One of those days when the conditions were not great, but they were not bad, either. Temperatures, which had finally been climbing, took a nose dive and we were back to single figures. The cold breeze was off the north east – not a good direction when perched on a cliff top on a NE-facing coast! It was a dreich start too, with rain and low cloud. However, you couldn’t fault the 100% ceiling, and the high bank on the north shore acted as a wind break. It dried up fairly quickly, and it warmed up slightly as the day progressed. There was even a sunny interval or two that injected a welcome bit of warmth.
With an odd number for the outing, I had been drawn the single man boat, which afforded me the chance to suit myself with where I went and how I played it. I took an initial sortie round the water. I was seeing swallows and martins working the deep water area of the main bowl and saw rising fish there too. A look at the surface showed buzzers struggling to hatch and take off in the cold temperature.
The buzzers were bobbing along, half-in/half-out their shucks, being picked off from above and below. It’s a tricky area to fish on the drift, as it is popular for those wishing to anchor up, so I ventured up the west arm in the hope that I could get a clear area to drift with dries. However, no buzzers, no birds, no fish! We get an early season deep water buzzer on our own water, and I guessed this was probably the same species.
I went back to the main bowl and, though it was busy, it was manageable for drifting the whole day. I had tackled up with a black Klinkhammer and an Adams hopper, and all the early action came to the Klinkie – not surprising given the way the buzzers were hanging half-in/half-out the water. I changed the tail hopper for an Adams Klinkie and that shared the attention much better. Action was steady for a couple of hours – about half from covers, half out the blue – though always when in an area where fish were rising.
Just when I was getting settled in to a rhythm, things suddenly dried-up completely. There were still buzzers about, though not as many. The bird activity was slowing down a bit too, but I was still seeing fish rising. I was covering rise after rise without a look. I tried changing flies for different footprints. Shuttlecocks did nothing, nor did half-hogs. I tried a 14 black Shipman’s and, while not an instant success, I started to get a bit more action.
My next contact was with something a bit special. It took 50 yards off me and I could see it was in danger of getting round the ropes for the aerator buoys. I managed to get the drogue in and motor the boat away up the wind, ‘walking the dog’ as I went. I thought I had got it clear and started to recover the line, but… horrors… it all went solid! All I could do was pull for a break.
I retackled with a team of 3 Shipmans (hare’s ear and claret joining the black) and though it was slow going compared to the morning, I got the vibe it was the best I was going to do. It was a case of cover 20 fish, get ignored by 17, get a half-hearted look from 2 and get a decent take from 1. A wee bit tweak or a bit figure-of-eight when I reckoned I was being ignored was sometimes enough to get their attention. The last fish of the day was a nice resident, who’s looks were spoiled a bit by cormorant damage (photos).
Among the other boats, John Levy and Bob Allan both had success with a black Klinkhammer, though both switched their methods about during the day, John taking a couple on nymphs, and Bob having success with lures.
Ivor Young and Tam Forrest had a very even catch – both caught 4 fish, both on a mix of buzzers and dries. Adrian Coats and Bob Whyte started off on the anchor with damsels, and had considerable success, though that method dried up on them in the middle of the day. So, they upped sticks and went on the drift with dries. That got them back among the fish and they finished with half a dozen each.
The Club’s 13 rods landed 46 fish.