It was an unexpected and fairly ominous start to the day, setting off from East Lothian: torrential rain! The good news was that the further north we travelled, the better the weather, although it was clear by the amount of water on the roads that there must have been heavy showers right across the east coast overnight. What can be more challenging for Frandy is the strength of the wind but, looking out from the car park, conditions looked promising. The usual south westerly was blowing down towards the damn end but it looked manageable, with patches of good cloud cover for our day’s fishing.
The water levels were good and clarity was excellent and, as per usual, there was a good amount of fry shoaling around the boat pier. There were also a few light coloured sedges flitting around the shore. According to Ken, the fishery manager, fishing had been mixed like the weather over the past couple of days but fish were still cruising the upper layers. Most of the club set up not surprisingly with dry fly tactics – a mixture of sedgehogs, daddies, beetles and hoppers.
I was paired with our club secretary, Bob Whyte, so there was little doubt that we were also setting up with dries. In the past couple of seasons we have enjoyed some great sessions on the dries at this time of year. I opted for a 7-wt over my preferred 5-wt rod to begin on the basis that if the wind picked up over the session it offers more options in terms of line densities… just in case.
Most of the regular bank anglers were more widely spread out along the South Shore. We motored up towards the top of the fishery and set-up our first drift, down and out into the open water, heading towards the north shore. There were only occasional fish showing and this became the theme across the day. There were very few insects around again. Bob covered a rise and hooked a fish on our first drift, but dropped it in play. He then had another fish splash to Dougie Skedd’s beetle pattern, but again it did not stick. This was a pattern repeating over the session. We both failed to net any fish on the dries and probably persevered for too long, confident that the fish would eventually see some sense. It seems it’s the fish that are always right!
We saw big Stevie Kilpatrick land a decent fish well out in the open water, fishing alongside John Miller. I decided to change and put a Fab on the point, added a cormorant but left a daddy on the top dropper and out of pure laziness stuck with the floater. Bob changed to the midge-tip and mixed it up with a booby on the point, which seemed like a better option. We started to enjoy a bit more activity, having moved across to the south shore. Fish were at least chasing and swirling at the flies but getting them to the net was a different story. The fish seemed to be patrolling the margins in very shallow water, although it was a constant battle keeping the boat drifting in the better areas. There was a period where we seemed incapable of hooking a fish in the traditional manner. I lost a good fish in play with the fly precariously holding onto to its dorsal fin, and had another in the tail.
Peter Fionda came freshly armed with a few tasty patterns from his recent Orkney trip – mostly sedgehog types, which were working effectively for a while in the rolling waves. Dougie had picked up a few fish, as had Derek McCarron, fishing intermediate lines.
Our 10 rods finished with 18 fish for the day so it ended up a frustrating outing on what felt like it should be a reasonable day. Moody, inconsistent weather may have played its part and there were lots of reports of fickle fish, plenty swirls and follows but getting them to the net successfully proved difficult.