A decent day for March. There was a light breeze out the eastern quadrant. Mostly good cloud cover with the odd blink of sun and odd shower. Water was 7C and air 9C. The first period was nearly calm, buzzers were hatching and fish were rising. Yippee! I saw no reason not to start with dries. I went with a black crippled midge and an olive top hat, both size 14s. As we went out, we motored slowly across open water, looking for risers. The first group we found was well out from the butts. Almost the first good cover I had took the top hat confidently. Over the next period, another came to the top hat, and 2 took the crippled midge. Allan Everington, in the boat with me, was unlucky to miss his early chances. The fish were all last year’s, and were all cormorant-marked (see photos). After the initial period, the breeze got up and the rises stopped, but I felt the thing that put them down more was that the buzzers stopped hatching.
I picked up the other rod with a washing line set-up – 10 ft tip, fluoro, size 12 cat booby on the tail plus a Diawl and a buzzer. We had a good wee spell, drifting past the point at Bogle Knowe/Tod Hole that put 3 in the boat between us. Then that spell stopped. Tried at Kate’s Brae. Nothing doing. Tried over where we had been getting them on dries, to no avail. The breeze was getting stronger, so we had a look at the sheltered water, round at Sandy Bay. Found the ever-faithful residents, picking about in the calm water, tight along the shore. Tricky as ever, as there was an air coming through the trees always trying to push us away from them, and spoiling attempts to cast in towards them. But I did manage one more to the top hat from a cover.
We had an hour or so on the clock and came down to International Bay and drifted from there, round the shoulder. That was a decent shout, and we picked up 2 fish late on to the washing line.
Bob Whyte adds…
Partnered with guest and prospective new member, Brian Spence, on what looked to be a promising morning for our first outing to the lake of the 2023 season Started off in International Bay, where we noticed a few rising fish. They were certainly moving to a good size hatch of buzzers, but covering them proved to be difficult, as the light breeze kept changing direction. That made it impossible to drift on the many small pods of fish.
We had both tackled up with intermediate lines and various buzzers, cormorants , Diawl Bachs and other patterns. I soon changed to a dry outfit and, despite covering fish, didn’t move any. Then, eventually, I had a text book take to a cdc pattern. Result – a great fight and a fish of about 3lb.
The wind then picked up and most of the hatch stopped, together with the rising fish. We then moved to Lochend, where we saw a few fish and some being caught on a bung set up and a guy stripping quickly. By this time my dries weren’t attracting anything, but Brian had two fish to a yellow Fritz pattern of his own. One of these was taken after a double hook up, which resulted in his dropper being broken off.
Although we were seeing a few fish moving, they were mainly out of our reach. In the afternoon we moved to the west end of hotel bay, near Sam’s Point, where we met Keith and Jimmy. They had tried lots of methods but only had 3 fish at this point to show for their efforts. Again, we noticed a few fish moving, but could not seem to interest them. Eventually, I had a nice fish on a yellow Fritz lure using a fast glass line.
Moving to just in front of the hotel I had one more to the same lure and lost another. That I’m afraid was the total result of our day. Just couldn’t find the correct method.
Keith Logan adds…
Jimmy Anderson and I spent the day fishing in an area from Shear Point, Reedy Bay, Hotel Bay, Sam’s Point and through Portend Bay. There were fish aplenty on all these drifts, but catching them was another matter. A fish first cast on a size 12 black buzzer, drifting across Shear Point proved a false dawn. The fish we saw were gorging on emerging and adult buzzers predominantly, but also hoovering up shucks, basking shark style.
We tried almost every line and all sorts of tactics between us, but generally had little reward. We tried static buzzers, slow f-of-8, all the way to pulling tactics on fast glass and Wet Cel 2. Lovely to be surrounded by feeding fish as always, but they were preoccupied on the real stuff. When the wind cooled later in the day that was when the fish became a bit more obliging for us. Most successful flies turned out to be Diawl Bachs of different flavours on a midge-tip, which was not much different how we set up to start.
Dougie Skedd adds…
Jeez, were the heated seats in the car welcome yesterday on the way home. Found a leak in my left wellie when we were setting out, so I had a damp left leg, which was cooling me all day. As if I needed extra cooling on a day like that. Anyway, here you go.
Last few years we’ve been very lucky with the weather for our first Lake outing. Paired with Stevie Kilpatrick this time around. Would we be so lucky? Well, maybe not quite. Flat calm as we set out and a fair few fish showing on the surface to a decent buzzer hatch. I thought we had fluked it again but things didn’t turn out quite as well as we hoped. Whenever we tried to approach a pod of risers they just faded away. We could always see rising fish about fifty yards away, but they were always fifty yards away.
We tried hanging about to see if they would come back, but it became apparent that the fish were having none of it. We had begun our efforts just in front of the Hotel. We had a look at Shear Point, to no avail. We went into Sandy Bay. Same result. Lots of rising fish fifty yards away but none closer. The very occasional fish that did rise in range rose once and was never seen again.
Stevie suggested a move across towards Malling. There was a very cold breeze over there, but it was fitful and irregular. There were areas of pin ripple with oily calm areas in-between. In the calm were a few odd fish rising. I got a decent cover on one. Credits to the big fellie for a bit of splendid ghillieing there. The fish took like a gentleman and turned out to be a very nice brownie.
A further spell of chasing shadows, then we moved round into Gateside Bay. Same story. Pin ripple interspersed with oily calm areas. Another chance, another fish. This time a good overwintered rainbow around the four pound mark. It went off on a long run and gave me an interesting time. More chasing shadows.
Back to Sandy Bay in the hope that the breeze might make things easier. It didn’t and the fish that had been very active in there were posted missing. A good rainbow OTB to the dries. All this time Stevie was grafting away with all sorts to try and find an answer, but none was forthcoming. In desperation, allegedly, he tried a gold beaded orange blob on his intermediate. Bang! First cast. A wee while later, after backing the boat out from the shore to ease our drift, Stevie was stripping his line back to recast and once again, bang!
Enough was enough. I gave up on dries and started pulling wet flies. Stevie got another fish on another blob. Then, suddenly I was into fish. Five pretty much one after another, drifting along the reedy shore from the Hotel to Sam’s Point. A Clan Chief muddler, a peach dabbler and a small white and green minkie pulled with a jerky retrieve on a twelve foot slow tip. Not the day we had hoped for, but a decent bit of sport in the end. Again, kudos to the big man for his boating skills and hard work throughout the day.
Editor’s note. Looks like some phantoms among the stomach sample. Might explain why the rising fish were ultra-tricky in some areas, but not so much In others?
The club’s fourteen rods had 52 fish.