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.

21/09/2012 - Straiton Pond

Time -
Weather -
Water -
Method - Float/Maggots & Float/Deadbait
Total - 11
Species - 9 Roach, 2 Perch to 6 inches approx

I'm reporting on this one well after the session and can't recall too many specific details. Reasonably typical session where the maggots did their thing with the Roach and Perch.

Also had a deadbait out hoping for any passing Pike, but nothing at all.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

15/09/2012 - St Abb's Harbour

Time - 1030-1600
Weather - Lovely from above, windy from the side
Water - Pretty clear
Method - Isome on a jighead
Tide - Low 0930
Total - 5
Species - Long Spined Sea Scorpion, Coalfish (3), Pollock

The first picture (top right) was taken 20 yards or so from where we parked the car before we ascended to the harbour. As you can see it looks absolutely delightful, the sort of day and location where it almost (almost) doesn't matter whether you catch a fish or not. However we didn't have to worry about blanks for too long.

I reckon it was the last good day of the actual summer although I don't think it was just as nice back up in and around Edinburgh as evidenced by the gloomy skies on our return.

Off the mark with a Long Spined Sea Scorpion
An alternative report can be found here.

Still being firmly in the novice camp when it comes to sea fishing, I've been keenly and rapidly picking up tips and tactical advice from J & H. The journey down was full of interesting snippets regarding things like how much a high/low tide matters, thoughts on gear strength and why LRF is so much more sensible than lugging massive rods and hefty gear about etc.

Beyond the harbour wall
We made our way out along the first harbour wall. The tide was just coming in from low and the clear water made the bottom completely visible. Second cast J connected with a Flounder. If I recall correctly it was 31cm, just 4cm's short of his PB. We were all bumping either Isome or Gulp worm imitations along the bottom on jigheads, however the height of the platform above the sea surface was allowing the persistent breeze to bulge the line and create a bit too much drag resulting in the worm scooting along a bit too quickly. We were also sharing the dockside with loads of people preparing to go out on one of the frequent diving boats and things were getting a bit crowded, so we made off to explore other areas.
Shore view from rocks at end of harbour

Around to the inner harbour wall we were all trying to find the usual goby/sea scorpions or maybe more flatties without much success. Eventually I began enticing some small, thinnish fish which were well beyond my powers of identification. When J & S caught up with me, they were provisionally id'd as Butterfish, but try as we might, we couldn't get one on a hook.

Harbour view
This part of inner harbour mouth was proving quite fruitful though. Aside from the odd crab, I was also getting involved with some other bottom dwellers and got off the mark with a Long Spined Sea Scorpion.

We all got distracted with a landed fish, might have been the Blenny S got, so we'd not paid attention to the water for half a minute or so. J was first back and began chirping excitedly as a whopping great flounder slowly made its way past right in front of us. 10 seconds later it was having to dodge 3 hooks, which it did quite succesfully.

The link above gives J's account of its eventual capture, no need to repeat it here.

Shoal of Coalies (best viewed enlarged)
After leaving the Flounder to J, myself & S made our way round the rest of the harbour but couldn't locate any more fish. After helping J net/return his PB Flounder we made our way out onto the rocks for a while. The tide coming in was well underway now meaning the currents round the rocks were probably a bit too choppy for much success. I tried some more experimentation with plasticene as a weight before opting for some easier fishing again.

I made my way back to the harbour mouth where large shoals of Coalies were moving around. Making unbelievably hard work of it, I reckon I couldn't hook one of them for the best part of half an hour before finally getting one, then another the very next cast. After three of these nice wee fish I worked back round to where J was targeting his current obsession, the Corkwing Wrasse. The tide was more or less fully in now and the bottom was no longer visible. After a lot of hard work for no return, I'd pretty much given up. I was still using the Isome (red) on a slightly larger jighead. My tactics now were as simple as casting out, putting my rod down, sitting next to it.

I catch a ridiculous amount of my fish when I'm not paying attention i.e. I've maybe cast out, decided to move a few yards downstream and a fish takes as I watch where I'm putting my feet. Well my rod started twitching and when I lifted, I felt a decent weight on the end. J suspected I was into a flattie, but when it came to the surface we saw it was a nice Pollock. It's bottom lip took it to 16". A new PB. Excellent.

Pollock again
So five fish in total for my good self. All species I'd previously caught though which was 1% annoying, easily outweighed with a PB. A very decent day for J who was made up early doors with that Flounder even if he couldn't get a Corkwing while S invoked his handy recent habit of getting a fish very late on when he enticed a final Long Spined Sea Scorpion.

14/09/2012 - Straiton Pond

Fish of the Day - 6.25 inch
Time - 1500-2000
Weather - Very nice, same wind as day before
Water - As before
Method - Float, maggots/Isome
Total - 13
Species - 9 Roach, 4 Perch

Keen after yesterday I arrived an hour earlier and immediately got stuck in to the first small bay after the prompt interest I'd experienced the previous evening.

Incredibly, in the next 20 minutes, three dog walkers  variously sent objects into the pond for four dogs to retrieve. Wondering how long this sort of dog bathing could continue, I decided to stick things out as I was now super confident in my depth and bait combos and likelihood of catching.

Despite the adjacent canine activity I'd soon taken three Roach, the first of 6.25 inch being the biggest I'd take all day. Seven fish in one and a bit sessions so far, all Roach, where were the Perch I'd been told about?

Whilst using some maggots, the worm-imitating Isome should have been tempting one eventually.

Then indeed the fourth fish of the day was a 6 inch Perch.

Latecomer to the party
In all I took four Roach and three Perch before a conversation with another local walking his dog produced enough information to encourage me there were gettable fish elsewhere. Tales of "Roach like dinner plates" and "2-3lb Perch" might not have been entirely accurate or up to date, but there was enough information on depths, history etc to improve my chances a bit more. Plus it had gone dead where I was.

View from second mark
I moved to the exact opposite end of the pond, where the specimen Perch were touted as lurking. There was nothing doing at all float-wise, but I was encouraged there were at least fish about by the odd small Roach skittering out across the surface. A change of depth found more success and I was soon onto, not monster Perch, but more small Roach.

Getting smaller
Bites were frequent enough, again encouraged by frequent addition of maggots.

Bites seldom came early, mostly occurring after the drop. As before a Perch eventually made an appearance and as darkness arrived, I finished with nine Roach and four Perch.

A nice mark-up in success rate after the previous days experimenting and exploring.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

13/09/2012 - Straiton Pond

Time - 1600-1900
Water - Visibility no more than 2 foot, a bit choppy
Weather - Windy, quite grey, threat of rain that never really came
Method - See report
Total - 4
Species - Roach

Through word of mouth I'd heard Straiton Pond contained 'decent Pike' and was 'stuffed full of Perch'. With my first ever couple of bags of Isome needing tested and a tub of maggots I set off hoping to get amongst the Perch.

The first point of contact with the water at the eastern end was a small 'bay' sheltered nicely from the wind. I could see what looked like small Roach flitting about and applied the two maggot attack about 20 inches under the surface with a stick float (still water). Small Roach fishing elsewhere has necessitated scaling right down about as fine as its sensible to go. 2-3lb b/s with a barbless 18 or 20 hook. Usually I use pre-tied packs that are all about as trustworthy as each other, or me.

A couple of missed bites was soon interrupted as a dog walker a few metres away had begun hurling a ball into the pond so his dog could fetch it. The fish went quiet and with no let-up in the enthusiasm of the man to bedraggle his poor mutt yet further, I decided to seek another mark. The rest of the southern shore was exposed to the persistent cross gale so I made my up and around to the northern side. En route there were a couple of shallow mud flat type puddles which held very decent amounts of small fish no bigger than an inch. Healthy signs.
View from landslip mark

About halfway along the north bank is a useful looking spot created by a landslip and I made my way down through the widest variety of thorny shrubbery yet. Within 10 foot or so from the bank, there was shelter from the wind, any further out and the line drag really drifted the bait. However the edge shelved down quickly and there was plenty of cover close enough in that I was more than happy to keep it near. The first bite (missed), took a while, but gave encouragement. The maggots didnt work, then some Isome was attached, with similar intermittent taps before I went a bit deeper. Things improved, but still nothing landed when I had a nice idea. Although the Isome looks the part, due to it's 'not aliveness', it doesn't move. So I popped a red maggot on for the wriggle factor. This seemed to do the trick and a Roach of about 5.5 inch was brought ashore. As I'd been expecting a Perch, and suspected the phantom bites were Perch, just shows you never know.

Isome strikes
Much the same continued, any time it went a bit quiet, a small shower of maggots, or a tweaking of the hook combo (2 maggots/Isome/Isome + maggot) seemed to speed things up. Nearing lift time I made my way back to my original spot. It now appeared dogless. I cast out and plonked my rod down so I could unload my bag and when I looked up the float had already gone. By the time I'd got the rod again it was off. Seems to be almost the surest way to catch a fish is to stop paying attention. As I extracted my first Roach from this spot, my phone beeped and that was my lift saying it was time to go. Ach well. In the end I had four Roach no bigger than 6 inches and although things had been slow, I'd honed my tactics enough, and saved enough maggots, to think another visit the next day would produce much better results.

My fledgling Coarse career has mostly been honed at Eliburn. What I've found there is that if you aren't getting bites, you have to find the fish. Try higher or lower in the water. Adjust your bait. Maybe scale down to finer tackle and get some bait/maggots into where you are fishing. If all that fails, move.

Friday, 7 September 2012

06/09/2012 - Torness

Anyone for some camouflage?
Time - 1230 - 1600
Water - Clear, Low tide rising
Weather - Late teens, nice, but very blustery
Method - Isome
Total - 6
Species - Long-Spined Sea Scorpion, Blenny

With a woeful sea fishing resume I met up with Shogsky & Hutch to sharpen up my sea fishing knowledge and hopefully get ticking off some new species. Their full time shift had began well before I arrived at Dunbar Harbour where a few Pollock had been taken. Being a pretty windy day there were a few unfishable spots so the experts decided to head down to Torness. Jake has his sights set on a specimen Corkwing Wrasse whilst Hutch would introduce me to as many Blennies, Gobys and Sea Scorpions as possible in the rock pools as low tide was around 12.30.

Long Spined Sea Scorpion
In essence, Hutch set-up my tackle, took me to the fish and showed me how to catch them. Can't ask for much more than that. With such expert tutelage I could hardly fail. Quite soon I'd dropped the Isome into a small pool deep under the breakwater rocks. A Long Spined Sea Scorpion (LSSS) immediately took offence at the intruder near its lair, shot out from under its rock and I had a new species under my belt. While these wee rascals look like fully armoured prehistoric throwbacks, they're actually perfectly handleable, although it's going to take me a wee bit of getting used to.

As I increasingly got the hang of things I managed to extract another 5 LSSS, all of much the same size. One was weighed at 24.1g and I'd guess measured between 4-5 inches (I'd left my trusty measuring tape in the car).

Plenty pretty colours underneath
Whilst introducing myself to the LSSS, a few Blennies had also been showing an interest. However I wasn't able to hook any of the blighters despite having as many as 3 at a time showing an interest. When Hutch appeared, dropped his own slightly different set-up (I had a jig head, he had a small hook under a single weight) onto my mini shoal, he lifted out two Blennies in two casts and I demanded we swap rods. A short time later I also extracted a Blenny and had another new species to tick-off.

The tide was working its way in now filling up the rock pools and gullies, so we made our way across to where Jake was hunting for his Corkwing Wrasse, so far without success. Myself and Hutch decided to see if there were any Mackerel about and began throwing some lures long. Hutch soon connected with and lost a probable Mackerel before Jake hooked and lost what he suspected was a very nice Wrasse.

Hutch needed to be back in town for 5 so we ended the session at 4 and returned to Edinburgh. After dropping him off and with high tide due at 7, I fancied giving somewhere else a go and headed to the Granton Breakwater. Although still very windy, it was blowing pretty much West to East and so aided casting from the breakwater. However it was getting gloomier with the odd speck of drizzle about.
Caveman painting

With a big silvery blue toby I fished from reasonably close to shore all the way out past the elbow. But without success. There were 3 or 4 other anglers about, but they didn't seem to be successful either. It is a bit late in the season for Granton Mackerel, but you've got to be in it to win it.

I noticed this rather smart piece of art on my return to shore. Just a pity a Mackerel must have been wasted to do it unless the artist has a predilection for the taste of spray paint..

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

03/09/2012 - North Esk

From 29th August, a week ago
Time - 1615-1645 & 1935 - 2020
Water - Up a bit, lovely peaty tinge
Weather - Nice in session 1 with a bit of wind, duller later with some unforecast drizzle
Method - Size 2 silver Mepp red spots
Total - 0

After the summer we've had (2nd wettest on record) and the amount of high water levels (and the nature of those levels - see graph), the river hasn't survived unscathed. Quite a few of the pools and runs have altered quite substantially. The Corner Pool for instance has really silted up on the far bank where the wee burn comes in. Whereas before there was a bit of a curl in the flow of the water as the current on the inside of the bend went back 'upstream', now its pretty much all a straight downstream flow and you can see the bottom in more places.  Just downstream the flow in the pool above the old waterworks has switched banks. Meanwhile upstream at the footbridge to the ponds the left bank has increased in size, squeezing the river and making it a lot less fishable. I've not explored too much further, but where I have, the story is similar, more of that in a minute.

I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a gent a couple of years or so ago when I had my permit for the Tweed. I'd spent a fair while exploring the upper stretches and hadn't found many worthwhile spots to wet the fly. On return to the car there was a guy who lived in a nearby house standing on the bridge watching the water. He fished this stretch often and had done for years. He told me that some of the spate/floods they'd had in the last year or two were of a much different character than in the past. They were bigger, more sudden and a lot more powerful. A bit more like the graph above rather than a steady increase. The upshot was that a lot of the old pools had been filled in by rocks/silt etc being flushed downstream. Not only was this a negative for us fisherfolk, but it meant running fish had less places to rest and also badly affected redds.

In my anecdotal experience on my local river, the North Esk, the river I'm in a good position to monitor, this is what is increasingly happening. That these rivers once had deeper pools which are being filled in by modern flooding shows that there must be a certain type of flooding/spate conditions that can hollow out rivers making them 'how they were'. But it definitely seems that the weather patterns, more specifically the rain/flooding/spate patterns we seem to be experiencing now - more localised and extreme weather events - are silting up and filling in some rivers.

And so to the actual fishing. Perusers of my Forth & Clyde Canal report will be up to speed with my new lure of choice (Live Baby Shad Golden Shiner). Having since had some success with it taking a 10 & a 12 incher since my canal visit, I was keen to give it a soaking in the Esk. The first session utilised it to no effect, not even a bite or a flash in what I'd usually describe as excellent conditions. Time of day wasn't ideal, and a black Lab dumping itself into the Corner Pool when I arrived didn't help, but still. The Corner Pool and the next pool down from it produced diddly squat.

In the evening I was keen to get down to the Auchendinny stretch where I'd had some success at the back end of last season. Arriving at the tunnel bridge, it was obvious that the waterscape had altered a bit down here too. Usually I can wade under the bridge and cross at the foot of the pool to the left bank, fish under the road bridge, then cross again and fish on downstream to the weir. However there basically isn't a tail to the first pool now with the two pools that were under each bridge now being imperceptibly joined. It also looked like wading under the Old Railway Bridge might be off the cards, so I headed through the tunnel and gained access around the building site that used to be Dalmore Mill.

Tree stump funghi with slug
While I'm here I'll mention I've started, and will continue to take photos of the old mill site as they build on it. It's going to massively alter the area as the flats and houses are completed and folk move in, so best to enjoy it as much as possible while its like it is. I'll prob post the photos in a future blog showing before and after photos alongside each other. While I was traipsing across the building site, a tree stump with some really vivid orange funghi caught my eye. This photo (with the slug for scale) shows it off reasonably well.

I'd swapped the jelly minnow for a trusty mepp. Once again though, the weir pool has been altered a little after recent spates. The left bank sandbar where I normally fish from was smaller and further out making the tail of the pool a bit thinner. There has also been some damage to the lip of the weir on the right bank, meaning a healthier flow down that side. I covered the whole pool in expectation but all I got for my efforts was a hefty thump by something of indeterminate size. Then the unforecast drizzle began to speed up the gloomy sunset and I beat a retreat back to civilisation.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

30/08/2012 - Forth & Clyde Canal

Looking towards Kilsyth Basin
Time -
Water - Darkish but clear enough
Weather - Very nice
Method - Jelly Minnow/wire trace
Total - 3
Species - Pike (8.5 & 14 inch), Perch (8 inch)
Companion - H (inter-blog madness)

Three different locations were attacked: Falkirk Wheel, Kilsyth Basin & Banknock Lock.

Falkirk Wheel - Started off with a recent purchase of Jelly Sandeel on a weighted hook, but two factors elicited a change. Firstly I wasn't looking like taking anything, secondly, H sprinted quickly into a 2 fish lead using a wee Jelly Minnow. Borrowing one of the offending lures, I didn't take long to take a small Jack of 8.5 inches, probably a smallest ever!!! In the meantime I managed to lose an even smaller one as well as getting a little bit of interest from smallish Perch. The (bottom) basin itself held an impressive amount of Roach with some Perch in amongst them, although it wasn't until we ventured along the jetties on the opposite side that we started connecting with some regularity. Probably lost a couple of Perch & Pike each, one of the Perch extremely amateurishly, all no bigger than anything I successfully landed.
Inflow near Kilsyth Basin

I've used Jelly Perch's in the past on the Union Canal with a little bit of success, however their price and their (lack of) longevity curtailed their use. But I was well impressed with the minnows H gave me. The way they sit in the water when just suspended looks outstanding and I wouldn't be surprised if they would work simply suspended under a float, almost like a cross between livebait & deadbait, but with no baitfish being harmed.

H switched lures regularly and had much the same mixture of success and loss.
14 inch Pikey

Kilsyth Basin - Like the Wheel at Falkirk, I'd also fished here once before. Two guys were already in situ, one had a Perch livebait on but didn't appear to have much success whilst the other guy had apparently taken a Pike of about a pound and a half on his first cast. As they were at the inflow, we worked towards the basin itself. Access was a bit better than I remembered, but still a pain in places. H was working through his entire lure box including using some floating efforts that stirred a lurking Pike or two in the far margins, but couldn't add to his two Falkirk fish. With a smallish lure I wasn't able to cast too far, so worked the near reeds a bit. At the end of a retrieve I was dangling the minnow a bit from a reed overhanging the water when I though I'd snagged. However the lift produced a slightly more respectable Jack of 14 inch.

8 inch Perch
After working back to the inflow, we also tried the opposite side of the road bridge, which looked good, but didn't produce.

Banknock Lock - H had fished here previously on the advice it was stuffed full of Perch and naturally him and his mate had filled their boots with Pike.

On approach we passed an Artist painting at the picnic bench who enquired after the time. What a delight to be spending some time in such a lovely spot without having to worry about such trivialities as a timepiece.

View towards Banknock Lock
The canal was narrower than at Kilsyth and after a few fruitless casts, I fancied there might be a Perch or two staying close in to the lock wall. So I dropped the minnow down and slowly 'walked' it about no more than a couple of feet from the brickwork and hey presto, I was into a Perch. Then it was off. The same tactic almost immediately paid off again and a perfectly respectable (by my standards) 8 inch Perca was on the bank. We worked along to the 'bridge' spotting some Roach and both getting some interest. Almost done on the way back to the car, H had one last hopeful cast and was into a Perch. 3-3 and an excellent way to finish an excellent days fishing.