This was another one of our outings that had to be rearranged due to bad weather earlier in the year – this season seems to have been punctuated by a few more windier days than usual. Unfortunately, this date did not suit a lot of our club and only 4 hardy anglers made it for this outing: Trevor Gibson, John McGonagle, Jimmy Anderson and myself.
A Tuesday outing on Linlithgow in October was going to be an interesting prospect and it was, unsurprisingly, a lot quieter than our usual weekend trips. We thought this would be an overall positive for us. Not only would we have the bottom end of the loch to fish (as the weed was now dying back), but it would also be possible to set up the boats to drift without disturbing anchored boats. The water quality was not great, but we’ve seen it a lot worse.
The conditions overall were really promising. Although we had a cool start to the day, as per the forecast, there was a modest south-westerly wind and a gentlemanly ripple. It looked and felt pretty good. We thought we could see the odd fish moving in the main basin but it is difficult to know with the amount of coots, grebes and duck species constantly foraging on the Loch. My glass is generally half-full but the local fishery team gave an honest and underwhelming assessment for our prospects: apparently only 8 fish had been recorded in the past week, despite regular stocking and a good head of fish. Good news then there were going to be plenty of fresh fish to target, it was surely just a matter of location – surely?
Jimmy set up with lures on a midge-tip and I did something similar with a team of nymphs to swing in the breeze. Trevor and John both know Linlithgow really well and fish it regularly and they were happy to drop anchor at first by the orange buoy in front of the pier. There were also a couple of other regulars out on the water and both of those boats headed towards the East Bay. Our club president, Dougie Goddard, a regular dog walker around the loch, had reported a number of fish moving in the eastern part of the loch earlier in the week.
Jimmy and I set up the drogue, drifting from Gasworks Bay towards the palace. The odd fish was showing and there was an occasional small dark midge emerging. The main issue that we were facing was continual and seemingly random rafts of weed drifting in the upper layers. However, that often felt a bit fishy. I managed to pick up a splendid brown trout fairly early to a cat booby. Almost simultaneously, John picked up a good rainbow close by. We dropped anchor in the vicinity, since the fish at Linlithgow can be localised… or so we thought. Alas, it proved to be pods containing a solitary fish! We then went exploring, covering lots of the loch. The boats that had motored east were now making their way back. The drifting weed down at that end had made it even harder to fish.
We went deeper to see if this would work, but it proved no better. Trevor by now had resorted to a Di-7, why not, and immediately lost a fish to an olive snake tied on a weak hook. John was fishing a DI-3/4, which seemed sensible to me, and had found an occasional bit of interest but no more fish. Jimmy and I eventually picked up our last fish, drifting along the Whin Bank, but it was very tough going. Jimmy was working hard, chopping and changing lines, but it was just not happening for us. I hooked and lost another in play when top dropper got snagged on a clump of weed… and that was it for the session. Our 4 rods ended with 3 fish.
Lucky we got 3 by the sounds of it!