Saturday morning in the Borders was more reminiscent of a scene from a Hammer House of Horrors film set. There would have been no surprise if ‘Vlad the Impaler’ made a guest appearance from the depths of the haar. Weather was improving and temperature was still around 16 degrees as we arrived, and the sun was already beginning to burn through the mist. Gareth had warned us of there was a possibility of electrical storms. I am not superstitious but made sure to pack the silver bullets and holy water.
It was a surprisingly quiet outing, with only three boats for the day session. I was fishing with Dougie Goddard, one of our more experienced members and someone who has fished Coldingham for many years. I felt in good hands and there would be no anchoring or drogues out today in our boat.
Gareth said the fishing had been excellent – a kiss of death? He recommended a single size 16 or 18 dry on 6lb fluorocarbon. Well, truth be told, there were not many of those being tied on to our leaders. However, both Dougie and myself did set-up with dries and motored toward to Westerside Lilies. The water quality was maybe the best I’d seen – gin clear – so a stealthier approach might have been the answer. We had seen quite a few bumbling sedges and both damsel nymphs and adults. Any one of these would have made a grand feast for a trout… and nothing like a size 16!
I had trimmed down to two size 14s, a black F-fly on the point and olive Bob’s bits. Dougie had set-up something more substantial with daddies and hogs. Trevor and Stephen dropped anchor in boat house bay with the intention of swinging buzzers on the bung. Bob also started out with dries.
My dry fly season so far has been a tad disappointing. However, first cast… would you believe it, a nice rainbow confidently plucked the F-fly and boom! Off to a flying start… It was clear that anchored boats were consistently picking up fish. I had changed to a single dry quite quickly. We had lovely long drifts covering occasional rising fish. Some were curious but not that interested in our offerings. Eventually, Dougie switched to twiddling nymphs and was rewarded with a good trout to a slowly fished Diawl Bach. I persisted longer than was sensible with my dry fly tactics. I had moved and hooked a few, but did not convert any more. By now there was plenty stuff being blown across the water, but the fish were not really turned-on and by now it was probably a bit too bright as well.
Time to unleash the big guns, floater remained and a cast of Diawl Bachs and Crunchers was employed with a black booby on the point. We drifted along Swing-gate Bay and out in front of the the holiday cottage. We soon started to pick up fish that were coming in little pods. The action was fast and furious. There were long periods of quiet and then mayhem. We enjoyed the mayhem a lot better. By now Bob was pulling his hair out. He had been through most of his lines and flies with little reward – it happens. Trevor and Stephen were doing something right and they were regularly employing their net. We had another go with the dries, drifting the length of the loch covering fish but by God they were tricky and we failed miserably.
We met James Gardener, who fishes with North Berwick, having a leisurely cast from the bank. Now, James can really fish and he knows Coldingham better than most. He was also finding it unusually tough. He blamed atmospherics, I blamed the Prince of Darkness, but it all ended well – we remained dry and the goodies came to our rescue.
Trevor and Stephen ended with 13 to the boat mostly to blobs and boobies. Bob avoided the blank and got one at the death on dries, while Dougie and I ended with 17 to the boat.