Sunday, 31 July 2011

Flies for future use.

I haven't been fishing since Tuesday but have been up at the Loch a couple times to have a look around. I noticed that the new retaining wall at the club house carpark has been finished and has been leveled off. Still a bit of tidying up to be done and I believe that some sort of fence will be erected around the car park too. Anyway, I was up last night having a nosey and took with me a wee six piece travel rod that I have. I have not used this rod in a while and had a few casts in the carpark with a line I forgot I had which I found in a box that I have in my loft with all sorts of discarded angling gear. The rod and line compliment one another beautifully. It is an ideal setup for small lochans and hill lochs. Over the last couple of days I have using up the salmon hooks I have, tying a few flies that I intend to use in the near future. I'm keen to have another go at the salmon fishing and after having a look around the web for ideas, I quite fancy the Annan as its not too far away. Would be nice to have a day there sometime soon. Anyone out there like to advise what beat etc would be worth having a visit to. In the meantime here are a couple of pics of the flies that I have been tying.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Reality check on the Tweed.

After the excitement and extraordinary luck I had on my recent trip to the far north it was back to my bread and butter and usual luck at Hillend on Monday. I decided to have a few hours out on the boat at Hillend on Monday. I'm not using the conditions as an excuse for the lack of success but it was a factor as it was more like sunbathing weather than weather for trout fishing. I should have known better than take a boat out on the still water with the sun splitting the skies. I did manage a couple of perch which took my little jack frost lure which I was fishing on my sink tip line. As Tuesday was my last day before I returned to work I was anxious to have one last outing before returning to hell. By chance my brother was up from Englanshire with his kids visiting my Mother this week so I arranged for the both of us to have a trip down the Tweed. We set off for Peebles in time for the tourist information office opening and duly purchased our permits. We then made the short journey down to Traquair Bridge where we parked, wadered up and went down to the river in search of troot. We walked up river a bit and entered the river and fished back down to the bridge. We encountered many many Salmon Parr and only a couple of trout. Most of the fish were caught on a wee size 14 gold beaded hare lug nymph and a few on the partridge and yellow I had on the dropper. We decided to have a break and sit on the handily placed bench on the river bank then just as we were deciding to fish down and under the bridge a couple of blokes arrived with an inflatable dinghy and Kayak. They explained they were going to navigate to Kelso and camp somewhere down there. They explained they had did it before and didn't expect any problems. We watched them load their gear onto their crafts , quite a lot of beer was on board along with what one of the guys described as a wee cheeky spinning rod for later. Off they went, the bloke in the dinghy slammed into the wall of the bridge as he tried to maneuver his craft. Oh! how I laughed, then they were gone. We decided to walk up river passed what appeared to be a fishing hut. It looked like a right good pool for the salmon right in front of the hut. The rest of out day was spent fishing and resting all the way back down to the bridge. A great number of Parr were once again caught, they were fun for a wee while but soon got fed up catching one every second cast. We then had a walk down the river to where the Leithen enters the Tweed. It looked a very good place to have a cast or two but a couple of locals were fishing there so we just decided to take some pics and call it a day. As I walked back along the river I reflected on a very enjoyable day out on the Tweed and looked forward to my fish supper in Peebles before driving home.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

A Sutherland River and Caithness Lochs.

I thought it would be a better idea to show a slide show of my recent trip to Sutherland and Caithness rather than individual photos. Hope you like it. Please leave some comments good , bad or indifferent. Thanks for taking the time to look.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

My first Salmon & some Caithness Trout

My long awaited trip to Sutherland and Caithness started alarmingly on Saturday with a heavy handed thump on my front door, you guessed it I slept in. Well , it was half two in the morning though. About five and a half hours later we were knocking on the door of Scott's pal's house in a Sutherland coastal village. We drank numerous cups of coffee while we waited on the village store opening so that we could purchase our permits to fish the river on the Monday. After collecting out tickets we headed for Watten and arrived about midday. An hour or so later we were stringing rods, making up casts and strapped them on to the rod holders on the car. It was a two minute drive down to the boat at the loch. We made for the east end of the loch I had a huge smile on my face as this was what I was so looking forward to. The three of us rose loads of fish to our bushy flies on the top dropper as we drifted down the loch in the ever increasing wind. Eventually I landed a fish , the first on the boat. It was a nice bright trout of just under a 1lb. It was fooled by my Loch Ordie. Tam and Scott soon followed suit and landed a nice wee fish each. Since no more fish were being caught it was decided that we would go back to the caravan for a bite to eat and try the Loch later but once we got back the weather took a turn for the worse as it absolutely poured down along with a very strong wind. We agreed not to bother going out again as the rain was absolutely torrential. We made a wise choice as it stayed on for the night. I sat and tied flies and read a few chapters of Bruce Sandison's very entertaining book, The Sporting gentleman's , gentleman which I picked up from a second hand book store in Thurso on the way from Sutherland to Watten. Sunday arrived and as there is No Fishing on Watten on the sabbath It was decided that we would all fish Scarmclate. On arrival at the loch the water appeared to be be very dirty,this was due to the loch being shallow and the strong winds the day before. We worked our way around the shore of the loch. We all caught nice wee trout despite the colouration of the Loch but they were no bigger than half a pound but were fun all the same. Back at the caravan Scott cooked dinner while Tam watched the tv, I tied up some more flies one of which was to play a major role on the river the next day.Monday morning arrived with a familiar thump on the bedroom door of the caravan,it was scott telling me to get up as breakfast was ready. I looked at my watch it was bloody half three in the morning. I stumbled through the caravan to the dining table and looked down on a plate of scrambled eggs and toast. I struggled with my breakfast but didn't say much as I was still half a sleep."C'mon biy man get yersel the gither" said Scott insistently " We're leaving at the back o' four" By the time we travelled over to Sutherland I was wide awake. We sat in a nice spot above the estuary to see if there was any sign of fish coming into the system as we were not allowed onto the Angling Club's beat until six o'clock. We sat for an hour and were encouraged to see several fish coming in from the sea. We then drove down to the river parked up the car and walked to the top end of the beat as instructed by Scott's friend. I wasn't really expecting much as this was my first time salmon fishing and had to rely on hints and tips form Scott and his friend. The three of us entered the river, Scott went first I was in the middle and Tam followed me as we worked our way down river. As we waded down the excitement was building as salmon were leaping sporadically right in front of us as we fished down the river. After an hour or so I noticed that Scott who was ahead of me leaving the river and sitting on the bank I kept on fishing down until I was directly opposite him. He started talking to me when it happened , I felt the most gentle of takes. Now, as I had no experience of hooking and playing salmon I guess that it was instinct that took over as I struggled to keep control of the angry, leaping salmon. The heart stopping fight that ensued was nerve wracking but eventually I had the salmon under control and with assistance of Tam he netted the fish.It was a modest fish, a fresh grilse of about 2 3/4 lb with sea lice attached. I whooped with delight and took many photos of my first ever salmon which I fooled with a salmon fly that I had tied the night before at the caravan. Tam and Scott congratulated me then we were soon back in the river fishing our way down. After another hour or so it was suggested we leave the river and walk further down. Tam and Scott opted for a pool recommended to them by Scott's mate while I went off on my own further down to another area that has a reputation for holding fish. Then again much to my amazement I hooked into another salmon . This time the take was more violent and it went like a train almost immediately. Wow ! this was something else. I yelled back at my mates but they didn't hear me. The salmon nearly broke my knuckles as the handle of my reel revolved at some speed as I tried to adjust the drag. By now I was shaking like a leaf as the salmon leaped from the water to try and throw the hook. Eventually I started walking backwards to a shingle strip that splits the river. By now I was struggling to keep the fish under control. My only experience of playing and landing salmon was from watching Paul Young and the like on dvd. Now I could appreciate how it felt. I must admit I was not exactly enjoying the fight as my only concern was to not lose the fish as it was a good deal bigger than my first salmon. I then thought I had it under control as it came to the surface at the shingle . I got a good look at it. It looked very fresh perhaps around the 8lb mark. Then as I got it to the edge it took of ferociously and broke my leader down at the fly. The same fly which I had tied the night before and the same fly that had caught my first ever salmon. I must admit the Good Lord's name was taken in vain as I recoiled and tried to take in what had just happened. I must have had that fish on for a good fifteen to twenty minutes. Words cannot describe what that fight felt and how it felt to lose it. My mates must have seen the commotion down stream from them s they came down to see what was going on. The adrenalin was still pumping as I gave them a blow by blow account of what had actually happened. I sat on the shingle for a while until I eventually calmed down. Eventually the three of us started fish again but no other fish were touched. We all decided that it was time to take a break and headed back to the village to a lovely wee restaurant where we all had fish pie, which was just very apt. It was some feeling just sitting back relaxing with numerous cups of coffee and thinking of the experience of landing and losing those two salmon. I couldn't get it out of my head. Dare I say that this was better than sex?Yes it was, after all I'm an Angler not a lover. After dinner we went back up to the place we sat at in the morning. I gazed out over to the sea watching the white surf rolling into the shore and just stared in wonderment at where those silver beauties had come from. Soon we were back at the river this time fishing another pool that was recommended to us. We fished from the far bank and fished it in the same order as we had done in the morning. soon the unimaginable occurred. I hooked into my third salmon of the day. This time it was another feisty take. The salmon took off like a rocket losing control as it leaped all over the place. I burned my fingers on the fly line such was the power of this salmon.Once again I was a quivering wreck as i tried to hold on for dear life to this fish. The worst feeling was when it jag, jag jagged and bored down. I thought it was going to break me but I eventually I manged to play the salmon out. Tam was by my side I netted the fish for me. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the size and beauty of this fish in the net. Scott estimated that this fish was about 7lb
The image of this beautiful creature will live with me forever. The picture I managed to get doesn't do the salmon any justice as this was the most beautiful fish I had ever seen, there again I maybe a little biased. I just sat on the bank for a while shaking like a leaf and repeating myself over and over again I just couldn't believe this was happening to me, this was something special.We then decided to have another go up at the area where I lost my second salmon. I had no further luck. In the last hour Tam actually hooked into a grilse and after playing it briefly it broke him as he tried to land it. Not long after that Tam got another take but his leader just slipped from his fly line immediately. To say Tam was sick is a bit of an understatement. Reluctantly our day had to end but wow! what a day I had. Monday the 18th of July 2011, the day I caught my first two salmon and sadly lost another will be remembered in the same way as I remember births , deaths and marriages in my family. Yes ! it is no exaggeration to compare these events and explain that it was that special. It was late when we arrived back at watten. I found it difficult to sleep but I eventually did as Tuesday morning eventually arrived. It was decided that we would have a lazy day and get out on Watten in the late afternoon. I hung around tying flies and reading Bruce's book. The wind was coming from the north west as we went afloat on Watten for the final time. Tam was first into the fish as he caught thee wee yins quite rapid. Then I had a tiddler too. Scott wasn't having much luck but was rising as many fish as Tam and I were. Then disaster struck. Tam snapped his rod as he pulled on his leader to adjust his flies. We had to go ashore and Scott went off to get a spare from the caravan. We were soon off again but Tam was notably pissed off and understandably so. The fishing proved to be difficult and although we all rose a few fish it wasn't until late on when I switched to a sink tip line and Scott to an intermediate that we eventually landed a few more fish. We stopped fishing fishing about half ten when it was very dull and getting dark. So that was that Watten had been a disappointment for us really as I had imagined it would have just been like last year, mind you I was warned by some friends that I had been extremely luck last year as Watten can be very difficult at times.Anyway it didn't matter one jot to me as I had my best ever fishing experience on that Sutherland River. Fishing for trout is never going to be the same for me as the thought of those salmon will live for me forever. I will post some more pics later.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Dabbler is Caithness Bound!

At Last my annual fishing holiday is imminent. Just like last year, once again I am Caithness bound in the pursuit of wild trout and for the first time ever Salmon too. All flies have been tied, Rods, reels and lines are gleaming, my bags are packed and I'm ready. Half the fun of trips like this is the preparation. All those months , weeks, days and hours spent at the bench tying flies and reading up on as much info on the area as I can has been fun and adds to the excitement and anticipation of the trip to the far North. My fishing season so far has been spent at Hillend and has been a personal disappointment so I am looking forward to giving my season a kick start in Caithness. If last year is anything to go by then it should be a memorable trip. Another aspect which makes these holidays great is the company as for the bulk of the season so far I have been on my own. It's a great way to unwind and forget all about the trouble and strife of work etc and also puts everything in life into perspective. So this will be my last blog post for the best part of a week as I haven't quite got round to getting a laptop or and I pad to report live on location etc. I hope to do this in the future there again trips like these should most probably be gadget free it's all about geting away from it all. Anyway thats all for now I will report back later next week.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A Hillend Trout

Tonight I arranged to meet Ian a fellow Hillender up at the Hillend Lodge tonight and do a bit of fishing on the South shore. Ian like myself prefers to use traditional wet flies rather than modern lures etc. Off we went and decided to fish the point near the the Braco Burn. This area is a favourite of Ian's and has had great success here in the past especially as darkness descends over Hillend on a summer evening. Ian was telling me tonight that he has been having a disappointing season as I have and has had many frustrating nights when the trout just don't come out to play. Just as the sun was setting over Caldercruix at 9.45pm Ian hooked into a trout with an Invicta on the point and succesfully landed it, then after I made a quick photo call it was released to fight another day. Just shortly after that I made contact with a trout but it didn't stick. Later Ian covered another rising fish which made an unsuccessful attempt to take his fly. We packed up just before midnight. It was great to have company for a change at Hillend as it can sometimes be a lonely experience fishing into the dark at Hillend.

Friday, 8 July 2011

A Big Thanks to Tam from The Clyde Fishing Forum

What a wonderful thing this internet thingy is. Like many of you I frequent a few good fishing forums and visit many good angling web sites etc. It's amazing how much info one can get from the click of a mouse. From hints and tips to contact numbers for permission to fish etc, but best of all when you get to chat online with like minded persons. The reason I mention this tonight is that I was contacted by a member of the River Clyde Fishing Forum who read that I was going salmon fishing next week and offered me some flies he even offered me a loan of his salmon rod. So we arranged to meet at the Hillend Fishing Lodge tonight and in return for the salmon flies I gave Tam C some trout flies. I thanked him for the offer of the rod but explained that I would just use my fly rod as I have been advised that my trout rod would suffice. The flies I received were superb and would like to take this opportunity to thank Tam C once again. If you are reading this Tam I will tie some Kates for you over the next day or too. After having a look at those patterns for inspiration I tied up another couple with my newly purchased hooks which I got along with some new materials from the GAC last night. The above fly was tied less than twenty minutes ago.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Salmon Groove Thang!

Brothers , Sisters.... I'm still on this Salmon Groove Thang! With apologies to heaven 17. I have been getting some advice etc on the tying of Salmon patterns so have been continuing to tie some over the last couple of days. Here are another couple I tied and what I believe is my best so far I hope the Silver tourists agree and reward me fittingly. I think I will be travelling into the GAC on Thursday night for some more salmon Irons and materials etc. Like I already said I am thoroughly enjoying tying these, they are good fun and surprisingly easy to tie.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Allan's Shrimp

All being well, in two weeks time when I head to the far North of Scotland, I might get the opportunity to have my first ever chance of fishing for Salmon. I have never had any real incline to go after the King of Fish in the past but if I get the chance in two weeks I'm sure as damn not going to turn the chance down. I know absolutely nothing about Salmon fishing , some would say I know nothing about troot fishing either but that's another story so therefore I don't have a clue about how to go about it . It will be just a case of cast and hope for the best. I have been seeking advice on what flies etc to use. One of the patterns suggested to me was an Ally Shrimp. So I decided to have a go at tying this Salmon pattern all be it as ever a variation of the original the reason for this is that I don't have any black floss so just went ahead with a yellow floss. I'm fairly pleased with the result of my first ever attempt at a salmon pattern and to be honest I find them relatively easy to tie, probably because the hooks I used were so big . I reckon I need to get some smaller irons as they will be more suited to the River I will be fishing. If any of my readers would like to suggest some salmon patterns to use, go ahead I'm all ears.

Hooked it, Lost it!

Tam and I opted for an outing on the Lily Loch boat on Saturday evening. Conditions didn't look too promising as there wasn't much of a ripple on the Loch but motored up to the West end of the Loch to catch what was left of the decreasing wind. We started our first drift on the Loch and after about four or five casts I hooked into a fish with my silver Invicta but unfortunately that moment of pleasure was all too brief as the trout soon won its freedom. That one drift was the best all night as a complete flat calm descended on the Loch for most of the night. Later the wind picked up for one last drift which lasted all of fifteen minutes and we soon packed up as the stillness of a summer night engulfed the Lily Loch once again. Although our fishing was somewhat curtailed due to the lack of wind and once again I was pisctorially challenged it was a very pleasant evening to be out on the Lily on a boat as it sure beats sitting in the house in front of the tv or pc.