Fishing Stories

(Bring your own pinch of salt!)

Winter - Still hanging on.

L. Lannsaidh. 14th April

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The 2013 season hasn’t started yet. Until then here’s some from last season.

We sneaked off for an hour today. Well that was the plan. Arriving at about ten to twelve we tackled up and signed in. Starting to fish at mid day. Mike's back is much improved, but far from right. What follows was not going to help.

There are four lochans and we headed towards Oxley, one of the two fly only ones. Mike headed to the left bank whilst I stayed on the right one.

Within five minutes I had a fish on my middle dropper fly. After my last visit I had come to the conclusion that I should fish smaller flies. I started with a GH GRHE on the point a green tinsel partridge on the middle and a green and black flash wing on the top. the point and middle flies on 16s and the top on a 14. This fish was a very deep bronze colour across its back.

As I realised it the Lochan's two resident swans took off and flew overhead giving me quite a start. I'm always amazed at the size of these birds. They are not the biggest we see when fishing around here. At both Farlary and Landsaidh this year we have seen golden eagles.

A few more casts failed to produce from the same spot so I moved down to the point. Casting across toward two trees on the opposite bank, and along the crease where the wind created a current through the narrow section failed to produce so I cast into the bay that Mike had fished five minutes previously.

This produced a prolonged tapping on the fly even after I set the hook. It felt like I was into a really good fish. I wasn't, I had two on. One on the point one on the top dropper. This is always an
interesting situation. I decided to kneel at the waters edge and unhook the one on the top dropper first, hoping I could let it go without taking it from the water. However the second fish had managed to get the leader tangled around the tail of the first. When I unhooked it, it took off. Only to get about 18 inches, when its progress was arrested by leader around its tail and the middle dropper fly which was now in my finger. Thankfully I was fishing barbless. Soon I managed to unhook myself and unwrap the fish. Then unhooked the second. I really must invest in a new net. My left leg was now very wet, the bank there was soft and had sunk, the depression filling with water.

When I stood up I saw that the comedy of errors wasn't limited to me. Mike was climbing out of the water! He had caught his fly on the reeds at the edge of the water. When he leaned forward to unhook it, the bank gave under him, pitching him head first into the water. His baptism as a fly fisher. Sorry I was not cruel enough to photograph him as he stood there spluttering, soaked from head to toe on the bank. His first words were "I think I want to go home now."

After helping him empty his wellies, and offering him my coat, we headed for home. Once we had tackled down, and I had gone back to retrieve the fly box I had dropped (it had been forgotten in all the drama), we left the fishery. It was 12:30! One of our shortest sessions, but one we will not forget in a hurry! In all we spent 40 minutes at the fishery, fishing for about 15 minutes of that. Could we make bigger fools of ourselves in less time. Well maybe that is tempting fate, but I doubt it. We are planning to go back on Thursday, so we will see.


New Season Starts 15th March 2013

To mark the opening of the new season we called in at L. Lannsaidh for the obligatory first casts. It is still the depths of winter here, so there was no sign of fish. There was an alternate motive for chousing Lannsaidh. More of that later.

While fishing we discussed the tackle, in particular the line weight needed to fish here in the highlands. Perceived wisdom is that a rod rated 7 or 8  is needed to cope with the wind. When I was first told this, my reaction was, I confess, to laugh. “No.” I said “You need to learn to cast.”

The two rods in the picture are a 10’ 5 wt. Orvis Weston 3 and a 10’ 6 wt. Powerflex. Both are quite sufficient to put out 3 flies a good way, in just about any conditions we fish in.

‘Letric Lights at Lannsaidh.

New fangled electric lights have been fitted in the fishing hut at Lannsaidh. Mike has been working on this project through the winter. The light isn’t enough to tie flies by but a great boon for getting changed when your days fishing ends late.

The lights are solar powered.

In the next few weeks a toilet will also be added to the facilities.

Saturday 2nd March 2013

Lesson Learned?

When I first started fly fishing I was told that, “Yon can learn more from a blank day than you can from one when you catch lots of fish”. Well that may be true but try as I might I can not see any lesson to be learned from yesterday on the Lochans.

Looking for a little relief from the winter’s shack nasties we had an afternoon at Dornoch Lochans. We arrived to find the water flat calm. As we tackled up the sun came out. It had been quite mild for some days so we had hopes of some action. We were to be disappointed.  No fish rose while we fished. We tried all four of the lochans, sinking and floating lines, and various flies. After an hour without a single take we decided to call it a day.

As we expected there were some small black flies around. Not many and no fish rose to them. Nothing stirred, or reacted at all. A young boy arrived to bait fish on one of the lochans where that is permitted. When we left he had not had any fish either.

If there is a lesson to be learned then it is, surely, that some days you will just not catch. It was great to be out with rod in hand. At least neither of us fell in!

Snow and Sun on Lannsaidh.

28th March 2013

Work on the new facilities on Lannsaidh gave us the opportunity to fish there again. The fishing was slow and the loch over crowded! There were 5 of us there. Not crowded by the standards of the still waters in England, but this is the Highlands: 3's a crowd.

Though the fishing was difficult, bright conditions and lots of snow melt in the water, 4 of the five of us all had a fish. After the early snow had melted away the day was surprisingly pleasant. Mike’s fish came to a new fly, very much based on the Invicta, for which we don’t have a name yet. Mine to a bead headed black and red Cormorant. Both fish came within 5 minutes of each other. Another that I hooked came adrift before I gained control of it.

The Boats, Captain Bob and Dr. J.R.J.

Are now in the water and available. Fancy a day afloat?

A cast on the pump house bank.

Not as cold as it had been, but the mountains still had their white caps on when we again visited Loch Lannsaidh today.

First order of the day was to do some more on the new toilet facilities, Carpentry done for the day we set out to fish. In the village, when we set out, there wasn’t a breath of wind, and it was pleasantly warm, the overcast boded well for a good trip. Up on the loch it was a very different tail.

To start there was, what passes here for, a stiff breeze. Later it became a wind. As we finished the woodwork and started to get tackled up Mike commented, “Typical, we get ready to fish and the sun comes out.” Sure enough the afternoon brightened up.

Looking east towards the hut.

Within 15 minutes of starting to fish Mike was into a fish. Then shortly after another. I was fishing a few yards further down the bank, but the lack of action there convinced me that I wasn’t covering fish. A change of point fly and a move improved the situation. First cast in my new spot in the eastern corner of Reedy Bay produced the desired result. Unfortunately not the desired outcome, the fish jumped once and was gone. That was the limit of the action for me. Only one other visitor came looking for fish. A far better fisherman than either of us. An osprey.

From top left: Visiting Osprey, Mike playing his first fish of the day, Mike’s fish on the bank.

Hopefully spring will arrive soon and we can get out after some wild highland “broons”.

DADAA Competition - Round 1 & Bar-b-cue

Friday May 3rd

Friday morning looked a great day to go fishing. Warm dull overcast little wind. Looking good. By 3 pm the wind had come up and steady rain was falling. At Lannsaidh it was still raining when we convened. By the 6:30 start it was cold and the rain contained sleet. The weather was so bad no one lasted the 3 hours. Mike’s waterproof jacket decided that this was the day to give up being waterproof. Water running up my sleeves soaked me to the shoulders. Even in 4 mm neoprene my feet were cold.

It was a evening for sunk lines, dredging for fish. Mike managed his limit of 4. I had a nice brown, which I decided to return. Followed by two rainbows. We tramped back to the hut at about 8:30. Mike won the evening and I came in third. Had I kept the brown it may have made the difference between third and second, but it was beautiful…

Once the bar-b-cue had burnt down enough to stop smoking we brought it into the fishing hut for the warmth. It wasn’t raining now. The rain had turned to full on snow. Enough that it had to be scraped off car windows before setting off home

You have to be hardy to fish in the Highlands.

Monday 5th May

Much better weather today when we set off to finish some work on the fishing hut at Lannsaidh. After completing the work there was nothing showing on Lannsaidh so we decided to take a look at Loch Laoigh (Leigh). The road up from Lannsaidh had recently been repaired, it is now much improved.

There was little more activity evident on Laoigh. Mike rose and missed a fish, I had nothing.We worked along the north westerly bank. For a change it was pleasant to be out. Fishing opposite the island mike had a couple more takes but did not connect. I still didn’t touch a fish.

Some time later mike appeared 50 yards back towards the car on the bank and called to me to return. Is I turned a fish took. I turned back tripped on a rock and pitched forward into the water face first. A proper good dunking. Of course the fish came off. I recovered my rod and cap so no losses there. Though I was missing a point fly.

Well that was long overdue. Normally I average falling in once every two years. Its been almost 5 since I last fell in. I was very glad that I hadn’t taken the Mickey when Mike fell in. Of course, with winter hanging on so long this year, I was wearing a down jacket!

It was only a couple of hundred yards back to the car, but it was a very uncomfortable walk. Well at least that is out of the way for a while.


Hard Work, and Little Reward on Ghiubhias. 10/5/13

Mike has a knack of knowing just when my dinner is almost ready, that seems to be his favourite time to turn up to see if I want to join him for an impromptu fishing trip. So it was on Saturday evening. Turning off the oven I grabbed my waders rod and camera. Well dinner can wait, you’ve got to have priorities.

Setting off in Mike’s car it was quickly obvious to me we where not heading to L. Farlary as I had presumed we would be.

“Where are we off to?” I asked.

“Ghiubhais,” answered Mike, “I’ve got the key.” That’s great I thought. Loch Ghiubhais (pronounced ‘Gooish’) is one of our favorite waters. The only fish that are put in to the water are transplanted wild browns from one of DADAA’s other waters.

The first thing to go wrong was finding the track impassable by vehicle. It would probably be passable if it was used a little more, but you can’t get a car up a 1 in 3 slope covered with sodden grass. That meant we had to abandon the car at the bottom of the track and yomp in. This turned the walk from less than ½ a mile to over 2 mile. Most of it up hill. We left all the kit we could do without in the car (and some we couldn’t). As it turned out, there is only about 20 yards of track that we couldn’t drive up.

Later than planned we arrived at the south east end of the lock. The wind was blowing the wrong way for good sport, from the north east, right into our faces. I elected to fish the left bank, starting from the south east corner. Mike launched his float tube. We have often discussed Ghiubhais as possibly the best of our lochs for

Tubing. Now we would find out.

As Mike paddled off I started working along the bank cast and pace. After a fruitless 40 minutes I thought a change of flies in order.

I hadn’t seen a fish rise or had any takes to my flies. A heavier point fly and slimmer middle and top dropper flies would get the flies down a little more. It did, but it didn’t work! I tried dibbling my dropper, fast and slow retrieves, smooth figure of eight retrieves, and jerky strips.


All to no avail.

In the mean time Mike was getting some fishy action. He, like me, had elected for a heavy point fly to get the flies down. When he started catching on top and middle droppers he changed the heavy point fly for a lighter one, and immediately stopped catching. Depth was certainly the key to success, well it was for him.

This trout took one of, what he now calls “HIS” secret patten. A version of a very old traditional patten I introduced him to several years ago. It accounts for about 50% of his fish through the season. (As I am dependant on him for transport just now, I have to bow to his wishes not to reveal it).

The wind dropped off later in the evening, and I started to see insects hatching on the water. Despite this no fish rose.

I was glad I had taken my camera as without it I would have left with nothing at all to show for my efforts. Maybe next time I will give dinner higher priority, but then again next time may be different.

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Loch a’ Ghiubhais is controlled by Dornoch And District Angling Association, and is members only fishing. Details can be found here.

If you are holidaying in the area a membership will cost you less than a couple of days on one of the English reservoirs, and will open access to a lot of good fishing. Apply well in advance though!

Loch Muie      27.5.13

One major factor of fishing in the Highlands is the wind. What is a gentle breeze in the village can be a howling gale in the hills. It wasn’t a howling gale but it was windy enough to make things interesting today Waves with white caps and spray rising where the waves hit the bank. I had planned to fish the upper part of Golspie Burn today. That was until Mike arrived and we set off for Rogart.

This was the first trip to any of the Rogert and District waters this year. The first job then was to go to the Post Office at Pittentrail to pay our subs. This isn’t all that painful an experience. A years fishing costs just £25. Yes I did say a year. Many of you will pay more than that for a day on some of your waters.

The road up to the loch has had some work done it since last season, even so it isn’t passable in a road car. This is 4x4 territory. After the climb to the loch we started to fish by the returns box.

I made my way along the windward bank, Mike, sensibly, found a sheltered spot at the near end of the loch. Working along the bank I fished to the far end of the reeds without any indication of fish. Mike had seen a couple of fish swirl in the surface. I had seen nothing. However there where bugs on the water, so I had some hope.

The take from my fish was very sudden. When I lifted the rod the fish went jumped a couple of feet out of the water. Unusual for a brown trout. My reaction was “what a fish”.  Then the battle began. It took me a good ten minutes to land the fish, and had me cranking up the drag on my reel. The size limit for fish here is usually set at 10 inches, for any fish you take. 12 inches is a good fish, anything bigger is note worthy. Below is my trophy, the fish itself went back; it was getting on 20 inches. Had Mike been closer I would have asked his assistance to get a better photo. Non the worse for its capture it swam off strongly.

That fish took a Loch Ordie, one tied with my signature soft hackle at the front. The Loch Ordie isn’t a fly I have used a lot previously. I have tied many for others that have taken lots of fish. This was the first on an Ordie for me. I will fish it more.

Loch Muie 13.6.13

An evening session. Nothing amazing happening, we walked up caught some fish and walked back. Mike wandered to the far end of the loch and came across some fish willing to chase a waked fly. I stayed at the opposite end and found I needed to fish a little deeper. For me it was small flies that scored. A size 16 wire bodied spider gave me enough depth to put the fly in front of the fish. The Woodcock and Old Gold is my version of an Orange woodcock with a wire body.

Mikes family commitments necessitated an early finish, we were on our way back at 9:30, feeling like we had left before the real action got going. There was no significant hatch from the water, and very few fish rose.  

Muie is a Rogart and District water. Bank fishing only for brown trout. Rogart and District have 3 other lochs and a length of the river Fleet