Not being really in the mood for a drastically early start, as some of the other predator aficionados I peruse over social media are, I got up to face the day at around 0700. Rachael was slightly later to rise as she feels it necessary to allow her brain to lie dormant for a few more minutes, as the servos and nervous relays kick in, allowing her to perform basic sensory and motor functions such as seeing, walking and speaking. Being a redhead, for her, this wake up period is often accompanied by various insults about me being too loud, the world being unfair and her not wanting to get up.
I had my customary shower, cup of tea and bowl of porridge. I really, really don’t like my routine being upset. Once I had imbibed some of Tetley’s finest water steeped tea leaves and scoffed a Scotsman’s breakfast (of sorts) I prepped the kit and shoved it in the Mudpuggler. For the uninitiated, this is the endearing name for my latest vehicular purchase of a Landrover Freelander 2 HSE. Will go anywhere, is luxurious, and puggles mud…seemingly?
We travelled to Aberfoyle along the A9 after having a ritual argument over our newly acquired satellite navigation system which was trying desperately to re-route us to a back road in Perthshire. This may or may not have been due to me keying in the destination details as Aberfeldy. Amazing what a misplaced letter ‘d’ and ‘o’ can do for morale.
Anyway, it was all sorted and we arrived at our chosen destination at around 1015, having left at 0830, the journey time was spot on at 1 hour 45 minutes. Now, having done a brief reccy of the area a couple of weeks previous to this day, we were delighted to find that the spot was unoccupied. However, our high spirits were to be quickly doused as we approached the water’s edge. Bags of rubbish, abandoned tents, large fire pits, chairs and so on. You know the score, it is all too common a sight for anglers wanting to fish even reasonably accessible waters. I think that is largely the problem here, no wait, the problem is a complete lack of respect, understanding and responsibility by a minority of people. I’m not dressing it up, it is only a small proportion of our communities that leave wild places in such a mess, they ruin it for the majority and then restrictions are imposed. Unfortunately it is indicative of a growing population, with growth comes more people, couple that with ever increasing accessibility and problems will be inevitable. My solution is obvious, a net and a big stick. However, policing such areas is incredibly difficult, even I’m not ignorant to that fact. I won’t bore you with the sordid details of what I think should happen to the idiots that spoil the UK’s lovely places. If we don’t find a solution it will literally be a case of here today, gone tomorrow.
We didn’t stay long in that area but we did have a crack at deadbaiting, fly fishing, jigging, and other types of lure fishing in the hope of snaring a predator or two. I could see some small fish nibbling my fly briefly but I think these were exceptionally small perch. Despite seeing surface activity near the lilies, nothing was in the mood to give chase to artificial baits. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the loch. Even a few paces out it started to shelve off quite sharply. Need to hit it early doors before all the scumbags get up.
I had been testing some pike fly leaders from Airflow that had been given to me by Fishtec, in the hope that I would ensnare a toothy critter or three. I have been reliably informed that the turn-over of the fly would be improved but as yet, I have not seen a vast improvement on my own custom made leaders made simply with fluorocarbon and Authanic pike wire. The distinct
advantage of the Airflo terminal tackle is, without a doubt, the ease with which one can change a fly. The added bonus is that they don’t tangle like a handful of clock springs either. Maybe it’s my poor casting ability or the heavy duty Big Daddy pike line from Vision that I’m using but whatever I did, those flies tied by Dave (and I know it’s not the fault of the flies because those bad boys shed water like a dream) would not turn over neatly. In my humble opinion, I think the Airflo leaders
are perhaps slightly too long, with a wee bit too much stretch in them. I’m not an expert though and I will use them again as I want to see how they handle a fish. One disadvantage of the Authanic wire, I have found, is that it will cut you to ribbons if you mistreat it and can also damage fish if they find themselves wrapped up in the line. Anyway, horses for courses. It all does the job.
We moved along the road heading north to seek out a more favourable spot. Unfortunately, although there were plenty of choice looking swims, many of them were in a similar state, or worse, than the one we
had left behind. Anyway, we had come a long way so had to make the most of it. Kit out, waders on, and into the breach again to settle into some glorious September sunshine and embrace the myriad of small creatures flitting about the place.
Rachael located a lovely steep drop-off with deep water. This spot had potential so we chucked the baits in, fished hard on the bottom and over depth for our floats. I’m a big fan of simple rigs, and it doesn’t get much simpler than this. We hammered the water with lures, flies and baits but nothing materialised. As the sun set behind the range of hills in front of us, there was movement in the shallow water where we were standing. It looked like a jack pike was chasing fry very close to the shoreline. I chose to cast a few hand-made soft baits that I had given to me recently by a chap in Fife. Very kind of him but they only served to scare this particular fish off on this occasion. With hindsight, I should have plopped a small baitfish fly a few yards in front of it but I wanted to hook a fish on a different style of lure this time. Sometimes experimenting does not pay off!
Well, no fish materialised but we couldn’t complain too much as the weather was fantastic and as usual, the setting was stunning. The most irritating thing about fishing in Scotland during the summer has to be the presence of the infamous midge. You guessed it, as the sun went down and the wind dropped to nothing, it was like ringing the dinner gong for these biting beasts. It was nice to see someone else get plagued by them this time as well, usually they hang around me in a pestilent swarm and leave other folk relatively unscathed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they have a biological purpose on this earth, but I really am struggling to find just exactly what they are useful for. I have literally no idea how I can sustain injury to my legs whilst wearing waders. Truly remarkable, and horrible. Time to head off home.
By the way, if anyone is reading this and has found an Airflo Pan net by the side of the B829 in a muddy lay-by, it’s Rachael’s. She’d like it back but admits that the cost in fuel to retrieve it would, a bit more than slightly off-set the cost of the net (which was free – Sorry Fishtec!). I’m a bit miffed too as it was a great addition to my roving trout set up. When someone else says they’ve checked, check again. Say no more.