After a summer pause, our outings kicked-off again at the Watch. July was a fairly wet month and August started off in much the same form, with the forecast suggesting more heavy showers during the day. From a loch-style fishing perspective this has delivered the benefit of plentiful fresh water to keep our lochs and reservoirs in relatively rude health, compared to the past few seasons. Water level at the Watch was marginally lower than early in the season and seemed to have a distinctly richer, peaty tinge.
This was our first club outing since our last trip to the Lake on the 1st July, so we were looking forward to getting back out on the water. The conditions were reasonable to start with: a modest south-easterly (although that was changeable by the minute), overcast with rain already threatening. However, the temperature was distinctly cool, at around 11 degrees at 9:00 a.m., and it did not really improve much.
I was paired with Stevie Kilpatrick, who pitched-up slightly frazzled, following a fairly colourful Sat Nav detour into the middle of the borders wilderness! There was the usual clamber for the fleet’s only Coulam boat, but nobody was going to argue too much with Trevor.
We were advised that the fish were still relatively high in the water and a few fish were already showing in the main basin. So, it seemed that various tip lines or a floater were the favoured approaches for the club. A couple of outliers with darker lines and hot-headed damsels and mini-snakes were also on show. Dougie Skedd even set-up his dapping rod, which had done him well on a previous outing. Stevie went down the washing line route with booby, cormorant and Diawl Bachs, while I opted for the 5-wt and dries (Black-f-fly, crippled midge, brown foam daddy).
As always, there was plenty room on the water, but we opted to head down into the narrows and set up a drift right across the open water, which can be productive on the right day. Our 5 boats were pretty spread out, but a few focussed around the aerator and along the dam wall, where fish seem to hold in good numbers. Stevie and I enjoyed a cracking long first drift, but any fish that were showing first thing had now disappeared. It ended with nothing to show for it. There was very little insect life around; the odd (huge) daddy, small beetles and occasional terrestrials, but not enough to stir the trout out of their slumber.
It was a slow start for most. Trevor and Mel were soon picking up the odd fish on the dries: a small grunter and one of Mel’s specials. Jimmy and Davie had drifted right down into the shallows by the burn mouth and were repeating drifts in that area and picking up a few fish – Jimmy had a field day with some good-sized perch. Dougie and Bob were having a similar day. The dap, as usual, triggered a few splashy notes of interest, but converting occasional chances was proving difficult. Bob had switched to washing line, as did Dougie, and that saw a change in fortunes. Darrel and Derek also had a slow start like everyone else. Darrel was also picking up a few perch. Nobody had really cracked it.
Stevie got the first bit of interest in our boat but no cigar. There were a few half-hearted swirls at my dries. Naturally, as is the norm for me these days, as I munched on a mid-morning snack the first rainbow took the F-fly and, despite my best efforts to lose it through angling incompetence, I still managed to net the fish. Not long after, a couple of resident small brown trout came out the blue to the same F-fly. We were hardly setting the house on fire, so we started changing flies and tactics, but nothing stood out. Stevie went deeper with a Di-5 set-up and lures and started getting a bit of interest. I went 6-ft tip and picked up one to a black cormorant booby.
Everyone by now had started picking away at the fish, although it was still slow. I got bored twiddling, so went back to the dries, as did Stevie. He loaded a Klinkhamer indicator pattern on the bob which impressively brought a few fish to the boat. The fish seemed to become a bit more responsive in the late afternoon and particularly so after rain showers.
Another couple of good Brown trout were returned, Davie had one around the 4 lb mark and another over 2 lb, while Dougie also had one over 2 lb. All-in-all, the club had 40 fish, with a rod average of 4 and no blanks, so not a bad return over the day.
Dougie Skedd adds:
First day out for the club after the summer recess. Once againm the Scottish climate displayed its infinite variety and gave us an early April day. Pity it was in early August. Eleven degrees when I arrived at the water; 10 degrees when I left. Super! I was teamed-up with the Hon Sec for the day and we set out to do battle with the elements as well as the fish. Decent breeze and at that time nice light so I fancied a dap. It can work very well on these upland waters and I was prepared to give it a go. The black and red daddy (Colin calls it Fred Astaire) is normally better than a natural-coloured one, so that was the choice. Quite soon in proceedings a wee wild brownie had a ballistic excursion after the fly but missed it. Shortly after that, a decent fish bulged at the fly. On the right track maybe? Well, no, not at all. No more interest despite giving it quite a long trial.
Bob had set up with dries, but he was getting a similar treatment. Fish were fresh-airing his flies too. It’s sometimes a feature of days when the water is warmer than the air that fish are reluctant to stick there nose out to take flies. There were certainly no natural insects on the water for them to eat and encourage them to come to the surface. Time to hoe down a bit: 12 ft slow-tip and a washing line, with two crunchers and a coral pink FAB on the point. Some fish showed at the FAB, but no contact. I switched to a pearly cat booby on the point and, miracle of miracles, as I was performing a lift and hold a wee drag on the leader announced a take. Booby in the scissors. At least the granny was off.
A short while later, a fish showed near the boat as I was nearing the end of a retrieve. I managed to lift the flies into his path and, Bingo! Another fish with the booby in the scissors. Bob took the hint and rigged an intermediate with a cat booby on the point. Two quite quick fish and another large lump lost, all on the cat booby. I had gone back to feeling like I had no flies on. But it was a bit late for a change, so I pigged it out. Last drift, the wind swung round and rather than drifting down the bank we went across the water. More than half way over I was cycling through my retrieves and tried popping the booby across the surface. A fish absolutely slammed into it. A decent brownie. Next retrieve, another even better brown engulfed the booby. Bob got another. Everything so far on the cat booby. Time to go. I started to reel in. Bang! A rainbow, but this time on a black and UV cruncher. Jammy sod that I am. A hard day, but everyone had fish, which can’t be bad. Will we manage a day of decent weather this season? We’re running out of opportunities for it. Let’s hope.