Thursday, 13 March 2014

11/03/2014 - Loch Lomond

0855 outside the tackle shop - H on a mission
A braw change in the weather saw me and H head through to Balmaha on Loch Lomond to see what we could tempt to the bank. H has been unsuccessfully pursuing a Ruffe for a while now. While unable to get one himself, he's been in attendance as nearby anglers have had some success and was becoming increasingly frustrated. I was just happy to be out on such a lovely day and hoped to break my Lomond duck after a few short and fishless attempts.

West to Inchcailloch Island - note submerged pier
Loch Lomond is unusual for Scottish loch's in that it straddles both the highlands and lowlands. The Highland Boundary Fault line runs right through the loch right at Balmaha. To the north is your typical highland ribbon loch, long, narrow and deep, to the south it widens and shallows quite substantially. The loch which has the greatest surface area of any body of freshwater in the UK provides a diverse range of habitats and conditions for it's piscine residents. Balmaha is on the south eastern side of Lomond just at the fault line, the best places to fish there are either in the boatyard (relatively shallow) or at the pier (up to around 12 metres deep).

The problem with Loch Lomond however is that it is stunningly beautiful, and not too far from 'civilisation'. This means it is usually busy with walkers, hikers, fishermen, sailors etc and peace and quiet is unlikely to be something you'll find if the weather is at all fair.

First fish of the day, lovely little Roach
Fish on offer in Loch Lomond are many and varied. We could fairly expect to catch Roach and Perch, with Ruffe or the odd Powan caught there recently. Probably still a bit early to stumble across a trout or any of his seagoing cousins, Lomond does have the potential to produce a record British Pike.

While the morning in the east was crisp and clear as we met before 8am, by the west of Stirling we were driving into and through a heavy morning mist and this is how we found the loch. We both set-up variations of swim-feeder set-ups baited with maggots and began in good spirits. I managed to get off the mark first, landing what I'll generously call a baby Roach. H soon had a nicer Roach and kept me entertained by losing two more within millimetres of the net. H rigged a second rod and after a few taps on a drop shot rig added a Perch to his tally. Not to be outdone, I added another Roach from the swim feeder and a couple of smallish Perch on jigged isome.
Inchcailloch Island through the mist

With a variety of hikers, dog walkers, foreign exchange trip pupils, meditators and even a musician recording a music video right behind us, we were seldom alone and continually being asked what we were fishing for. I would hate to think how incessant the public must be when it's properly busy.

Into the afternoon and H, reacting to a bite and striking, began getting excited on the retrieve that he may finally have a Ruffe. Once in sight he confirmed his suspicion and rejoiced as it hit the net. While species hunting is not my thing, it's good to see his dogged pursuit of whatever it is he's after that day. And when he land's a long sought after species, you'll struggle to find a happier angler. It was also a relief of sorts. I didn't want to turn up and start bagging Ruffe on my first attempt, using half his kit before he'd gotten off the mark.

Looking south, the mist slowly lifting
Not too long after this,  I landed my first Ruffe, a lovely we fish tipping the tape at 5 3/4 inches in plump condition and fine colours. Very similar to a Perch in build and to the touch, it is browny bronze with vivid blue flashes. I soon made it two to briefly become King of the Ruffe before H bagged his second as well.

As the day wore on, the already sedentary action slowed even more and by 5pm we'd called it a day. I finished with two each of Roach, Ruffe and Perch. My Lomond blank busted and a new species to boot. A good days work.

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