Four months has flown by since I moved to Islay. Five successful Fly Fish Islay trips, a house move and a fantastic new job...phew what a year! The weather has been amazing today. I took these pics while out and about with the dog. We've seen some rough weather too and I've had a few interesting moments from scary plane landings to killing the car in a flood. The weather man keeps threatening snow but it's unlikely we'll see much of it here on Islay. I'm sure there will be a good dose of it in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Every time I go back down South it is always a good few degrees colder there. When I bump into people on Derby Street they always ask if I'm glad to be back for a warm such is their misunderstanding of West Coast weather.
It won't be long until the first Fly Fish Islay trips of 2013 will be under way. Glen, Léonie and I are hoping to arrange a trip for late April. Last April Glen and I hosted a trip based at Loch Skerrols and the lunchtime rises of the Brown Trout were something to be seen. Please be in touch if you would like to join Glen on our trips in 2013, to enjoy the magic of Islay, it's amazing fishing and of course a few wee drams....
A few pics from my first month living on the beautiful Hebridean Isle of Islay. Fly Fish Islay trips kick in again next season, please be in touch if you would like to join Glen and I for a magical trip fly fishing for wild brown trout, sea trout and salmon.....
Blimey! What a busy start to the summer. The weather has been terrible in the Staffordshire Moorlands, so it is with great fortune that Glen and I found ourselves spending much of the early summer enjoying the fine weather on the magical Isle of Islay with 3 separate groups of guests, all determined to enjoy themselves through catching a few wee broon troots and enjoying a wee dram or two...
We were joined on our Fly Fish Islay trips buy 3 groups of smashing ladies and gents from all over Europe. Some new to Islay, some new to fishing, some experienced anglers, all up for a good laugh.
I haven't had time to write blog posts after each of the trips, excepting the first in April but here follows a selection of pics....(There are many more on the Fly Fish Islay page on Facebook).....
Loch Gorm proved to be a favourite of many of our guests. Fished from boat with an outboard so as to cover as much of this vast machir loch as possible, Richie enjoyed 2 days on the loch and enjoyed some spectacular sport.....
A first for Fly Fish Islay was an outing to 3 hill lochs by way of Islay Estates' Argocat. Guests were guided by head game keeper Scott Brown. One of the lads had never fly fished before our May trip but he still managed to land a couple of stunners to around 2lb from these remote hill lochs.
Popular as ever as a fishing venue was the beautiful Loch Finlaggan, not least because Finlaggan House was our base during the May trip. On the last day we held a small comp....the winner would be the angler who landed the most fish in 4 hours. Kev Pollard came out tops and went away with a nice couple of drams and some cracking fishy memories.
A month later and another set of guests arrived. Glen had his eye on the sea fishing, he new that come June there would be more fish near the shore on the sea lochs. This our base was at Octovullin by Loch Skerrols.
Sean Ruffell carefully selects his weapon...a 28g Dexter Wedge.
We arranged a clay pigeon shoot for the guests at Octovullin House. It was hilarious watching Pointon firing at clays with a semi automatic shot gun. Scott the keeper couldn't keep up with loading shells as Glen was firing it like a machine gun and still managing to miss.....
Plentiful brown trout were had from all of the lochs that our guests fished throughout the 3 trips, and all were amazed at the differences that could clearly be seen between the different strains of fish from each loch.
On the final day of the last trip we bumped into Justin Ruthven-Tyers at Islay Studios. Both Glen and I had recently finished reading his new book 'Phoenix From the Ashes' which is a belting read.......Justin lives on Islay with his wife Linda and their boat 'Caol Ila' can often be seen moored in Lagavulin Bay.
Justin was never really a joiner / carpenter before his house burned down and he decided to build a new one....oh, and he also decided to build a beautiful boat...'Caol Ila'...the book tells all and is an incredibly enjoyable read.....
The most memorable moment of all the trips this year has to be Glen catching a 2.5lb sea trout. I am proud to have shared the moment with him...read all about it on his blog....www.glenpointon.blogspot.com
I hope to update this blog on a more regular basis, but may just post pics and a few words from now on. Expect many more pics from Islay because as of this Saturday, I'll be living there....:-) :-) :-)
So that's the first of our Fly Fish Islay trips of 2012 complete and what a way to start the season. We had 6 guests, all eager to catch a few wild broonies, one guest who had never caught a fish before and it looked set to be challenging conditions. I'd been checking various weather websites only to see that the week ahead saw temperature predictions of - 6c!
Glen and I decided to drive up to the ferry through the night. We were originally booked on the 1pm ferry on the Friday which would mean that we would leave North Staffordshire at 4am. I was working at a wine tasting on the Thursday night and we thought that it might be a good idea to leave straight after that. It was a clear night as we belted up the motorway and Glen and I shared ideas about the week to come and wondered what the fishing would be like. If it was anything like as poor as it was at home then we'd be in for a tough week for sure. Would they be rising? What would they take? Was the trip too early in the season? What would the guests be like?
We arrived at the ferry at about 4.30am and tried to get a little kip to no avail. At about 6am the ferry office at Kennacraig opened and we enjoyed freshly brewed coffee and waited for the boat, once aboard, we would grab a little rest.
We boarded the ferry and eventually we made our way up the Sound of Islay and Port Askaig came in to view. Islay was enjoying a spell of stunning weather and the sky was cloud free and there was a real warmth in the air, quite different to the dull and drizzly weather we were leaving way behind us back home.
We arrived at our lodgings at Octovullin Farmhouse by Loch Skerrols and, still with the intent of trying to catch up on our sleep, we noticed dozens of rising fish on the beautiful loch before us and Glen and I just couldn't resist launching the boat from the pier and getting amongst the trout.
Although the rises had been plentiful, once in the boat we struggled to hook up with any, trying a few different fly patterns that we had specially chosen for the trip. During the weeks previous to the trip, we had given much thought about flys, stretching the fly budget this way and that over numerous currys, arguing about which would work and which wouldn't.
Initially we became worried, why were they not taking? Why had the rises stopped? Was it too early in the season? Would our guests go home having caught no fish? Were we looking at a multiple guest blanking situation?!
We moved a little further into the loch and over the weed bed and selected hoppers and LTDs and the fish began to take them confidently. Fly life was abundant and we noticed dozens of fish feeding in the margins under overhanging trees and bushes, smashing insects falling from the branches and quite undisturbed by our presence. It was a joy to see so many fish moving and feeding and we knew that we were in for a cracking week ahead.
The following day, having arrived on the 3pm ferry, we were joined by Tim, Peter, Fred, Wayne, Harrison and John. All had fished before excepting John. Wayne and Harrison were new to fly fishing but were long time carp anglers. Tim, Peter and Fred had fly fished before and had extensive fishing experience. Glen was really looking forward to helping John land his first fish, and what a place to do it, wild fish on a wild loch on the Hebridean Isle of Islay...doesn't get much better than that!
Our accommodation was at Octovullin Farmhouse which was perfect for a large group of anglers. A huge drying room was available and each evening after fishing, the guests would rack their boots and waders and by the morning they would be dry. The large living room had a huge open fire with plentiful logs supplied and each evening we would retire in front of it, drams in hand and have good fun filling in the days catch returns and having the craic.
As a nice touch to our itinerary, Tim (who works for Cellar Trends, agent for Bowmore Islay Single Malt) had kindly arranged a tour at Bowmore distillery which was greatly enjoyed by all. Glen in particular enjoyed the nosing session at the end of the tour. He employed all of his skills that he has learnt of late and was nosing and tasting like the best of them....his little finger up in the air he was clearly enjoying the session, but I knew that he just wanted to get the guests back out on the loch and in amongst the fish. Cheers Tim for a great tour and tasting.
The weather during the week was quite amazing. Clear blue skies with a stiff Northerly breeze made a welcoming change from the poor weather at home and every time we saw the weather forecast on TV, we saw that our friends and families down South were getting a pounding by the elements.
Glen gave John a few casting lessons early in the week and he was soon out and about fishing from both bank and boat. We'd kitted John's fly box out with all the fly patterns that we think he might need...hoppers, bibios, zulus, snatchers and the trusty LTD. Right from the first session John was attracting fish to the fly but he failed to hook up with them and started to get more and more down and frustrated as the days went on. Glen took him out on the loch, determined that he would catch a fish, and guided him as he waded up a tree lined bank on Loch Skerrols. After an hour or so, there was a huge shout, accompanied by laughter and swearing and John had landed his first ever fish, and one that was as wild as the hills at that, all were chuffed to bits and later, in front of a roaring, spitting fire, we drank whisky to John's health as he sat and ate his catch. Magic.
John's week didn't end with his first ever fish. He's a keen birder and had a long list of birds of prey that he wanted to see, and he wasn't disappointed as during the week he managed to tick off both male and female hen harriers, golden eagle, merlin and sea eagle amongst others.
Towards the end of the week, Glen decided that we ought to have a fishing competition on Loch Skerrols and things started to get very serious indeed. Each angler seemed determined to employ all of the tactics and skills that they had picked up from Glen during the week. Fly sales rocketed and I sold out of tapered leaders! oops.
At 1pm, "All in" echoed around the tree lined loch and each angler entered the water and began to cast their chosen fly. The wind had changed to a South Westerly during the night and this had knocked all of the rises off and made the fishing very difficult indeed. Wayne (above), dropped a couple of fish early in the match and Tim had caught a couple, but we knew from the banter on our walkie talkies that landed fish were certainly not plentiful. Fred and Peter elected to use the boat and Glen volunteered to Ghillie and row for them, something that he deeply regretted later on as he battled against the waves, out of breath and sweat pouring from his forehead. Peter and Fred took the opportunity to change flies etc whilst Glen set each new drift, and once the drift was set, Glen enjoyed a well earned fag and relayed Peter and Fred's abuse over the radios to the other, it has to be said, struggling anglers.
At the end of the match the catch was weighed and all had a good laugh as the winning bag came in at 8oz. Tim Roberts won the day and was congratulated by all. Tim's name will go on to Fly Fish Islay Quaich trophy and will be joined by the names of other winners from competitions to come, all taking place on the last day of our future trips.
The guests enjoyed a cracking week of weather, fishing, whisky and having good craic with the lads. I'm hoping that they will join us again on one of our trips because they were a great group of people. They had over 100 fish between them quite a few of which they dined on throughout the week washed down with quality single malt whisky.
The pic above was taken on Saturday morning. As the guests headed off for their ferry, it was time for Glen to put the boat back into it's moorings, always a sad moment as it signifies the end of another trip. Glen managed to squeeze in a few casts though and he landed a couple of lovely wee brownies. We were sad that the trip was over but have our May trip to look forward to which will be an absolute cracker!
In a few weeks time we meet up with good old Terry "Ten Men", Ozzy Mark, the two Jameses, Bassy, Snapey, Wesser, Richie and Kev....lets hope we once again enjoy great weather...a little warmer maybe!
If you would like to join us on one of our trips we are now taking bookings for our July and September trips. Please get in touch as soon as possible if you would like a chat about our trips, the costs and whats involved...search for 'Fly Fish Islay' on Facebook and ask other people who have been on our trips whether they have enjoyed them...........
I'm a keen angler and whisky enthusiast. I'm lucky enough to have lived and worked on the Isle of Islay in the Scottish Hebrides, angling and dramming paradise! I fish for wild brown trout and sea trout whilst up North, back in Leek in the beautiful Staffordshire Moorlands I like to meet up with my pals and fish for wild brown trout, grayling and other river species in the Dane, Dove, Churnet, Manifold and Wye.
(firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to contact me)