Hillend Loch is a 350-acre loch lying halfway between Airdrie and Armadale. It was constructed in 1799 to supplement the Forth and Clyde canal system. The average depth of the loch is 8 feet, but the depth does drop to around 14 feet in the narrows between the Whitehill wood and the Braco wood. Feeding is rich in the loch and apart from the shoals of fry which abound here the underwater fodder includes snails, shrimps, nymphs of varying species, corixae and caddis. Above the surface the angling season will see hatches of hawthorn flies, chironomids, buzzers, daddies and sedges. There is plenty of space to fish around the loch no matter whether your preference is to wade and explore the little bays and weed beds along the shoreline or take a boat and float along some of the favoured drifts. The loch fishes well all over its expanse though I would recommend the bank angling at the following areas, The big moss, the wee moss, the braco burn area, the boathouse bay, the point of the woods, Lowe’s bay, the mound and the entire length of the north shore. If you preference were to fish from a boat, I would recommend the drift from the Shields burn to the Spiers Island or the reverse. Other top drifts are from the island to the dam wall in an east wind, if the wind is coming in a southerly direction try drifting from the point of the white hill woods to the Shields burn, another area to give a go is the Eastercroft bay by the lily burn. It is also possible to contact fish right out in the middle of the loch so it pays to move around and try various drifts. By far and away, the most productive area of the loch is in the huge bay at the back of the woods so that is well worth considering if you choose to go afloat. The best months to fish Hillend are May and June, as by this time the loch will have warmed up and the insect life will be at its peak. June, in particular can be quite a spectacular month as this is when the " big Sedge “, makes its appearance at the loch. The hatches of these caddis flies in the ever-lengthening summer nights are quite prolific and last for the whole month of June, and in my opinion this is the most exciting and most enjoyable time to fish the loch. Floating lines and traditional patterns are my choice of tactics to fish for the free rising trout at Hillend. Airdrie and District angling club have implemented a progressive stocking policy that ensures that the loch is stocked on a weekly basis during the fishing season. The loch is stocked with rainbow trout and blue back trout and on occasions stocked with brown trout. Hillend has also got a good head of natural brown trout, which have been known to grow to quite a considerable size. The browns come in varying colours, some have plump yellow bellies and others are long, lean and have silver bodies, depending on which area of the loch they come from and how long they have been in the water for. The average weight of the Hillend trout is around the 2lb mark but fish of over 3lb are not uncommon. Recommended flies for success at Hillend are as follows, In March black flies are best particularly the black spider, black pennel and of course lures such as ace of spades and the black fritz especially if it’s a cold start to the season. Into April and flies with a teal wing normally work well and its also worth tying on black buzzer patterns. Into May, June and July now and sedge copies dominate along with muddlers and brown bushy palmers such as the soldier palmer. August sees the cinnamon and gold, red tag and wickhams fancy as the top attractors. September patterns include bloody butchers and bibios. As the season comes to a close, the days get shorter and the temperatures drop so it is well worth using the patterns we used at the start of the season.
I have been at the tying bench tonight tying up a few Clan Chiefs. This fly is a favourite of mine. It is a modern day traditional fly created by an Orcadian man,John Kennedy. it was originally designed by him for migratory fish. It also has a good reputation on the mainland for brown trout. Its creator was clearly inspired by the Kingsmill - Moore bumble patterns. This version I have tied tonight is a little bit over dressed as it was originally intended to be tied sparsely. I will let the trout decide.