Scottish Fishing Days and Nights 1993
by John Gray
Great News! I have been invited to join
Angling Club as a country member - cost £125 including a £20 joining
fee. I had expected to wait a few more years. The club manages several
miles of the River Earn above and below Crieff, which offers the
prospect of good sea trout night fishing.
I have reluctantly resigned from LLAIA due to the increasing cost of
membership and the decline in the sea trout fishing on the Endrick (LLAIA
subscription for 1993 - £115).
I have renewed my membership of AWAIA for
£40 and have asked for an application form for Alan to join as a junior
member (under 16) for £15 a year.
on a recent trip to Edinburgh, I took the opportunity to look around the
second hand book shops just off the Grassmarket. I found a shortage of
fishing books which must be in demand and those which were available,
e.g. Carter Platts, Isaac Walton, were expensive - all in the region of
£20 for books of any interest. However, I did come across some very nice
old O.S. maps, printed on cloth, ranging in price from 50p to £2.50. I
bought four and may aim for a small collection of maps covering the
major fishing areas of Scotland in particular *
* Recent Note: I continued to collect old maps, the Bartholomew Half
Inch series in particular. This map series (I was later very lucky to
find a bound Library Reference compendium of the complete British set of
the Half Inch series) led to the development of this website
Trout and Salmon Fishing which includes hundreds of maps showing the
lochs and rivers of Scotland. For an example, see
Trout Fishing in Assynt .
I have also received a letter from the Loch Awe Improvement Association,
recently formed following the granting of a Protection Order for the
loch, offering me the opportunity to sell permits for the loch, which I
have accepted. Permits will range from £2 per day, £4 for three days to
£30 per year. I have also been asked to display a petition in the shop
against drift netting, which I am happy to do.
I now have permits for the River Earn (Comrie Â£95, Crieff Â£105) and the
River Allan (Â£40). I am particularly looking forward to fishing the Crieff water for sea trout from May onwards.
I have had a few brief outings to the Allan. The water has been cold
from snow melt with no sign of any fish so far. One nice afternoon on
Wednesday 24th march, I lay in the sunshine and watched four buzzards
circling high over Craigton. Later in the day, on walking upriver from
Cromlix bridge, I found the remains of a dead goose, with wings intact.
They look lovely feathers for sea trout flies.
I have walked the Lower Strowan beat (trout only) of the Crieff water
with no sign of fish or fishermen (Sunday 28th March). There is a nice
looking sea trout pool at the lower limit of the Club's Upper Strowan
beat. On the way back over the moor from Comrie, I saw three black
grouse. It has been a very cold start to the season with snow still on
Wednesday 7th April
River Allan - 4 trout
I began on the River Earn at Crieff. The river is still running very
high and cold. I gave up after an hour and made my way to the Allan at
Greenloaning. The association has lost a fair stretch of water recently
(the Loig Fishings) to a private syndicate but still has about a mile of
the right bank below the bridge. The river was running at a perfect
height for the fly and there are one or two very nice runs which are
easily wadable, although the trees lining the banks can be a bit of a
problem. In the first nice run below the bridge I caught two nice trout
of 1 1/4 lb and 3/4 lb plus several more offers which I failed to hook.
A wet size 12 Greenwell's Glory seemed to be to their liking. Further
downstream, in the pool below the electricity transmission line, I had a
beauty of 2 1/4 lb, my biggest brown trout to date, and another smaller
fish of half a pound. I also lost a second big fish. The weather was
fairly calm with a light east wind, reasonably mild (about 10 degrees )
with good cloud cover, through not too dull. The swallows have also
June 10th - River Earn
I have fished Dornoch Dam at the lower end of the Crieff A.C. water two
or three times but it has generally been too cold for night fishing.
Last night, however, was very mild, humid with thundery showers on and
off. No sign of sea trout or, in fact, fishermen. It may be that sea
trout are in other pools, e.g. the Coup, but it would appear to be a
very late start to the sea trout season. I may try Comrie. I haven't yet
explored the Allan for night fishing.
Alan has now joined the Allan Association as a junior member but
will have to pay full rate next year at 16.
June 11th - River Earn
River Earn, Crieff
The pool above the Coup has a lovely pool tail. River running fairly
high and cold, with generation water running. I found another fisher
wading in the poll tail before dark. I thought it a bit early in the
night but he said he had one fish and lost one. Another fisher in the
Coup stream had one. I didn't touch anything but heard the odd fish
splashing in the tail. I should try again mid-week on a warm night,
perhaps starting in the Coup stream.
June 14th - River Earn
River Earn, Crieff
I parked at the Coup and waded over to the right bank. I met Hamish who
fished down in front of me. The river was at a perfect height but it had
been a lovely bright day and there was no cloud cover at all. There was
no wind and temperature was OK until about midnight when it cooled
sharply. I heard about three sea trout move, fish around the two pound
mark I guessed. No one had an offer.
Sunday/Monday June 21st - River Allan -
11pm - 1.30am
2 sea trout
I parked at Cromlix bridge and walked up to the top of the beat, where
the Blackford Farms beat begins. I fished downstream catching a half
pound brown trout on the way. I eventually hooked a sea trout in shallow
water but lost it after ten seconds or so. It felt a good fish. I was on
the point of giving up about 1 am but decided to try a likely looking
spot I had noted on the walk up. I later referred to this spot as "the
Narrows". It was now very dark. First cast I hooked a very lively sea
trout of 2 1/2 lb which fought hard, coming out of the water two or
three times. It was great sport on the ten foot rod I had recently built
on a Bruce and Walker "Light Line" blank, matched to a DT5F Aircel and 5
lb nylon cast. The lure was a size 10 longshank, dressed with a grey
squirrel wing, nylon line would over pearl lurex over yellow thread, and
a ginger hackle. (I later dressed this fly with either a squirrel tail
or Mallard wing and called it the Ginger Pearl). Around 1.30 am I hooked
another fish about the same size in the run below the narrowing of
the stream. This fish made long runs downstream, again out of the water
several times, another very lively fish. I may have had more if I had
fished on, as the wind dropped and it became milder with a bit more
cloud cover, but I was well satisfied and there is always work next day!
An excellent introduction to Allan sea-trouting. This outing was
prompted by a meeting with John Webster, an ex vice-president of the
Allan Association, while fishing the Willows on the Crieff A.C. water on
the Earn. There was little happening on the Earn and John told me of the
excellent sea trout possibilities on the Allan. The tip certainly paid
off. The sea trout seem to make for the deeper holding pools above
Kinbuck, which may explain my lack of success last season fishing at
night on the lower pools below Kinbuck. The Allan seems to be running at
a nice height for night fishing with enough flow at the heads and tails
of the deep pools for a floating line.
July 5th - River Allan, Railway Pool
I arrived at the Railway Pool at dusk. A fairly mild evening with a
strongish west wind and good cloud cover, river running low. Sea trout
were moving sub-surface in the tail of the pool. I foul hooked a fish in
the top of the head on the tail fly single, a very lively fish of 2 1/4
lbs. A couple of maggots on the bend of the fly hook may have been
effective. I gave up at 1 am.
I have tried the River Earn below Crieff a few times but the river is
now running very low and there has been no sign yet of any significant
run of sea trout, although I lost a good fish at the Willows one night
in late June.
July 17th - 24th - Holiday
Lochside Cottage, Clashmore, Sutherland.
I bought the weekly permit for the Assynt Crofters Trust lochs (£15 per
week, £7.50 junior). The weather was cool and showery most of the week.
I fished a different loch every day. Alan and I must have had about
eighty trout for the week but the average size was little more than 1/4
pound. Only three or four fish were more than half a pound, but they
were all game fighters.
We took a boat on Loch Drumbeg on the Thursday, hired from Callum Miller
for £15 and fished morning and evening for a total of around 25 trout,
keeping four for breakfast. I had a good hour or two on Loch Poll,
catching about ten small trout and a good day ( 3pm to 8 pm ) on Loch Crocach, catching about thirty trout, keeping nine. The smaller lochs
seem less reliable. Alan had a morning sea fishing but the weather was
rough and the boat had to stay inshore. They caught a few mackerel and
pollack. Skipper A Brown, Badnaban.
We visited Handa Island with its dramatic cliffs and stacks and
spectacular bird colonies of puffins, guillimots, razorbills, skuas,
A good holiday .... too short!
Monday 26th July - River Allan
2 sea trout
I fished "the Narrows" from 11 pm to 12 midnight. The river had been
getting topped up by the odd shower but was again running fairly low.
Runs of salmon and sea trout have been reported.
I started near the tail of the top pool, taking a fish of 1 1/4 lb first
cast on the dropper, a bushy size 8 Kate McLaren with a fluorescent
peach floss tail, and a second fish minutes later. The fish swirled at
the fly first time but missed. I then cast the flies to the same spot
and drew them smoothly over the fish, which took the same dropper fly
immediately and fought strongly but briefly, a lovely sea trout of 2 3/4
lbs. I beached both fish, though a landing net may have been useful.
Stealth, and a dark night, are of the utmost importance in approaching
Allan sea trout, as the banks are high and there is little if anything
in the way of tree cover. Under a clear sky, the night air cooled
quickly, set to drop as low as 7 degrees. I should fish for longer on a
mild cloudy night.
Sunday 8th August - Loch Earn
I fished the loch from 4 pm to 9 pm. A nice day with a good west
wind, cloudy with occasional sunshine. I started at the ST Fillans
Jetty, taking only one fish of 1 1/2 lbs on a size 12 Greenwell's Glory.
I then moved to the sandy bay east of Edinample, fishing to the right of
the old fence, where I took three more trout between 1 1/2 lbs and 2
lbs, on Greenwell's and Black Pennell. I reckon that these trout had
been stocked within the last two years. Their tails had not fully
recovered from the wear and tear of the stock ponds but almost, and in
all other respects were magnificent trout in first class condition. If
only these had been wild fish! The absence of smaller indigenous
fish was notable on this visit. Historically, going back to the
seventies, Loch Earn trout would average three to the pound. These
indigenous fish must be at risk from the stocking of these unnaturally
large trout on such a scale. Certainly the larger stock fish will be
occupying the best feeding spots and depriving the wild fish of good
feeding. They will probably also prey on the smaller wild trout. Having
said that, there seems to be a demand now for ever bigger trout. Let's
hope the loch can support them without endangering the indigenous
There have been recent reports also of wild char of four to five pounds
( the wild Loch Earn char were generally not much more than half a pound
) caught around the rainbow trout farm nets - obviously growing fat on
the pellets fed to the rainbows.
Still no sea sign of sea trout on the River Earn at Crieff. I must try
Tuesday 24th August - River Earn -
9 pm to 12 midnight
1 sea trout
I fished the road pool on the Crieff water at Lennoch. The forecast was
for a mildish night no lower than 9 degrees but it felt on the cool
side. Hazy cloud, no moon, growing very dark by midnight. A few small
trout and parr were feeding at the head of the pool. There was little
flow in the main body of the pool so I fish down quickly with an eye on
the good looking pool tail, which had bit of a flow and where I had seen
some fish movement on the way up. I had no offers to the bare fly but
the addition of three maggots to each fly resulted in a good take from a
2 1/2 lb sea trout in fair condition. The fish splashed around on the
surface a bit before giving in, not like an early run fish. I later
caught a brownie of a pound which had a length of heavy nylon trailing
from its mouth and, on cleaning it later, discovered a size 4 salmon
worm hook in its stomach.
A fair result for the Earn which seems to have had a poor run of
sea trout this year, at least in my experience. In fact it's my first
Earn sea trout of the season. It's early days, though, and I have
a lot of learning to do over the next few seasons. The river is
extremely low and over the last month or so, the nights have been very
cold. I am now hoping for a decent run of Autumn salmon.
Good News! Orri Vigfusson and the North Atlantic Salmon Fund have
reached an agreement with the Association of Hunters and Fishermen in
Greenland to suspend the salmon netting off West Greenland. This should
allow more salmon to return to rivers in Scotland and elsewhere. But
still the netting of salmon and sea trout continues in the UK and
Ireland - drift netting in England and Ireland and coastal and river
netting around Scotland. A disgraceful situation, considering it is the
UK and Ireland who will gain from the suspension of netting in
Greenland. A wholly untenable position.
Monday 30th August
River Earn, Strowan
I went up to the road pool at Lennoch. The river is very low. A clear,
still night with temperatures forecast to drop to 4 degrees, not ideal
sea trout conditions. I didn't get any sea trout but did catch three
brown trout, one about a pound on fly/maggot.
That's the end of sea trout fishing on the Crieff water. It will be
interesting to see the Improvement Association report on catches, but I
reckon it must be one of the poorest sea trout seasons on the Earn for a
long time, although I only have two years experience of it so far.
Wednesday 1st September
Lower Glendevon Reservoir
Â£3 permit from Castlehill Treatment Works. A lovely reservoir easily
fished from the bank. Only saw one other fisher. A good west wind, some
cloud cover with sunny intervals. No sign of much trout activity. I was
broken on the strike by a good fish (4 lb nylon). I then lost a fish
well over the pound on a Dunkeld and later had a half pound trout on a
Black Pennell. The half pound fish was full of tiny snails, perhaps the
reason for little surface activity. Good quality fish in lovely
surroundings. I may try again at the beginning of the '94 season.
Sunday 5th September
Loch Earn 4pm - 8pm
A lovely bright, sunny day. The loch water felt warm as the air colled
towards evening. No surface activity. I had one small trout around 4pm.
As I lay on the bank in the late afternoon sunshine, my peace was rudely
interrupted by a helicopter hovering low above me, presumably piloted by
the new owner of Edinample Castle. His gestures from above seemed to
hint that I should clear off - bloody cheek, I suppose he thinks he owns
the place! I pulled my hat over my eyes and ignored him. With the
Protection Order in place and the compulsory purchase of permits, it is
doubtful whether he has the right to exclude fishermen from his
shoreline. I must investigate the legal position.
Saturday 18th September
River Allan 6pm to 8pm - 1 grilse
Alan and I drove up to Kinbuck for our first go at the Allan this year.
The river was at a good height, though approaching the lower limit for
good fishing, with about 6 inches of the stone showing at the old style.
We fished down the back run, where I took a five pound cock grilse after
about half an hour on a size 8 double Magus. Apparently the river had
been about a foot higher and coloured in the morning. Fish had been seen
running in good numbers all day, although not many had been caught.
Saturday 2nd October
River Allan 5pm - 7pm - 1 grilse
I fished down the back run to the Kinbuck run. The river was just
covering the stone and falling and clearing, after being very high and
coloured earlier in the day. It was now reaching a perfect height and
colour, i.e. tea coloured. I concentrated on the top of the Kinbuck run,
wading down close to the bank to avoid the reeds and to make control of
the fly easier. I hooked a fish just below the willow tree at 6.30pm. It
fought stubbornly but unspectacularly and was difficult to control on
the soft 11 1/4 ft rod (built recently on a Bruce and Walker Century
blank. A lovely fresh hen fish of around 5 pounds, taken on a size 8
Magus double (with Jungle Cock).
Monday 4th October
River Allan 5pm - 7pm Alan 1 grilse
Very similar conditions to Saturday. A lovely evening again. We started
fishing as the sun went down, leaving a nice glow in the western sky. We
fished down the back run without success, although I had a good pull
just above the sycamore tree which failed to connect. We then
concentrated on the Kinbuck run and just after 6.30, Alan hooked and
landed a lovely 3 1/2 lb hen grilse, again on a size 8 double Magus with
J/C, his first salmon from the Allan.
Friday 8th October
River Allan 5.30 to 6.30
Even after a dry Friday, the river is still running slightly high -
about a foot too high for the fly, although fish have been taken on the
worm. I will try in the morning before opening the shop - if I can get
out of bed!
Saturday 9th October
River Allan 7.45 to 8.30am 1 grilse
I set the Alarm for 6.15 and finally got up at 7am. It has been a
reasonably dry night but the morning is cloudy with rain threatening.
7.30 would be an ideal time to start, a bit too dark at 7am.
I fished the Kinbuck run from the road side, the left bank, to
save a walk and have more fishing time, before having to leave at 8.30.
The river is at an ideal height. I hooked a fish after about 5 minutes,
again on the size 8 Magus double, a nice fresh 5 lb hen fish which
fought hard on the 10 1/2 ft 6/7 rod (built on a Bruce and Walker
Multitrout blank - great for sea trout). I couldn't exert a lot of pressure
on the fish but I managed to net the fish after a few minutes. I may try
again at 5 pm if heavy showers during the morning don't raise the river
End of Season 1993
A pretty disastrous season for salmon, with no rain in August and
September and only a week's rain in early October, after which it dried
up again until the end of the season. Also a very poor season for sea
trout on the Earn. On the plus side, I made a start on the Allan night
fishing with four nice sea trout caught. Another highlight was Alan's
first salmon from the Allan. I think I might resign my Comrie A.C.
membership next season. I have hardly fished the Comrie water at all
this year. I think that the Crieff water is both more extensive and
probably more productive, for the fly at any rate ... and I can't fish
everywhere! I look forward to next season in the hope of a better run of
sea trout on the Earn and a better supply of water at the back end for
the salmon. Now it's time for grayling!
Total for season
3 salmon (Alan 1)
5 sea trout
Comrie Angling Club Water
click map to enlarge
Crieff Angling Club - Strowan
click map to enlarge
Crieff Angling Club - Drummond
click map to enlarge
The Ginger Pearl with Squirrel Wing
Magus Salmon Doubles
A variant of a fly I first used on the River
Endrick. This version employs fluorescent magenta/pink floss
as a substitute for jungle cock. Since its first outings on
the Endrick, where it took both salmon and sea trout, it has
gone on, in various incarnations, to take salmon from a wide
variety of rivers including
the Earn, Ruchill,
Teith, Allan, Alness, Borgie, Nairn, Dulnain and Dee, and
probably a good many more.