Nearly perfect fishing conditions for this outing: a pleasant, warm, autumnal day, with a gentle south-west breeze and total cloud cover! However, we fishermen will always find something to moan about. The water clarity was OK, but not great, and where have all the insects gone this year? Stenhouse is surrounded by all sorts of typical Scottish countryside – the perfect habitat for all sorts of insects and terrestrials – but there was little on show. Earlier this year, we were warned to expect an explosion of crane flies in the autumn, since the weather had been perfect for leatherjackets. Well, we are still waiting.
At this time of year, the fishery tends to get weeded-up, leaving the area below the island difficult to fish. We were advised to keep above the island and fish down both banks. Midge-tip or floaters were going to be the order of the day, but there were very few fish moving at the start.
This was another small outing for the club, with only three boats. Stewart Barnes and John Miller, Matt Wolstenholme and Derek Kilgour, and I was the lone ranger! Stewart and John prefer to fish dries and use top of the water tactics whenever possible and so they set-up for drifting down the North shore with same. Derek and Matt dropped anchor in front of the island to fish buzzers and Diawl Bachs – a tactic that proved very successful at our last outing. I started drifting from the shallows with a midge-tip, damsel, buzzer and Diawl Bach (no boobies allowed).
It was not long before Derek and Matt were employing the net, while John also picked up an early fish (drifting across the open water) to his red-ribbed Diawl Bach. After a slow start, I finally landed a fish to a flash-back Diawl Bach, and then thought better of it, deciding to drop anchor and swing buzzers in the wind. Fishing was sporadic, with lots of changing of flies and lines. A change of location and a change of pattern often resulted in some interest and then it would go quiet. Derek by now had switched to a fast glass and was hooking a lot more fish (blobs, ace-of-spades, buzzers and even gold-heads all mentioned), not landing them all but doing something right, as indeed was Matt.
Stewart and John by now had also dropped-anchor, closer to the weed bed, and were finding a bit interest. I was catching at irregular intervals, but black and olive buzzers were the stand-out patterns for me although the little damsel on the point was also helpful. The much-anticipated afternoon rise never materialised, despite the good conditions. We tried dries over the course of the day but with no success.
Overall, we landed 24 fish on the day, which was very respectable. John picked up 3, Matt and Stewart both landed 2 each, while Derek had 8. Not sure what we learned – it was a puzzle, but not sure if we would do anything different. It was a matter of just plugging away and hoping the fish would play – good fun though!