Friday, 10 May 2013

04/05/2013 & 07/05/2013 - Loch Freuchie & River Braan

Bridges at inflow to Loch Freuchie
A few of my favourite fishing spots (and views) are dotted around Perthshire. Last week I was based just outside Perth for 6 days which, in the evenings, allowed me to cover many of these places, plus a little bit of exploring new locations.

At the head of the River Braan lies Loch Freuchie. I've managed to entice the odd small pike, perch and brownie from this river, but decided to head up the valley to check out Loch Freuchie itself, reputed to be a relatively shallow loch with some small jack pike.

Looking north on approach to Loch Freuchie
The road and passing places have been upgraded to facilitate their use by the construction traffic which is going about the business of building the somewhat controversial new Beauly mega-power line. As I was there outside of working hours and there was almost no construction related traffic about, it opened up the possibility of more places to park the motor and access water.

I began at the head of the loch, exploring especially around where the river enters. Despite the drizzle, the water looked very fishy, certainly if I was a half decent pike I'd probably choose this area to sit. However, despite spinning and jigging around all likely looking lies, I couldn't connect with anything in the at-capacity water.
View down the loch

There was still the odd spot of snow clinging to the shadowed gullies high up the surrounding hills, a sign that as this spring and summer stubbornly refuse to kick off, this season hasn't quite spluttered into life yet.

I moved around the loch to a big bay where a small stream enters. The sort of spot that fishing guides tell you to target. There was a slight ripple on the water which would allow me to see any rises. I chucked my mepp about in the hope of finding some pike action. Almost immediately my eye was drawn to a large trout porpoising in the water. It was an unusual rise, trout usually sipping, rolling or clearing the water altogether, it is unusual in my experience to see wild fish show their dorsal in such a way. I threw the mepp out into its projected path and waited on the thunk of the take as I retrieved, but no thunk came. There was no other visual action, but my curiosity had been well and truly captured.
River Braan, some snow still visible on the hills

With a stiff crosswind, I was only able to cast a fly in one direction covering the little bay to my left. But this change of method was as successful - not at all - as my lure attempts.

River Braan, not quite the only person for miles
Despite the lack of fish connection, there was plenty going on around me keeping me occupied. There was a gaggle of Canada Geese sharing the field with sheep and lamb's. As well as gulls crows and pigeons, I also spotted pheasants aplenty, chaffinches, black grouse, red grouse, pied wagtails, lapwings and meadow pipits. The latter were a completely new notch on my twitching bedpost so to speak. Whilst the lapwings reminded me of when I was younger and these birds were very prevalent flocking around farmland along the Pentlands and surrounding areas. They're a bird with many unique characteristics from their unusual wing shape (almost bird of prey like) to their flappy and erratic flying style to their call which can sound like someone tuning in their radio at high volume, or maybe an 80's computer game sound effects.
Whopper, beauty, peach,, beast, stotter

Bearing all this in mind, I was saddened, in such a wild and wonderful location to stumble across some discarded tackle left behind by some neanderthals (as well as the obligatory used tin foil bbq). There was a completely unravelled spool of bait elastic and a pile of line nesting around sea fishing rig with rubber squids and oversized sea hooks and a large jighead hook as well. The biggest surprise was that no bird had yet entangled itself and come to grief. It really boggles my mind how or why some people can be so irresponsible, especially in such a location. Do us a favour and just stay at home you fandangles.
'only' 16 inch and a pound and a half

With all available water covered in the windy conditions, I called it a night knowing I'd be able to pop back very soon.

Three evenings later I was back. In effect, this was the first day of summer, the first day that temperatures across the country had broken through 15 degrees. Although conditions looked much better from the shelter of the car, once out I realised it was a lot windier than the previous visit which effectively put paid to my hopes of casting a fly on the water. So with a wire trace and big rubber lure around a jighead hook I set about trying to locate some of the resident pike. The results were as before and it was soon time to explore elsewhere. Being very tempted to stop at a couple of locations further down the loch, I continued on hoping for some convenient access to the Braan to appear. On a bend in the road, the flash of the suns reflection on water, close enough to the road, alerted me that the river was quite close by. I parked up and set off through the fields. However, the 'river' I had seen turned out to be a duck pond, the actual river being the same distance away again through more fields, over bluffs, around and through bogs and amongst some not too pleased to see me sheep.

Eventually I reached the river only to find access difficult. As the landscape here is so flat, any spates spill onto the surrounding land quite easily, making the riverbank very marshy and treacherous to access. Being alone in such a location with no phone signal for a few miles means a fair bit of caution is required. Using the large tufts to avoid the bog, I managed to reach the river and have a cast about in what looked almost like a pond. But I was surprised at the pull of the current as I drew my spinner across. With no luck I retreated and moved downstream in pursuit of another accessible spot.

I know that there are some smaller pike much further downstream and this was all I was really thinking about being not too far from Loch Freuchie itself. A few casts into my new location I felt a couple of bumps on my mepp, then the take of something fairly hefty. I was quite sure it was a pb pike (current pb is pretty small) and bossed it a bit to get it up in the water for a look (losing a decent fish before you've even seen it is one of the most frustrating things that can happen) and was surprised and delighted to find I was actually hooked up to a big troot. I played it for a bit before managing to get it across and hauling it onto the bank. At 16 inches in length and a pound and a half exactly, I was absolutely delighted. The Brown Trout hardly gets any better than this (ask me if I stick to this appraisal after I land a Ferox).

Also, the trout that I'd seen do the 'Loch Ness monster impression' in Loch Freuchie the previous visit, was appreciably bigger than this one!!!! Not double figures, but certainly noticeably bigger.

Either side of the fish, the sun was setting at the head of the valley providing an ever changing and completely stunning range of colours from the nuclear furnace at the middle of our solar system. As usual the camera struggled to adequately capture this, but I've included them anyway. And with the setting of the sun, and me standing in a bog in the middle of nowhere in a location I'd never been before, I decided it best to head back to the car whilst I still knew where it was. So I bid farewell to yet another part of Perthshire that ranks right at the top of my favourite fishing locations.

My first three trout of the season were a rainbow, a sea and a brown, which is pretty unusual. Also, this fish brought my tally of trout to just 5 for the season (into May!!!), but with lengths of 11", 13", 16" 18" and 7", an unusually high average of 13".