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.


  1. Nice reporting Scott.It was incredible fishing.
    I LOVE frogs. As for tench...what can i say?..i was young...

  2. what a really great bit of writing there and well done on those fish mate

    tight lines

  3. Thanks very much guys, we need to go back there late summer paul, it really was top notch. I'd like to explore more of the place next time too.

    Dave, thanks for having a look at my page, I see on your profile it says your a metalhead, what kinda bands are we talking? Im more into hardcore myself but I have a soft spot for certain metal bands, anything from iron maiden to morbid angel!