There was a number of call-offs, ahead of our outing to Black Loch, so we ended with only two boats for our session. One thing that you find when you arrive at the fishery is the care and attention paid to the boats and motors, which is top class and makes the day afloat all the more pleasurable. Davie, the fishery manager was his usual helpful self and suggested we should persevere with dries, since they had been working well for the past couple of weeks. He suggested that both North and South Reedy Bays were holding fish, but they were also spread right along the Steep Bank, feeding on terrestrials being blown from the fields.
Sure enough, there was encouragement looking out from the car park, with fish regularly showing and scooping up some early hatching buzzers. Conditions were ominous, with moody grey skies and a forecast of heavy rain showers, later in the day. The good news was that the wind, albeit swirly was pretty ideal for top of the water sport and the temperature was comfortable.
Peter Fionda, who has recently been recording some good catch returns, decided that to make life more challenging he would leave his rods at home. This triggered some serious commercial discussions with his boat partner for the day, Alan Brown, who in an act of unusual kindness, rented-out his spare rod at a very reasonable price. I was fishing with Stewart Barnes, and we both decided that dries were our favoured starter. Alan and Peter also set up floaters but opted for the more traditional rainbow tactics and there was some orange fritz in evidence on their casts.
Alan and Peter headed to South Reedy Bay. Stewart and I set up hoping for a long drift out from North Reedy Bay, covering feeding fish close in to the reeds. Alan quickly got off the mark with a stunning blue in the 4-5lb range. A feature of the day was the quality of the fish, which were all fully-finned and in great condition; a testament to the natural feeding in the loch.
Stewart and I never quite managed to engineer the drift we had anticipated, with the wind swirling over the course of the day, and every time we headed to the top of the wind to set up the boat, the wind invariably changed. Nevertheless, I managed to cover a rising fish with my second cast – one that duly obliged and engulfed the half-hog on the top dropper. Signs looked good; nothing too obvious on the fish menu; there were one or two small sedges in the margins, emergers, and the odd beetle about.
Although there were plenty fish moving, they were tricky. The ones in the open water were particularly choosy. We were having good fun trying to find the secret sauce and we were picking up the odd fish. Stewart rifled through his fly boxes and chopped and changed and was getting plenty interest, but the fishing gods were not with him – fish after fish bow-waved and chased right to the boat and just as you might expect them to lock-on they thought better of it. Cue a lot of laughter and frustration. A crippled midge, slow f-of-8 retrieved, created a bit of a stir, to such an extent I followed suit and tied on a claret version on the middle dropper. That was good for one fish for me, but most successful patterns for me were the half-hogs and F-flies. With my over-excitable Zorro-style reactions I still miss many more fish than I manage to connect with. Still not sure why I continue to be so shocked when fish come blind to dries. Don’t think there is a cure, thankfully!
Alan and Peter spent most of the time drifting the Steep Bank and it was good enough for them since they had 8 to the boat. Their most successful pattern was the trusty orange FAB. Stewart and myself explored the loch and found fish in most places. We ended with 15 to the boat. In other news, rumours abound that Bob Geldof is now planning a Band Aid reunion to help Peter raise some much needed funds to finance his rod rental fee. Any donations are welcome. The day ended well and we remained dry.