Sunday, 12 January 2014

Chasing winter pike.

I had a few hours spare today so I took the opportunity to go after some Pike. I fished Kilbirnie Loch in a biting cold wind and freezing temperatures. This loch is nearly at the bottom of my street so I can grab a few hours here and there. It does hold a lot of small pike as well as the odd monster. 
Tactics for the day were dead baits popped up and the one that did the damage was the good ol' smelt.
Unfortunately the bigger fish didn't come out to play but I ended up with three wee jacks all around the same size. Great way to spend a few hours on a dreich Sunday afternoon.

A tea break
 Perfect pikey habitat
 Fishing the last cast out just before darkness
Greedy wee jacks. Small but welcome. A quick snap and off to grow bigger.

Maybe next time the mums and grannies will show up.

Tight lines

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Recent messing about at the vice...

I have been trying to top up the trout boxes recently and have been lucky enough to grab a few hours at the vice so I thought I would share some of my recent tying with you.
The first two are cdc quill emergers and these are two of my favourite stillwater patterns when the trout are looking up. Tied on a kamasan b170

Next two are a continuation of my quill obsession. I love the effect you get with this material. These are tied on a Kamasan b175 size 16

Again with the quill, this is a good wee stillwater buzzer pattern.
Next up is a couple of snatchers. I love this pattern for wild browns on stillwaters and it is very rare that there is not one on my leader in some form when after them. Very suggestive.

Lastly, I have a wee Grayling day organised on the river Clyde in January. This will probably mean fishing Czech nymph style stuff so I lashed these together for that purpose. They are very heavy indeed with two layers of flat lead on a heavy weight hook to get them down and amongst them.

I can't wait for the season to start but I am enjoying my tying at the moment.

Tight lines

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Lets Tackle Cancer, Glengavel Resevoir and mixed emotions

As a few of you know, my dad has been battling cancer for nearly two years. Unfortunately, at the end of August he lost his fight and I lost the strongest man I have ever known, as well as my best friend and fishing partner. At the beginning of this season I had won an auction from the excellent charity Lets Tackle Cancer. The auction was for a days fishing on Glengavel Resevoir for two rods. I had bought this as a gift for my dad. Unfortunately we never got round to setting a date to go.
It was with a heavy heart that I had decided to let the day pass and just leave it as a donation. That was until a chance conversation about Glengavel on a forum I frequent led to myself, fellow forum lurker and keen blogger Donald, arranging a day on Sunday.
To be honest I did not think I was entirley ready for a day on a boat. I have spent so many happy hours on boats with my dad that I thought it would tip me over the edge! Dramatic eh? 
One of the last conversations I had with my dad was a few days before he passed away. I was feeling sorry for myself and told him I had lost the notion for fishing and didn't think I could go for a while. Good day or bad on the water, he was always the first person I rang for a chat afterwards. His exact words were "you fuckin better keep fishing!, I will be with you every time you are out." haha
It was with these words pushing me on that I decided to go.

I arrived about half an hour before my boat partner Donald and I was made very welcome by one of the club members "Alby" who was there to greet us and show us the water. First impressions were excellent and I was eager to set up the boat.
 Conditions were looking great. Overcast and slight breeze. Glengavel has a reputation for throwing up some excellent brownies but they do not give themselves up easily. We decided to follow advice and set up a drift on the far bank. It wasn't long until I hooked and released a typical wee fish on the ever present and reliable " wee black flee"
The fish seemed to be very close to the shore and we pottered about searching for them and picking up two a piece. Then we stumbled across a wee area which seemed to hold a few and had some sport for about an hour. Best fish was about 1lb and a few were lost as well. These wee brownies really are lightening quick.

                                                    My dad called these fish "three to the pund"

The next one was full of wee pin fry. Picture didn't turn out too great but they were spilling out it's mouth!
Best patterns on the day were black snatcher and cormorant for me. I ended up with four and Donald had two so not too bad a days fishing really.

It was a really enjoyable day out after all my worrying and I didn't get too emotional in the end. It's just a shame that the bigger fish didn't show up but I will be back for them! 

Oh, just to tug on the ol' heart strings a bit, here is a picture of my dad on one of our last days out on Loch Ruskie earlier in the year. 
Here is a link to Lets Tackle Cancer website... They really do excellent work and there is a chance to pick some cracking days out.

Here is a link to my boat partner, Donalds blog... Fishing Scotland Many thanks for the day out mate.

Finally, here is a link to the Upper Avon Angling Club who run Glengavel and made us extremely welcome. A special thanks to club member "Alby" for his help on the day.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Springer search 2013

My search for the elusive but highly prized spring salmon started early this year with a trip with my dad to Dalmarnock beat on the Tay. We were met with freezing conditions and snow but the river was in fine condition and it's always brilliant to get the season under way.

After fishing down a few of the super pools on this beat, I took this wee fish on a gold bodied willie gunn tube. Fished on a fast sink tip. This was not a fresh fish but a baggot. It was however a very welcome pull on an ice cold day and after a quick pic it was returned to the river.
Below is a wee snap to show the conditions we were fishing in. Another beautiful day on a great Tay beat.

Last week, March 22nd and I was lucky enough to be visiting Lower Kinnaird on the Tay. This was a first visit for me to this beat. Firstly. I had booked through fishpal for the Tuesday but I started the short trip from Killin with my car stuck in the snow. A phone call to the absolute gentleman of a ghillie, Martin Edgar, led to the very kind offer from Kinnaird estate of a re arranged day for the Friday.

Friday found me facing a biting cold wind, hailstones and again freezing conditions but it felt great to be on the water again. Here are a few snaps of this absolutely stunning beat. Loads of superb fly water as well as the junction pool of the Tummel.
 Tactics for the day were fast sink tips, tubes and then some spinning in the afternoon.
 This really is some of the best fly water I have had the privilege to fish.
 One of the other rods fishing on the Friday was into a fish with his last cast as I was making my way back to the hut.
 Martin Edgar the ghillie was on hand to assist with the net.
 A very welcome wee springer for John just before it was released to continue on it's journey.
So, for me the springer search continues but I feel I'm getting closer. My next trip is to the Tummel on 25th May which may well be my last realistic chance at one of these beautiful fish this year before thoughts turn to grilse and brownies.

I would also like to say that I have I have fished a few places with ghillies now, but the two who look after these two brilliant Tay beats are a cut above. They go above and beyond to ensure you enjoy your day and their knowledge of the beats is exceptional.
Gordon Pollock  who looks after Dalmarnock has a blog which can be found here...
Martin Edgar has a blog which can be found here... 
A very special thanks again goes to Martin for his kindness in ensuring I never lost my days fishing. He has a new regular! 

Tight lines

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Messing about with my nemesis!!!

For a while now I have been a wee bit obsessed with quill bodied patterns. I just love the segmented effect it creates on fly bodies. However, tying them has been very frustrating for me. I am talking here, about dyed peacock quills. They are widely available from most good materials suppliers but I have found them very difficult to get on with. The quill can be very brittle to work with and you need to strip the feather from them with either bleach or an eraser. I was constantly breaking them with my heavy handed approach. These became my nemesis and I even thought about giving up with the idea and just going back to buying them! That was all changed when I was recommended some pre-stripped, dyed quills available from Poland. These sounded perfect for me.
I purchased a few packets and I was on my way. I thought I would share some of the results with you. 
I love spider patterns and the trout I like to annoy frequently are partial to them so that seemed like a good starting point.
My photography skills are in need of improvement.
 Red quilled spiders.
 The three in the picture below are tied on some new hooks I bought from an excellent fly tyer and all round good guy. Lucian Varsis. I like the way they turned out.
I think there is still room for imrovement with the spiders but they are the best ones I've turned out yet so progress is being made.

Another pattern that I have regular success with called a yellow owl. It was my best pattern last year by a country mile! This cdc pattern was originally tied with light olive thread and ribbed with black thread. I prefer the way the quill bodied ones look when done right.
I am very happy with the effect on these.
 The CDC on these is from Lucian Varsis website. It is some of the best I have ever used.
 Tied on Kamasan B170s size 14
 This is the effect I was looking for.

These have been easily the best results I have achieved so far with quill bodied patterns and they have found a place in the fly box for next season.

Recipes for the above patterns are as follows

Kamasan B170 size 14 or Demon  100BL size 14
Thread...Black uni 8/0
Body....Polish quills red
Hackle....Starling (taken form the body)
 A coat of varnish on the quill body helps protect it.

Yellow owl
Kamasan B170 size 14
Thread...light olive UTC 70
Body...Polish quills dyed yellow
Thorax...Mole dyed olive
CDC from Lucian Varsis

The Polish quills can be purchased from
Lucian Varsis excellent site can be found here...

I have no connection to either of the above. I'm just a happy customer.

Tight lines

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Castle Semple in search of Pike.....

Yesterday found me with a few spare hours to kill and a notion to go in search of some local pike. I have been doing fairly well on one of my local waters, Castle semple, which is a somewhat substantial loch adjacent to the village of Lochwinnoch, which is a part of Muirsheil country park. The loch is a very popular course fishing venue and holds a good head of small pike with the odd surprise to be had as well as roach and perch.
I have been enjoying a fair bit of success with small jack pike on the fly rod here and some "perchy" type patterns around the area of the visitors centre. I normally park in the car park at the centre and walk north east along the shore. This can be quite a busy area with anglers.
For a while I have been meaning to approach the loch from the opposite direction which involves a bit more of a walk but the plan was to find a bit more solitude than usual. I parked in the lay by on the outskirts of Howood and headed along the path towards the loch.

After about a mile the loch comes into view.

In this picture you can see the swollen Black Cart river which runs out of the loch.

Now, I will fess up here. I am not a fan of spinning. I am not by any means knocking it and I understand there are anglers who are masters at the art of fishing lures but I am not one of them. It's just not my cup of tea. I find it boring. I have a trusty salmon spinning rod and reel which only gets an outing when needs must.
However, as this was an exploratory trip in a limited time, I came to the conclusion that the spinning rod would give me the best chance to cover more water and try and locate some fish.

On approach, my plan was to concentrate my efforts around the island which can be seen in this picture.
 Plenty of likely looking areas with semi submerged logs and reeds. Perfect pike habitat.
It was a very dreich, dour day yesterday and the fish were unfortunately not in a playful mood.
I worked my way along the shore in the direction in the river. I started off with the ever reliable rapala but I was encountering weed with every cast and at £14 a pop, the thought of loosing one was beginning to make me ill.
The more desperate I got, the bigger and uglier the lure became!

 An example of my frustration.
 I continued towards the river mouth which took me a few hours. I fished hard but didn't even see a fish. There was an angler set up with a bivvy near the river entrance who was fishing dead baits. Maybe this is the approach to take in this area. Or maybe I should have brought the fly rod after all! Who knows?

I think in conclusion, this end of the loch may be better tackled with my float tube and fly rod and surface type lures of a warmer day. I know the place holds pike.
I did however, really enjoy my walk and few hours chucking ugly stuff at un-interested pike.
Does your author love spinning?.... No.
Does he love walking into new places with rod in hand?.... Yes.
Will he be back out with the spinning rod in search of pike soon?....probably not.

The walk out

 This landmark will be well known to people from the Glasgow and Ayrshire area but I have never known what it is? Anyone know?

Tight lines