Mid-March in Scotland, so it was no surprise to be welcomed by the sight of snow ploughs clearing the roads for our first outing of the season. However, the tail end of storm Gareth was almost tropical compared to the ‘Beast from the East’ we endured in this corresponding outing in 2018. Blizzards and brisk north-easterly gusts were hardly filling us with great enthusiasm for the session ahead. Linlithgow loch was looking stirred up by the recent high winds and rain, and the path to the jetty was more akin to an ice rink. Catch reports from the previous day were also less than encouraging, with 7 fish being caught across the day, of which a bank angler had 2!
There were a few late call-offs that left a diehard team of 6 to brave the elements. Jimmy McBride/Derek Kilgour, Linlithgow specialist Trevor Gibson/Bob Whyte, Fraser Gault/myself. There was a half-hearted discussion around tactics and lines but the consensus was not to venture too far and to fish the margins. The East End looked wicked, since this was into the teeth of the conditions. Lines ranged from midge-tip, right down to Di-5. There was a lot of black and green being tied on casts. Plaudits to the fishery once again for offering the option of a half-day ticket, which we all gladly accepted.
Most boats spread around the shallows in Gasworks Bay, keeping close to the shelter of the Palace. Jimmy had a few problems with his petrol motor, so had a delayed start. Fraser and I headed out, but not far in front of the jetty. With little imagination, I had gone with an intermediate setup and Fraser with Di-3, armed with black/green tadpole, olive Nemesis and orange Fritz mini-lure. I was pleasantly surprised to pick up a fish quite quickly to a blob. It was a cracking specimen: certainly over 4lbs. Then Fraser picked-up a good fish to the tadpole on his first cast!
We finished early, when we lost all sensations in our extremities, but we had managed a feisty 3 fish each in the process. The quality of fish in Linlithgow is excellent, even at this time of year. Jimmy picked up one to a cutthroat cat on a slow glass line. Bob had a couple, also on intermediate line while Trevor picked up another.
It was a day for hunkering down in the conditions, so it was difficult to gauge where or what was working. Overall, a good start to the season in challenging conditions, with a total of 10 fish between 6 rods.
A surreal day, I made it back in plenty time for the rugby. Not for those of a nervous disposition, but being Scottish is a weird privilege. Somehow gutted, relieved, happy, euphoric, and disappointed over the course of one game – how does that keep you sane?