A well needed break was called for after a hectic beginning to the year, house being in constant state of turmoil due to sporadic decorating and general moans and groans needing to be remedied. I should mention that over the last couple of years, around this time of year I am usually part of a group of gentlemen that enjoy catching pike at Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute. Unfortunately I was unable to attend this year but was able to make up for it by taking Rachael (Heels&Reels) for a short break over the water from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay.
Tackle had been prepped the night before but even so it was an early start for us in order to make the first ferry across. Due to a slight technical hitch (a general inability to wake up and get moving) from the female member of our duo, the second ferry across would have to do. This situation was met with extreme hostility and verbal abuse, countered by a long period of frosty silence. We shall speak no more about it.
After arriving at the ferry terminal unscathed from our seemingly ritual argument, we were met with a benign sea state and an uneventful crossing. High pressure was upon us and the weather looked good. As my usual short term dwelling was unavailable, due to the seemingly vast amount of people filling every bookable bedroom in Bute (easy for you to say), we had made arrangements to stay at a hotel called Howard’s Way. The room was comfortable enough, with breakfast inclusive of the rate. However, in order to achieve a state of wetness suitable for coaxing a lather from either soap or shampoo, one had to stand under a shower head with water pressure akin to the urinary flow rate of a very elderly shrew. Furthermore, to attain water temperature suitable for
bathing, a favourite item of clothing had to be sacrificed to the boiler Gods of Worcester. In short, the water took an age to heat up and when it finally did, the shower facilities were woefully inadequate. I was kind enough not to leave a sordid review on TripAdvisor, although I was sorely tempted. All things being said, we had clean towels daily and good service at a reasonable price.
Checking in done, it was time to take our arranged trip to Loch Fad, a massively long 5 minutes away in the car. We met with Jimmy, who sorted us out with a boat for the day and after a quick change of clothes our vessel was loaded up with the gear and we were away. On the tackle front, we would fish two float rods, a fly rod and a lure rod with our deadbaits comprising of sardines, sprats and mackerel. I know from past experience that sardines will do the business here but I should have sourced some decent roach as well. As it turned out, it didn’t matter what we chucked at them our first fish would have to wait until almost the close of play at nearly 1800. Rachael was very nearly off the mark within 30 minutes of casting the first bait but the fish dropped her offering almost as soon as it picked it up. Not long after, I had a fish take my fly in shallow water but it too was off in a flash. I was trying out a few of the flies given to me by my
pal Dave McFluffchucker who has a lovely creative brain when it comes to pike fly tying. His politics are a bit dodgy but we can forgive him for that. Some of his creations are truly wonderful, simply as objects to look at and with the added bonus that they seem to come alive in the water. The fishing would be challenging to say the least over the two days we were there, as not only was the loch being stocked with fresh rainbows but the feeding frenzy that often occurs in the month of May after a mild Winter looked like it had just dried up. The second day was just as hard going as the first and I was also having a spot of bother with the outboard motor as we were in a different boat. Once I got the knack on starting it we were away and our quest for a bite was in full swing. We visited every fishy looking swim we could find to no avail, apart from a good sized pike following Rachael’s deadbait as she reeled in to re-position it. The fish turned lazily and did not return for a second look. I literally flogged the water to a froth with the fly rod in search of our quarry but it wasn’t until around 1600 that I finally hooked into a feisty 9lb fish taken on the fly in the same area I hooked into one the day before. After a few mad dashes making the reel fizz in that special way, the cheeky fish made a bid for freedom under the boat. Rachael was on hand with the net and was able to land the fish. All in all, a hard couple of days fishing but worth every minute as the weather remained sunny and windless for most of the time we were out. Back to the hotel for a ‘shower’ and to get ready for another meal out.
Day three of our trip saw a change of tack as we wanted to spend some time exploring some of the coastline and perhaps get a couple of hours sea fishing in with the lures. I have read that pollack can be caught from the shore so after sighting a few choice looking spots via satellite maps we decided on a choice location. The weather was still amazing for the West coast and seeing as nowhere on Bute is really far to drive to, away we went. High tide was around 1230 so there was no rush to gulp down our breakfasts.Light spinning outfits were the orders of the day for the pair of us and after a short walk we were both casting into the sea from the rocks. I was using a Savage Gear Real Eel on a 15g jig head while Rachael opted for a set up using a 15g jig baited with a sparkly jelly worm purchased from Anglers Choice in Dundee. Both did the job as within 20 minutes we simultaneously hooked into a couple of pollack. Mine was slightly easier to subdue as I opted for my 10ft Greys G-Series spinning rod. As I landed my fish Rachael was squealing with delight as she too had hooked up with a healthy bend in her 7-22g Berkley Cherrywood Pro rod. Although not the largest pollack in the world, they were both welcome fish and our shore personal bests. They made for fine eating. Great stuff, especially as we had hardly spent any time fishing. The fish must have literally been on the move with the tide as we only had one more after about another two hours. Short and sweet session, time to take some scenic photographs and enjoy our surroundings. Work would soon be calling.
We moved up the coast to Ettrick Bay for something to eat in the cafe there before making a stop at a ruined church at East Colmac on the B875 (A844) towards Port Bannatyne We would be making a return visit in the morning as Rachael left her jacket in the cafe. Our original plans were to stay at Ettrick Cottage, but as I mentioned earlier, the whole island appeared to be booked solid.
Restaurants visited during out stay were the Kingarth Hotel and Harry Haws. I’m not going to pretend to be a ‘foodie’ as the subjectivity of fine dining is too broad to get my head around. If you like it, you like it, if you don’t, you’ll pay to go hungry. I will say the portions in Kingarth are quite sizeable and so good value for money.
Another comfortable night was had in Howard’s Way and a top notch breakfast in the morning before our ferry back to the mainland on day 4 of our brief trip away from our day jobs. We made the 1000 crossing after picking up Rachael’s jacket. 3 and a half hours later we were back in Tayport ready to face the music of another working week.
All in all, a great trip. No midges and the weather was more than we could ask for. Thanks to Bob Mason for introducing me to Bute, Jimmy for accommodating us on the loch and Dave Lindsay for his fantastic flies.
Tight lines from us and remember, they live in the water.
- Aimee Chang https://aimeechang.com