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.