Start of another new fishing season with our usual first club outing of the year to Linlithgow. The fishing and weather in March can be a lottery at the best of times and for the past week there had been heavy rain. However, it was remarkably mild with temperatures around 8°C and the loch was overflowing. Unfortunately, the water quality had deteriorated with the run-off from the drains and burns which run directly into the loch – more’s the pity. The swans, geese, coots, grebes, pesky cormorants and moorhens were there of course, as they are every season. Also encouraging was hatches of small midges in the quieter water, which is not unusual at this time of year.
There was a bit choice craic at the start and as always it was great to catch up with good friends before heading out. All the chat from the fishery team was that fishing had been pretty good but best tactics had been fishing deep – DI-5s and Hi-D lines being favoured. I was out for the day with Stewart Barnes and despite the well-intentioned advice we both decided the fish were wrong and in fact they should be much higher in the water. The majority of the club did the right thing and took the advice on board and a number of darker lines were being used with mini-snakes, damsels and Apps bloodworm in various colours. I set-up with a 6-ft tip, black cat variant booby and a couple of cormorants. Stewart had a go with a slow intermediate and washing line.
We headed up towards the shallower water at the East end of the loch, where the overwintered fish were supposed to be patrolling, completely ignoring the crowd (and their wisdom), who spread out around the main basin. The water clarity was not great in the shallower water around the burn mouths, but the weather conditions were ideal for drifting. So, we thought it would be just a matter of time before we found the odd fish and would take it from there. There were a couple of boats in the same area and a single bank angler fishing in the margins around Hatchery Bay.
We fished some likely water but with little encouragement. Stewart had a big swirl as he lifted in front of Cormorant Island. We could see the boat to our right having a bit success with the roly-poly and dark lines. We chopped and changed a bit. I left my cast unchanged but went for the fast glass. Stewart swithered about a floater and buzzers but eventually went for the DI-3. First fish of the day eventually fell to a cormorant. Unusually, for Linlithgow, it was not a great fish, but was welcome nevertheless. We bounced all over the east of the loch but with little success. Eventually, we picked up another fish in Peel Bay; a much better quality specimen, which also fell to the cormorant. Then another came to the booby.
By this time boats were moving around and out of the main basin, but there was still a fair concentration of boats in front of the lodge. We eventually bumped into Dougie Skedd fishing the bank. He said the fish were holding close in along the North Bank but were right on the bottom. We were running out of ideas, so on with the DI-5 sweep and set up to drift close in along the Whin Bank. This helped generate a bit more interest… to an orange blob. By now, we had bumped into Bob and Peter, who like us were struggling. It was a similar situation for Stevie and Mel, though Stevie had picked up a couple of fish. Davy Syme picked up a cracking brown around the 4lb mark. Loch regular, Trevor Gibson and John Miller never ventured far from the water in front of the lodge and were by far the best boat of the day with 11 fish between them – great angling. Our 10 rods finished with a total of 22 fish, but it was just nice to be back fishing.