Antermony Loch

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Cock of the Loch

He is alone, he is in a boat and he he is deep in thought. A forlorn looking figure drifting towards the entrance of Morton's Bay on the Antermony Loch.  He is blanking magnificently and contemplating the long row back to the dock and and the even longer walk of shame when he gets there.  The sun is dropping quickly now, behind the Campsies, bathing them in the last light of the day and signalling the last cast. He draws his line in and inspects his fly in the palm of his hand. It is a Diawl Bach, almost devoid of any material; It is a sorry looking fly that has seen many, many better days and reflects his make do and mend attitude to life.

A forlorn figure
 Feck It! he says and tosses the fly over the side. He quickly makes a false cast, and another before shooting his fly into the gathering gloom.  It plops gently on the now becalmed water. Sinking below the surface film he counts to five. Knowing this is his last chance, he slowly figure of eights his grubby fly back towards his boat, willing it to work its magic. But its not.  He is almost half way through his retrieve and all hope of catching a fish is fading.   

He is spent, looking across the water now. The lights of the HOWF are bright in the distance, laughter and chat punctuate the quiet of the loch. They are gathering like the cormorants that stalk our trout.. The walk of shame beckons.
Wallop! his line locks and straightens and he is instantly roused from his flagging interest. His wrist, on autopilot, snaps into action, raising his rod tip causing the hook to set in the scissors of its mouth. Feck! this fish wanted that fly. His heart is pounding hard, his senses fully alert now, he settles in to fight the good fight. His fish runs deep and turns his boat.. It is strong. it is powerful, but most importantly it is tiring. He's in control, playing his fish with confidence, he knows he's winning this one. It's just a matter of time. All played out, he brings the fish to the surface. On its side and with mouth gaping he slips the fish over his submerged net and lifts it into the boat. It is a majestic brown spottie. He estimates 3lb plus and in top order. He quickly dispatches it before admiring it more closely.  It's his biggest fish out of the Antermony.  He gently places his prize in a plaky bag before organising his boat for the long row home. 

As he draws closer to the jetty he is smiling for he knows the cormorants that are the Caurnie Campers will not be feeding on him tonight. Others yes but not him. There will be no walk of shame.  He moors his boat, scrambles out and marches purposefully toward the HOWF. There is much banter but he keeps his own counsel in favour of removing his fish from his plaky bag as he does so, he achieves the impossible; he silences the Caurnie Campers who are looking at his fish in awe. He places his fish in the pan and puts it on the scales. You could hear a pin drop in that moment. He waits for the scales to settle and after a pregnant pause proudly announces to those who have gathered around him 3lb on the nose!!!  
Peter Leadbetter Proudly displaying his 3lb brownie

He is warmly and sincerely congratulated because that's what we are about at Caurnie Angling Club.  We share in each others successes and our failures are softened by our friendships- after we've taken the piss of course lol.

Peter Leadbetter take a bow.  In fishing terms you are the cock of Antermony Loch. Well done you!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Caurnie Chain Gang

The email read: '4 volunteers needed to fill in the pot holes on the approach road to the Antermony'. I replied and volunteered almost immediately as I knew the others would follow suite.  15 minutes later the Caurnie Chain Gang is born. The others being John Shaw, Eddie Scott and Broon had also volunteered as I knew they would. We exchanged emails and agreed to meet at the HOWFF at 8 Saturday morning where Sandy Bankier, proprietor of near by Woodburn Trout Fishery, would kindly drop off his tipper truck filled with hard core.

I arrived at the Antermony slightly late. I'd stopped off at Tesco en route to buy milk and rolls.  True to form the others had done the same.  John and Eddie were already slaving over a hot frying pan while Broon was sitting in a boat in the middle of the loch fishing, except he wasn't.  A quick look through the binoculars revealed that he was on his mobile. Someone tell him you cant catch fish with a phone.  

Broon, coming to a school near you
I prepared the rolls and made the tea and shouted Broon in before John and Eddie served up a full Scottish.  As we tucked in I noted spirits were high.  Broon was coming to the end of his dissertation and would soon be a qualified teacher, Eddie was still euphoric after netting 10 brownies the night before, while John Shaw was still waxing lyrical over the double brownie he'd landed the previous Sunday up at The Woodburn.  Me, after a difficult week at work I was just happy to be among friends in familiar and pleasant surroundings. 

We continue to enjoy our breki and discuss the day ahead.  Our plan was to spend the morning repairing the road, thereafter have a spot of lunch before spending the afternoon chasing brownies. The club would benefit from our work and we would get some fishing in. Win, win.!
Caurnie Chain Gang

Dishes done, we make our way up the road and begin shovelling hard core into huge pot holes that have appeared over the winter.  It's hard graft but we break into song:

'Thats' the sound of the men
Workin the chain gang
All day long they are saying
Ho ha ho ha'.

I bag's being the driver
We sing like the cats chorus and scare the lambs away.  'Aww, they're soooooo cute, how can anyone eat those?' I say thinking out loud. 'Auch eat those, nae problem' John blurts out and the others gaffaw in the background. We are having a good laugh and making short work of our task.  Pretty soon we are done and with laboured breathing, hearts pounding and dripping in sweat we are 4 heart attacks waiting to happen looking back down the road surveying our work.  Not a bad mornings toil we all agree and retire to the HOWFF for tea and medals. 

A hour later we are recovered but our numbers are halved; Broon is summoned by his partner to do we know not what, while Eddie has made plans for an early dinner with Mrs S, leaving John and yours truly to fish the loch in the afternoon. We have another cup of tea, load up the boat, cast off and head south west towards Morton's Bay but that's another story. ......................................

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Walk of Shame

Being back at work is ace.  It means I don't have time to fish the Antermony, which means I don't have time to blank which means I don't need to do the Antermony walk of shame anymore for a while.

In general parlance the walk of shame is the act of going home the next morning in the clothes from the night before having got a lumber at the dancing.  Broon gets to do this regularly, apparently. The Antermony wailk of shame usually follows the act of being in a boat and thrashing the loch for eight hours while fish rise left right and center and fellow members rake them in and you don't.   Subsequently one has to moor and unload ones boat and convey ones tackle past the HOWFF on the way to ones car during which one is usually verbally abused by the likes of Shaw, Broon, Biggar Leadbetter and Pedro AKA Caurnie Campers. Shouts of "yer donkey" and heeeehoring are not uncommon while "blankety blank"  and  "Couldnae catch a cold ye wassock" are ones personal favourites.  What the tabloid flung at David Moyes last week is nothing compared to the slings and arrows one receives from the Caurnie Campers during a walk of shame.  I had to endure it several times while I was on annual leave and I can tell you that I've never been so happy to be at my work.

Oor Wullie
One member who most definitely has not had to suffer this fate is Willie McCutcheon.  I bumped into Oor Wullie before I blanked on Thursday.  He informed me that he had had an excellent day on the loch, landing 22 fish 4 of which he kept. Willie is a qualified angling coach and resident Ghillie at Gleneagles He is also an excellent fly tyer and is chair-perso of the Luggiebank Fly Tyers club in Cumbernauld.  If you require any flies from him, orders may be placed at the following email address: Well done Willie. An outstanding day by anyones standards.

Broon: Er how does this work then?
John Shaw with his new rod
Other note worthy returns include Colin Biggar with 7 last Wednesday.  Colin however was just pipped by his boat partner Ed Higgins who had 8.  Bet that was an interesting drive home boys.  Johns Shaw returned 7 the same day while trying out his new 11ft 4 weight rod and followed this up by returning  8 the next evening. New rod seems to be working alright then.  Peter Tanner  AKA Pedro returned 8 last night (Sunday evening) including 2 double hook ups!!!.  His boat partner Broon, claims to have netted a 21/2lb brownie while trying out his new boat seat.  We have received no photographic evidence of that catch yet so the jury is still out on that one and in any case someone needs to tell Broon you don't usually use your boat seat to catch trout.

I took a stack of photographs over the last three weeks. I thought that I'd post some of them up, hope you enjoy them.  In the mean time I'm going to try practice my blanking.

Antermony sunset

Antermony cloudscape
Moody Antermony

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ledyatt Loch

6.45 on a bright Wednesday morning and I'm still on leave. It feels like I've been off for ever and a day but I'm not complaining; I know I'm getting horsed when I get back so, I'm making the most of my time away from the organised chaos that is work. I'm on the A9 heading for Perth, Broxburn Roundabout to be more precise, where I have a pre arranged rendezvous with the Major and a sausage and egg Macmuffin.Though he doesn't know yet, he's paying - compensation for the hour or so I spent the night before tying up a batch of Kates which I have put in a neat little fly box for him.

Understanding the importance of punctuality,  I arrive a couple of minutes early.  Not so the Major and as ever he turns up late.  I'm not caring though.  It's been a while since we fished and it's good to see him.  He looks well- trim and fit; the consequence of taking regular exercise and consuming all things in moderation.  The major greets me with a warm handshake and after exchanging sincere pleasantries the banter starts.  He gives my new runaround the once over and under his breath mutters something about it being hairdressers car. Him and Broon share the same sense of humour.

I hand the Major the box of Kates which he's pleased with and immediately offers to pay for breakfast. Ha, plan worked! Over breakfast we catch up and I learn that the Major and his wife Sally (not her real name but its too embarrassing for me to explain) are planning a move back down to the central belt from Inverness next year, something I'm really looking forward to. 

Compact and bijou
We finish our breakfast, decant the Major's car into mine and gun the hairdressers motor north, towards Dundee.  We are heading for Ledyatt Loch, One of six lochs dotted around the magnificent Kipurnie Estate, not far from Coupar.  It's a delightful venue where Ghillie George Donaldson always treats us well and the fishing has been memorable.  As a small still water venue it's hard to beat. 

The Major's on a 2 fish ticket and I go a sporting.  We both survey the loch.  Its calm but there is a nip in the air, we are quite high up in the hills above Dundee. Fish are moving on the surface but past experience tells us to discard floating lines in favour of intermediates.  George agrees and we both attach lures The Major a coral dancer with a rainbow warrior while I'm more conservative and just go a small yellow dancer.

The east shore
The Major already has his flies swimming and as I'm chatting to George the Major's line straightens. Fish on!  The Major's beaming. After a long hard winter happy days are back.  Savouring every moment the Major plays the fish like it's his last, until eventually the fish is all played out and is gently brought to the net.  It's a rainbow of about 4lb and would be the best of the day. It had taken the coral dancer, one which the Major is at pains to tell George is the one which yours truly tied!!! The fish is quickly and humanly dispatched before the major poses for his glory shot.

The Major opens his season's account with a 4lber
We fished on but it was hard going.  Plenty of movement and the odd bump but nothing was connecting. Much of the movement was just beyond our reach.  Oh how we wished for a 40+ or a shooting head.  The Major did manage another before lunch, a rainbow again had taken the coral dancer. A fish of about 2 1/2lbs it too was dispatched efficiently.  I was still blanking royally; dummies and toys would be well and truly thrown out the pram if things didn't improve after lunch.

The bridge at Ledyatt
The first of my brace of rainbows
During lunch that never was (the Major had linadvertently left it in his car back at Perth) I sought George's advice about what to do next.  He suggested a floating line, short leader and single black buzzer, cross the bridge and fish the east side of the loch where the wind would be behind us.  I followed his advice to the letter and soon after I landed 2 rainbows in quick succession.  Both were confident takes, hooked in the upper lip, which made removal of the barbless hooks easy.  Both fish were around the 3lb mark and in pristine condition and provided me with excellent sport.  But time was moving on and with a strengthening wind and the Major facing 120 mile drive, we reluctantly drew our lines in and returned to the lodge where the wood burner and a hot cup of tea lifted our spirits before the long drive home.

We arrived back at Perth decanted the hairdressers motor into the Majors before wishing each other well and safe drive home. Later that evening I received a text from the Major. "You got my fish in the back of that hairdressers motor?"  Fearful my car is stinking of fish, I dash out and check every nook and crannie.  Mercifully the fish are nowhere to be seen. "No" I reply. After a few texts back and forth we conclude that like the lunches, the Major had left his catch in the car park at Perth to. Oh well I'm sure the local wild life appreciates The Major's senior moment and are gorging themselves as I type.  Thanks for a good day John, here's to many more to come.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Kate McLaren

'To go fishing without a Kate McLaren in your box is to be improperly dressed.'  I read this on the internet not long ago.  Can't remember where, having a senior moment just now (I get them all the time these days lol). But this statement does give an indication as to how highly regarded the Kate McLaren has become among those who prospect for spotties. Indeed Stan Headley rates the Kate McLaren as his number one fly - 'A simple fly which will go anywhere and catching anything'.  How so? what makes this pattern so successful?  Some say its down to its colour, predominantly black ribbed with silver oval will always attract fish. Others say its tail, tied in properly, gives the Kate an upwing dimension that appeals to trout, particularly brownies.  Whatever the vagaries are surrounding its success, there is no avoiding the fact that it isa super effective fly and one I enjoy tying.  Enjoy the demo. Oh, theres a wee Freudian slip in the video somewhere. See if you can spot it.     

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Quint Glen - Safety to the Uninjured is First Aid.

Quint's FB Page
Flicking through the forum on Sunday evening and this popped up.  Unfortunately it appears that Quint Glen, Fishery Manager at the Lake of Mentieth has sustained a significant injury to the fingers of his right hand.  The exact circumstances surrounding his injury were not clear at the time of writing but from Quints FB page it does appear to involve a propeller and a rope.  Ordinarily I would not post such pictures on my blog but there is method here and I'm sure Quint would not mind me exercising it.

Last week Alan Gilbert, current Scottish Stillwater Champion, and I attended a 3 day First Aid course.  Now, I know folk out there will be thinking a post about first aid boring, boring, boring. At face value it probably is until that is, you find yourself in a situation where you require it.  As fishermen we frequently find ourselves in remote places, often alone and no matter how expert or careful, or focused we are, bad luck and human nature mean accidents happen as I'm sure Quintin will testify.  In any event, whether its a minor situation or something more serious, first aid knowledge will give you the confidence to act and could mean the difference between life and death.  So, why not do yourself, and those around you a favour and learn some first aid.  Once youv'e done that, buy a first aid kit. They're not expensive and like your knowledge could make all the difference. I bought one from Halfords

Alan Gilbert Scottish Stillwater Champion.
and it now has pride of place in our HOWFF at the Antermony.  Finally, Quint thank you for allowing me to use your unfortunate accident as a means to promote First Aid awareness. may you have a speedy and full recovery. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Mentieth Magic

A snow capped Ben Lomond
Yesterday was the start of my annual leave and at the invitatation of Malcom Miller, I decided to spend it fly fishing on the Lake of Mentieth.

I've kown Malcolm a while now, though have never fished with him before.  Malcolm is an accomplished fly fisher and if you knew him you would know that modesty prevents him from waxing lyrical about achievements, so I will.  Malcolm is the the current Caurnie Angling Club Champion, a titlte he has won no less than 9 times equalled only by Jim Twaddle), he has represented Scotland on several occasions at the International Police Fly Fishing Championships and has fished many Trout Masters finals at Grafam. He is well known on The Lake and so when he asked me to share a boat with him, I didnt need to be asked twice.

Malcolm suggested that we meet at The Lake at 08:30.  A bit early I thought but never the less I agreed.  On arrival and following a warm handshake I began to understand why Malcolm wanted to meet so early.  He had bought every thing including the kitchen sink with him and no doubt needed the extra time to unload his car and set it all up.  In the immortal words of Roy Scheider in Jaws I thought "We're gonnae need a bigger boat". 

We paid our ticket, loaded up boat 13 and after draining a quick cup of coffee Malcolm had us motoring towards the cages.  Conditions were favourable, overcast and a light westerly producing a nice cordrouy wave -great.  I set up with a Cortland Blue, 10ft flourocarbon leader, Ally McCoist on the point, Diawl Bach on the middle dropper and a March Brown on the top dropper. Malcolm went with a Rio floating line, a red monstrosity as a bung, attached to a 2ft leader at the end of which he tied a black buzzer.

Malcolm and his kitchen sink

We arrived at the cages and set our drift up right next to the roped of area. About 10 yards off shore. Very quickly I was into my first fish, a bluey. It had taken the Ally McCoist and despite being a strong fish I brought it to the net swiftly before admiring and releasing it to fight another day.  A fish showed some interest in Malcolm's monstrosity but mercifully didn't take it. (I would never have heard the end of that one).  We completed the drift and went back to where we had started. We had been fishing for half an hour and surprisingly there were no other boats in the cages area.  We continued our drift and again fish were showing interest in Malcolm's bung.  I was getting a few knocks but couldn't connect. I changed to a Grouse and Claret on the point and a couple of cast later bang! I was into another fish, this time a rainbow.  It had taken the Grouse and Claret and was leading me a merry dance.  I eventually managed to net it. A fish of about 3lb, it would be my heaviest of the day.

Glory shot: Malcolm with his 5lb rainbow
Equally impressive was how quickly word got round and one by one boats started to arrive at the cages.  It was like 1558 and the Spanish armada all over again as boats surrounded us in the hope that they too could engage the fish lurking beneath us.

Malcolm continued to hook up and by lunch time we had 12 to the boat, by which time mother nature bared her teeth and kicked up a fierce northerly, switching the fish off and sending them deep. Time to find shelter.

We motored across the lake passing between Inchmahome and Inch Talla on the way  to the butts where it was a little calmer.  I had changed my point fly to a Claret Dabbler on the way over and I managed to hook up again at the point of the butts. We drifted toward Pike Bouys.  Nada.  Not a thing was moving. Over towards Loch End Bay we hit fish again.  Malcolm picked up three nice bows on a booby washing line.  I landed what was to be my last fish of the day while day dreaming about winning this Friday's Euromillions and how I would make Jim Nairn an offer he could not refuse for his beautiful beautiful Loch End House.

Loch End House
We headed back to Hotel Bay, stopping off for a couple of uneventful drifts in International Bay.  We spent the last 20 minutes adjacent to the hotel and Malcolm hooked up again, another rainbow.  This time it had taken a Peter Ross on the top dropper and brought our day to a fitting and satisfying close.

Boat beached and Malcolm's kitchen sink etc unloaded, Malcolm weighed his catch and recorded our return in the book.  In total we had 18 to the boat 12 to Malcolm and 6 to me. Top boat for the day.

We said our cherios and bade each other a safe trip home.  Before I left  I texted Broon:
  'We ended up with 18 and were top boat'.
Back came the reply:
'Good stuff. Only one boat out then'
I had a wee chuckle then put the foot down and set off for home.  On the way I reflected what a brilliant day it had been and how lucky we were to catch all those fish in boat number 13!!!!