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.