Saturday, 31 December 2011

Goodbye to 2011

Thought it would appropriate to make one last post before the year is out. Hogmanay of course is a time when we like to reflect on the year just passed. We Scots tend to get all sentimental and many a tear is shed as the bells ring in the new year.
I like to make new year resolutions but I'm not going to share them as they are often broke after only a matter of weeks.
The highlight of my year fishing wise was of course catching my first ever salmon on my first ever salmon trip. That was something really special. There have been a few highs as well as lows on the angling front but I'm not going to dwell but remain upbeat as we go into the new year.
I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very prosperous New year and may all your fish be big uns!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Peter Ross

Well that's all the festive giving and receiving over for another year. Therefore I've now got time to concentrate on my blog again. For over a month now I have had problems with my pc but all issues are resolved now because Santa/Val got me a new one.
Over the last week or so I have tied various style of flies so I thought I would share one of those patterns with you. Its a fly you either love or hate. The Peter Ross. Its amazing how many fishermen will tell you that they have never caught a single fish on this pattern but there will be just as many who will tell that they would never be without it. I like to use this fly on Highland lochans I have also had success with it at Hillend too.
There is an enjoyable and interesting account of the use of this pattern in a chapter titled 'Peter and I in the Corrie Halloch' in Robert McDonald Robertson's wonderful book called Wade the River Drift the Loch. You should really try and get a hold of this book it really is a delight.The Peter Ross was devised by a Killin store keeper of the same name as a variation of the Teal and red. I imagine it represents small fry. It also has a reputation for sea trout as well as browns. Go on give it a chuck in the new season and prove the doubters wrong.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Traditional River Floats!

Today My Blog is two years old. It's a real delight to share my fishing related experiences and to watch my viewing numbers increase as they have done over these past two years. I am now on average receiving 1,250 views a month which is very encouraging. Its more than I could have ever have hoped for when I first started this venture. Anyway I digress. Today I thought I would share the news that I will be receiving these beautiful hand made traditional grayling river floats within the next couple of days. They are made by George Lockhart a Scot now living in Yorkshire I have a link to his blog on my side bar... Traditional Floats.
You may recall a blog post from last month about a successful day on the Clyde fishing for grayling with John, on that day John showed me a plethora of floats that he had acquired over the years but the ones that caught the eye were the very beautiful floats that he had, made by George. I thought they were real works of art and told John that I would be scared to use them in case I lost them, he just laughed.
After seeing these floats first hand I decided to contact George about the availability of making me a set, through the Clyde Fishing Forum where he is an active member and regularly post his fishing exploits on there. He was more than Happy to make me a set but told me there would be a four or five week wait as this is a busy time for him and only makes them in his spare time in the evenings.Well just last week George contacted me to say that my floats were almost ready and sent me a pic of the floats to see that I was happy with them. At the time of taking the pic George told me they still had a couple of layers of lacquer to be applied.I think you will agree that they look rather splendid and I cant wait to use them on the River over the festive period.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Dabbler's Xmas Wish!

Well its that time of year again when every fisherman has got to turn his thoughts to the very serious matter of what he wants for Christmas.Its not as easy as it first appears because the choice of game fishing accessories is quite bewildering these days. Difficult the choice may be, I’m sure that by way of this blog, Val, oops, sorry I mean Santa will take the hint and get me what I want for Christmas. Now then there are various things I could be doing with, for a start I could do with a new pair of waders, These brethables I have at the moment let in water like the lily burn rushing into the rizzer in full flow, Yes I really could be doing with a new pair of waders. A new floating fly line, I could always do with some top of the range fly lines oh! and some of those wonderful hand crafted grayling floats that George Lockhart makes . Living on a financial knife-edge means that I am always putting economy before efficiency, so what better time of year could you ask for some hi- tech gear. You see that is the beauty of Christmas you don’t have to pay. This being the case I think I will ask for a Sage four-piece travel rod with matching reel. I must say, that I have been a very good angler this year Santa so if you could kindly get me a season ticket for an exclusive beat on the Tweed or Naver I’m not bothered which river you choose, it would be really be appreciated, you see I already have a ticket for Hillend Loch so it would be beneficial to me if I could broaden my horizons and put my fishing skills to the test on some of the more challenging waters that there are to offer. Oh and as a little extra add-on could you guarantee me that I could catch at least one fish on each trip I make as it does really get embarrassing coming home empty handed time after time and having to make up excuses, such as, the water was too low or the water was too high or that the wind was that strong that I couldn’t get my line out far enough to reach the fish. Could you also make sure that when I’m fishing I’m always within sight of my friends so that they can see me when I connect with a fish. For a joy shared on a riverbank is a pleasure doubled I would also like it not to be raining every time I go on a fishing trip, you see this beautiful country of mine has a climate problem - its always bloody raining, In the last few years, my fly fishing travels have taken me to some truly awe inspiring locations bit it is always the same scenario, lovely all the way on the journey until I almost reach my destination, you guessed it down comes the mist down pours the rain or if its at the start of the season an easterly gale might come thundering in and just for good measure bring along the snow for company. Like I already said we have a very serious climatic problem and I can think of only one solution “ we need a roof “ I’m getting a bit flippant now I know that’s impossible, even for you Santa, I’d be happy if you could just stop it from raining every once in a while. This is Christmas the time for goodwill to all men and all that stuff. It’s not a lot to ask for, is it? Santa? I don’t suppose I’m the only applicant but I’ve been extremely good this year and after all it is Christmas.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Hillend Palmer!

I've had a lazy weekend this week and never ventured out much as the weather has been pretty horrible with it snowing off and on all day today. As well as doing my usual reading etc I spent a few hours at the bench this afternoon tying some more flies. I got an unexpected compliment today from non other than Davie McPhail who I regard as one of the best tyers in Europe if not the world.He commented that he liked one of my patterns which has encouraged me greatly because to get a compliment from Davie really is high praise indeed.I therefore went on to tie more of the style of fly he liked. Lets call this the Hillend Palmer. Here is one of those patterns which I really do enjoy tying and also like to use at Hillend on a cast of three while drifting the Loch from a boat.
The pattern is as follows Hook size, 10 Kamazan. Thread, Brown Uni. Tail, Yellow floss. Body, Copper holographic tinsel. Body Hackle, Brown grizzle cock. Rib, Copper wire. Head hackle, Hen neck Dun.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

French Partridge & Malt

I've been tying a few flies this week mostly gold headed grayling bugs and leaded nymphs and the like. I find them very easy to tie and to be honest they can be a bit of a chore as there is no real skill involved in tying them.
Today I thought I would tie a few flies that I believe is my forte and the style that I get most enjoyment out of. What better way to make use of the tons of French Partridge that I have amassed than to tie a few of these flies which are loosely based on an Irish May fly pattern.This style of pattern is best used in the warm months of May and June, which seem an age away, and is best fished on the top dropper. My new fly box is steadily filling up but my fine bottle of malt is diminishing as I sit here at the tying desk on these dark dreich winter nights.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Frustrations of an Angler.

This week has been rather frustrating for me thus far.I have been really busy with non fishing related stuff over the last week and also my pc is still playing up every now and again. I have tied a few flies but have no means of uploading as pc problems prevail but there is hope on the horizon as I have high hopes of a new lap top in the next few weeks.
Anyway I digress the next best thing to fishing is reading about it I therefore took delivery of a couple of angling books last week. A Singing Reel by Moray McLaren and Long Walks with Little People by Bruce Sandison. I haven't had much time to read them thoroughly yet. The Moray McLaren book was recommended to me by a fellow fisherman but after reading the first couple of chapters its pretty difficult reading as its quite an old book and written in a style of its time but I will persevere with it when I get time. The Bruce Sandison book appears to be very good though. It's fairly light reading about Bruce raising his young family and introducing them to angling and the outdoor life in general. It is very humorous reading, very enjoyable in fact.
I was hoping to have a visit to the River Clyde this week but the weather has put an end to any thoughts of trotting for grayling for the time being as there has been heavy flooding in these parts over the last few days.Today I'm sure I saw animals leave the Lanarkshire countryside two by two.
On the plus side I have a nice bottle of 12 year old Speyside Malt, Cardhu, which I fully intend to enjoy whilst tying flies, reading about fishing and waiting for the rain to stop.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

No Grayling Today!

Today I returned to the scene of my first real success at the grayling which was two weeks ago now.
We arrived at Abbington Services in the dark about seven o clock, we had a coffee and a bite to eat and waited for the sun to rise. As daylight broke it revealed a very grey and overcast sky. We soon made our way over to the river.
This time I didn't have the expertize of John by my side to assist me. This time I took along my friend Scott who is also a novice at the trotting lark. I had told him all about my last time on the Clyde two weeks ago and how great it was so I was putting a lot of pressure on myself as I had made it sound as if we were bound to have success.I set up my trotting gear as before but with a little more length below the float as the water was higher than the last time but it wasn't really all that dirty. I had a maggot on the bottom and the pink bug about ten inches above that with the weighted shot in between.
After only fifteen minutes or so I was into a fish sadly it was not a grayling but a nice wee brown trout which was fooled by the maggot.After a quick pic it was released back into the river. I fished on and soon after Scott was into a fish this time it looked a more substantial sized fish that mine but once again it was a brown trout and this fish was duped by the pink bug. As I hurriedly made my way along the bank towards Scott to get a pic of his fish the trout managed to wriggle away from Scott as he held it in the water so unfortunately we didn't get a photo of it.
We fished on for an hour or so but no further fish were caught. Today the weather was quite different from my last trip and because it was so dark and grey I struggled to see my float at times which wasn't a problem the last time when it was bright and sunny. I was using an orange tipped float . I was wondering if someone could advise on which colour is best for dark overcast conditions? I was thinking black might be a good colour.
We next moved onto a couple of other locations on the river that were reccommended to me by John but alas I had no more success.Scott and I really enjoyed ourselves and once again it was a big learning curve for both of us. It was just great to be out there!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Spiders! lost in a web of problems.

All week I have been having problems with my pc.Therefore I haven't been able to access my blog to load up pics or write some posts etc. It turns out my pc is completely goosed. Tonight is the first time I have managed to get online all week as I have a replacement now but it's not very good it's rather old and slow a bit like how I feel these days. I'm ready for throwing it in a skip as it won't accept my camera, my phone or even load up my photoshop programme.Therefore my ability to load new pics from my camera are zero. Not being in cyberspace this week has had its advantages though as I have been reading Mike Harding's book on North Country Spiders and spending more time at the tying desk tying those style of flies.Here is one I tied a while back to give you an idea of the flies I have been tying this week. This is a woodcock and ginger.
I'm not good with computers, as long its working I'm fine but when things go wrong I am hopeless at trying to remedy the faults.I have dropped enough hints to the wife about geting a lap top for my Christmas but I dont know if I could wait that long or if she even will get me one, I live in hope. Not sure when I will be making another blog post as it all depends on my pc plight. Bye for now folks!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A day to remember and forget!

Yesterday was the worst day of my life. To let you understand I was in the town of Coatbridge at the disgraceful hovel that is Cliftonhill to watch my dearly beloved Airdrie FC play Albion Rovers. If you don’t already know we suffered the most horrendous defeat in our history. Embarrassed and humiliated I was in much need of being cheered up; therefore a day on the River Clyde in the pursuit of grayling was the perfect tonic.
John and I arrived at the River in a cold and frosty Sunday morning but the frost soon disappeared as the warmth of the sun moved from the east to enliven this glorious day.
Not having much experience at trotting the river, John helped set me up and gave me all the advice I needed to get started. He let me have the first few runs through the river and then when John was setting up he lowered his float into the river and a trout immediately grabbed the maggot. Next cast John landed the first grayling of the day, which took John’s unorthodox bug. Then he caught another and another. I too was soon into some grayling and a couple of trout. All this lasted for most of the morning. We lost count of the grayling that came to the net in various sizes. We then had a coffee break and a bite to eat. Refreshed, we started trotting again and fished for another hour but for some reason all the fish seemed to have disappeared.
We then decided to move down river and switch tactics by giving the fly rods a try. Sadly the nymphs and bugs we used with our fly rods didn’t tempt any more fish. We then reverted back to trotting. One more trout and the biggest grayling of the day were landed. That big grayling that John landed was an absolute beauty and made the whole trip worthwhile. We were not entirely sure of its definite weight but it was well over 2lb. If it had been me who caught this wonderful specimen it would have been a personal best but remarkably John has had plenty grayling in the past which have been larger. We fished on a little longer until the light faded and the air turned cold.
We soon packed up, walked back down river and across the fields back to the car and reflected on a very successful and satisfying day on the Clyde.
As I was packing my gear into the car I suddenly remembered something I had forgotten all about. Ach well I can always ease the pain by having more fishing trips to the Clyde over the winter in order to forget.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Red Tag

For my first blog post of the month I have tied a fly which has taken me back to basics, The Red Tag, which was one of the first flies I ever tied when I first started out flytying. It is a very simple but effective pattern that has the distinction of being the most popular grayling fly in Great Britain. It originates from the mid eighteen hundreds in Worcestershire where it was first known as the Worcestershire Gem. Many years ago a work colleague who is sadly no longer with us took me on my first ever grayling trip to Kinkell Bridge on the River Earn. Being a novice at the time John provided me with everything I would need and the fly that was on my first ever cast for grayling was the Red Tag. That day the river was running high and was getting dirtier by the minute but although I didn’t catch a grayling that day I did manage a small sea trout thus proving that the Red Tag is not only a fly for Grayling it’s also a good all round pattern too. Have a go at tying one they really are simple to tie and is good fly to have in your box.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Beneath the Black Water

I’ve just been on a fantastic fishing trip but I didn’t leave the house. I was taken on this journey by Jon Berry’s wonderful book called “Beneath the Black Water”
The content of the book is basically all about Jon’s obsession with Ferox trout but it is actually much more than that. It’s actually a glimpse into the last thirteen years of Jon’s life.
Although I certainly do not have a passion for ferox trout nor do I ever intend to hunt for these mysterious creatures I really did find this book compulsive reading. His whole obsession and compulsion really struck a chord with me. I defy any passionate fisherman who reads this book not to deny that they see a bit of themselves within these pages. Jon captures the essence of fishing and in some part explains the theory that there really is more to fishing than catching fish. It’s about the journey, the landscapes, the planning, the anticipation, the people you fish with, the unknown and sheer escapism.
My only criticism of this book is that it wasn’t long enough; I never wanted the journey to end. To be honest I think Jon’s journey hasn’t really ended he has only paused to collect his thoughts.
As you may have guessed I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Clyde Sand Fly

There is a fly that may be encountered from the end of April to the end of May on the Clyde when the conditions are suitable
The fly in question is known on the Clyde as the Sand Fly, but referred to elsewhere as the gravel bed, since it appears on the surface of gravel or sand, before swarming onto the water.
It is a rather drab little creature, but according to Clyde fishers the response of trout to its appearance can be very spectacular.
The hatches take place in the slightly moist sand and gravel near the river edge during sunny days in May.
For some Clyde anglers the Sand Fly season is the absolute pinnacle of the trout season. The recommended areas on the Clyde for sand fly fishing are in the Lammington area and also the Bower Pool area another suggested stretch is the half moon flat between Thankerton and Carstairs. There are many other suitable stretches such as the Elvanfoot area but the hatches maybe later in this location due to it being higher and often more cooler.
There are several artificial flies which some tiers claim to be the must have sand fly patterns but in my opinion and that of many others the definitive Clyde Sand fly pattern has got to be the one included in the Bert Sharps wonderfully rare book, “ Lets Fish the Clyde” The dressing is tied with size 14 or 16 hooks, black thread, a body of very sparsely dubbed mole fur and a wing made from a small brown speckled partridge feather and then a black cock hackle is tied in front of the wing.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Hillend Ant!

I now have a swarm of ants lying on my tying desk. My tying of these has improved with each one I have tied. Like I said, a bit fiddly to start with but with each ant that falls from the vice they appear to be improving. I'll tie a few more then move onto more conventional patterns. Here is the latest to come from my vice.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Dabbler's Ant

No, my latest blog post is not about one of my rarely seen relatives that I only ever meet at weddings and funerals it's my latest creation from the vice at Dabbler HQ. I have been talking to some folk who use these style of flies on Scottish Lochs and rivers would you believe? I think you will agree that it is a most unusual pattern and not the sort of fly you would use on Scottish Lochs which are normally the preserve of the Traditional Scottish wets but I have been reliably informed that wild brown trout of the Highlands cannot resist them.I can exclusively reveal that a double figure Scottish wild brown trout which is the anglers personal best was fooled by one these beasties.I must confess I have never used this style of fly before but I'm willing to give them a try next season based on the success stories that I have been hearing. I found them to be a wee bit fiddly to tie at first but soon got used to tying them. They are good fun to tie and with a bit of imagination I'm sure I could come up with many variations but the one above is the basic style. I think its the movement of the rubber rubber legs that is the trigger point for the trout. Go on give them a try they are fun to tie and I'm sure even better fun to fish with.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Hillend Zonker

With the trout season over I decided to have lazy weekend. Last night I had a few beers whilst watching the Scotland match on tv and this morning I gave my blog a long overdue freshen up by changing the header and footer and also changing some of the pics on my side bar. Let me know what you think of the changes. This afternoon rather than go for a bike ride up to Hillend as was my intention, I decided stay indoors because of the weather and decided to do a bit of reading and also spend some time at the vice. I had been reading recently on a forum I frequent about the use of big flies for big trout, personally I don't think the size of fly matters much its just down to luck whether you catch a whumper or not. This notion though gave me an idea to use up the zonker strips that have been lying in by tying chest for a number of years now. Therefore for a bit of fun I tied up a few of these Hillend Zonkers. To be honest I can actually see these being of great use at Hillend at the start of the season next year.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Trout season ends.... Flytying Nights Begin!

Well that's another trout fishing season over.I went upto the loch today for the last time but I didn't even leave my car as it was blowing a gale today with heavy rain. I decided that it wouldn't be worth the effort even though it was the last couple of hours of the season I just sat in the warmth of the car with the rain battering the windows and read a book. It was a season of mixed fortunes for me. I didn't do too well at Hillend this year but that could be down to a number of reasons. maybe I didn't fish Hillend as often as I have done in the past , A lot of my visits were just for an hour or so, I spent quite a bit of time just walking around taking photos etc. I was mostly fishing on my own at Hillend this year too which is fine but I do prefer to have company when fishing. Of course it could be that I 'm just a crap angler. I had better days and more enjoyment away from Hillend this year but once again I didn't get as many away days in as I would have liked to.Highlight of my fishing season was of course catching my first, losing my second and catching my third salmon wow! what a memory. There were so many lochs that I intended to visit but didn't find time to fit them in ach! well there's always next year.Only 160 days until the start of the season.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Back at the Vice!

You may have noticed in these pages over the last couple of months that I haven't been flytying much but that is all about to change with the end of the fishing season imminent and the dark nights really starting to kick in. I've recently lost by enthusiasm for watching the football so this afternoon instead of dragging myself along to New Broomfield to watch the Diamonds I switched on my radio to listen to Radio Scotland's football coverage, Open all Mics, and pulled up a chair at my tying desk and stuck some fur and feather onto some hooks. The fly on display here is a variation of Watson's Bumble , a great Loch style pattern, which will undoubtedly be the first of many that I will tye over the dark winter nights. Oh aye! My team had an emphatic victory today, which is just typical whenever I'm not in attendance.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Head of the Glen

I know that you will be visiting this these pages because it is a fly-fishing and flytying blog but when I first set up my blog my intention was to also include my other outdoor interest which is hillwalking.
I used to be a regular climbing munros and the like but dodgy knees have somewhat curtailed that for sometime and fly-fishing gradually became my number one pursuit. Now and again I still get away for a walk but nothing too strenuous these days because of the old knees. Anyway I digress here is a short report of a walk I enjoyed yesterday with two friends.
Yesterday morning It seemed strange not to include my fishing rod whilst loading my rucksack and boots etc into the back of my friend Alex’s car. We were soon on our travels picking up Willie from East Kilbride and then heading for Galloway that sometimes forgotten southwest corner of Scotland.
We parked in a lay-by at the Galloway Forest Park a few miles outside the village of New Galloway and decided to walk a five-mile route through bog, burns, hill, forestry, by lochs and waterfalls, strange eerie sculptures and monuments.
It was good to be out on the hill even though it was wet and misty and for a along section of the walk we were shin deep in bog. High lights of the walk were standing above the waterfalls, and the big cylindrical sculpture by the black loch but best of all was when we emerged down from the forest and came across numerous heads carved into the drystane dyke. They looked very eerie in the low-lying mist. We were thoroughly soaked and tired when we finished our circular walk and after a quick change of clothes we headed for the village of St Johns town of Dalry for a few pints and a bite to eat before making the journey back to Lanarkshire.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Wild Fishing on Rannoch Moor

For what would be my last fishing trip of the season to the Scottish Highlands I decided I wanted to go somewhere wild, desolate but beautiful, I chose to fish a wee lochan on the edge of Rannoch Moor with an overnight camp by the banks of the infant River Etive.
Scott and I arrived at the Kingshouse in complete darkness early on Saturday morning. While waiting for the sun to rise we had some coffee and a bit to eat in preparation for the four-mile hike into our desired lochan.
This was my second visit to this loch which lies in a col between two hills at a height of 1,276 feet but the last time I was there I didn’t own a mobile phone, a pc, a GPS, oh and I didn’t carry so much weight back then either, it was actually about twenty years ago.
My memories of this lochan were that I had caught numerous small very dark trout but peculiarly I also caught a good wee half pounder that was bright and golden in colour, very different from all the rest of the trout I caught that day. I remember being puzzled at the time, as it was not the sort of trout you normally find in peaty moorland lochans. I suspected that the local estate perhaps stocked this lochan occasionally for guests, as there was a wee boatshed with a boat moored at the south shore.
Therefore I was curious and excited to find out if this wee lochan was just how I remembered it.
The walk in took us about an hour and a half with numerous stops to take photos of the surrounding mountain and moorland landscape. On arrival at the lochan we noticed that there was indeed just as I had remembered a wee boat shed complete with boat. It appeared to be quite new though with no signs of weathering or rust.
We sat by the loch for a while taking in the wild landscape then decided to get our rods stringed and have a wander round the loch in search of trout. The weather was ideal as it was cloudy with a light breeze and the odd wee drizzle of rain now and again.
It didn’t take long to make contact with the inhabitants of the loch as they were soon splashing on the surface, chasing my flies and getting captured on both my point fly and dropper. I have to admit that these fish were quite small but the takes were quite aggressive and they were fun to catch. We encountered fish all round the loch and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, taking a break every now and again to take in the vastness of the area and also take many photos. Curiously though we never came across any bright golden trout like the one I caught all those years ago. We came to the conclusion that there must be decent sized trout in this loch somewhere, as someone wouldn’t go to all the trouble of putting a boat on this loch for the purpose of catching dark bandy trout.
After five or six very enjoyable hours of bandy catching we called it a day and walked out from the loch. As we hiked back to the Kingshouse we were wondering where we would camp for the night as the area around the Kingy was a bit grubby and busy.
It had been a long day and we were feeling a bit weary as we trudged along the track. Then unbelievably we had a wonderful stroke of luck that would solve the mystery of the golden trout and also a solution to out camp for the night.
We met a man from the estate who was repairing the track. We stopped and chatted for a while. He asked us if we had caught much and where we had been. I told him about the fish I had caught from the loch all those years ago. He was very pleasant and told us that we actually should have arranged to fish the loch through the estate. We apologised but he told us not to worry. He then explained that the estate stocked the loch in the past but not reently and that the boat belonged to them. He was a really friendly chap and also told us he was a member of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue team and was also a keen fisherman He told us all about the deer stalking etc. It was all very interesting. He then very kindly told us that if we were looking for a place to camp that we could bring the car into the estate road and pitch our tents next to the river. We thanked him and he told us that the next time we fancied fishing in the area that we should call him and he would give us some pointers on where to go.
It started to rain so we said our goodbyes and were soon off again. By the time we reached the car we were soaked so headed into the Kingy Climber’s bar to dry off and down a few welcome pints of Black Gold Ale. With the permission of the Keeper we then drove back up the track we had just walked down and set up camp at the river with the Buachaille dominating the downstream view. We ended our day with a meal of Noodles, Soup, Whisky and Beer. It was late when we decided to bed down for the night. As I lay in my tent, I reflected on a very satisfying and interesting day and felt safe in the knowledge that the Big Etive Shepherd was watching over me as I slipped off into the land of nod.

Monday, 19 September 2011

GAC Open weekend 2011

I would just like to say that I have no connection with Glasgow Angling Centre or anyone employed by them. The reason I am mentioning their Open weekend is quite simply that it is a fantastic event with angling and flytying celebrities in attendance.
I have been to a few in the past which I mentioned way back when I first started this almost two years ago. It's worth a visit to see the wonderfully talented Davie McPhail tying flys and also have a look around the Cookshill Flytying stall.Last time I attended one of these events I sat in the flytying area all afternoon watching Davie tying while others wandered around getting their photos taken with Paul Young, Hywel Morgan and Matt Hayes and the like. Apparently they have good deals on tackle etc over the weekend but that side of the weekend doesn't appeal to me I was only really interested in the flytying side of things. like I say its a great event which is free.I have been to a couple of fly tying fairs and this event at GAC is every bit as good if not better than them and has the advantage for me of being local too. There is one drawback this year,unfortunately I am going to miss out on this weekend this year and I 'm really disappointed but I shouldn't be as I'm off this weekend on a camping and fishing trip to the Highlands, details of which will appear on this blog next week.So if you are not fishing this weekend and are in the area get along to this event, I'm sure you would enjoy it.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Scottish Grayling.

With the trout season fast coming to an end my thoughts have been turning to the Lady of the Stream; The Grayling. My success at Grayling fishing has been limited to say the least. My best grayling was taken from the River Clyde at the Mauldslie Estate a few years ago, it was all of half a pound. This year I intend to try and better that. A few years ago I was given the following information from a friend. I have no idea where he aquired this but it gives a great insight into the introduction of Grayling in Scotland...
Some would argue that the Grayling is not truly Scottish, as its only 156 years since it was imported from the Midlands of England. Indeed many fishermen, from south of the border have complained bitterly about the introduction of the Lady of the Stream in Scotland.
Be that as it may, the grayling gives excellent autumn and winter sport in a number of rivers north of the border.
The full story of the spread of the grayling in Scottish rivers has not been recorded in recent years at least. Despite the fact that parts of the story are not known in detail, the information that is available is worth telling, partly because of it’s historical value and partly because it tells of a degree of success that is surprising considering the then current knowledge of fish culture.
The first of the immigrant grayling received special treatment and an impressive welcome. On the 5th of December 1855 the mail train made an arranged stop to allow the fish to be unloaded in the Lanarkshire village of Abington on the banks of the River Clyde. The welcoming committee included prominent Glasgow businessmen, one of whom, George Anderson, was later to become MP for Glasgow.
Victorian Glasgow was a hive of entrepreneurial activity which spilled over into the affairs of associations such as the West of Scotland Angling Club of which George Anderson was a member. In fact as member in charge of the “Grayling Experiment” he arranged for three dozen healthy 1 ½ year old grayling to be transported from Rowsley, near Derby to Abington on Clyde. Only three of the fish did not survive the journey and the others were introduced to the River Clyde.
The fate of these fish and the success of that part of the experiment are not known. There were reports of a few grayling being caught in the next few years, including one story which claimed that a grayling of 3 ½ lb had been captured, but we shall probably never know whether the introduced fish spawned successfully since any effect that they had was probably swamped by the second phase of the experiment.
A second delivery of Grayling were transported to Abington and despite the set back of a number of fish escaping from the zinc screen tanks into the river this phase of the experiment was considered a success as some of the 160 fish were retained in a pond as brooding stock. A few of the grayling were forwarded to the vicinity of one of the upper Tay tributaries with the intention of stocking a whole system of streams including the noble Tay. The remaining fish were released into the Daer, the main tributary in the upper area of the Clyde. Concerns were expressed about the survival of grayling when introduced with the large indigenous trout in this area.
Despite such misgivings the venture did succeed and the grayling did indeed spread throughout much of the Clyde system. It was ironic that very few grayling seem to have been caught by those responsible for their introduction. The West of Scotland Angling association showed commendable restraint and did not hold their first grayling competition until 1863. On that occasion the total catch was two grayling weighing 9oz and 13oz. Subsequent competitions did not appear to have a higher catch rate, despite the fact that good catches were being made elsewhere by others not involved in competitions.
Anglers in other areas were impressed by the success of the Clyde grayling experiment and as a result stock were sent elsewhere. In a letter to the field in 1861 George Anderson offered to supply grayling to other areas and requests came as far a field as County Cork in Ireland. History might have been different if that request had been followed through; as to this day there are no grayling to be found in Ireland. Unfortunately the remainder of the story was not so well documented and firm evidence has proved hard to find.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Wee Red Book

A thread was posted on a fishing forum, views were exchanged, Pm's were passed,phone calls were made and received, texts were sent and received and eventually,today, a Scottish Water Van and an NLC van rendezvoused on the A73 in Lanarkshire, Hands were shook, sterling changed hands and I was now the proud owner of something I have longed to have for many years.It is red and has gold colored lettering. It measures 8 3/4'' x 5 1/2'' and is a 1/2" thick. It has 80 pages, was first published in 1973 and cost £1.50p back then.
The author's name was music to my ears........ C Sharp
Yes! I had at long last after years of searching for it, a copy of "Lets Fish the Clyde". Bert's book is wonderfully rare and is much sought after. I could not believe my luck when I was contacted about the availability of this scarce book.
Many years ago I visited the Mitchell Library in Glasgow to view and read this book for the first time. I photocopied every page and still have these copies in a folder which I recently decided to read again. But it's not the same as actually owning an original copy of the book. It's a wealth of information which is still relevent today. Personally this classic completes a trio of Clydestyle fishing and tying books that I now own, which I intend to study and enjoy over the coming months. Then when March comes along I intend to get onto the Clyde and learn to fish the river.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Lets Fish the Clyde

Today I arranged a day out on the River Clyde with Paul, a long serving Hillender. Paul is a regular on the Clyde too and is a member of the Lamington and District club and knows the river very well indeed. Which was just as well, although I have had a few outings on the Clyde in the past, I am by no means confident or competent with all aspect of river craft. Whenever I have fished the Clyde in the past it has always been with wet flies or weighted nymphs, fishing down and across, the lazy man’s way.
Paul fishes the Clyde with his 3-weight rod and the dry fly, a method that I have never used and a method, which from Paul’s experience, is more successful and also fools the bigger fish.
We set off at midday and forty minutes later I was in the Tinto Hotel to collect my fishing permit and soon after was on the banks of the river. Paul very kindly set me up with a tapered leader and tiny CDC dry fly, which I could barely thread with my nylon. Paul was using the same set up too. We made our way along the river, which was very pleasant with Tinto Hill dominating the scene and all the time looking for rising fish. We soon found them. I let Paul show me how to approach them, as I knew I would most probably spook them with my untidy casting. Paul had a few casts at them but the down wind put the fish down.
Paul then went up river while I had a go in an area which had a few rising fish. I found it quite difficult because the nice calm water was showing all the faults in my casting etc. I did indeed spook the fish so I sat down and had a coffee and sure enough while I was resting the water they soon started rising again frustratingly just a few feet away from me. This area appeared to be holding quite a few fish as they were rising the whole breadth of the river. I‘m, certain if Paul or any other experienced dry fly fisher was in among them they would have surely netted a few. After unsuccessfully casting at the rising fish I soon put them down and decided it would be better to leave them in peace and head off to catch up with Paul.
Paul had raised a couple of fish but unfortunately didn’t manage to hook them. We then walked back down the river seeking out some fish, we each had a few cast at some trout but after no success we decided to have a break and a bite to eat back at the car. Once refreshed we found out that we were not the only folk having a frustrating day, as 50, 000 Scotsmen were feeling the same as us at Hampden.
Paul then led us down to another favourite area of his. This time the wind had died down and the river was perfect for the dry fly but for a novice like me it was proving to be really difficult. I now know and appreciate how skilful these dry fly fishers are as it takes stealth and knowledge to fool these Clyde trout. I decided to have a last few casts at some rising fish but without success. We then decided that we were flogging a dead horse and called it a day.
In summary this was a very interesting and enjoyable day on a very beautiful area of the Clyde in the very good company of a man who knows the river well and who was a wealth of information of this particular stretch of river. Thanks Paul! I would like to go back soon before the season ends and put what I’ve learned from today into practice but I’m not sure if I will be able to fit a visit in soon though. Of course, I could get down there a few times over the winter and try for the Grayling.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Clydestyle Fishing

For a month or two now I have been trying to track down a new book called “The Anglers Book of the Clyde” I had tried in vain to get a hold of it from all the usual outlets but every now and again I would hear through various forums etc that it was actually available at certain fisheries but when ever I made contact to make a purchase everywhere had sold out.
So when I heard yesterday that the book was available from Clydestyle Fishing at Crossford in the Clyde Valley I made a quick phone call to confirm that they were still in stock and went straight down there after work this afternoon to collect my copy.
This was the first time I had visited this angling outlet which is set in an idyllic location yards from the banks of the Clyde. I had a chat with Scott the angling shop owner about the Clyde etc. I wasn’t aware of this shop until recently and found this outlet to be exactly the sort of shop that an enthusiastic Clyde angler could ever wish for. Scott stocks Clyde Style flies and tying materials for tying Clyde style patterns which makes the shop unique because as far as I’m aware there is nowhere else offering such supplies. It’s just perfect a shop offering everything for the regional angler and flytyer set on the banks of the Clyde. Everything you could ever need for the Clyde, exactly where you need it!
Next time the wife wants to go down the Clydeside to visit the many nurseries that abound down there I will happily go for a drive as I will be visiting this unique shop for a chat with Scott while Val can look at as many flowers, plants, arts and crafts as she wishes.
I was very pleased to get my hands on this book as I thought I would never get a copy. I believe this book may end up as scarce as the many other regional fly tying books that are much sought after by fly tyers. Having just acquired this publication its obviously too early to write a proper review but my first impressions are that this is a modern Clydestyle Book for the new millennium it is the next evolving step on from Bert Sharps wonderful “Lets Fish the Clyde” which after all was written in the early seventies. Times have changed and so have anglers. This new book written by James Milne has a fully illustrated guide of over 400 traditional and modern fly dressings developed and adopted over many years by the Clyde Anglers, also a guide to the materials best suited for Clydestyle flies with additional sections on entomology, dying materials, weather conditions, flies to use month by month and also personal stories from the Clyde Anglers themselves. A real must have addition to a flyfishers bookshelf.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Glengavel Reservoir

I had wanted to visit Glengavel reservoir for a few weeks now ever since I came across the Upper Avon Angling Association web site and got in contact with their Club Secretary, Alby.
As my holiday from work was rapidly running out I decided to have a visit there today. After a quick breakfast I was on my way through the Lanarkshire roads in the mist. By the time I reached the Garrion Brig the mist had lifted and the sun was shining. I was soon in Stonehouse where I arranged to pick up my permit etc from Jim a committee member. After a wee chat with Jim about Glengavel and fishing in general etc I was on my way to my destination. On arrival noticed I was the only angler at the reservoir but as I setting up my rod another angler arrived, his name was Alan too, we got chatting, we then went to the fishing hut and signed in the book as per club rules. I decided to start fishing just to the right of the fishing hut and boat moorings as advised. Very soon I raised a fish to the Kate McLaren which I had on the top dropper but it didn’t stick. Alan then told me he raised a couple of fish too. He then asked me if I fancied going out on the boat for an hour or two. I happily agreed. Off we went away down to the far side of the reservoir to try and find an area that was less windy as the breeze had whipped up a bit. We eventually found a decent drift but the wind meant we had to adjust the boat regularly. Alan was first into a fish a nice fish of 3/4 of a pound, which he caught on a Klinkhammer fly. We fished on I was still using my wets which were a Magpie and silver on the point and my ever dependable and faithful Kate, on top [oo err missus]
Every now and again I was getting takes but I kept on missing them, then eventually there was a splash at my Kate and this time it was on. After a feisty fight I landed a trout of ¾ of a pound. After a quick pic I released him back to his natural habitat. Time was getting on and Alan had to leave to collect his kids from school so after rowing back down to the fishing hut. We said our goodbyes and I thanked him for taking me out on the boat.
I decided to take a break and have lunch. Then after having a wander around taking photos I decided to try for some trout again. I opted to fish down into the wee bay from the fishing hut and waded out up to about my waist. I wasn’t fishing very long when I got a very ferocious take, this felt good. A great struggle ensued as I tried to gain some semblance of control. As I was starting to get the upper hand with this fish another Glengavel angler arrived and watched me bring this fantastic fish to the shore.
He remarked that this was a beauty and estimated it to be around the 5lb mark at least. He assisted me with his net and I brought the fish ashore and found that this big broonie had been fooled by my ever-faithful companion, Katey once again. After a quick photo shoot with me and the fish I released the bigyin back to whence he came. The Glengavel Regular [I never caught his name] shook my hand and congratulated me and was soon off looking for trout.
I decided to stop fishing and just sit back and enjoy the moment and satisfaction that every angler experiences after such a fish. I could have packed up there and then, I was that contented. After a quarter of an hour or so I headed for the Sandy Bay but casting was difficult in the ever-increasing wind. No further action occurred so I made my way back to the hut to sign out, but before doing so I had a few final casts near the hut. As I packed up I reflected on a very satisfying day out at Glengavel. The fishing was great but what pleased me more than anything was the genuine friendliness and hospitality of everyone I met today… Jim, Alan and The unknown angler. I would also like to thank Alby who I have only met and spoke to “virtually” on the net, who arranged everything for me. Thank you very much, I had a fantastic day.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A Hillend Broonie

Went up to the Loch this afternoon hoping to catch one of the Hillend Broonies which have been making an appearance in the catch reports lately.Funnily enough this time last year Scott, Tam and I caught were catching the Hillend naturals.Anyway off I went trying the narrows first then after no success there I tried the Boathouse Bay. The decided to cross through the woods and give the Lowes Bay a try. I was encouraged by a rise to my Kate McLaren which was on my top dropper. After no further interest I decided to take a break, have a coffee and read a few pages of Iain Banks travelogue,Raw Spirit.Rejuviated I was soon casting my three fly cast of a Conamarra Black,Bibio and a Kate McLaren into Lowes Bay. Soon after I got a tremendous take to my Kate McLaren and after a brief struggle I landed a nice Hillend Broonie. I normally put fish like this back but I decided to take this one home today as I quite fancied some trout on toast tonight for my supper. Happy to have caught a fish I soon made my way back to the east end of the Loch to my car and went home satisfied.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Durness Slideshow

Here it is the Imagine Durness Slide Show. As always its the best way to show as many of my pics as I can. To be honest though you do lose a bit of the quality on the photos using the programme I have but I hope the display gives you a feel for the place. As I said in the previous post John Lennon has a connection with the area all be it a tenuous one therefore I thought it would be a good idea to include one of his songs to accompany the pics.Hope you like them. Please feel free to leave a comment.....Good , Bad or indifferent.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Imagine Durness

Last Tuesday morning I awoke to the sound of my radio alarm broadcasting “Londons Burning” there was “Panic on the streets of Birmingham” in general we had “Anarchy in the UK” This wasn’t some old punk radio show this was the News. It was ironic that I had the Smiths, The Clash and the Pistols on my compilation disc that I was playing in the car as Val and I departed the Central Belt for a few days away. As it happens we were travelling as far away as humanly possible from the English Riots. Durness was Calling, and I was hoping to get a wee bit of fishing slipped in among the sightseeing and walking stuff etc.
We arrived at Sango Sands campsite in the late afternoon and set up camp for what we thought would be four nights of looking over one of the best sea views in Scotland. It really was a wonderful spot. The rest of the day was spent walking along the dunes and beaches and we enjoyed watching huge waves crashing into the shore.
I awoke the next day to the sound of rain rattling on the tent. It was still raining after we had our breakfast but we couldn’t sit around all day in a tent. I was actually hoping to get onto one of the nearby limestone lochs with my rod and reel but it wasn’t to be as the weather was horrible so we decided to have a drive around the area looking at some of the remarkable coves and bays that were so beautiful even in the stormy skies. We then visited, would you believe a John Lennon Memorial Garden, which was situated next to the Durness village hall. “Imagine” how tacky and insincere that was. Apparently the ex Beatle spent a few summer holidays in Durness staying with one of his cousins who was a local. Talk about cashing in?
The rain was still pouring down when we visited the craft village of Balnakeil. It’s a very unusual place. I described it to Val as a New Age highland retail park. All the buildings were once owned and used by the MoD during the Cold War. The village is now home to all manner of quirky crafts, artists studios and galleries, pottery workshops, boat builders, chocolatiers even a woodwind instrument workshop but best of all was the bookshop which was a welcome retreat from the inclement weather. We spent a good few hours in there, reading and drinking superb coffee. They specialize in Scottish titles and it was a real joy to browse the shelves. Only criticism was that they had no angling books. I just had to purchase a book, I couldn’t resist. So I opted for an Ian Bank’s title. It wasn’t his usual kind of stuff. Raw Spirit was the title. A travelogue about drinking whisky all over Scotland.
I still hadn’t given up hope of fishing later in the evening but when we arrived back at the campsite my hopes of casting a wee Kate McLaren on Loch Croispol were dashed. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought that the English Riots had spread to remote Sutherland as tents were flattened, upturned tables and chairs were all over the place along with all manner of camping equipment scattered all over the place. The wind and rain had wrecked havoc but more seriously my tent had collapsed, was ripped beyond repair and my tent poles were broken.
The fishing was “well oot the windae”. My wife wasn’t keen on this camping lark in the first place; she was close to tears as we searched in vain for a B&B with vacancies. Just as I was thinking of trying the Lazy Crofter Bunkhouse which I knew wouldn’t go down well with Val, I remembered a post made by Alan from the Wild Fishing Forum last week advising me to go to the Glengolly Guest house regarding permission to fish the local lochs. Off we went with renewed hope of a vacancy to the said house. Our hearts sank as the NV sign greeted us. I decided to chap the door anyway and ask if they were aware of anywhere or anyone who might help us out. To our surprise and relief Mrs Mackay informed us of a cottage they have on the shore of the Kyle of Durness.
Quite literally those grey clouds that hung over us all day had a silver lining as the cottage we stayed in for the next three nights was absolutely wonderful. We had the Kyle of Durness at out doorstep and Loch Borralie was a five-minute walk up the back of the hill from the cottage.
The next day and for the remainder of our break the weather was beautiful all be it not exactly great for fishing but it was perfect for Val.
With my other half happy relaxing and enjoying the sun it was now time to mention to her the F word. That’s right, Fishing! She was more than happy for me to go off fishing. I decided that I would just have a walk up to Borralie though and have a look around etc; it was boiling hot and sunny and not weather to be fishing the very clear waters of this famous loch. After giving Borralie a visit I knew it would be difficult. It was a spectacular looking loch. The colours in the water had to be seen to be believed. It had every shade of blue you can think of. I have never seen a loch before with such clarity.
Next we headed back up to Durness and visited Smoo Cave. What a wonderful creation of nature that is. When we got back to the cottage Val decided to cook dinner so I decided to go out across the road to the Kyle which had a brilliant channel running along it close to the cottage and was clearly visible and accessible at low tide. Mr Mackay advised me to start fishing it at low tide and fish it hard as the tide started to come in. He said I would have a good chance of Sea Bass. I was hoping for seat trout or salmon too. I was fishing for only twenty minutes or so when I got the first fish of the day. A lovely sea bass. A short time later I caught another completing a fine brace of Sea Bass.Soon Val was calling to me from the cottage " Dinner is Ready" I had a a lovely meal and a drink and spent the rest of the night sitting in the garden relaxing, reading, drinking and taking in the scenery until the sun slipped off quitely behind the hill across the Kyle leaving behind a lovely orange glow.
Next morning the weather was just a lovely. I went up to Durness for some morning rolls and the paper and also went to see Martin for a permit to fish Borralie. Val decided we would just laze around the cottage and have a walk along to the Cape Wrath ferry and have a walk up the hills next to Loch Borralie. Then in the afternoon I at long last was going fly fishing on Loch Borralie. I made the short walk from the cottage up to Borralie passed what used to be the Cape Wrath Hotel but it's now call the CW Lodge. When I arived at the shore of this turqouise loch you would have been forgiven for thinking it was the sea such were the colours. I was surprised to meet a couple of old chaps preparing to go out on one of the boats that are moored at the south shore. I had a chat with them. One of them was local and the other was his friend. He told me it would be difficult and advised me where to fish. He said the loch was best fished in the evening just as darkness descends and to fish along the drop offs on the loch which were clearly visible about ten feet out. He wished me luck and they drifted off down the loch. I fished the east shore up to the Island casting my flies into the dropoff areas but I never rose a single fish. I next went along the south shore and up a short distance of the west but to no avail. Although I didn't contact any fish I really enjoyed myself in a beautiful location. As i was breaking off my leader and splitting my rod down etc I noticed a familiar figure coming over the hill towards me. It couldn't be couldn't it but it was. It was Val , my wife with a wee flask of coffee for me. We just sat on the shore of the loch for a while and I told her of my lack of success and how it was too windy too bright , too clear and how it would have been better to fish it with dark clouds and rain etc, you get the drift all the usual excuses.She just laughed as we made our way over the hill and back down to the cottage.
Next day we reluctantly went home.
Check back soon as I have loads of pics I want to share therefore I intend to put up a wee slide show with more pics from my trip.