Friday, 30 July 2010

Mixed Fortunes at the Lily

Last Sunday evening my friend Tam and I walked over the hill to fish the Lily. On arrival we were met with a strong westerly wind. It made sense to get round to the western end of the Loch so that we could use the wind to our advantage. We fished the big bay that has quite considerble weed growth in a section of it. I set up with a three fly cast of a hare lug nymph on the point,Clan Chief on the middle and a Kate McLaren on the bob. I turned three fish and hooked into one fish on the nymph which after a good wee fight managed to throw the hook which meant that I would go home fishless. Tam had better success he turned a few, had a couple of takes and eventually landed a nice rainbow caught on a Loch Ordie.
Despite losing that fish I rather enjoyed my latest visit to the Lily made all the more pleasent by watching the local birdlife and watching the full moon rise over the hills.
Photos to follow

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Fyne Day

Due to technical problems, it's only now that I have been able to get up to date with my blog.
Last Friday Tam, a work colleague, and his friend's son and I decided to swap freshwater for saltwater and made the two hour trip into the heart of beautiful Argyle for a spot of mackerel fishing or whatever else fancied what he had on the end of our lines.
Loch Fyne was our destination but I will not be forthcoming with the exact location as it's a beautiful unspoilt mark. I have known about this place for a few years now and would hate to see it ruined like so many excellent mackerel marks do once they are widely known.
On arrival at our destination we were met with a flat calm which unfortunately meant the midges were out but to our advantage the tide was in , which was probably the reason why Tam and young Alan were into fish with their first casts of the day. As usual I was last to connect with the fish ten or fifteen minutes later. After an hour or so the mackerel catch was mounting. We then decided it was time for a break and used some of the fish as bait to see if we could get any Dog Fish or anything else that came our way. As we sat back and waited for that always exciting twitch of the rod,Tam set about getting the BBQ ready for our breakfast.
while Tam was cooking and preparing the rolls on Sausage I hooked and lost a Doggy but managed to land a crab and Young Alan caught the first of his five dog fish.
After breakfast Tam got in on the doggy action, which he most enjoyed.
We then switched back to the feathers and spinners and spent the rest of the day catching plenty of fish which were going to be shared among friends and relations.
We called it a day at around four o'clock. We made the journey back to Lanarkshire sun burnt , tired and exhausted but happy in the knowlege that we had a FYNE DAY!

Monday, 26 July 2010

A Lack of Dabbling.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything for a week now . It's not that I haven't been fishing recently or have nothing to say. The reason for the temporary lack of Dabbling is that I am having PC Problems.
At the moment I am using a friend's PC and have no access to my documents.
As soon as everything is resolved I will have have a couple of articles about a sea fishing trip to Loch Fyne and also an evening session at the Lily Loch.
I hope that normal service will resume in the next day or two.
Thanks for your patience,
The Dabbler of Hillend.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Happy and contented at Hillend

As this was a bank holiday today I decided to give Hillend a miss during the day as it can sometimes be busy on such occasions. I waited until about half past eight tonight before making the short journey up to the Loch. Conditions were favourable as I walked from the club house towards the Braco Burn. i stopped short of the burn and set up my cast of a half hog hopper on the point and a Clan Chief on the dropper.Soon I was casting at the odd rising fish.It wasn't too long before I made contact with my one and only fish of the evening. I'm afraid I didn't manage a pic as I landed the fish in among the huge boulders that are spread along the south shore and I had left my bag further up the banking. I released the 2lb rainbow and off it went into the shadows. After a while I moved back up to the narrows and sat waiting to see if a rise would come on. One or two fished showed so I had a few final casts before packing up. I did get some pics of the Loch as usual the best of which is the one above.The fly above is the fly which fooled the trout tonight.For the second night in a row it was happy and contented angler that arrived home to write on my blog.

Lucky at the Lily Loch

Decided to go up to the Lily Loch tonight with my friend Tam. We met at the car park opposite the Owl & Trout at about 6 o'clock then walked along the right of way over the hill to the loch. We decided to go up to the west end of the loch. It was a good choice as I caught my first trout of the night in this location. There was the odd fish showing now and again , then when I saw a fish rise close to the weed beds I cast over it. The fish turned at my fly then a few seconds later it came back and I was into my first fish of the evening. It was very rewarding to see that it had taken a half hog hopper that I had tied this afternoon.
We then decided to move round to Scunner's Point. Once again there were fish rising intermittently. We fished on as an aeroplane made an appearance over the Loch it flew right round the loch a couple of times then just when we thought it had gone for good it came flying in over the Loch right over Drumfin Hill and along the south shore I thought it was going to land in the field it was that low then it swooped up to gain height and it was gone. Unfortunately I was wading at the time and had no time to get my camera to capture these dramatic events.
We fished on and Tam was soon into a fish, a rainbow of about 2 1/2 pound caught on a Loch Ordie. Just as he was playing it out I hooked into my second trout of the night which fell for the Clan Chief variant that I tied yesterday after watching Davie McPhail demonstrating one on his on-line channel.
Soon after, the Loch went flat calm just like a sheet of glass. We then called a halt to the fishing and walked round the Loch and back over the hill to the car park.
I had a very thoroughly enjoyable evening fishing in the very good company of my friend Tam. I will have to get him to fish my Loch......Hillend, next time we are out.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Bright Waters!

Imagine my surprise today when I came home from work this afternoon. Behind the door was lying a package from Coch-y-Bonddu books. I didn't understand. I couldn't recall ordering a book to add to my ever increasing collection and I doubted very much that my son or other half had ordered me a birthday present a week early. Excitedly I ripped the package open to find a copy of 'Bright Waters' which is a 'celebration' as it proclaims on the jacket cover, of Irish game, course and sea angling. I was puzzled as to who had sent me this book as there was no letter or invoice attached. Then I remembered that I had sent of a short story to Fly Fishing & Fly tying magazine last month and that the prize for getting the story published in the magazine was the said book. I had bought this month's magazine yesterday and noticed that the Fish Story feature was not within this months pages. I think it's now a bi monthly feature. I can only assume I must have been successful with my story.I'm going to have a nice bottle of red to celebrate tonight. hic!

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Road to Hillend

I went up to the loch tonight with my friend Alex with the intention of chucking some fluff at the fish, however when I arrived it was blowing a gale , so decided not to bother. Alex was attending a committee meeting in the club house so I just had a wander about the loch to see how the railway construction and the new roads were coming along.
The usual entrance to the Club House is now closed as the rails are on the track in preparation for the line. Access to the club house is now via the new road along the narrows under the bridge at Forsyth's house. This road just opened the other day there but there is still some work to be done to tidy everything up etc. Two new car car parks are to be constructed at the club house too for members only. The non member car park will be on the other side of the rail track and access to the club house will be via the footbridge over the railway.Everything is coming along nicely.
Finally the new road coming down from the Limerigg road to the North Shore is now ready but is not officially opened yet as gates, barriers and litter bins etc are still to put in place. I went over to it tonight and I must say it's going to be an absolutely brilliant addition to our loch as it gives access to the fantastic fishing along the North shore.
While I was driving down that new road tonight a young deer got startled and ran in front of the car. I also saw quite a lot of hares. That'll be handy as I could be doing with some hares ear for tying flies.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Caithness slide show!

Here it is the slide show that I've been attempting to upload since yesterday. Its a collection of pics from my trip to Loch Watten and the sea fishing my friends enjoy Plus a couple of pics of the salmon taken from the River Naver.If you are wondering about who or what is the musical accompaniment to the pics it's a song called "Me & Jiggs" from Josh Ritter's 2001 album titled , The Golden age of Rock n Roll. I do hope you enjoy the music as well as the pics. Please feel free to leave any comments , good , bad or indifferent

Piscatorial Pleasure

I appear to be having trouble posting my slide show of my trip up North.Therefore I will have to make do with posting some more pics. Hope you enjoy them . Feedback would be very much appreciated.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Watten Warriors 2010

Last Thursday Tam, Scott and I departed Airdrie at 3 am in high spirits as we were heading to Caithness on our annual fishing break. Loch Watten was on our minds as we made good progress on the A9 in the early hours of Thursday morning. We arrived in Wick just as the shops were opening and wasted no time in calling in on Hugo Ross’s shop to have a look at the angling eye candy on show. I was tempted by an old second hand angling book, Trout from the Hills by Ian Niall, but after enquiring about the price I decided that 39 quid on this occasion would be better spent on the fishing we had arranged on our wee holiday. I did purchase some flees which I knew I didn’t need as we had more than enough but you how it is, we fishermen can’t help ourselves, even though I do tie my own flies.
After a visit to the bakers for breakfast we were off again on the short journey to our accommodation, Central Caravans, just outside the village of Watten. Tam and Scott had been here before when they fished Watten. So I knew what to expect when we arrived. The caravans were situated a few hundred yards from the Shores of Loch Watten. Our boats and engine were booked through the site owners. We just picked up the engine from the hut next to our caravan and got the key for the boat from our hosts then had it for the duration of our trip.
After settling into our caravan we sat about a while chatting and speculating what tactics we would be putting into place. It was decided that the three of us would go out on the boat but only two fishing at the one time. Tam was anxious to get started right away, he had that look in his eyes that he always has when he’s champing at the bit. We decided to go fishing at about half past two so took the two-minute drive in the car down to the boat moorings where we set about getting ready to go afloat.
It didn’t take long for Tam to get the first fish of the trip then another and an other and so it went on. Scott too got in on the act I actually struggled for the best part of the day catching only two and missing dozens. I was a bit too slow to react but the fact that I was using my soft 9ft sharps Gordon #6 didn’t help… Better was to come though. It was very wind on that first afternoon and it was a great sight to see the fish coming through the waves to grab our flies. At eleven o’ clock that evening once the wind had calmed down to a nice wee breeze the whole loch erupted with rising fish and thousands of flies of all sorts appearing. You couldn’t fail to catch fish as the fish were rising everywhere I am not exaggerating in any way when I say that we were probably experiencing the best ever fishing I have experienced. It was very pleasing to eventually start getting fish on a regular basis. The rise lasted just over an hour. Many, Many fish were caught ½ pound being about average with some larger. We kept a few for taking home for family and friends. We eventually called it a night or should I say morning at about 1am. It was three very happy anglers that headed back to the caravan at about half one, quarter to two for a huge plate of spaghetti bolognaise that Scott willingly cooked. I know it was crazy eating at that time in the morning but we didn’t care, we were absolutely starving.
After a long lie on Friday morning we were refreshed and yearning to get out on the Loch again. Scott, our designated cook made one of his legendary breakfasts for us which, as always after eating we had to lie down for a bit. We just lazed about the caravan most of the day then decided to go fishing at about five bells. Before we set out I decided to organize my fly boxes, there was no need to take my numerous boxes, as one would do as long as I had the flies that were so successful for us the day before. Loch Ordies, Watten Warriors, Claret bumbles, silver invictas and muddlers were the flies that were successful. I tied very hard to get a fish on my balloon caddis but it wasn’t to be, as the Watten residents appeared to prefer the old tried and trusted traditionals.
I have to be honest here; I did not have the best of afternoons/nights on Friday. I only managed a few small trout and as usual missed countless amounts of trout. Tam and Scott were having the time of their life though. Tam in particular had some very good trout indeed. We were fishing in a light westerly wind with fish rising regularly. I am not that good at estimating trout weight but I reckon he had one at about 1 ¾, maybe more. Tam and Scott caught countless amount of trout some of which again were kept for the pot. Once again the same flies as the night before were the troot catchers. I had a very frustrating day as I felt like a fool with the other two catching so many trout. I tried everything adjusted this and that changed fly after fly and wondered why the hell I wasn’t doing as good as the others especially as I was sitting right next to them on the boat. Two happy anglers and a down in the dumps one finished for the night just after midnight. Tam was especially pleased as he had landed some fantastic looking trout.
On the Saturday we decided to get out on the Loch about three o’clock. A strong east wind was blowing across the loch with the threat of rain never far away.
I set out on this our third and final day on the Loch with a different approach. This time I decided to use my Lochmor 10 ½ foot #7. The change in rod and slight change in flies coincided with my luck as I had an absolutely brilliant Saturday afternoon/evening on the Loch even though we fished in a strong easterly wind with big waves and eventually very heavy rain. The slight change in my three fly cast was the addition of a fly I received from the Wild Fishing Forum fly swap. The fly in question was best described as a half hog hopper with red legs. I caught countless amount of trout on this fly along with a few on the Watten Warrior and the Loch Ordie. It’s amazing how one’s luck can change. Instead of me watching my friends catching all the trout it was my turn to catch the most. Don’t get me wrong Tam was catching too but not as much as he had done on the last two days. As for Scott he was having a terrible time. He was having the nightmare that I experienced the day before. I was pleased that he eventually caught a couple before the close of play. For the most part of the day the rain appeared and it didn’t’ let up, we got thoroughly soaked in the brisk east wind but I didn’t care as I had one of the best days trout fishing that I have ever had. At around eleven fifteen we collectively decided to call it a night as Scott pulled in the drogue and Tam wound in his line I had time for another couple of casts and caught my final tout from the loch on the most suitably named pattern, Watten Warrior. It was most probably fate that the final trout from Watten on out trip fell to the Warrior. It was three very wet, tired, and hungry warriors that headed back to the Central Caravans to get dried off and tuck into our midnight feast of sausage casserole, tatties and veg.
Next morning the weather appeared to have changed for the better. We had nice blue skies and sunshine with light winds. We sat about all morning waiting on all our gear drying off which was hung all around our caravan. By early afternoon everything was dry but then disaster struck. Everything went black we had thunder and lightning very strong winds and heavy rain. We had intended on going to Loch Calder in the afternoon but instead we headed to the supermarket in Wick to stock up on beer, cider and wine in preparation for the world cup final. Yep Sunday was our day or rest and to be perfectly honest we really needed it. The fishing had been tremendous for us all. Every one of us had a fantastic time on Watten with a couple of blips for some.
The dreaded Monday arrived, the day we were going home, but it was decided we would make the most of our last day. We were going sea fishing from Strathy point on the North coast. When we arrived I decided not to bother as the terrain these two intrepid sea anglers were going to fish looked too dodgy for me. I just tagged along and sat admiring the view especially the sight of a basking shark coming in close to us.
On Tam’s first cast he caught a 6lb Pollack followed by many smaller ones. Not to be out done Scott caught a few too then eventually he caught a big Pollack at around a very respectable 5lb or so.
After a few hours they packed it in and we headed away from the outcrop back towards the big lighthouse and the road back to the car. On the way across the outcrop I nearly came a cropper. There was a section of rock that had to be negotiated along a very narrow ridge. I was carrying the fish and was very nervous moving across this ridge when I slipped and fell backwards. To my left was the sea 50 feet below and to my right a huge gully of jagged rock etc. When I fell I slipped to the right the fish went flying and I grappled to stop myself from slipping all the way down the cliff. It is no exaggeration to say that I had a very lucky escape indeed, as well as a sore back cut fingers and arm and numbness down my left leg and toes. When I got back to the car I kept getting flash backs and imagining what would have become of me if I hadn’t managed to grab onto some rocks. Anyway that’s enough of my personal dramatics.
Scott has a friend, Jim, who lives in Bettyhill, so it was decided that we would head over there to meet him before we headed on the long journey home. When we arrived at his house he was not in but his neighbour told us that he would be down at Ally’s pool on the River Naver. Off we went to meet him; sure enough he was on the river fishing for salmon. While we sat on the bank chatting etc Jim’s friend Robert appeared from round the bend carrying a salmon of about 4lbs or so. He was fishing with his dog and daughter. After chatting a while, time was getting on and it was decided that we better head for home as we had many miles in front of us. We stopped once on the way home, at Dingwall, for fuel and food. We eventually made it back to Airdrie at about 1am. Our holiday was over and I can’t wait to next year to do it all again although I don’t think I will want to visit Strathy Point ever again.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Bathymetrical Survey of Scotland

I thought I would bring to your attention a fantastic resource for anglers wishing to fish the Lochs of Scotland. Some of you may have noticed a link to the Bathymterical survey of Scottish freshwaters on my side bar. It's a fantastic resource with detailed zoomable maps giving a grid of the depths of the lochs. Whenever I am going to a Loch I've never been to I always do a bit of research before hand, much to the amusement of my two fishing friends who have given me a nickname that I will not be disclosing on here. I'm sure that Tam and Scott find my facts and figures etc helpful and interesting. It's always helpful to know what depth of water you are fishing over. Of course not every single Loch is covered in the survey but many popular venues are. It was pleasing to note that the Lochs of Caithness that I will be visiting over the next few days are listed.The above notes are an example of the information available.Next time you are going fishing have a look at this interesting survey hosted by the National Library of Scotland. I'm sure you'll find it very informative indeed.
Below is a direct link to the site.

Bathymetrical Survey of the Fresh-Water Lochs of Scotland, 1897-1909 - Maps - National Library of Scotland

Monday, 5 July 2010

Flytying for Pleasure

I've been busy at the vice all morning and afternoon today, tying up flies for my trip to Caithness on Thursday. I literally have thousands of flies and to be honest I don't really need to be tying as I most probably have flies for every eventuality that will come my way on my fishing trip. I'm sure I'm not alone in participating in such practices. It's just something we fly tyers do. I just do it for the sheer love of tying. I am led to believe that brightly coloured flies are popular at Loch Watten which will be my main venue while I'm away. With that in mind I have been tying all manner of variations of traditional patterns which I hope will give me an edge.I don't have a name for the above fly it's just one of those patterns based loosely around a traditional style that I really enjoy tying. If anyone can think of a name for this pattern, please leave a suggestion in the comments box.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Seaside Sojourn

Hi folks! I apologize for the lack of posts recently as I have been all at sea, well sort of. I am just back from a wee holiday in Devon. The above pic is as close as I got to fishing while I was away. I didn't bother packing any fishing gear with me as I thought it was best to keep the other half happy,it was our silver wedding anniversary after all. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible as I will be doing a bit of tying and having a visit to Hillend before I'm off again on Thursday for four days. This time, on a fly fishing break with a couple of friends to Caithness. Watch this space for some pics of flies as I will be tying this evening as it looks far too windy and wet for a visit up to the Loch tonight