moved all the way round the Big Moss. I then decided to make my way over to the Yachting Club and decided to walk out on the pontoon so as to get the wind at my back and then cast in towards the dam back. After about ten minutes or so I felt the jag jag jag of which I was certain was one of Hillend's wildest fish, a Pike. It took me some time to get him in as he went right under the pontoon and behind me . I didn't know what to do. I thought I was going to break my rod or cut my new fly line as it took a fair length of line from my reel as it went in the opposite direction from where I needed it to go.I just had to hang on for dear life and put as much pressure on the fish as I could dare to try and coax it back from under the pontoon. Lady luck was on my side as it eventually swam back from under the pontoon and before too long I was able to net him. After a quick photo call I placed him back in the water and manged to get the video function on my camera ready to film his release back into the Loch.If I'm being totally honest I would say that it was not the best looking Pike I have ever seen as he was actually quite an odd shaped ugly looking chap!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

A Man In Assynt

Here are a few lines from Norman McCaig's epic poem about my favourite corner of Scotland. This man can put into words, thoughts from my subconsciousness which I could never asseverate with anyone. The Castle like mountain in the pic is Stac Polly which I captured on route to Achiltibuie.

Glaciers, grinding West, gouged out
these valleys, rasping the brown sandstone,
and left, on the hard rock below — the
ruffled foreland —
this frieze of mountains, filed
on the blue air — Stac Polly,
Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven,
Canisp — a frieze and
a litany.

Who owns this landscape?
has owning anything to do with love?
For it and I have a love-affair, so nearly human
we even have quarrels. —
When I intrude too confidently
it rebuffs me with a wind like a hand
or puts in my way
a quaking bog or a loch
where no loch should be. Or I turn stonily
away, refusing to notice
the rouged rocks, the mascara
under a dripping ledge, even
the tossed, the stony limbs waiting.

I can't pretend
it gets sick for me in my absence,
though I get
sick for it. Yet I love it
with special gratitude, since
it sends me no letters, is never
jealous and, expecting nothing
from me, gets nothing but
cigarette packets and footprints.

Who owns this landscape? —
The millionaire who bought it or
the poacher staggering downhill in the early morning
with a deer on his back?

Who possesses this landscape? —
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Loch of the Green Corrie

I’ve just finished reading Andrew Greig’s “ At the Loch of the Green Corrie”. This book was brought to my attention after reading about it on the Wild Fishing Scotland discussion forum. I thought it would be a good idea to write down my thoughts about it on my Blog in the hope that some of my readers might be tempted to read and enjoy it too as I feel it will appeal to anyone with a passion for wild places.
First of all I would just like to say that this is not really a fishing book even though there is a fair bit of fishing included within its pages.
The main thrust of the book is a journey assigned to Greig by his friend the poet Norman McCaig. McCaig was in the last few months of his life and was no longer able to be among the Hills and lochans of Assynt he so loved and committed to verse. He asked Greig to go to his favourite place on Earth, The Loch of the Green Corrie, If he caught a fish he would be delighted but if he failed he would look down from a place he did not believe in and be most amused.
I too, like the writer have a love for the wild mountains, glens and lochs of Assynt and of course fly-fishing. Greig described Assynt as being set in deep time. Which is such a beautifully poetic way to define this North West Corner of Scotland. He describes the thoughts and feelings I have for Assynt in words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters that I have had in my conscious but could never express to others.
As the pages turned one by one I began to realise that this story was not only a tribute to a great poet and friend but also a personal journey of Greig’s into the deep time of memory where he was subconsciously looking for his true self and his people.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

A Lovely Hillend Afternoon.

With the wife contended that my son would treat her to a nice drive to South Queensferry for Sunday Lunch I decided to indulge myself with a Lovely Sunday Afternoon at Hillend.
With the weather being so lovely the Loch was a bit too busy for my liking.I squeezed in for a few cast in the narrows, then I walked through the woods to Lowe's Bay. While walking through the woods I met Dennis. He said to me , What do you think? I looked down and he was carrying an enormous Fish. 17lb he said. He opened up the material he had wrapped it in to reveal a huge Pike.I was a bit taken aback as to why he had chapped it so to speak. He caught it on a Black Fritz Lure. I was puzzled and disappointed that he had killed it. Then I went round to the mound where I met auld Wull and Charlie.After a chin wag with them I decided to make my way round to the North Shore where I met a couple of blokes who recognized me from the Fly Fishing Forum. They told me they look at this Blog from time to time and said they enjoyed it. It was good to meet them and also good to know that people are enjoying this Blog. On reaching the North Shore I lazed around in the grass watching the Yaughtsmen sailing on the Loch and lapping up the sunshine I eventually started to fish and eventually caught my one and only trout of the Day. I caught it on a my Black wooly Bugger which has a bunch of dyed Pheasant tail for a tail instead of the usual marabou. Contented with my fish I wearily made my way back to the car park at the east end of the Loch. On the drive home I reflected on what was a perfect Sunday Afternoon.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Weather

We as a nation talk about it more than any other. There is a reason for that, It is because we are so geographically positioned on the globe that we do experience it in all its ever changing moods.We as fishermen are More aware of it than most as it is never far away from our thoughts as we go about our working lives.For me, The number of visits to Hillend Loch,sometimes depends on what Heather the weather forecasts and broadcasts to the nation on tea - time tv. Although occasionally I completely ignore what she has to say and head up to my local loch no matter what as she doesn't always get it correct.
Which brings me to the weather at Hillend.On many occasions I have driven away from Airdrie in perfect conditions, but on arrival at Hillend, which is only four miles away, the weather can sometimes be completely different but that is the beauty of Hillend Loch . No matter the weather conditions there is always somewhere to fish comfortably away from the elements. If there is a strong wind coming in from the west , The Big Moss is an ideal location to fly fish from as the wind will be at your back. If the wind is an easterly the point of the woods is the location of choice to fish from. Likewise if the wind is southerly the south shore is best and vice versa if the wind is coming in from a northern direction. The boathouse bay is a good sheltered location too if the elements are raw as is the back of the woods with Low's Bay and the Mound depending on wind and rain direction.
The reason we get so much weather in this country so to speak is that we are the first dropping off place for moisture swept in by the winds from the Atlantic. That being a fact it is not surprising that our Scots language has a huge vocabulary of words for all different kinds of precipitation that make our weather so varied and interesting. At Hillend Loch the rain can smirr, teem, stot, come doon in stair rods,no take its time,It can rain auld wives and pipe staples as well as cats and dugs.There can be a plump, a plype,,, a scudder or a blatter, less dramatically sometimes the weather is just plowdery, with a spitter or a dreep or dribble.
All this just goes to prove that we at Hillend have as many words for the rain as the Eskimos have for sna!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Free Style Flies.

After catching hee haw at Hillend today I have been seeking solace at the vice. I always find it rewarding to tie some flies if time permits after an unsuccessful fishing trip. I received an email yesterday from a fellow forumite from a forum I frequent asking me if I would mind tying some flees as part of a fund raising venture for a River Trust. I was only too happy to oblige. Here are the first few flees of a batch I will be sending off midweek.

No Trout Today

This Easter morning My work colleague, his friend's son and I went up to Hillend Loch to see if we could fool some trout. I told them that we might do well at the North shore as I had been successful there last week and there had been reports of others doing well there too. The weather was a tad over cast with a light wind so we were full of hope when we arrived on the North Shore. Tosh soon got to work on the breakfast which consisted of burgers. sausages and onions cooked on a wee disposable BBQ. After a good feed we set about trying to hunt down some Hillend Trout. As the morning progressed we were hearing reports from passers-by that trout were getting caught down by the Big Moss Hole and the Shields Burn. We persevered at the west end of the North Shore without success. Young Alan was getting restless so he decided to move down to the Moss Hole. After an hour or so he returned to tell us he had caught a couple of small pike on a black Fritz lure and had taken a couple of pics with his camera phone in case we didn't believe him. Alan said he was disappointed because he didn't catch trout but I told him not to be silly as the fish he had fooled were wilder than any rainbow trout that inhabited Hillend Loch.
In the end Tosh and I were piscatorialy challenged and the young lad had out done us with his wild Hillend jack Pike.