Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Friday, 25 September 2009
Gary had a good Grayling early on and I quickly followed. I also had a nice Brownie from a spot where I was surprised to catch from...these being the sorts of spots Gary encourages you to look out for.
Monday, 21 September 2009
Peter was dead set on his Sea Troot, and so tackled up and waded out to sea. Glen and I decided to have a walk up the coast, on the look out for small burns where we might tempt a few Brownies. We had been very lucky with the midges all week but today there was no breeze, the trees hung low, and the ferns were at head height, perfect for midges....even better for little deer ticks.
During the evening, Glen, his ticks, and I fished Loch Finlaggan. We walked right up the east bank to just beyond the island, fishing all the way. Glen lost what looked to be a really good fish near to where the boats are usually moored. The last hour was great fishing. We waded right out on a spit which David Morris has shown me in the past and we both took fish after fish on the dry...the LTD sedge...it was great fun, and a brilliant way to end Glen's Islay trip.
On Wednesday morning we went to see Joan at Dunlossit Estate office and purchased a ticket for Peter and I to fish from a boat on the beautiful Loch Ballygrant.
Loch Ballygrant has a lovely boat House that can easily seat a dozen people. There is a large fireplace and ample log supply. I'm looking forward to joining a few folk to fish there next season and to have food and a few drinks and a laugh within its sturdy walls.
That's the end of my report on Islay September 2009 other than to draw your attention to an article in the Ileach, the local newspaper, from that week that was pointed out to me by John and Lindy Mac Lellan. If we had have fished the River Laggan that Monday, and blanked, imagine how gutted we would have been if we had got home that night, heads dropped, miserable, more miserable than we normally are that is, more miserable than you can possibly imagine, and have read this piece!? The air would have been very blue. Please click on the pic to expand.
Anyone whising to join us on our early 2010 season trip should get in touch with me as soon as possible to avoid dissapointment.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
The Isle of Jura and the Paps from Islay, looking across the Sound of Islay. Loch Inver can be seen on the left below the Paps on Jura.
I'm just back from the best angling trip I've ever embarked upon. It was the best angling trip for a number of reasons....the weather was stunning, the food was great, the wine and whisky flowed, the company couldn't have been better and the scenery, as is always the case with the Isle of Islay in the Hebrides, was nothing short of utterly breathtaking.....oh....and the fish were up for it too.
For months I've been pestering my mate Glen to join me on a trip to my second home, the Isle of Islay. I'd told him about the people, the stupendous whiskies, the massive skys, the mountains, the deer, the soaring eagles, the dolphins, the sea otters, the eerie black lochs, the rivers, the Salmon, the real, unpretentious men that he'd fish with, and the plentiful, and beautiful wild Brown and Sea Trout....Islay is a truly wild place I'd told him, the fishing would be very different from our semi-wild rivers at home...and all the more satisfying when catching and eating these lovely specimens....eventually he agreed, and although he couldn't make the whole week, he managed to squeeze a good months fishing into three glorious days.
I advertised the trip on our fishing forum, and was fortunate to get a response from one Mr Peter Dracup from Rutland, and we chatted briefly before hand over the phone of what fishing adventures lay ahead for us and how the trip might pan out...we all looked forward to it greatly.
Finally, we were also to be joined for two nights by none other than my mate Iain Banks, who, whilst not fishing, enjoyed the islands many malt whiskies and bountiful cakes....oh the hardship.
So, at 7am on Thursday the 10th September, Peter arrived at Wood Acres, and we made our way towards the M6, and on to the Ms 73, 74 and 8 around Glasgow. Our trip to the ferry at Kennacraig on the Mull of Kintyre was to be an hour longer today as another landslide had closed 'The Rest and Be Thankful', so we didn't spare the horses and arrived at Tarbert in plenty of time to meet Iain and polish off a few mugs of coffee and sticky cakes.
We made our way to Kennacraig, and had a chat with Jackie Thomson of Ardbeg distillery while we waited to board. After a calm and sunny ferry crossing on Calmac's Hebridean Isles, and after delivering some Queen of the Moorlands Rare Cask whiskies to various outlets along the way, we arrived at our desination...the cottages at Bunnahabhain Distillery. A couple of drams were had, a plan was made for the next day and we all retired, sleeping easily after the long day's journey. (The dram was a Bruichladdich Valinch from about 5 years ago, cask 451, a lovely dark, sherry matured whisky. The beer was 'Undertaker' from our local Wincle Brewery.)
Friday 11th Sept - Finlaggan and Duffies Bar, Bowmore
After a large breakfast, kindly rustled up by our head chef, Mr Dracup, we made our way up to Finlaggan for our first fishing outing. Iain went off to visit Kilchoman Distillery and Bruichladdich Distillery to pick up samples from a few of our casks of whisky. At Finlaggan, conditions were very calm and many rises could be seen but we were concerned at the lack of ripple and realised that our presentation would have to be perfect if we were to catch fish.
Finlaggan is a beautiful place. A large loch, it was once home to the Lord of the Isles, who ruled the whole of the Western Isles of Scotland, and it's shipping routes, from a small castle on an island in the loch. A new visitor centre welcomes those interested in the history of the area, and the castle and various tombstones can be visited at any time.....it can be an eerie place at dusk.
I last fished here at the end of May during the Islay Festival of Malt and Music (Feis Ile), I had entered a fishing competition organised by the Port Ellen Angling Club. The Loch fished incredibly well that day, my mate David Morris winning the competition easily with 37 fish in 4 hours, winning trophies for both heaviest catch and biggest fish.
I was determined to catch as many fish as possible on the dry fly during this trip as so few of the local fishermen use them. I tied on a size 22 'F' fly, and, using my 9Ft 6" Orvis (later to be renamed "Pike") rod, made my first cast....wollop...he was on...and so the day continued. These were only small fish, but they amazed me in the way that they fought. I think I had around 8 fish in that session. Our catches were put together, and a fine feast of wild Brown Trout, fried in garlic and crispy bacon was had, all washed down with the finest of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.
We left the cottage at 7pm and went to pick up Mark Unsworth (of Islay Studios) from Bruichladdich and met up with (Long) John MacGillivary at Duffies bar...many drams, including the Kilchoman Inaugural Release was had, washed down with one or two pints of various Islay Ales. All in all and excellent first day.
Saturday 12th September - Loch a' Chnuic Bhric (Inver) The Isle of Jura
Saturday was to be one of the highlights of the whole trip. Peter and I set off early for the Jura ferry and met David Morris, Callum MacAffer and Kevin Morrison. Three very good local fishermen, with whom I had fished Inver before, finding it pretty hard going. I was hoping that this year would be a little easier and I'd stocked up with a few recomended Sea Trout and Salmon flies, including 'Ally's Shrimps' and 'Thunder and Lightenings'.
Inver is another 5 miles up a rough track from Feolin, where the Jura ferry terminates. We were met by the Gamekeepers son who kindly drove us up to Inver in a long wheel base landrover.
David Morris was the first to catch (as ever), landing a nice 1.5 lb Sea Trout. Callum and Kevin also managed a Sea Trout each throughout the day but, although we all saw many big fish moving, noone managed to hook a Salmon. I landed a good few, pretty small but beautiful brownies throughout the day.
Inver is an amazing place to fish. It is one of the most remote parts of Britain that I have visited, and certainly the most remote that I have fished. It is always a pleasure to visit it. I particularly enjoyed climbing the hill a little and looking up and down the Sound and seeing Rhuuval lighthouse, Bunnahabhain Distillery, and Caol Ila Distillery all in the same panorama.
Mark joined us for a few drams on Saturday night, all slumped in front of the fire after a long day of fishing on Jura. He was to be up at 5am to walk up the hill beyond the Margadale River to photograph the sun rising behind the Paps of Jura. (A picture that is now available at the Islay Studios website...please see link on right had side of this blog) You can also see the picture by following this link: http://islayphotography.aminus3.com/image/2009-09-15.html
Sunday 13th September - Caledonian MacBrayne gets the Glen Pointon Treatment
Glen had driven up to Kennacraig and kipped in his car, boarding the ferry, the Isle of Arran and departing at 7am. I drove down to Port Ellen to meet him. I knew he would be 'buzzin man' about the trip and looked forward to seeing how excited he was. I wondered what the crew and passengers would make of him...and how he and Peter might get on later in the day. Peter had decided that he would like to go and try the sea fishing, and would endeavour to catch us something for our tea.
I saw the ship coming around the point for the port and as it reached the port I could here a distant "WWWoooodddddddyyyyy!"...Pointon was arriving on Islay...and didn't we know it. He'd made friends with the crew, crashing fags off them and sipping tea in their crew room. He'd got to know all the passengers on the boat, mostly Ileachs, natives of Islay. As he got off the boat, all of the crew were shouting good lucks to him and the passengers all wished him well for the fishing trip..
We drove off towards the River Laggan, two miles Port Ellen side of Bowmore and headed off towards beats 1 and 2. The river looked lovely and we even saw a couple of Salmon jumping. Laggan Estate had kindly given us the option to fish these beats on Monday and were alowing us to assess the conditions before commiting to a full days fishing, and a full £50 per head. Conditions were looking good though, and Glen looked more excitited by the minute. There was talk of Lunkers, Clunkers, Proper Lunkers and the sorts...and the prospect of a good day's fishing was to follow. I noticed that Glen was wearing shorts and told him that he would need to wear long trausers because of the ticks, at which he laughed, thinking that I was joking. (Please see next post for details of how the ticks developed over the next few days...)
I introduced Peter to Glen at the distillery cottages and it was clear that he had been having a great time fishing from the rocks as he had a huge bag of Pollock to show for it. All in all he had 30 fish in 2 hours, 6 of which he had saved for our tea. We made our way to Finlaggan, fishing the visitor centre and castle side of the loch. We started to take a few fish, Peter netting the most on traditional wets, and I had a few on the 'LTD' sedge.
We headed home in the dark, put a huge fire in and had a dram or two. Glen was clearly impressed with the whole experience and we ate his fish fried in garlic and bacon and served up with the half dozen pollock that Peter had caught off the rocks earlier and a dram..perfect. (The dram was Queen of the Moorlands Rare Cask Bunnahabhain 1976.....nectar).
After an hour or so, we decided to leave and travel down to Islay's most famous Trout water, the huge Machir Loch of Loch Gorm. I'd fished Gorm before, the last time being pretty scarry, being caught in a storm coming off the Atlantic, in near enough pitch black conditions with David Morris. As the Wine Shop van made it's way carefully down the narrow track to the Loch, both Peter and Glen remarked on how good and how fishy the water looked...
Glen caught a good fish early on and we all had a few fish during the evening...mostly on the 'LTD' sedge, twitched across the surface of the water. The sunset that evening was amazing, the sky huge and deep red. It was like fishing in an impressionist's oil painting and a sunset that I will never forget.
The cottages at Bunnahabhain are right on the shore and overlook the Sound of Islay and the Isle of Jura. Many fishing boats travel up and down the sound and plentiful seabirds and creatures can be seen thereabouts. That evening we sat in the dark overlooking the sea with the air filled with distant eerie calls from the seal collony towards Rhuuval.
The next day we were to fish the Laggan Estate stretch of the river Laggan (post and pics to follow), and we were all very excited, we set our alarms for 6am with a view to leaving Bunnahabhain at 7am. We dreamed of the monster fish that we might catch in the morn, the run that they'd give us and of another fine day's angling to come.
To be continued......
Calmac Ferries : 08000 665 000
Bunnahabhain Distillery : 01496 840646
Maps, Islay Landranger 60, Jura and Colonsay Landranger 61
I will be arranging fishing trips and dsitillery trips to Islay and Jura in 2010. Please get in touch with me if you are interested in joining us on a tour.
Monday, 7 September 2009
I arrived at the car park and was surprised to see that there were much fewer cars than I had been used to seeing on a Sunday...I wandered up to the first pool and was very surprised to see what good condition the Dove was in, considering the downpours we'd had over previous days. I fished a klink all the way up to the Nursery, with no success, and decided to head off up towards the boards and Ilam Rock.
I decided to change to the duo, a balloon caddis on a dropper and a pheasant tail nymph on the point. I met up with a Jim and we wandered up the river, deterring a few poachers armed with telescopic rods, along the way. After crossing the river twice to avoid the climb of Lovers Leap, I decided to fish the second ford, and quickly landed two lovely wild brownies. I made my way up towards the boards and fished just upstream of a favourite spot, wading in to a run that I had not seen before, I cast the nymph downstream into a deep channel and let it drift away. After a few seconds, the caddis dipped away sharply, and I struck...into a good fish. The fish darted from side to side, hugging the river bed, and I really didn't think I'd land it...eventually persuading a nice, and rather large Grayling to the net...chuffed to bits and really looking forward to the winter if this is what sport the nymph produces.
After taking a few more fish I made my way downstream to meet up with Glen, and later on, Guy. Just upstream of the nursery, I managed two 1.5lb stockies and a little further upstream I had a nice wildie on the, now famous, LTD.
The three of us had a good natter and a laugh as always, the only thing missing was the Kelly, the first time this season without it, and we could have done with it after the couple of heavy downpours we had...see Mr Pointon for lame excuse.
Glen was taking fish on the LTD and one of Brian's skillfully tied, olive paraduns. Guy had a couple of really good fish in the Nursery pool including one that must have been knocking on for 2lb.
A great fishing session then, and after taking ten fish, three of which I would consider as being within the "demi-clunker" classification...confidence is on the up for Islay...watch out River Laggan, here I come....and maybe Mr Pointon.
PS you may have noticed that I forgot the camera. Sorry.
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
As we got closer to Bakewell, we started to take more fish as the day got warmer and the rises increased. Glen landed a cracking Grayling that gave him a good fight.
Dave fished upstream of us, and although he was taking more fish than any of us, didn't like the proximity to the town and the number of tourists that were around, so he packed up and made his way back towards the fisherman's car park.
This was the first time I'd met Brian. We had chatted on the forum before and he had said that he was going to tie me a few flies...I was amazed that morning when he handed me a fly box full of dozens of sedges and blue winged olives, there must have been 50 or 60 or so. I couldn't thank him enough..top man. Brian caught a couple of nice Brownies in Scott's Garden and was clearly enjoying his time on the Wye. Glen and I are hoping he will join as on the Dove at Dovedale and Milldale next year.