Saturday, 1 December 2012

15/11/2012 - Eliburn Reservoir

Having seen the potential, H was keen to get back to Eliburn to get some more species ticked off. He arrived before me and set up opposite where we'd been situated on our previous visit. Being a complete addict, in the time since the last session he'd been reading up on method feeding tactics and couldn't resist getting a new waggler rod. His report is here.

Still recovering from the previous nights excesses I received a text saying he'd caught a Tench with his first cast on the method. Another new species for him. Then on the road another text said he thought he had an Ide as well which he'd keep in the net til I arrived. Top stuff.

On arrival one of the permit guys had been unable to identify the 'Ide'. At first I suspected it was a small Bream, but on reflection it is most likely one of the Hybrid's (Roach/Bream) I've seen caught there. Not content with one, he managed to snaffle another one not too long after. Still no Ide somehow.

So I set myself up as usual with maggots under a float at varying depths til I found some fish and another rod on the bottom. I'll usually use cubes of luncheon meat but today used sweetcorn squeezed into a ball of H's groundbait. As the latter rod is then put in a rest whilst the float rod demands more attention, I contrived to miss a few rattles on the sweetcorn rod (new bell indicator in action). However the maggot rod was proving slow and I was having to alter my depth a lot in a bid to find fish. Surprisingly, as it was a bit chilly, I had most success up in the water although these were proving to be what I call 'phantoms'. The float disappears, you strike and there's nothing, no resistance whatsoever. The fish has taken and spat the bait before you can strike. It never ceases to amaze me how quick they are able to do this. Sometimes after a missed strike, if you don't reel in, another 'phantom' bites, you strike and miss and this can repeat 3 or 4 times in the same cast. It gets to the point I occasionally do pre-emptive strikes hoping a fish has taken the bait but not yet pulled the float under. A tactic which hasn't yet worked.

Unfortunately the rest of this report is missing. After starting it, too much time elapsed before I recorded anything else and my memories have faded. Plenty more good info on Eliburn in my other reports if required.

25/10/2012 - Eliburn Reservoir

A typical Eliburn Roach
Total - 12
Species - Roach & Perch

Once the trout season had finished I'd promised to get H through to Eliburn in Livingston. I assured him I'd had t-shirt weather days there in November before (in fact, almost hot enough to go topless!!!) so there was no real rush, especially as we'd been targeting the sea a fair bit recently too.

A typical Eliburn Perch
On arrival I was a bit concerned as all my favourite pegs were already occupied. I also noticed much more pond weed than I'd seen for a while making some pegs and especially the 'arm' a bit more clogged up than would be ideal. Landing fish through the small channels between the weed might be an issue.

We set up on the east bank. H plumbed to find the depth and began with his maggots on the bottom under a float. It didn't take long before he was acquainting himself with the inhabitants. Whilst I connected with a couple of medium sized Roach a few feet off the bottom, H's first was a lovely wee Gudgeon, a new species for him. Seldom will one Gudgeon have had so many photos of itself taken.
His Majesty hard at work (the extra weed clearly visible)

There was occasional interest, but nothing hectic and I commented after an hour or so I was amazed we hadn't been ambushed by the usually prevalent Perch yet. Within seconds I had one on the bank, the aggressive wee nutjobs always amuse me with their compunction for a scrap.

The weather had been OK, but was improving nicely. Unfortunately in this country I always have the Billy Connolly weather forecast in my head. In Scotland, if it's sunny, that means it's going to rain and if it's raining, that means it's going to be sunny.

A slightly more decent Perch from the top end
I liken the Ide in Eliburn to Rainbow Trout. When you get them in your swim they are voracious, not shy at all and swirl for any thrown in maggots much like rainbows in a fish farm do for pellets. H was hoping for one of them and eventually I thought I'd spotted some moving around just in front of us (still without my polarised shades). There was the usual flurry of phantom bites (float goes, you strike, nothing there as they spit the bait before you can react). When we did manage to connect we could only land some more Roach.

A lovely Roach for H
In time things slowed down a bit. I often have success at the top end of the venue so on the way back to the car we had a dip in there. I think between us we had 5 fish in our first 5 casts (I've said it before, but I don't understand how (non-carpers at least) blank here. There were Gudgeon, some Roach and the always game Perch getting stuck right into our maggots and in no time we'd topped our catch totals right up. However the earlier sunshine had given way to blustery showers and I was happy to call it a day. H had 'won' with Roach, Gudgeon and Perch totalling 14 whilst my Roach & Perch tally was 12. With plenty more species to be caught, I knew it wouldn't be long before H dragged me back.

23/10/2012 - Torness

A numbers game
Time -
Weather -
Water -
Method -
Total -
Species -

For the second night in a row we headed to Torness. H was still in hot pursuit of a Conger whilst I'm still at the stage I'd be quite happy to get bothered by a crab.

On the way to the mark we were treated to the sight of a Barn Owl hunting on the open ground between the sea and the power station. The last time I was in the Holyrood Park Rangers office getting a permit for Duddingston Loch I'd noticed a pile of postcards which were for people to record owl sightings on and send them off so that relevant ornithologists could do whatever they do with the information. On return I looked up the website and duly reported our sighting. Well worth checking out at .

With a similar rod approach to the previous evening, I'd topped up my Mackerel bait with some squid this time (Both H & J are like a combination of walking tackle & bait shops) whilst H scaled down from full-on Mackerel flappers to slightly less ambitious sized Mackerel baits.

I'd also purchased some small bell bite indicators which meant the requirement to keep a close eye on the bait rods for movement was much less of an issue. As we began lobbing our lures about hoping for another 6lb Pollock, one of H's rods immediately began tinkling.

More prepared than the previous evening, H had brought a drop net and before long I helped him land another surprise (not a Conger or Cod anyway) in the form of a Lesser Spotted Dogfish (photos through link at end of report).

Whilst that was the sum of all catches on the bait rods, I was in hot pursuit of the shoal of Coalfish that could often be seen passing in pursuit of a shoal of sand eels. Using a dropshot/Isome combo I was having some success whilst for once H couldn't quite get the hang of it. With my Coalfish record haul standing at 6 I powered on until I reached double figures taking my total for both evenings to 11. A quick totting up of H's total's made the final score 12-11 to him although two of them were a muckle Pollock and a doggie. Still, better to catch something rather than nothing. I suspect we'll be back in pursuit of Cod 7 Conger soon enough.

H's account of the session and some better photos accessible here.

22/10/2012 - Torness

Time -
Weather -
Water -
Method -
Total -
Species -

H informed me he had three evening sessions in a row planned over at Torness in a bid to break his Conger duck and I was welcome to tag along. We would be fishing at the same spot I'd seen a Cod landed a day or two before so I was more than happy to exponentially increase my very limited sea/bait knowledge.

En route we stopped into Dunbar Harbour to wet our lines and hopefully see the as yet unidentified fish I'd watched on previous outings allowing Hutch to get a proper ID on them.

The shrimp boats were not long in and unloading, creating a bit of a hubbub. As well as plenty of scavenging gulls there were 5 seals in the harbour helping themselves to any unwanted catch.

Before long H was howking out Coalfish, banking 4 in no time whilst I could only explore the infinite variety of ways of missing fish. A bit frustrated it wasn't long before I had him back in the motor and heading to the intended destination.

I was set up with a pennel rig and a Mackerel bait on one rod whilst I'd use a variety of lures on my second rod. H set himself up with two bait rods using Mackerel flappers in a bid to entice a Conger. He also had a lure rod to keep active in between bait takes.

Very soon H was into a fish which turned into a Pollock I estimated at about 6-6.5lb (later weighed in at 5lb 12oz). We were quite high above the water level, but fortunately the fish tired quite soon and muggins was able to scramble down the rocks and lift it out as the waves threatened to sook it down the side of the breakwater blocks. An incredible and very unexpected start to the evening. He followed this up with another slightly above average (for here) Pollock and another couple a bit smaller to finish with 8 fish in total. Despite doing little wrong and even taking his rod and fishing from the same spot as him, I couldn't connect with even a piece of seaweed before eventually coaxing a small Coalfish ashore to avoid the granny.

The bait rods failed to do their job but we did have a couple of taps, H (typically) getting the biggest tickle but finding nothing on the end when he struck.

Whilst I didn't exactly have a great session myself, I was still pleased for H and delighted to see such a braw Pollock making the journey more than worthwhile.

H's account of this session and the one that followed can be viewed here.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

20/10/2012 - Torness & Dunbar Harbour

View towards Torness Outflow
Time - 1600-2130
Weather - Lovely
Water - High tide at 1830
Method - Isome jigged & various lures
Total - 5
Species - Coalfish

A free afternoon transpired out of nowhere and I soon decided on a spot of sea fishing. My recent sortie in Dunbar Harbour had intrigued me with a couple of unidentified fish whilst the attendance of small Coalfish would nicely stave off a blank.

A quick text to inform H & J of my intentions with the offer of a lift met with the almost perfect response that they were already at the Torness Outflow if I wanted to join them for a pop at some Bass.

I parked at Skateraw and ignorantly made my way to the Inflow. A quick exchange of texts put me on the right course and I continued along the shore past Torness. A couple of guys were fishing next to the promontory at the power station and reported a Ballan Wrasse on the first cast and nothing since.

On arrival at the outflow there were a good dozen or so anglers having a go. J had already taken a few Bass whilst H had been distracted as usual by the rock pools and their various inhabitants. I set up a rod for each with a small weight and a barbless size 16 with some Isome for the rock pools and a borrowed lure and jighead from J to target a maiden Bass. As they were leaving at 1630 I was left to it against the incoming high tide. It wasn't too long before I snagged the Bass rig and lost it (after a couple of near misses, snags not fish). I had another go with a similar set up using my own tackle but with no success.

The tide was flooding more of the rock pools now and I had a wee explore around them. H had told me they were hoaching with blennies as well as loads of other tiddlers whilst also educating me in the difference between small fish and their equally sized prawns. I found a nice run with the current running gently through it where almost a swarm of little fish congregated in an attempt to get my size 18 in their gob. Only one managed to do so but was off as soon as I lifted it out of the water. Their identities remain unknown.

Codling (not mine)
With the tide almost at its peak and not much space to manoeuvre between the hungry Bass hunters I decided to head back up and have a pop at the Inflow prior to heading to Dunbar Harbour for an evening session. I spoke to the two Anglers at the promontory again who'd had no further success. However as I was there one of their rods started tinkling (they had bell bite indicators attached). The nephew struck and was immediately snagged. However a couple of lusty pulls freed his gear and the fish was still on. It turned out to be a Codling (see pic) taken on a strip of Mackerel.

I left them and had a stab at both sides of the Inflow, as often without success and headed back to the car and onto Dunbar Harbour hoping to investigate these mystery fish from my previous visit.

The bridge in the harbour was still up meaning it would be the town side again, but this was fine. I headed for the harbour mouth and tried Isome along the bottom and a lure on my second rod. With nothing doing I was able to get moving along the harbour wall in pursuit of my mystery fish. While there wasn't a repeat of my 'Wrasse attack', there were plenty of wee Coalies about and the drop/lift method was invoking chases and flashes at the Isome, but few actual takes. Soon enough I had one on the dock. A prawn boat came in and began the process of chucking away it's unwanted take to the waiting seals. Soon a couple of small flatties appeared dozily swimming about in the surface. H informs me these are often thrown back by the prawn boats, hence their surface bewilderment. As before, they didn't show any interest in the Isome.

I was delighted to see the re-appearance of my viparous blenny/gurnard/squid/monster of the deep unidentified fish. Watching the way it propelled itself, although I'm sure it was a fish, J's seemingly leftfield suggestion that it might be a squid was quite startling. It didn't seem to use it's thin tapering tail at all using it's large pectoral fins at the bulkier head end to slowly glide its way around much like you see squid doing.

Although the short film footage isn't great (from a harbour wall at night), I think it gives at least a decent impression of the style of the fish. I've attached it at the end of this post.

As time progressed I fished round towards the drawbridge again finding some interest here and there from small Coalies with most attention coming at the drawbridge wall.

Once the tide turned and there was a visible flow out of the old harbour a massive shoal of small coalies (as it turned out) appeared seemingly chomping their way through any edible detritus exiting through the channel. Lifting and dropping a small shad lure through them provoked loads of interest and I ultimately managed to bank 5 for a personal Coalfish record tally.

16/10/2012 - Loch Dunmore

Loch Dunmore
Time 1300-1600
Weather - Light shower or two, around 6 degrees
Water - Still, pretty clear, lots of lilies
Method - See text
Total - 0

Spending a week at Tummel Bridge with the family obviously had me looking around at potential fishing destinations in an area where you are spoilt for choice.

With the trout season gone, trouting on Loch Rannoch, Loch Tummel or Dunalastair Water were all out as was a shot on the River Tummel or River Gaur (incidentally, its the Gaur you can see behind the cooncil lager in my profile pic). Salmon on the River Tummel or River Garry (Pitlochry Angling Club) were my next thoughts. Being early season rivers the prices are quite reasonable this late, but the season ended on both on Monday, the day of my arrival. Similarly Loch Faskally's Salmon had ended the previous Saturday (shoddy scheduling by the school holiday planners). Pike and/or Perch on Loch Rannoch or Loch Tummel then? Seriously daunting waters for a relative novice like myself and also the possibility of getting through a session alone in severely testing weather conditions (there was a dusting of snow on the hills on our first night) didn't really appeal. I'd prefer to try these types of waters when I can go after Trout and Char as well.
Next to the Boathouse

I remembered a small water I'd found a while ago on Google Earth adjacent to Loch Faskally and looked it up. Loch Dunmore is a small sheltered coarse pond just outside Pitlochry run by the quite appropriately named Dunmore Angling Club. Details were sketchy online but I found a contact email address and sent off a hopeful enquiry not really expecting a response, never mind the quick and excellently detailed reply I received later that day.

At this time of year, the woods surrounding Loch Dunmore are converted into The Enchanted Forest once darkness falls so you have to be off the water by 1630. Holding Perch, Rudd, Roach, Tench and Carp (Crucian's as far as I can tell, although maybe some of their larger cousins too), most of the common baits apparently do the trick with maggots probably being the best starting point. I was warned though that there was a fair bit of growth, mostly lilies which, whilst not ideal once a fish was on, provided plenty of cover for the inhabitants. Tickets are £6 and available in a couple of places, I got mine just down the road and round the corner at the Faskally Boat House. Incidentally, there is no Tackle Shop in Pitlochry just now, although the Boat House sold some gear, mostly Salmon and Pike lures. I was also tipped off about a couple of pegs, but in all honesty, once there, they all looked pretty sweet.

So, I arrived just before 1pm and was immediately impressed. It is difficult to overstate the beauty of this location and nestling in woodland it's nicely sheltered. There was another dude fishing next to the little Boathouse who looked like he knew what he was doing and his son was also fishing. Indulging in a quest for as much info as possible I made straight for them. They'd been there all morning and it had been raining quite a lot but the Dad had taken a small Roach and a couple of Perch on maggots. The boy reported a lost Tench right at the bank from the other side of the water and a Carp that had snapped him. Both had been off the bottom with a red & white maggot combo using a pole and float. The Dad was set up with a float, fishing it quite deep.

How can this possibly fail?
I decided to fish the peg next to them at the other side of the boathouse and employ my standard coarse tactics, devised over a couple of years at Eliburn. Rod One has the float slipped onto the mainline and held in place by a couple of small weights (enough to right the float in the water), then a swivel clip to which I attach a fine pre-tied hook/leader, usually about 2lb b/s and a size 18-20 hook. For smaller silver fish I find if you get too bulky they tend to be a lot less likely to take. This can cause problems if something substantial decides to wolf down the maggots instead, but this is rare. Rod Two is a bit more speculative. I add enough weight only to hold it firm on the bottom about 2-8 inches away from a specialist carp hook about size 8-10. Obviously all these tactics can vary, but that's the general starting point.

Despite my best efforts I searched all round with my float rod but couldn't find any fish. I opted for cubed luncheon meat stuffed with a few pellets and still loosely attached to another couple of cubes (see pic) that certainly looked scrumptious to me, but not it seemed to the fish. This was plonked out to my right in front of the boathouse along with some more meat as groundbait and some maggots. For good measure some floating pellets were thrown out, but all with no response.
Mark two view to the right

In the meantime my neighbour extracted another wee Perch so at least there was hope. I decided to move and made my way half way round the pond to another outstanding looking peg. The same tactics were deployed, all the while lengthening the depth of the maggots under the float. For the first 150 minutes or so I only had two solitary bubbles appearing as my only encouragement. Whether simple gas releases or Tench feeding, these are sometimes the only encouragement when staring at a potential blank especially on a new venue.

Mark two view to the left
I switched from maggots to Isome on the float rod and tried a beard of maggots on a smaller hook on Rod Two. Finally the beard did the trick and the rod started to twitch. When it pulled I struck, but didn't feel a fish. Probably a Tench, I focused on the 'hotspot' but didn't get any further interest.

So a slightly disappointing blank, but more than enough to peak my interest. It is certainly a venue I intend to return to. Enhancing the natural beauty of the place from an Anglers point of view, it's very well maintained with many pegs available and all in good condition. In my opinion an excellent balance is struck between the natural setting and the requirements of the Angler. A lovely example to all other small coarse fisheries.

View back to the Boathouse
On my return from Pitlochry to Tummel Bridge I stopped to take a couple of photos of Loch Tummel, as displayed later in this post.

Although I didn't push for any more fishing passes from the wife, later in the week we ventured up to Kinloch Rannoch where I took a neb at Loch Rannoch. Catching it not long before sunset the view up the Loch was outrageously stunning and I let my cameraphone do the work. If you enlarge the photo's you can see the odd ring of ripples showing the rise that was well underway along the near bank by what I expect were small trout. A proper assault on Loch Rannoch is high on the list for 2013, my anticipation heightened on the holiday by delving back into Ron Greer's outstanding book Ferox Trout & the Arctic Char which I'd highly recommend to anyone interested in fishing, even stockie-bashers who come in for a bit of a tongue-lashing. Informed, Insightful and Intelligent, I'll leave the i-superlatives there.

Loch Tummel

Loch Tummel & Schiehallion viewed on the way back to the Lodge

Loch Tummel, same spot, different view

Loch Rannoch

Stop the car!!!!!

And the photos still don't do it justice

Looking across to the south eastern shore

Photography made easy

Fetch me my rod Jeeves?

OMG, as they say

North east shore

Hold the camera horizontal you fool

Saturday, 13 October 2012

12/10/2012 - Straiton Pond

Time - 1630-1815
Weather - Windy, chilly
Water - Full up & cloudy
Method - Maggots
Total - 3
Species - Roach 5"

Following some heavy rain I made my way back to Straiton Pond without too much confidence. My bite to landing ratio had been abysmal on my previous visit and conditions were likely to be a lot worse. The wind was quite strong restricting the marks I could fish from and on arrival it was apparent the water height was not too far from being at its maximum. Plus my maggots weren't the freshest.

At the first two marks at either end I didn't get any interest at all and wasn't too far from calling it a day. But I decided to try the last remaining sheltered spot on the northwest bank at the landslip. After a good 15 minutes or so of nothing I was otherwise distracted when I noticed the float disappearing and managed to reach the rod in time to hook the fish. Keen at least to see what it was I hurriedly brought ashore a small Roach of about 5 inches. One bite, one fish, delighted.

I explored around a bit if that's what casting in different directions could be called with no more success. I'd caught the Roach not far from my casting range limit which firstly was out of the shelter and into the wind, but secondly was close to the sunken tree. This made accurate placement of the bait very difficult, but after a couple of near misses with the tree, I managed to get the maggots back to the spot I'd got the first fish. Again, another bite, hooked into it and two bites had now produced two fish. A mad turnaround from my previous visit and a write-off of a session quickly becoming quite successful. I repeated the cast (after a few misfires) and soon the pattern repeated making it three bites and three fish. What a completely beguiling and inconsistent pastime the old angling can be.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

07/10/2012 - Torness & Dunbar Harbour

Work of art or Carbuncle?
Time - 1500-2030
Weather - Clear blue skies, slight breeze, temp dropped in evening
Water - A bit of a chop, a bit cloudy
Method - Isome & spoon
Total - 5
Species - Long Spined Sea Scorpion (3), Coalfish (2)

After a week that saw me catch my smallest and biggest rod caught fish, the latter seemingly loosening a newly fitted end eye on one of my spinning rods, then breaking my other spinning rod on Friday, I had a wee rake in my 'rod corner' and decided to press into action a small telescopic rod I'd never used.

Beautiful or just pug ugly?
Straiton Pond was my first consideration, but my leftover maggots didn't look in the best of shape, so I decided to head to the coast where I was recently introduced to LRF rock pool fishing by H using Isome as bait.

Copying a scaling down technique that H uses, instead of using a jighead hook, the only ones I have just now are quite big, I simply tied on a barbless size 16 and attached a weight right at the end of the line. With hardly any casting involved, this allows you to drop the Isome exactly where you want to and makes it easier to 'walk' the worm about in the rock pools as the smaller hook is less likely to snag.
Looking up the coast towards Dunbar

Still without my shades it was difficult to get a good view into some of the spots. Initially all I could see were some really tiny fish, some may even have been prawns, but it wasn't long before the angry little fish appeared. The first one took at the end of my range of vision in a cloudy crevice pool, but left me in no doubt when it basically went off on a run. With my duck broken I was delighted and continued to extract another couple of fish before the incoming tide made things less friendly.

First fish of the day
I decided to have a pop at the Wrasse J has been somewhat obsessed by recently. Still a virgin with this species it was a bit hit and hope as I threw out the same rig I'd used for the rock pools with a couple of extra weights attached. Due to the swell of the tide the line loosens and tightens quite a lot aided by my light set-up which wouldn't be too stationary on the bottom. A couple of times I thought I'd been tapped, but it was too difficult to say for sure whether it was fish or simply the current.

And another
With nothing doing I had a few chucks with a spoon to try and tempt any Mackerel or suchlike, but met no success. As it neared 6pm (high tide around 7pm) I decided to head up to Dunbar Harbour for the last half hour of light to see if I could connect with one of the many flatties I've been reliably informed come into the harbour.

The drawbridge was up stopping me being able to get to the outer side of the harbour so I began right there casting out the Isome and slowly retrieving it to try and entice anything on the bottom.
Just about a perfect day
With no success I opted to go round to the harbour mouth. There was a fishing boat recently in and the crew were dealing with whatever they'd caught. Not long after getting to the harbour mouth, another boat returned and this continued until half a dozen boats were back in the dock. One boat which appeared to be shelling the prawns they'd caught and discarding the shells into the harbour had two or three seals in attendance. Also, since the harbour was 'working', it meant there were a few decent lights on which allowed me to continue for a while longer if required.

At the harbour mouth I began as I'd ended at the drawbridge, casting out the Isome and bringing it slowly back along the bottom to try and find a flatfish. I  began lifting and dropping along the wall when what I expected were wee Coalfish being the culprits I began to feel some interest. They seemed to be taking more on the lift and after a while honing the speed and height and suchlike I managed to bank my first Coalie of the session. In between trying to get another one or two I was distracted by a wee flatfish swimming around the surface obviously feeding on something. I couldn't provoke any interest and when one of my casts proved too accurate it dove down and I didn't see it again. At least there were some about.
Dunbar Harbour at sunset

After a while I began working back around the harbour wall. Just before the 'main' side of the harbour there was a covering of seaweed floating at the high tide mark which provided a canopy that looked perfect for fish to hide beneath. As I dropped the Isome into the water it was immediately hit by a fish of around 12 inches or so that darted from under the weed. I struck, missed and it darted under the seaweed again. With my limited knowledge of the fishes of the sea, I strongly suspected it to be a pretty decent Wrasse. It was bigger than the standard harbour Coalfish and behaved quite differently. As you'd expect I kept at it tempting it out for a tap or a look a few more times, but frustratingly couldn't connect to discover it's identity. Whilst it began by taking as the Isome hit the water, or on the drop, it also had a couple of goes on the lift, and, as the rig left the water altogether. Coalies seem to be most likely to bite only on the lift (using a lift and drop method). This plus my visual id still makes me tend to think it was indeed a Wrasse of some sort, however my much more experienced sounding boards (Schogsky & Hutch) are quite understandably doubtful. And the way a Wrasse is normally felt to bite doesn't quite correlate with my visual experience. All very intriguing.

Continuing into the corner there were Coalies showing an interest using the lift and drop method at a depth out of sight. I clocked another couple of flatties swimming about in the surface steadfastly refusing to show even a flicker of interest in my Isome. I also watched another fish in the surface whose identity is beyond my knowledge. Viewed only from above it roughly resembled the shape of a sea scorpion, around 4-5 inches in length and with most of its bulk at its head, tapering off into a thin tail. It's means of propulsion wasn't its tail, but two large pectoral fins fanning out and easing it through the water in a smooth and constant fashion. After trying to describe this to J & H, the former suggested a gurnard or even a squid whilst H suspected a Viviparous Blenny. I presently have absolutely no idea.

I continued back around the harbour dropping the Isome and drop/lifting it. Every now and again I'd find a hotspot of Coalies and induce plenty of taps, but they seem just a little reluctant to actually hook themselves. I need either bigger or smaller hooks, but will hone my approach in time.

Monday, 8 October 2012

05/10/2012 - Lyne Water, South Esk & North Esk

H on the Moorfoot Burn
Total - 1
Species - Brown Trout - 7.5"

An all day assault on many of my favourite spots on the North & South Esk should have been a fish filled wonder sesh. Instead it was an incredibly frustrating outing resulting in just a single troot of 7.5 inches for two determined anglers using a variety of approaches in all manner of places. Even the final attempts at Polton Bank where I'd taken three in an hour the previous evening could only offer up a single fish to finally expunge the spectre of a double blank. The cost of the solitary fish was my first broken rod in years as I angrily tried to extricate a mepp from a tree after a particularly amateurish cast.

Bites, but still no success on the South Esk
Whilst I've been rapidly expanding my pitiful sea fishing abilities with the help of J & H, I've been trying to fit in a fly fishing session or two with H to get him a bit more up to speed with the finer end of fishing (allegedly). First stop was a couple of pools on the Lyne where I can usually tempt a few small trout. Being so late in the season I knew our chances would be slim. I was able to entice a couple of rises from a couple of small ones. But that was that. H was unable to find any success, caught in that frustrating Catch 22 where until you find a successful tactic in a given method, you fish with minimal confidence to begin with, which then increasingly diminishes with ongoing lack of success. Not to worry though, I'd lined up a delicious looking menu of locations and it would surely only be a matter of time until we began banking trout.

As my tour continued we alighted on the Moorfoot Burn where there are a couple of nice runs and one good pool. But despite conducive conditions neither of us could even tempt a tap so we moved again.

H in Roslin Glen retrieving his tackle from a tree
Next stop was the South Esk just downstream from Temple. There are two streams that merge here forming the South Esk emanating from Rosebery and Edgelaw reservoirs. Due to their size, there are only really a small handful of properly fishable pools although the slightly higher than normal river levels were conducive to some extra little runs being explored. I'd switched to my trusty mepp whilst H was now employing the Isome on a small jig set-up. Straight away he'd induced a couple of bites, but in what was quickly turning into the story of the day, we were failing to hook, let alone land any of the offers. We fished down the Edgelaw 'outflow' burn to the pool below the confluence, then fished up to the weir on the 'Rosebery' river. THere is a fair amount of trekking involved in this location and after returning to the car a little  bit out of breath I asked H if he wanted to do more cross country exploring or go somewhere we would definitely catch a fish. He opted for the latter and we headed for Polton Bank and the North Esk where I'd taken 3 brownies in a par for the course session the previous evening.

H, North Esk, and the benefits of chest waders
H was doing his usual experimenting with all sorts of rubber things while I persevered with my trusty mepp. The run above the weir had H's attention as I moved downstream and it wasn't long before a shout from the top of the waterfall alerted me to the energetic louping of his first fish of the day. before I could get there, it was off. I'd since lost my mepp and had converted to a jighead with a small jelly minnow and was tempted to try the far right bank at the top of the weir as H continued on the left bank. I was getting interest of at least one decent trout which finally took and as I turned to inform H, it too escaped. Things were getting a bit silly. Below the weir again I managed to lift a few more trout from their lies with my minnow, but for some reason, the hooks weren't doing their job and offer after offer was missed.

There are some decent pools further down, one of which I never fail in and I sent H straight to it. In the meantime I was fishing a likely looking spot, but from high above on the riverside path in a bid to take every opportunity going and finally brought a trout to the bank. Talk about hard won victories.

Reduced to photographing Brambles
H was still trying and failing as I passed him to a really nice looking pool where I still haven't had a fish. My first cast was rubbish and my second landed in a tree. As I yanked to try and free it I snapped the line and was (not) absolutely delighted to find I'd also snapped the last 3-4 inches off my rod.

It was time to get back to the car. With time running out before H's lift home we headed to Roslin Glen for a final push to bust his blank. Through necessity I was back on the fly. It was my first time down here since before the latest spates and I was surprised at the amount of erosion and reshaping of many of the runs and pools. The corner below the road bridge wasn't just unfishable previously, but you couldn't even get a cast in if it had been. It was now fully accessible and fishable due to all the logs and branches having been swept off. However the story remained much the same as it had for most of the day and we couldn't find any more success. As far as the lovely wee Brown Trout goes, that was it for 2012, but of course, there is always next season.

04/10/2012 - North Esk

Really doesn't get much better
Time - 1715-1830
Weather - Pleasant enough
Water - Dropping back towards normal
Method - Mepp 2
Total - 3
Species - Brown Trout 11.5, 9.5 & 8 inches

With the end of the trout season looming large I've been looking to cover as many of my favourite haunts as possible. Firstly to catch fish quite obviously. But also to have a last recce of the river before the close season when I'm much less likely to see it as the winter weather and any spates or floods reshape the river and some of its pools. Always quite an interesting time when the new season begins and I see what improvements and damage has been done (for me anyway).

First of the session
The Mavisbank stretch of the North Esk down behind Loanhead is usually very accommodating for me. But my sortie was also a preparatory investigation into the likelihood of my chances for the following day when I would be taking H around a few of my preferred beats. I was immediately into a fish in the stretch just below the road bridge of 8 inches which obviously bode well not just for the remainder of the session, but also my forthcoming expedition the next day.

Moving down to the weir I was quite surprised to see how clear of debris it was since my last visit. Obviously the high water of the last month or so had moved a lot of the logs and suchlike. Surprisingly and annoyingly the elements had also obliterated the run below the pool at the foot of the weir. Earlier in the season I was getting a hit pretty much every cast by casting across and looping the spinner back across the current. Today it was basically unfishable.

Unfortunately I didn't have any previous pics of the weir, so I made sure I took a couple for future comparings.

Left bank of the weir
At the foot of the weir there was enough water to make most of it fishable despite the usual one or two underwater obstacles to avoid. The next fish to join me on the bank was a hard fighting 11 incher followed quickly by a nice 9.5 incher. All were in excellent condition.

Moving further downstream I enticed a lot more interest but couldnt hook any of the blighters and finished quite happy with my tally of 3 in a reasonably short time. H should be in for a treat on Friday.

And the right bank too

03/10/2012 - North Esk

Time - 1845-1915
Weather - Chilly
Water - +15-20cms
Method - Size 2 mepp
Total - 1
Species - Brown Trout, 8"

The level was pretty much ideal but I got the feeling, mainly due to a lack of interest or eexcitement that my assault on this stretch of the river was a little bit too late. Nonetheless, the 8 incher I caught was a typically nice fish for the river and in excellent condition.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

01/10/2012 - North Esk

Great condition
Time - 1845-1915
Weather - Slight chill, little wind
Water - +15cm, nice colour
Method - Mepp 2 Silver
Total - 1
Species - Brown Trout 9"

With the trout season drawing to a close and having neglected my local haunts too much recently I've been trying to cover some of my favourite spots as much as possible before the close season.

I was down at Dalmore again but only had one fish on the bank in the form of a typically excellent little brownie. I was tapped by three bigger fish as well, but frustratingly seem to be missing more than usual.

The water was at 15cm according to the SEPA gauge having been up quite a bit recently around 20-25cm and I would say this is about ideal. Although the gauge claims the water is 5cm's higher than normal, in actuality I'd say it's a good 15-20cm's higher, as hard as these things are to judge (I didn't have my litrs flowing past per second monitor with me).

All my fishing here is done from the banking at present as the sandbar on the left bank which is usually the best spot is submerged and if and when the water level falls, may have still be submerged due to erosion from the recent high water.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

29/09/2012 - North Esk

Tree, weir
Time - 1530-1700
Water - Around a foot above summer levels
Weather - OK, a bit chilly
Method - Mepp size 3
Total - 0

The previous day I'd left my forceps lying on the bank creating a neat excuse to toddle out for another short thrash. The river was still at the height it's been the last couple of days after more overnight rain has been keeping it topped up.

Despite a decent covering, I couldn't even induce a single tap this time. Without too much time before dinner I decided to have a look at the Serpy Weir as I hadn't been that far upstream since a lot earlier in the season.

On arrival some more 'erosion' had taken place as a consequence of the recent spates. First of all I noticed the lade that runs off from the pool at the top of the weir was choked full of gravel deposits, almost damming the channel altogether. It won't take much, possibly even just summer water levels to halt the through flow altogether. Also, in my first Esk post of the season I included a photo showing a tree lying abreast of the top of the waterfall. This has now managed to get half of itself down but will need another spate to finish the job I think.

The pool at the foot of the weir is also undergoing more changes. This pool and the one directly downstream have probably undergone more 'terraforming' (aquaforming?) than anywhere else I've seen. Once it was a bit more like a large concrete trough (not a great description), emptying into a lovely deep pool shelving off nicely from the layered rock on the right bank. Since the massive landslip a few years ago now, the 'trough' was severely damaged, although a decent enough pool was formed in its place, but the debris from the landslip as good as filled in the 2nd pool. Now the 'trough' pool has been extended a bit further into the head of what was the second pool, but a lot of the debris in the second pool seems to have been scooped out and there is a lot more depth than there has been for a few years. The water level was up, so my observations may be a little bit misleading, but I suspect this second pool could be on its way back, which fills me with delight as amongst other things, its where I caught my record 21 3/4 inch Rainbow about 20 years ago. It's also worth mentioning that too often pools seem to be filling themselves in as a result of the types of spates and floods we've had in the last few years. Finally a pool is improving again.

I've spent so long talking about the river, because there was once more absolutely no fish action to speak of. I moved to the top of the waterfall, but once again nothing. Deciding to give the next little pool upstream a try before leaving for dinner, I was delighted to see on approach that it has also benefited from recent floods. Usually this is a tangle of almost Mangrove proportions with 2-3 trees in the water and all manner of plant based debris clogging it. Occasionally this allowed cover for some nice fish (including a surprise Rainbow a few years ago, they shouldn't really be able to reach this stretch), but usually just made it very difficult to fish. But it has more or less been scraped clean of rubbish and is now pretty much the little pool I've always hoped it could be. Finally I enticed some action with two taps in two casts. The first was probably no smaller than 12 inches which is massive for up here, the second more normal at 8ish or so inches. But neither was polite enough to hook itself, the session was over and I was off home for dinner.

Back to the photos of the weir. If you look at my 15th March post and the picture there, it shows the tree with much more foliage, whereas now its been stripped bare. Another thing I noticed, but didn't properly pay attention to; in the 15th March photo, you get a good view of the ravine on the opposite bank where the large landslip emanated. I suspected there had been further very recent landslips when I looked at it yesterday, but didn't take a photo for comparison. I'll be up there in the next few days to do just that and see what/if any further damage has taken place.

What is noticeable in the photos is the flow into the foot of the weir pool indicated by the amount of froth. The March pic shows normal levels whilst the one in this post shows the effect when the water is appreciably up.

Last thing to report was a fish of about 9 inch louping up the bottom of the waterfall. It managed the usual 2 or 3 feet before being deposited back into the pool.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

28/09/2012 - Straiton Pond

Hillend and The Pentlands and the weather
Time - 1600-1900
Weather - Westerly, threat of showers
Water - 4 or 5 inches up
Method - Float/Maggots
Total - 4
Species - 2 Roach to 6 inch/2 comedy Perch

Part 2 of my plan for today took me back to Straiton Pond which I've caught a bit of a bug for lately. Despite the different parameters of this session to the one on the Esk earlier, it proved remarkably similar in many ways.

I headed for the landslip mark expecting it to be sheltered to an extent from the wind. Chucked out my maggots and hooked a lovely wee Roach first cast. Delighted that I've now sussed the Perch and Roach in here I thought to myself 'brilliant, see how long I can keep up with a fish a cast'. I didn't catch another fish for 2 1/2 hours. An incredible pastime at time, sometimes so easy, sometimes bewilderingly uncooperative.

A new Personal Worst?
I did get some taps, but these were increasingly infrequent. I moved to the west corner mark - nothing. Tried a few new spots here and there - also nothing. With darkness and the weather closing in and a poker game to get to, I was tempted to chuck it fo rthe day, but resolved to have one last effort in the top right corner. Immediately I began to get interest. Once the maggots had dropped, the float would disappear, reappear and be constantly bothered.

Last Roach
No matter how hard I tried I couldn't connect. I wasn't even feeling the fish as you often do with a missed strike. I suspected Perch were the culprit and was close to filming some of the float madness and my missed strikes. I varied the amount of maggots from 1-3 and tried different colours when I eventually managed to hook probably my smallest ever rod caught fish. Obviously I was into a shoal of baby Perch who could hardly even get a maggot in their gob. As so often happens, you wait ages for a fish and another comes along straight away as I 'landed' another one the very next cast.

Not too keen to lay into this little lot now I'd discovered what they were, I explored around a bit more and soon lost, then landed another typical Roach of about 6 inches.

The first photo I've included shows the Pentland Hills from the banking on the north side of the pond. Anyone familiar with the Penicuik-Straiton part of Midlothian will know that Penicuik takes a disproportiantely higher amount of rain than Straiton and northwards into Edinburgh. Despite the short distances involved, 4-9 miles or so, the difference is maybe most apparent in winter when you leave snowbound Penicuik in polar gear to get the bus into Edinburgh and when you get there folk just stare as it's bone dry and relatively mild. This discrepancy is caused by the weather rolling in from the north-west and as it hits the Pentlands, turning into clouds that once up and over, often dump their contents on the other side. While it might not win any awards, I think this photo is an excellent example of how the weather frequently works in this area. The hill in the middle is Hillend, funnily enough the end of the Pentlands facing the south of the city. Here you can see above and to the right, lovely clear skies. Looking left it gets increasingly dark showing a serious rain dump over the area towards Penicuik.

28/09/2012 - North Esk

Time - 1430-1500
Water - 12 inch or so up
Weather - Windy, showery
Method - Mepp 2 & 3
Species - Brown Trout 9 inch
Total - 1

With the river being a bit too high the previous evening, I hoped it would have fallen enough to make it supertasty, however some overnight showers had maintained its height. Despite overall lack of success, losing the biggie the previous evening had shown there might still be the odd fish or two willing to scrap.

Due to the height of the river, I had little inclination to explore much and just targeted this pool. My intention was to head down to Straiton Pond afterwards and have a dip there. There were some serious showers forecast throughout the day and I was hit by a couple of smallish ones here so had no intention of staying out too long.

Presently without polarised shades, I've still been trying to keep an eye on the water as much as possible when trailing a lure about. Very important you keep as 'in contact' with what you are doin at all times. Its amazing how often fish 'flash' at a lure without taking. Some sessions you might think were a complete waste of time with no bites or taps, but if you watch your lure, often you see that you weren't far away at all from connecting with something worthwhile.

There are 2 or 3 hotspots in this pool. I covered one first cast and immediately saw a fish rise up and take my mepp as it crossed its path. One cast, one fish, who can complain at that? An excellent brownie safely returned.

Not too long after I induced a tap in the same spot from another substantial fish, similar in size to the one I lost the previous evening and a bit later I hooked another 9 or so incher at the far side and lost it as I brought it across.

So, while still not the rampant success I was hoping for, enough to keep me coming back. I headed home and just got back to the car when the heavens really opened.

27/09/2012 - North Esk

Time - 1845-1915
Weather - Chilly
Water - Up about 12 inches
Method - Mepp 2
Total - 0

Around this time last year I had a fair bit of success along the Dalmore stretch of the Esk in higher water. The river level was too low really for the first couple of weeks of the month, but then entered into to high a spate for a few days. Keen to give it a shot I headed down on Thursday evening for half an hour. Unfortunately it was just a little bit too high.

The stretch I fish is adjacent to the new housing scheme being built on the old Dalmore site. Firstly I'm concerned this might affect the water. If there are bulldozers and suchlike battering about all day, will fish looking to run (and spawn?) in higher water be put off at all. Secondly it meant that the innaccesability or relative remoteness of this beat will soon be absolutely public. Neither factors are much good for the continuance of the success I've briefly enjoyed here.

So all I have to report is one fish that I had on for a few moments before it shook itself free. And it confirmed my suspicion that this is a good time of year at this pool as it was in the 2lb/16 inch range. A very decent fish that looked to have a little bit of colour about it too.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

23/09/2012 - Straiton Pond

Time - 1545-1900
Weather - Occasional Easterly, not bad otherwise
Water - 1-2ft visibility
Method - Float/Maggots & Float/Deadbait
Total - 14
Species - 7 Roach, 7 Perch to 6 inch approx

I made straight for the landslip mark today hoping to get right in amongst the fish and wasn't disappointed. Fishing about 30-35 inches under the surface, I was getting enough interest and soon had a Roach on the bank by the usual float/maggot combo.

Looking to escape
While bites were common enough, it wasn't exactly frenzied. I was trying to target Perch a bit more than on previous visits as the ratio of Roach to Perch so far is around 4:1. Ths entailed varying the maggots, often fishing with 2 or 3 red ones and it seemed to be working.

I've been chatting to a dog-walker who's fished the pond in the past and provided me with a fair amount of information on the place. He turned up and advised I should try a bit deeper after a prolonged quiet spell and immediately I was under siege. Mostly from Perch, but the Roach were happy to get involved too. All fish were still more or less the same 6 inch-ish in size. Just shows how important the depth you are fishing at can be.

As well as the maggot/float tactic, I chucked out a Pollock strip under a bubble float hoping for a passing Pike. However nothing happened at all on that rod. I suspect I may have to explore different depths on that front too and will surely do so next time I'm back.

Now a comparison between the last two photos. Both more or less show the same bank and are taken from the same place. The captions show the times taken. As you can see the light and conditions altered appreciably during the session.