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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!

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

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

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

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.

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.

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 f

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 in

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 rem

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

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

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 t

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

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.

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&

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 sta

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 ha

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.

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

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 reme

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 GA

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 rec

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

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.

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 a

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

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

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.

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 r