Just back from our annual family holiday to Islay, it was the usual balance of family and fishing…
We were pretty lucky with the weather it was generally sunny and mild but the wind was ever present and approaching gale force on the odd occasion. It made for some excellent surf for the kids boogie boarding expeditions but it didn’t help the fishing. As usual we were staying close by Loch Gorm so most of my fishing effort took place there…
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Looking across Loch na Cachie, and then Loch Gorm, towards Saligo
First outing was on Monday evening, on Gorm, where I met up with Dod who had brought along Bill from Port Ellen AC, it was good to meet up with guys again. We shared a quick beer and some chat before hitting the Loch. Fishing was slow to start with but the odd fish came our way, I was doing better at “not hooking” fish than Dod - I think I had a few more offers, but Dod was hooking up more often. We had pretty much given up and started walking back when a rise came on, so it was back into the water and a hectic half hour of fishing to make the numbers seem more respectable – I reckon I had a response nearly every cast and at one point had a triple hook up. I think the first that I can remember, they ranged from 6oz – ¾lb, it was a good advert for barbless hooks as even though they all pulled in various directions they all stuck. The evening finished with another beer and a bit more chat – I liked Bill’s description of his evening of “tug of war” with some of the troots, where he’d pull, then they’d pull back - but without ever managing a hook up. It pretty much mirrored my experience.
I was lucky enough to manage out the next evening. I headed to my usual spot off one of the points but with the wind fair blowing I found it hard going and had only managed the one wee troot to a sedgehog. I wandered inshore looking for some more sheltered waters and took the chance to join the band wagon and try out some big terrestrials – one of Alex’s ants and a couple of Turk’s Tarantulas. They didn’t exactly work first cast, maybe not surprising as there was no rise on, but the fifth cast produced and it then only took another three until I had the next, this one was my best of the trip, at around 1½lb, boy was it fat.
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Doon the thrapple!
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I continued to catch fish into the gloom, even Alex’s monstrous “ant” took a fish. It was a most pleasant outing.
I had to wait until the Friday until my next outing on Gorm but it turned into a bit of a disaster – my bike sprung a puncture on the way down to the loch and I had to change the inner tube. I got to the waters edge just as the sun was dipping which usually means the wind dips as well, but not this evening. I worked hard to get one fish on a tarantula, surprisingly a huge hatch of caenis never brought any fish up so I called it a day, only to have to repair a jammed chain before setting off up the road, not the best night for the bike.
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The white curse – if only the fish knew?
Next opportunity wasn’t until the Tuesday evening, again the wind was howling so I sought out the sheltered spots where I picked up a few fish on a sedgehog before switching to the tarantula and again it worked its magic and the catch rate went up considerably, helped no doubt, by the very late evening rise.
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One to the sedgehog
On Wednesday, the family attended a “family fun afternoon” at the RSPB reserve at Gruinart so I took the opportunity to head up the road to Ardnave, not to fish the loch but to try my had at some Salt Water Fly Fishing.
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Dod had mentioned to me a while back that there was the chance of a sea trout or even a bass so I chanced my luck with the tides and headed to the mark. I think I found the spot OK but with it being high water I couldn’t wade out far enough to get past the bladderrack. All was not lost as there were plenty of fairly decent Mullet feeding in the shallows, I went through the fly box but couldn’t tempt them, it was great fun trying though and a beautiful location.
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Another one spooked
I even manage to tick off the big three birds of Islay – Chough, Corn Crake and Hen Harrier (more than the family managed at the reserve).
Thursday morning and the family were off down to the RSPB reserve again while I headed to Gorm, the wind was howling again and the water was fairly coloured, I wasn’t very confident about the turbid conditions and failed to touch anything on the windward shore.
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I walked to the other end of the loch where it was a bit calmer and the water clarity a bit better and was rewarded with half a dozen fish to the orange sedgehog, before I spotted the family returning from their trip, and was called back for lunch and another afternoon on the beach.
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Friday was due to be a right hoolie of a day but I got up early and found the weather looking not too bad and with the rest of the family hunkered down ready to ride out the storm, I headed out for a few casts. Figuring that Gorm would be even more Turbid than the day before, I headed to the Saligo River, its little more that a burn but a pretty big bit of running water by Islay standards.
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The Saligo River
Casting was difficult - trying to be accurate, in a tiny stream, with my 4 weight and a near gale wasn’t fun. I was using a Turk / Balloon Emerger - thanks for naming it Col, it sure beats my usual description – a polly yarn balloon caddis (with legs)! I’m pleased to report that it tempted a half a dozen palm sized wee fish, as well as loosing a real cracker that must have pushed the ½lb mark.
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Palm sized troot.
I gave up then, just as the rain started and the wind increased, it was probably half an hour later than I should of, as the cycle back was brutal – cycling down hill in the bottom gear isn’t something I’ve ever had to do before but the wind was fair blowin’ It was a great wee session, probably my favourite of the whole trip and a great way to end my holiday.
G Campbell, Loch Dhomhnuill
Went out for an early fishing jaunt with the father-in-law today to Loch Dhomhnuill, or as we call it here, Duich Loch. It sits between the high road and the low road on the south of Islay, about 6 miles north of Port Ellen.
On arrival at the loch there was not a breath of wind and the midges were wild! this was only 9am and they were at their morming best. We soaked ourselves in our chosen midge repelent and set onto the loch amongst lots of rising fish although all of them looking small.
This was my first trip to this loch and we had heard lots of stories about large fish being taken out of here and the odd sea trout at the back end of the year so hopes were high. I set upwith dries first and fished them static for a wee while to see if any of the risers would be tempted but apart from the swirl and splash here and there, nothing ended up on the curled steel.
I moved up the north bank of the loch to the west and passed a farm implement from times long gone that had possibly been taken closer to the lochs edge that originally intended....nice bit of ironmongery for its day though I would have thought.
I was not getting any joy with the dries and the rises had almost ceased so I put on the sink-tip and 3 wets. After 3 or 4 casts I had a tug and a take, nothing great but at least the blank was off. The wee 5oz trout fought well above its weight and was a mixture of blue and red spots, my first fish for a while as I have not been able to get onto a loch for a while so it put a smile on my face and was returned healthy.
For the next 2-3 hours this was repeated about 10-12 times, all about the same size but more traditionaly red spotted with a golden brown tinge. During this time we had witnessed 2 cracking trout rising in the deep center of the loch, way out of our reach, and they looked well over 2lb, it would have been out if I was on my own thats for sure!
Bruce had 2 fish at this point including a nice wee sea trout which he was really chuffed with and it was good to know that they were definetly here.
So after some light refreshments we went back onto the loch and pretty much repeated the mornings session with the exception of the sea trout.
Red arsed pictric peter and a golden olive bumble done the buissness for me while Bruce done well with black spiders and bibio, so a bit of a mixed fly box for this loch. So it was a good trip to the loch which had interested me for a while now and another one that I can tick off my "must fish" list and I will definetly go back.....me and the tube.....the float tube
Loch Gorm 5/6/08
After just a year short of my big 40, I finally got to loch Gorm thanks to a phone call from my Colin Robertson who was going to head up and asked if I wanted to join him, obviously I jumped at the chance and I am so glad that I eventually went there.
We were to leave at 4.30pm and in Port Ellen there was not a breath of wind and the sky was overcast, this was looking good because Gorm is very rarely calm so the signs were that it would be a nice gentle breeze and that was how it turned out. Purely out of over eagerness to get to the loch, we parked at the "wrong side", the breeze was coming straight at us but there was plenty areas to fish on the walk round to the other side. Before we set off, 3 Australians had come of the loch and told us that it was dour and that the flies had to be "ripped" in! but they were on a boat and we were going to be bank fishing so that just went right over my head.
Off we went and after about 5 minutes of walking I couldn't wait any more for my first cast on Gorm so I was going to be over the left shoulder but that was good enough. The water was low and I had waded out around 25m into the loch (this would usually be about 40-45m if the levels were at its normal). I had started with a 2 fly cast consisting of a green tailed Katie and a ke-he which brought a lot of attention but no takes so I knew I had to change, so I decided to take the Katie off and replace it with an olive bumble and after 3 or 4 casts I was into a fish, my first on Gorm, and it was a typical Islay fighter of no great size but that was me happy now, although I wasn't going to object to any more that came along.
As I was getting a lift to the loch I failed to transfer my net from my car to Colins and this proved costly as although I had 5 fish for the evening, I could have had at least twice that, but I cannot for the life of me land a fish in the water without a net, but at least they were there and it was a great night. Colin got a good catch too with one about 14oz.
The loch was very low as I said and one of the islands on the loch is now the end a peninsula with a long broad sandbank as its body, the shoreline is a 15m border of black stone and golden sand!
Ardtalla outing 20/4/08
Sunday 20th April was the date for the club's first official gathering of the year and the estate welcomed 13 members on the day. Some of the regular faces were unable to make it due to other commitments but those who arrived at Tallant Cottage were happy to see the argo-cat arriving with Tam to carry them to the second loch, Loch Carn a Mhaoil, this being the furthest we would reach this year as Loch nan Clach was unavailable this year. Five anglers decided to just take the short walk to the closer Tallant Loch, a much smaller, deep peaty loch that does not allow you to enter the water because of its depth and structure. The other eight went along to the much bigger and more wader friendly second loch, the early arrivals gaining top positions on a restricted loch due to the easterly wind and a bit more weed this year than before!
Loch Carn a Mhaoil
There was not a lot of action on the second loch and the best rod on this loch was Peter Bartlett who hooked 3 trout at a total weight of 8 3/4 oz, Gavin Campbell, Bill Barclay and Ted Burkenshaw all avoiding a blank with one fish each. The overall winner on the day though came from the smaller loch with Colin Tocher weighing in 2 fish totalling 10 1/2 oz, there was no mention of what flies were working !. No other rods had any luck here though. So no big fish and no big bags either probably due to the cold easterly wind keeping the fish deeper in the loch where on a warmer day could have possibly been more within range and weed free with a floating line. Regardless of the lack of trout everyone had a great day out and the club would like to thank Ardtalla Estate for welcoming us on the day and thanks to Tam for his argo-cat services.
Colin presented with a bottle from new Chairman Duncan.