A superb autumnal morning on the Lake: a very comfortable 15°C at 8.00 a.m. and the promise of at least a bit of occasional cloud cover. There was a hint of wind, but to be honest not that much to have any sort of drift. However, the forecast was for an easterly breeze to pick up in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the temperature was also expected to pick up. It was also another busy day of competition on the Lake with the Scottish National Ladies final taking place.
The club had a total of 10 rods out for this outing and it was good to see club President Dougie Goddard arrive in his cricket whites ready for the day. I was paired with Jimmy Anderson for the session. We had no strong conviction about where to start, but had heard that not too much had changed from our previous outing the weekend before – so Gateside, Roman Bay/Malling Shore but also potentially the Gap? Mini-tips or dries or roly-poly and lures?
On our last couple of outings the water temperature in the majority of the Lake has made fishing really difficult and boat pressure has often forced us to try and find elusive pockets of fish… and that has proved a fairly futile exercise. It has become a matter of just rolling up your sleeves and persevering.
Our boats headed west before the Ladies set-out for their competition and we were evenly split between Malling Shore and Gateside. Peter and Trevor popped into the far side of Gateside, by the rope, which has proved a fairly consistent spot. Jimmy and I settled into the burnmouth and we could already see a rod bending close in by the reeds. We both set-up with midge-tips, Jimmy with red headed Dawson’s Olive and Diawl Bachs, whilst I preferred small cat booby, pearly cormorant and black cruncher. There were odd fish showing, but once again they seemed to be sporadic… scooping up occasional scrot. There were a few green midge and small black stuff and also a few smallish buzzer shucks around.
We were encouraged to see a few of the ladies boats also heading into Gateside, since no doubt they would have been doing a bit of practice on previous days. Sure enough, the odd rod was now bending. That kept our attention, but we were struggling to find an answer. We were both chopping and changing lines, going ever deeper as the sun broke through the remaining cloud cover. Jimmy had a half-hearted swirl to a candy booby, which was the best of our early action. I then resorted to a DI-5 sweep line, and eventually picked up a brute of a fish to a cut-throat cat booby. Eventually, there was nothing better for it but to delve into our packed lunches and ponder our next steps. We were at a bit of a loss to be honest and, despite the odd fish still being picked up by the occasional rod, thought better of it and headed for pastures new.
We headed up first to Malling, where a few rods had been repeating drifts. The Easterly breeze had finally come and was a blessed relief. There was a bit more activity around now. I had changed to dries by this time but could not interest the fish. Jimmy was also on a floater by now but sticking to his washing line. Still underwhelmed, we pushed across to the Heronry. There were fewer fish showing, but at least there was the odd fish swirling at our flies. We could see Adrian Coates and Darrel working in the same area, and Adrian picking up a fish, so continued our drift to the shoreline… with no further interest. Darrel had two fish at this stage to foam daddies and red-ribbed Diawl Bach, whilst Adrian had an impressive 3 fish but to 3 different flies. Mel Michell and Derek McCarron were also setting up drifts in the same area. We were running out of time and inspiration. By now I was back on the dries.
Last chance saloon, we headed down to The Gap and with the gentle easterly set up a drift in the middle out from Inchmahome heading towards Inch Talla. A few boats were repeating drifts along Arnmach and we could see them netting a few fish to pulling tactics. We could also see fish on our inside, into Sandy Bay but could not interest any of them. So, we repeated the long drifts out in the middle. Eventually, we found a few fish. Daddies were being picked out and we finished with 4 more fish (they were lumps in superb condition) in the last hour. We were left wondering like all anglers: ‘if only………’
Our 10 rods finished with a grand total of 18 fish. Top boat for the day was Adrian and Darrel with 6 fish, Adrian had picked up another to a random fly – good fishing, guys! Another mention in dispatches to Mel Mitchell who picked up 2 fish to size 16 F-flies – impressive stuff.