It had been a couple of seasons since we last ventured to Linlithgow for a club outing. There have been a number of improvements since our last visit: an improved pier that made access to the boats a lot easier, while the boats were all cleaned and in good nick. What had not changed was the clarity of the water! It was surprisingly quite heavily coloured for the time of year. The weather was bright and very warm, although there was a pleasant south easterly breeze. Reports suggested that fish were active about 12-15 ft down and that big buzzers were the most successful flies.
Our local experts, Trevor and John set up with what looked like a team of buzzers (Dennis the Menace) and a bung, but maybe my eyes deceived me. This approach has often worked well, especially for Trevor.
I was fishing with Mel Mitchell, and we headed initially out into the main basin, where most of the boats were already anchored. We followed suit. Mel had gone with a slow intermediate and a team of buzzers. I went for 10 ft slow tip and washing line. On previous outings at Linlithgow, perseverance often paid off in the end, although it was always difficult to drift, due to the number of anchored boats. Early in the day, we saw a few club rods bending around us. First into fish was Stevie Kilpatrick, in front of the Palace, then Peter Fionda in the midst of the armada had a productive spell. I hooked our first fish, inconveniently half way through my breakfast. Typically, it was a Linlithgow bruiser: the quality of the fish was excellent. We could see Trevor and John both into good fish, early in proceedings as well.
The early part of the day offered the best fishing, but it was challenging. Mel and I never got comfortable being anchored, or with our tactics, and we were probably guilty of chopping and changing too often. Mel picked up a lovely roach to a buzzer, then a very good rainbow to a candy booby. We upped anchor and decided to drift – the whole of the North Bank was deserted other than one bank angler, so we pushed back and had a long drift about 30 m out. The water quality, if anything, was poorer in the shallows. There was an odd fish moving, which is again fairly typical of the venue. Unusually, there were not a lot of buzzer shucks around, although a lot of sticklebacks were lying a few inches down. After a fruitless couple of hours of different drifts towards Rickle Island, we decided there was nothing better for it but to join the armada and set anchor again.
In the afternoon, activity levels dropped off a cliff for most people, although Trevor and Stevie were still picking up the odd fish: good angling! Mel and I tried hard and finished with 5 to the boat.
Steve Kilpatrick adds…
I was partnering Darrel Young on Saturday. The morning started-off with a keen as mustard partner… I had my outboard in my car and arrived early, only to find Darrel had the boat virtually ready to goo!
We started with a slow drift down the front of the palace, all the way past the island. I had a couple of notes of interest and a couple of hard-hitting offers and one fish on a red and black buzzer. Off to a good start! Darrel also got an offer on that drift. We then went back up and had another drift, further into the middle of the loch, down to the island. We anchored for a while. Darrel picked up his first fish and I my second fish on a blue-bodied damsel. We then had a very long wait till around 2:00-ish, when we moved back up the loch and parked up among a large flotilla of boats. It was about then all Hell broke loose. Darrel got his 2nd and 3rd fish in amongst offers and dropped fish. I swapped my blue damsel due to being broken twice on 8lb line and losing them both, one in a very large brownie. I changed to a size 8 epoxy minnow with green olive marabou tail on 10lb leader and had success with my 3rd and 4th fish. We both had some more offers till 3:30, then it went dead again. A good, if sporadic day, but very enjoyable. Seven fish to the boat and a sore arm after pulling the anchor out of the mud several times! 😂