As I type this, I am looking out on another dank morning and I am wishing I could turn the clocks forward by at least a month.
Whilst I cast an occasional line for our ‘silver tourists’ in February and March, and I fish for pike when I can in March and April, May is when my real fishing begins and I look forward with great anticipation once again to all the wonderful fishing we have in Scotland – much of which I will be sampling myself in what already looks like a packed diary.
Variety is indeed the spice of life and my angling diary is once again looking full of it. The fishing I already have planned is surely enough to get any angler’s juices flowing…
Whilst family commitments will prevent me from getting any multi-night trips to the wilderness in May this year (normally my preferred month), I have pencilled-in expeditions to the wilds of Assynt and Wester Ross in June and August to chase our wonderful wild brown trout – and given the time of year a risk that I’ll be chased myself by our less than wonderful midges.
These trips are the highlight of my angling year. They are multi-day expeditions with a tent to insert myself as deep into our glorious hills as possible in order to experience truly wild fishing amongst magnificent scenery. Becoming harder as the years take a toll on my body, they remain worth the effort – it’s rare to be able to spend a week in our crowded island and not see another soul, but it’s possible and immensely decompressing when you do.
The fish might often be modest in size, but they are as pristine as the waters in which they swim and give a great account of themselves if pursued with a light fly rod. And it won’t be all remote trout lochs either – almost the most angling fun I had last year was fishing small highland burns with a lightweight fly rod for fish that won’t have topped 3/4lb – but, as I put my fly into likely looking pools and runs the fun of the chase was wonderful.
I have salmon fishing too in my diary. From the mighty waters of the Tay – right on my doorstep – to days on the Earn, Spey and Tweed, with the Dee too if I can swing things. Our classic salmon rivers still offer much despite the issues surrounding our iconic Atlantic salmon. As I look forward to casting a line on each and every one of them, I try to forget that our treatment of this key-stone species is nothing short of tragic, and
I focus on the positives that remain: it’s still a great day out – and hasn’t catching a salmon always just been a bonus?
There speaks the voice of someone who wasn’t fortunate to experience the hey-day of Scottish salmon fishing, where undoubtedly anglers fished in expectation rather than just hope! All who care for the flora and fauna of this Isle and ensuring that our rivers continue to be full of clean water should be supremely concerned at the fall in salmon numbers. Enough said – but I may come back to this subject again, because it’s too important to ignore and as they say ‘evil flourishes when good people do nothing’.
But to the looking forward bit – as that is what I do in the miserable weather of February – the days I have salmon fishing are precious ones given that I remain essentially a trout angler. I have yet to land a Spey salmon. I’ve exercised a number over the years, but I appear to be very generous to Spey fish and let them off early. This is something I must improve! However, the days I have on the Spey, are always good ones where I end the day happier and more content than when I started them – and isn’t that the point?
Not everyone’s favourite – but one of mine – old Esox lucius, the pike. I have plans for chasing them again this year after some remarkable successes over the past few years. As with any fish, if pursued with the right tackle, they are a great quarry. The fight I had on Loch Leven last year with a grand fish will stick in my memory for the rest of my life, given that it was on an eight weight fly rod. This was no accidental hook-up either, but just the high point of a day targeting pike on the fly. I also fish a small private loch as a guest of ‘Captain Jim’ and, on either fly or light spinning tackle, we have had some wonderful days fishing over the years. I can’t wait to chuck out my next set of ‘sure-fire winning lures’ this spring to see how many of these ferocious predators I can tempt.
As ever, I have plenty of ‘bread and butter’ loch and reservoir fishing in the diary too. Routine it may be to fish my local lochs for both brown and rainbow trout, but the fishing can nevertheless be very challenging (and all the better for it) and always rewarding. I am fortunate enough to live in Perthshire and so I have some truly wonderful lochs on my doorstep – big and small, stocked and non-stocked – so I am never short of somewhere to fish. One of my favourites, Frandy in Glendevon, sits high in the Ochil’s and so often feels very much like a natural water. I have often been captivated by the wildlife on offer whilst casting my line here, with osprey, owls, kestrels almost constant companions to a day afloat.
And of course there is Loch Leven – that most fickle of brown trout waters – but still one that draws me back time after time for its quality fish.
Last, but by no means least, will be my casting a line for Pollock off the rocks of our north-west coast. I have been chasing these worthy foes for the last few years with both fly and lure and never tire of their ‘smash and grab’ take and powerful dive back towards the kelp from which they came – any fisherman who tells you that’s not fun hasn’t ‘got it’ as far as I’m concerned. Not only is the fishing great, but much like my hill trout fishing, it gets you out into the very best scenery that we have to offer in Scotland. As long as you are mindful of the risks of rock fishing on a rough coastline then there’s no reason why a day’s Pollock fishing shouldn’t be the highlight of your angling year.
So, a great year of fishing ahead – and in even writing this article I feel an excited glow of anticipation!! Get some fishing in your diary and put a smile on your face – even if it’s just in the looking forward to it.