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



  1. fantastic post mate im going to try some of that next summer what amazing pictures thanks for the post always worth the wait when you do post

  2. Cheers for the kind words dave, I have always been hooked on fishing tiny streams, I'm sure you will just a similar kick out of it. You are in a good place for it, some awesome small rivers in your ends!