Saturday, 5 December 2009

grayling pics from yesterday

Paul's third cast grayling
My new P.B grayling (it is honestly as big as I said, I have big hands!)

Friday, 4 December 2009


Today I got up early in spite of myself and was met by my mate paul to head north and try to snare a grayling or two. Unusually for one of our trips we woke up to textbook conditions for thymallus thymallus, bright sunshine and a hard frost that lingered from the night before.

We arrived at the river earlier than anticipated and met a couple of guys from the forum I post on, it was the first time I had met them and they were both really cool, we took a walk down the river for maybe half a mile talking about all things fishing then went our seperate ways.

I had rigged up at the car and was ready for action straight away, I used a pretty standard grayling set-up, A ten foot #5 rod with a floating line,two heavyweight nymphs, one a classic czech-style fly and the other a simple hares ear number with a tungsten bead to get down fast. I opted for a fairly long leader to allow me options as to what depths I can fish given that I didn't know the water in question, cap that off with a bright orange indicator and I was ready to go.

Straight away my buddy had a lovely grayling about half a pound after three casts or so, I bumped one off after a few minutes too, this served to pump us up even more and fish harder. Tactics were limited to a direct upstream approach, wading is prohibited here to preserve salmon redds so fishing the near bank is the only viable line of attack as staying in control of your flies at distance in these conflicting currents is nigh on impossible.

We both leapfrogged each other up the bank for a while without any success before coming onto a cracking pool, as is tradition paul was the first one into a fish but it wriggled off, a pity too, he reckoned it was a respectable grayling. I got disheartened soon after as I hadn't had a take in a while now, I had hit the stage where you start to half-arse everything, your concentration goes and basically you start fishing poorly. All of a sudden my indicator slid away in a very different manner than it would were the flies to snag on a rock, I struck quickly and was met with quite weight on the other end, the fish dropped downstream within seconds and had my rod bent double, it held station in the current for what felt like ages and resisted any attempt I made to bring it to the net, paul had to climb down the bank just downstream and I literally had to drag the fish up in the water and let it slide into the net, what a fight!

The reward for my efforts was an absolutely immaculate grayling of maybe a pound and a half, perhaps slightly smaller, It was such an incredible looking fish, bright silver flanks with a lovely violet sheen on its gill covers, the characteristic sail-like dorsal fin was tipped with deep red, all conspiring to paint a stunning picture. I got a few quick photos on pauls camera but resisted digging mine out the bag as I'd rather the fish went back strong and healthy than me having bragging rights.

After that I was pretty satisfied if I'm honest, I had landed my first ever grayling on the fly, on a new river with my new rod, what could really have topped it off? I opted to sit and chew the fat for most of the rest of the afternoon, savouring the glorious winter sunshine and taking in the new surroundings. I faked a few more casts and had a bite to eat and was more than content with my day, I will be back soon, maybe armed this time with the trotting gear to cover more water effectively, once I pinpoint shoals of grayling I can focus my efforts with the fly and know roughly what I am up against.

What a day :)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

It's been a while.....

It has been forever since I updated this, theres no point in me lying anymore and saying that "I'll report back tomorrow" etc etc cause it never happens!

Anyway, in summary I had an incredible trout season, fishing for grayling / pike / perch since then has been dire. Here is a wee summary of one of the most memorable trips of the year. A four day stint on one of the many scottish western isles.

Me and one of my regular fishing buddies had been speaking all winter about going to place we both loved but had never fished before, it is a well known tourist island but the fishing is something of an unknown quanitity. Luckily, being the smallstream junkie that I am I can usually find plenty water to fish wherever there are hills or mountains, and on this island there are plenty of both.

In typical fashion for us we had no real gameplan, just a couple of places we wanted to see and a few burns I had drooled over on walking trips before. The first day was spent messing about trying to figure out exactly what we were gonna do, this meant spending most of the plodding about the biggest town on the island and enjoying the sun which rarely seems to leave this wee place. We were also pleasantly surprised with the number of gorgeous girls in the vicinity, being heavily laden with fishing/ camping gear and admittedly not looking my coolest I opted to leave the ladies in peace and focus on a gameplan, sort of. We ended up sitting watching seals basking on the rocks for a few hours. It was early evening before we got a move on and realised pretty quickly that the midges were gonna be an issue, as per usual. This meant one thing, we must go higher and look for a bit of exposure. Although I wasn't at my fittest I powered on with the excitement of fishing new trouty water fuelling the journey, Stevie didn't fare quite so well but after a wee stop he was ready to go. The entire route skirted the burn I so badly wanted to fish and the fading light and ever increasing fatigue forced me to forget about fishing till the morning and focus on finding a decent camping spot.

We ended up hiking from literally sea level, as in actually ankle deep in saltwater, to around 1600ft just to escape the dreaded midge, the campsite we picked was absolutely glorious and overlooked the large bay which shares its name with the islands biggest town. Although the midges did make an appearance the ten minutes or so spent watching the sun set over the sea and surrounding mountains was priceless.

In the morning we quickly packed up the gear and headed down the glen to find some trout. What a morning it was! In typical (______) style the weather was incredible, it was 23 degrees celsius at 10am! Not a regular occurence anywhere else in scotland but everytime I've been here one of the mob has left with sunstroke and/or lobster syndrome.

I can't actually begin to explain how good the fishing was that day, I opted for dry fly tactics, on such skinny water I find sub-surface methods feel almost clumsy and bite detection is tough, besides, if the trout are 100% willing to take from the surface why deny them the opportunity!?
Im not gonna lie and pretend that this was difficult or technical fishing, it wasn't. I used one fly for maybe 8 hours of fishing, the trusty elk hair caddis, for no other reason than that it was big and easy to see.

The sun was incredibly bright and the water though peat-stained was very clear but I nailed trout after trout from the top, dont EVER let people tell you that you cant catch fish in bright sunlight, especially trout!

The backdrop was spectacular, high amongst the mountains, unique in scotland in their almost alpine appearance. Not a soul to be seen or a noise to be heard other than those that belong there. The stream itself was the kind of water I dream about, verging on tiny but with respectable sized plunge pools every 20 yards or so, these were interspersed with the odd little run or pieces of pocket water, most of which held hungry trout. Many people would question our sanity or scoff at the fish we put in so much effort to chase given that even a 1/2lb fish is unlikely to reside in such streams, to these people I feel nothing but pity. Every single trout I caught though probably no longer than your hand (often smaller) was absolutely immaculate, probably never been fished for and each fish entirely individual. I have never seen such vivid colours or beautiful colouration anywhere else in nature, these fish were truely as wild as they get and every time I was lucky enough to have one grace my hand a smile broke across my face.

Much the same as fly choice, the gear was simple, 7ft #3 rod, #3 line, and 8ft tapered leader, nothing fancy. The 7ft rod afforded plenty line control on such small water though I wished I had brought my through action 6ft #2 just to feel every last drop of these magnificent fishes strength.

That day we fished till we could no longer see our flies, we literally fished the stream from near its confluence with a bigger water to where it bubbles out of the mountainside, watching perfect mini-trout scatter everytime we misjudged a step and landed that wee bit too heavily. A more enjoyable day I dont think It is possible to have.

But the next day we tried to better it nonetheless! In the morning we fished the same stream for a few hours, still catching regularly but not with the same ease as the day before, these tiny waters are easily disturbed and it would be foolish to expect similar results. We headed back to town in the afternoon to stock up on supplies and have a cheeky swatch at the girls again, not much to say apart from how hot it still was and how good fizzy juice tastes after two days of water!

That evening we had a fair trek back to the fishing but we had stashed all our gear near the larger river on the way down from the hill so it was easy once we got back. This glen is exceptionally busy with walkers during the day so it made sense to leave the fishing till the sun dropped a little. Although we were only about 1/4 mile as the crow flies from yesterdays fishing the landscape was very different, no longer were we amongst the peaks and moorland, now we were nestled in a breathtaking glen with all the islands highest peeks looming high above, keeping the evil sun at bay.

This is a place I had wanted to fish for a few years and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. The water here is clearer again and gone is the peaty tinge, this made sight fishing a possibility, something I had only done half-heartedly on the previous stream. Again, these are not big fish but there is a head of bigger specimens lurking, I was happy with any of these beautifully marked fish and spent the rest of the evening clambering over rocks, tripping constantly what with my excitement at the prospect of what could be round the corner or over the next set of falls. As before, the native trout were hellbent on rocketing skywards and demolishing a (fairly) well presented dry fly, the stamp of fish was bigger here though nothing that most would bother with. It really is the greatest pleasure I know to stand in such phenomenal surroundings and get the chance to meet one of natures finest creatures in person, nothing else has ever brought me such deep satisfaction. To cap the night off I was fortunate enough to land two larger fish from bigger pools that scrapped very well on such light gear, I never got any photos as The midges were chronic and I was in such awe of these fish the last thing I wanted to do was distress them any further. The two days combined have to be the most enjoyable fishing I have ever had the pleasure to experience in the most amazing surroundings. This report and the photos attached do the place and the rivers no justice whatsoever, its almost a shame to show it in this light!
The second campsite, right by the first stream we fished Stevie concentrating hard on a textbook trout pool

Stevie ignoring my advice and rigging up with a depth charge nymph!

The first campsite and the view over the bay


Sunday, 23 August 2009


Sorry for the lack of report, I have only been back to the water once for an hour or so and the conditions were rotten, on the upside my mate and I had 7 takes between us but none stuck unfortunately. Early morning raid there tomorrow though, pics etc to come.

In other news I picked the loop pike booster, so far I have been more than happy with it, I love the look and feel of the rod, this thing is built to last. The flames don't look half bad either ;)

I have been fishing less than I'd like but i have been out, I fished my nearest "proper" river yesterday, as opposed to the tiny trickles I'm used to. Again no pictures (I dropped and lost my phone in the river) but suffice to say I enjoyed some top notch dry fly action. The river is a typical upland freestone stream, full of deep plunge pools and pocket water, really interesting to fish. Surprisingly for a peaty river it holds a head of nice fish, averaging around 12/13oz.
The colour variation in these trout is quite phenomenal too, fish caught in the same pool ranged from almost black, sparsely spotted creatures to beautiful golden fish covered in red spots. The only logical explanation is that the darker fish tend to live nearer the bottom or in deeper water whereas the golden troots tend to reside in the shallows.

For 6 hours fishing I had more trout than I could count, I had the river to myself and it was free, the killer flies were olive klinks with orange posts and the infamous turks tarantula, this is a meaty stimulator with godlike fish catching abilities, its massive and is almost unsinkable, ideal for these rough, brawling rivers. I should be going back on friday with a pal, hopefully I'll have pictures and good words to say!


Thursday, 13 August 2009


I wouldn't normally be so chuffed to catch a pike that weighed about 1lb but today I did just that, albeit from a water that has taunted me for nearly a year. See, I've fished it maybe 6 or 7 times, 3 of them this week! I wasn't entirely sure if it held pike, or any fish for that matter, but when several beasts savaged my popper the other day I had made up my mind.

Today was actually really frustrating, I had 17 takes in total, albeit some from the same fish but only converted that to one fish on the bank. On the plus side I now know that it has some bigger fish than expected, happy days!

Full/proper report with pictures tomorrow hopefully.


Tuesday, 21 July 2009


This is where Ive been fishing for gladiators (perch).
This is one of the people Ive been fishing with, holding a gladiator (he's not actually totally bald)

This is the tool I've been using.

This is a tool holding a FAT perch just over the pound mark.

Yet another FAT(ter) perch, my first from the loch on my third cast.

Perch love pink clousers.

The biggest perch I've ever caught at 1 3/4lbs, mega strong fish.

Perch like to feed at night too.

Perch STILL love pink clousers.

I can't quite understand why hardly anybody fishes for perch here in scotland, they are extremely common, strikingly handsome, easy to catch and fight like stink on light tackle, refusing to move from the bottom and constantly headshaking making for a characteristic "jaggy" fight, for me its a no-brainer.
On all perch waters it pays to fish tight to any features there are, this particular loch has an inflow which appears to be a perch magnet, the steep marginal shelf in some places is also a natural holding spot for these tough little buggers. I use a #3 or a #6 rod to tackle them, the heavier rod allows you to cast the heavy flies further easier but obviously dulls the fight somewhat, if there was ever such thing as a four and a half weight it would be ideal!
The loch in question also holds a shedload of good trout that seem to average just under the pound, but thats another story entirely.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Pike rod?

Okay, I need some suggestions, I am looking for a new pike rod due to my exceptionally manly and strong (rubbish) casting technique I keep snapping rods. I need a 9ft #9, or #8/9. Im using a 9'6 #8 just now which is okay but not ideal. Im thinking the loop pike booster looks sweet, but part of me thinks I should go cheap seen as I can't keep a rod in the right number of sections for more than a year. Any ideas would be most welcome.


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Pike pics


Raw power

Thats a solid #10 rod!

I feel bad putting my flies through that mincer.
These are a few photos I couldn't be bothered fitting into the last report, enjoy!

Monday, 29 June 2009


Pike fishing has really blown up in Scotland over the last decade or so, every water that contains them is fished relentlessly almost every day unfortunately which means two things;

1) The master predator is under a hell of a lot of pressure and subsequently falls victim to bad handling and sheer disrespect all too often.
2) For anti-social, quiet seeking types like myself there is a serious lack of good places to fish for these brutes.

As a result I am constantly searching for new venues to cast my flies into and onto in search of pike, every now and again a glimmer of hope arises only to be shot down in flames when i actually visit the places only to find the usual bait packets and beer cans discarded all over the bankside. Several weeks ago though I received a very excited e-mail from one of my fishing pals about a loch he had discovered where monsters lurked and thankfully it lay well off the beaten track, far enough at least to escape any real pressure. In his words we HAD to go there. Had my prayers been answered?........let me explain.

I won't say much about the journey there other than the fact that it took me six and a half hours to reach the water from my doorstep. All the way there we rather excitedly speculated over the possibility of banking some real specimens, all the while silently worrying about the strong sunshine and rare heat. Due to the distances involved we reasoned that an overnighter was the most sensible way of tackling this place, this was a fine idea until we came down to earth with a bang when we embarked upon the actual walking part of the journey. Scottish people, high temperatures and heavy bags do not mix for for the record. We did all we could, got the heads down and made the trek as painless as possible by dunking our heads in whatever water was available on the way.

As soon as I set eyes on the loch itself I was blown away, this was certainly the most scenic place i had ever fished for pike so regardless of the sport I could enjoy just being where seemingly few folk ever venture. During the walk round the lochside we spotted 3 pike basking on the surface, all of them easily into double figures and one looking to be about 17-18lbs! How we resisted temptation to have a go at them I'll never know but this had certainly whetted my appetite.

Arriving at the "hotspot" was a real relief and the weight of my rucksack now paled in comparison to the anticipation of having a shot at the ultimate killer. I was rigged up in seconds (tied a leader up at home to save valuable seconds) and within minutes I was watching double figure pike after double figure pike follow my bunny bugs! I think they were only in the mood for playing though as painfully few actually took the fly,I duly fucked up every opportunity they presented me with to boot.
By dinnertime I felt a somewhat strange mix of adrenaline, hunger and frustration as I had not been able to connect with these beefy highland predators. My mate Paul had suffered the same fate as me and was eagerly awaiting his first proper hook-up. I spent longer than you would expect in the circumstances having a bite to eat and thinking about fly choice and we agreed that the bright sunshine and shallow water combination was our biggest problem.

As if by clockwork on my very first cast back after eating and crucially AFTER the sun had slipped behind the surrounding mountains I had a solid take! "YAAAAAAAASSSSSS" as they say in these parts was my articulate and highly appropriate response to the unfolding situation. Fully aware of the pressure on me not to fuck up our first real chance I played the fish hard and got him under control quickly (relatively speaking) because the terms quick fight and big pike are mutually exclusive. These fish know exactly how to give you the run around, boring deep and making several hard runs just when you think you have them. Interestingly I find that bigger fish don't do a whole lot for a minute or so, they just kite about until they realise the gravity of the situation and their natural response appears to be lets go apeshit!

Once under control and within our clutches the scales settled around 12 and 3/4lbs, not a monster in the grand scheme of things but it was my new personal best and on the fly finally aswell. Chuffed doesn't really come close, unfortunately Paul's camera broke and I didn't want to hunt for mine when a large vulnerable fish was in my care so all I have are a few blurry photos of him/her.

After taking a moment to revel in the unfolding events I had another half-hearted cast into the same spot only to be savaged again! This came as something as a surprise as you would expect the disturbance of the fight previously to have spooked any fish in the vicinity, whatever the case he came unstuck quickly anyway. I worked my way up and down the bank here for a little while longer with no success so off I went to explore a wee bay not too far from the designated campsite.

Within a dozen or so casts I felt an almighty pull on the end of the flyline, These fish certainly hit the fly hard on a quick retrieve, I guessed it was another big fish as it felt almost dead at first before really waking up. One important thing I noted during the scrap is that a mid double figure pike makes an incredible splash when it jumps, displacing a shitload of water on return to he depths! Again after several hard runs that really put my reels drag (not to mention my arm muscles) to the test, i was left clutching a beautiful big pike, bigger again than the last, I would guesstimate 14lbs of fury in this one. I had to laugh when I noticed it had taken a trout anglers fly fair and square in the scissors, somebody up north must be thinking they lost the mother of all trout! Here she is, better photo this time.

As before I got a strong take in more or less the same spot on the very next cast, I think perhaps these fish sit up and take notice when there is a struggle nearby and rather than getting spooked it stimulates their aggressive side, coincidence perhaps? who knows. I didn't last much longer on the first night, after the long journey and pretty intense fishing i was completely spent, it was about 10pm when I hopped into my bivvy bag (easier said than done). Although these strange bodybag / tent haybrids dont look much i managed to get my best ever kip outdoors, largely down to my new therma rest inflatable mattress though I think! Paul fished on without reward unfortunately. It was a pretty uneventful night as I crashed out more or less instantly.

The next morning I woke up feeling pretty fresh, I dismantled my accomodation in jig time and more or less ran down to the waterside hoping to catch some early action before the dreaded sun rose above the hills. Low and behold i was in after just a few casts! This fish surprised me as although it felt heavy when i struck, it completely ignored my theory on bigger fish starting slowly as it stripped about 60ft of line off my reel in a matter of seconds! The aches developed from yesterday became even more apparent when I had a prehistoric murder machine attached, theres something scary about a creature that can bend a fast actioned #9 rod into the handle. Unfortunately paul let me down in the photo stakes here as he was still in his pit. I tried taking photos myself but it ain't easy.
Almost predictably a hefty fish savaged the fly in exactly the same spot straight after this fish was released. Sadly for me this was to prove the last of my success. Not so for Paul......after he finally woke up of course!

Now it wouldn't be easy or fair for me to try and explain the unfolding events from his point of view, seeing as how Im not him etc etc, instead I'll just post the photos of his captures. For what its worth we ended the two days with three double figure fish each, the smallest 10.5lbs the biggest 15lbs exactly falling to Paul's rod. Oh aye, all his fish were taken in the space of half an hour or so, I can't imagine how sore his arms must have been!

To summarise, this place is a real gem, and a closely guarded one. The pike dont appear to go through a youth of sorts, they just hatch at 10lbs and go from there! I also learned that Paul hates frogs and tench. There are only really two words to sum up the quality of the sport there; FUCKING AWESOME.


Hey guys, this is the new blog, I left the old one to fall by the wayside because my partner in crime hardly ever added to it and the name wasn't 100% indicative of what im about as the sole poster. SO, here is the new look page, this WILL be updated regularly and i'll be paying more attention to the quality of the photos and written content. Hopefully whoever enjoyed the blog before finds this one equally as interesting.

To anyone who has never seen my old page it was based around me and my fishing buddies trips originally but he quickly stopped posting and it took on a different feel what with my serious hard-on for flyfishing, something he has never tried. Anyways, expect plenty stories about smallstream brown trout adventures and predator trips in search of the mighty luce and the massively overlooked european perch, not to mention all the other species we are lucky to have at some point or another.