It was another stunning drive across the Lammermuir Hills to the Watch reservoir and as per our last outing there was lots of encouraging wildlife to be seen en-route. Alas, the weather conditions were going to be challenging for our day, with more bright sunshine and a blustery south easterly wind that was forecast to strengthen over the day. The other feature of the reservoir was just how the lack of rain has affected water levels, which were way down from the last outing. We were welcomed and assisted by the ever helpful volunteers from the Kelso Angling Association who helped get the boats loaded and ready. However, most of our members looked enviously toward those club member Coulam boats, Mick Tait mentioned that another two are being readied for later in the season.
We had 5 boats booked for the day, with Mel Mitchell being a single angler, Trevor Gibson arrived late: 24 hours late to be precise! There were a few daddies and red legs around in the car park, but little surface activity on the water. There was also a good head of fry around the boats. I was sharing the boat with Peter Fionda, who was setting up two rods to cover the dries and washing line. I was definitely going to give the dries an opportunity and set-up with my 5-wt rod, I was starting yellow owl, crippled midge, and bibio emerger combination. Given the sunshine, most were opting for a range of tip lines and intermediates, other than Dougie Skedd, who was going to give the dap another bash. It was a perfect opportunity, given the wind.
There were a few bank anglers around, but with only 6 boats spread across the water there was plenty of space for long drifts, which was enjoyable. The drogue was needed for sure, with squally winds, and we set our first drift half-way up the reservoir. There were very few fish showing and, although in our first drift there were a number of splashes to the dries, we thought most were little resident browns. Occasionally, a rainbow would have a splashy look. I’m not sure that fishing can get that much better than drifting over a wild water with fish occasionally splashing at your offerings. It seems to be the story of our season so far: plenty activity but converting chances proving quite a challenge. We had a slow start, but given that more fish were showing to the dries, Peter switched rods and almost immediately raised a couple of fish to his daddy, close to the steep bank shore.
We bumped into Bob and Dougie who were having a similar day to ourselves: plenty of interest, particularly to the dapping tactics, but getting fish to the net was another story. Dougie did pick up a few really good brown trout over the day on the dap; one stunning specimen estimated to be around 4.5lbs. Darrel Young was fishing with a soon to be hatless Stewart Barnes out in the open water, drifting towards the turret and aerator. They were both using intermediate lines with combinations of damsel, red ribbed Diawl Bachs and cormorants and they were picking up fish fairly consistently. Jimmy Anderson, a fellow East Lothian resident was fishing with John Miller and they were struggling to find a method that would work, as was Mel, who was working like a Trojan in the conditions on his tod.
I was picking up the occasional trout and had a good spell in the early afternoon, with fish picking out the bibio emerger. The fish were in excellent condition. Peter decided to switch to a slow glass and a team of hogs and that certainly got the attention of a few fish that were bow-waving after the flies. A few were beginning to lock-on; it was good to watch. Activity to the dries slowed to a snail’s pace, so I followed Peter’s lead and switched to a 6ft-tip with dabblers and cormorants and a small black booby on the point. We found a pod of fish but only spent a short time fishing for them before calling it a day.
The Club finished with with 27 fish across our 9 rods, which on a difficult but enjoyable day was pretty good.