Scottish Fishing Days and Nights 1994
by John Gray
Sunday 9th January
River Clyde 12 - 4 pm 2 grayling
A fairly dry, mild morning after rain during the night. I first
tried the Rock Hole above Thankerton, after crossing the river with
difficulty well upstream. I fished a gold bead orange shrimp (orange
antron with gold wire body) on the dropper, with sweetcorn on the tail
hook below. I had a lovely grayling soon after starting on the orange
shrimp, a 1 1/2 pound cock fish which was difficult to control in the
strong current. Feeling the river was a bit high for this pool, I
decided to run down to Hyndford to try the island stream, where I took
another solitary fish of 1 lb, again on the orange shrimp. I had the
company of the young collie from the adjacent farm. He ran up and down
the bank following my float. I finished before dark. A pleasant day out
on the river. The same orange shrimp had taken another solitary grayling
from the Gask beat of the Earn in the Christmas week.
River Earn 2pm - 4.30pm 1 kelt
A nice spring day, occasional cloud with glimpses of
sunshine early on and clouding over and cooling later. The river had
been in high spate the day before but had now dropped to a good fishable
height. No other fishers seen.
I fished Dornoch Dam and saw only two fish show all afternoon. I
had elected to spin using an 8 1/2 ft cane rod and a Daiwa
PG1350 reel, which was a bit on the small side for heavy spinning. I
tried out several lures, including a Tasmanian Cobra - a good weight of
13 grams and a nice fluttering action, but needs a good swivel; a diving
plug with a good action but a bit light at 8 grams, even on 10 lb line;
and finally a heavy Flying C, a French version with gold blade and
natural latex tail, on which I hooked and landed a strong though
unexciting kelt, fairly well mended at around 8 lbs. A good tests for
the rod and a bit of early excitement for the start of the season. I
much prefer fly fishing, though, and now look forward to the start of
the brown trout season on the Allan and Earn, since there will be little
chance of sport with salmon until around August, or with sea trout until
late May. The likely timetable will be:
Trout - March, April, May
Sea Trout - May, June, July, August (nights)
Salmon - August, September, October
Grayling - November, December, January, February ( mainly on the
I may try the Clyde again for grayling before the end of February
if the river drops. We have had too much rain during January. I must
enquire, too, about grayling permits on the lower Earn, maybe at Dupplin
Estate, for next winter. I must now write to cancel my Comrie A. C.
My trout season has been delayed by:
1) The atrocious weather - the wettest March on record I think and
heavy snow on April 5th. The water temperature of the lochs is probably
at its lowest ever for the start of the trout season.
2) I have a lot of work to do in the house - replacing ceiling
after burst water tank. Hopefully I'll have it sorted before the sea
trout appear ... if they do this year!
Weather-wise, it's been a poor start to the season, after a very
cold, wet winter which extended well into April. May has been the
coldest I can remember with a continuous east wind for the first three
weeks, although May has been dry. The lochs and rivers are still very
cold. What we need now is a bit of rain from the south west to top
up the rivers and bring in some sea trout by June.
Monday May 30th (holiday)
Loch Ba 9am to 12 noon
A cool day with a strong wind, blustery at times. Some trout activity
in sheltered spots but very little response. I caught one decent trout
about half a pound which fought well, plus one or two others returned. I
considered walking to Loch Laidon but decided to leave it for a better
Loch Lubhair ( between Crianlarich and Killin )
By the time I started here, the wind if anything had strengthened but
I managed a lucky fish of half a pound in a sheltered bay. Both trout
had taken a black hackled, claret seal's fur spider with orange tail.
I took the Killin Angling Club day ticket at £4. The river was low so
I fished the faster streams and pots about a mile above Killin. I had
excellent sport with small trout, keeping the best at half a pound.
It has been the driest May since 1984 - almost a whole month without
rain, after a very wet March and April. Rain is forecast for the latter
part of this week so I may get some sea trout fishing on the Allan and
Earn, especially if night temperatures rise from the maximum of 5
degrees they have been stuck at for the past month. The waters are still
cold. The keeper on the Earn says there have been salmon and sea trout
caught on the Crieff Club water. I have tried the lower Templemill pool
with no sign of sea trout., the river high and cold.
Wednesday 1st June
Drummond Loch 4pm - 9pm
5 brown trout
I took an evening boat out on Drummond Loch, which has been leased by
Crieff Angling Club. As a member, I can book a boat at £10 per day (£15
for two rods) or £6 per evening. The loch is boat fishing only. The
banks are so overgrown, either with trees, reeds or water lilies, that
bank fishing would be impossible. There is an excellent jetty with three
good sized fibreglass boats.
Weather conditions were excellent between 4pm and 7pm, when the
breeze died away. I fished a cast of Kate McLaren, Greenwell's and
Dunkeld, all size 12, and between 4 and 7pm had trout on all of them.
The trout were in lovely condition, although one or two showed their
origins as stock fish with slight imperfections in the tail fins.
Excellent sport nonetheless, with five trout weighing about 7 lbs, the
largest around 2 pounds. The breeze returned later but it was cooler and
the fish stayed down. All in all, an excellent facility for club
members, and indeed visitors, who may also hire boats. Excellent sport
in an absolutely magnificent setting - really beautiful.
Thursday 9th June
I have fished the lower Templemill pool once when generation water
was running -the water level about 6 inches below the stone - with no
sign of sea trout, although I took two nice trout, one over a pound. On
the 9th, the generation stopped and the river level dropped a foot. The
pool is still running at a nice night level but still no sign of sea
trout. A nice fish came out of the water in the upper pool about 1 am
but I got no response from it. Air and water temperatures have been very
low. I'll try again later in the month.
I had an afternoon on the Earlsburn Loch courtesy of Stuart Graham. A
rough track beyond the locked gate leads to this nice remote loch, very
similar to Johnny's dam. The west wind was cold and gusty, far from
ideal, but I caught three small wild trout and missed several others. I
hope to join the club at Â£20 a year.
Wednesday 15th June
Edinample, Loch Earn
A nice day, cool with a strong north west wind, gusty at times. Good
sport with mainly wild, indigenous Loch Earn trout. I caught ten and
kept three. The lochside has been spoilt a bit by the motor tricycles
hired out by the new owner of the castle. No helicopters out after me
this time at least! Still no rain to speak of. I hope we get some decent
water in the rivers before the end of June.
Saturday 18th June
We've had about an inch of rain today, giving a decent flow on the
Garrell burn. Hopefully there has been a rise on the Allan to bring in
fresh sea trout (or liven up fish already in the river). Night
temperatures seem to be rising.
Monday 20th June
The River Earn had risen over the weekend, though now slightly on the
high side for night fishing. Fairly heavy rain again on Monday night,
which will likely raise levels further in both the Allan and Earn,
surely enough to attract a fresh run of sea trout. I have heard of sea
trout at Aberuthven.
Wednesday 22nd June
Drummond Loch 4pm - 11pm 2 trout
The loch had just been restocked. Very windy with a cold NW wind,
which made for difficult rowing. A bright sun combined with the cold
gusty wind made fishing difficult. The water was dirty, either due to
algae or to the shallow loch bed being churned up by the wind.
The wildlife is superb, with thirty plus swans, ducks, herons,
cormorants, divers and a pair of Ospreys circling the loch. In the
evening one came down and had a go at fishing in the loch, I think
unsuccessfully. There was plenty of fly life but the cold wind kept the
fish down, although I eventually caught two at about a pound each and
lost a few more. One other boat had a few fish by stripping lures quite
fast. Good value at £6 for an evening boat.
Thursday 30th June
Allan Water (Narrows)
A mild, calm night to begin with and some high cloud cover. Plenty
insect and fish movement at dusk, mainly trout but some sea trout among
them. There was no wind so fish would be easily disturbed by careless
movement in or out of the water but, fearing that temperatures might
drop rapidly later on, I took the risk and began a little early at 11pm,
with a size 10 Kate McLaren on the dropper and a goose (from the wings
collected earlier) and claret on the tail with one or two maggots. I had
several tentative offers and hooked a sea trout of about two pounds but
it didn't stay on for long. The temperature did drop and fish activity
slowed after midnight. I gave up at 1 am. There was a good flow. With a
light westerly wind and some cloud cover to keep temperatures in double
figures, the Allan should fish well. fished the Earn at Templemill once
or twice recently, although the river has been a little high for night
fishing. The water has remained cold also, probably due to generation
water from the power station. On the other hand, this extra water may
have brought some sea trout in and it should be worth fishing through
Sunday 3rd July
River Earn - midnight - 1.30am
At Templemill, the river had dropped to what appeared a perfect
height. A very mild, humid night with low cloud cover - perfect
conditions, or so it seemed .... but still no sea trout!. Very often,
bats would fly into the fly line or touch it on the water, giving
momentary hope. I should perhaps concentrate on the Allan, or elsewhere
on the Earn!
Wednesday 6th July
Loch Earn 1 trout, 1 finnock
I fished the north shore, about a mile to the east of the fish farm.
Good cloud cover, warm and humid with a good south easterly wind (hence
the choice of the north bank), with the treat of thunder. The wading was
dodgy, with many large stones. In fact, I tripped over a large stone
while wading waist deep, and was soaked head to foot, only managing to
keep my hat dry! As it was warm, I wrang out my shirt, dispensed with
the wet waistcoat, changed temporarily into thigh waders and continued
fishing. Of around a dozen offers, one or two from good trout, I hooked
three or four, keeping only one, a specimen of 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, which
put up a strong fight. I fished here till about 7.30 then drove along to
the antique shop at St Fillans, where I missed a few more trout but
landed what looked like a finnock - half a pound in weight, slim and
silver with black spots, forked tail and easily shed scales. I return it
in the hope that it would return next season, a little bigger.
Friday 15th July
River Allan 11pm - 1am 2
Success at Last!
The river was running low, a fairly calm night with good cloud cover
but forecast to clear and cool to a minimum of 9 degrees. It remained
quite light until midnight, although there was no moon. There was no
sight or sound of sea trout until about midnight, when the odd fish was
heard moving. There was no sign of fish at the top of the beat, so I
moved down to the narrows, where I touched one or two small trout before
midnight, when I resorted to a couple of maggots on the flies. I took
the first sea trout at 12.20 and a second at 12.30, one cock and one
hen, both about 1 3/4 lbs and both very lively. After short hectic
fights, both were netted easily enough but, in the process, the water
was badly disturbed. Both fish were very fresh, particularly the
hen fish. Both were in good condition if a little thin - maybe a
characteristic of Allan sea trout. It should be emphasised that stealth
is essential on the Allan at night in low water. It is risky to start
before it is properly dark, especially on a still night.
Tonight I used the Century rod, DT5F Aircel, 6 lb Maxima and two size
Monday 18th July (Holiday)
I took a Â£5 day ticket on the Oban and Lorn Angling Club waters, a
choice of about thirty hill lochs, lying to the north of the Kilmelford
- Avich minor road. A very energetic, very hot day with little cloud and
only the very occasional breeze - not an ideal fishing day!
A stiff climb brought me to the first loch in about 40 minutes. Here
I took one small trout, with a pair of black throated divers for
competition. I was also plagued all day by flies. I walked on to the
next loch, where I gain took one small trout, this time with a pair of
ravens for company. Then on past the Gully loch, which was overgrown
with lilies, to the upper loch, Dubh Mor, probably the nicest of the
three in the chain. There was a good quality fibreglass boat, tied up
but not locked. I made use of the boat but the bright weather and lack
of wind made the fishing difficult, although there was a brief rise
during which I caught one other small trout. I had a swim in the loch
before giving up and making my way back down the hill at 7 pm, casting
here and there as I went, at the end of which I had a tremendous drouth,
satisfied by a most welcome pint in the hotel in Kilmelford.
On the way back, I had a few casts in Loch Avich, catching one trout
and missing another. Signs were posted on the loch warning of an
outbreak of blue/green algae.
Wednesday 20th July
River Earn 11pm - 1 am
Templemill again, the river very low, with a full moon, eventually
hidden by cloud. By 1 am conditions seemed virtually ideal .... but
still NO FISH!
Wednesday 27th July
River Allan. - 11pm - 1am
The level had dropped back again after a 6 inch rise the day before.
A nice night, fairly mild with 2/3 moon and occasional cloud. No sea
trout activity and very little trout activity. Soon after I started
something, probably a mink, swam upstream on the far side of the stream.
Perhaps his put a damper on things. All was still and quiet. Even the
sheep and birds were abnormally silent. I had tried Ashfield dam earlier
in the week - dangerous wading but may be worthwhile for both sea trout
at night and salmon in higher water.
Monday 1st August
River Allan, Ashfield 11pm - 1am
A very humid, still night, minimum temperature 12 degrees. The level
had dropped back after a very small rise the day before. Sea trout were
moving in the slow stream and the tail above the mill lade. The river
was fairly shallow here and easily wadable, in the tail section at
least. I perhaps disturbed fish in the tail by wading too hurriedly. I
tried the dam briefly but the street lights are very bright and must
surely make fish wary. I later spent an hour at the narrows with no sign
of fish ( as in previous visit). I may try Ashfield again - very handy
Having spent so much time, unrewarded, in my search for sea trout,
should I not be engaged, more sensibly, in a branch of the sport which
will bring more in the way of fish? Rainbow trout at £10 per session
chasing put and take fish with no tails? brown trout? certainly if
decent wild brown trout fishing can be found within a reasonable
distance. Salmon? Most certainly if rain would fill the rivers. Coarse
fish? Maybe but they would be a poor substitute for sea trout ...
despite a certain attraction in early morning tench on the canal.
August 7th - 10th
Holiday in York. A nice town. Since starting a collection of fishing
books and old maps, I am always on the lookout for a bargain. On the way
down we stopped off at the Thirst car boot sale, where I picked up a lot
of about 30 cloth backed Bartholomew's 1/2 inch maps for a tenner. I
also visited book shops in York and Harrowgate, where I found books by
Balfour-Kinnear, J Ashley-Cooper, H Turing, Anthony Buxton, Carter-Platts
etc. Passed through the York Dales on the way back - a nice area for a
holiday, maybe a spot of trout or grayling fishing.
Wednesday 18th August
Loch Earn - 2pm to 10pm 2 brown trout
Still no rain for the rivers so I had a run up to Loch Earn. A bright
day with changeable wind and only very occasional cloud cover. I had one
fish of a pound early on a Greenwell's size 12 and the only other fish
of any size, a good stock fish of 2 lbs, at 10pm in Edinample bay on a
size 12 Blae and Yellow. A recent stocking included fish of four pounds
I hear. I watched small dark sedges swarming over shallow water in the
early evening, frantically searching, it seemed, for a mate, after which
paired insects made for dry land. These sedges could be represented by
small dark sedge-like flies, e.g. grouse and claret or fiery brown in
sizes 16 and 14.
Thursday 19th August
River Earn (Cutwater) 10pm to 11pm
The river is again very low but it was a nice night with good cloud
cover hiding a full moon. This is a nice pool which may fish better in
higher water ... and if there was a stock of sea trout present, of which
there was no sign at all!
Tuesday 24th August
Heavy rain overnight and through the morning put the Allan in a
fairly high, dirty spate. It began to drop by evening but still too
dirty to be fishable with fly.
Wednesday 25th August
River Allan 7am - 8am
The river has dropped too low with no sign of salmon.
Having risen four feet yesterday, the River Earn is now at a good fly
height but again no sign of salmon.
Wednesday 1st September
Loch Turret 3pm - 8pm 2 trout
I had thought of Loch Earn and its newly stocked brownies but decided
on Loch Turret, which I hadn't fished before. I fished without a permit
as Boyd's shop was closed. A nice loch above the hydro dam at the head
of the old Turret valley. The low water level revealed a fairly steep
shoreline varying from small pebbles and sand to clay to large scattered
boulders with some soft peaty patches at intervals along the shoreline.
Fairly cloudy with an east wind with a steady drizzle developing later.
A nice ripple but, being at 2000 ft, it felt on the cool side. No sign
of any surface activity until later in the afternoon, when I caught 2
lovely half pounders, the first of which, a plump fish with red spots,
reminded me of the trout we caught as boys on the River Avon. I also
lost or missed a few more. I met water board workers who told me that a
season permit was available for £6.
Wednesday 14th September
Drummond Loch 2.30 to 5.30 8
trout (weight 10lbs)
The Allan is running low, the River Earn at a better fly height, but
I decided on an afternoon on Drummond Loch. A fair wind was blowing from
the east, making a steady ripple, just about perfect. Full cloud cover
of varying density and reasonably bright light. I was the only boat out
of the three and, as I rowed out from the jetty having set up the rod
with three size 12 flies on a 5 lb leader - Grouse & Green, Greenwell's
and Black Pennell on the tail - trout were rising well to a good
hatch of fair size olives. They rose well to my offerings, too and on
the first drift I had four lovely trout, averaging about 1 1/4 lbs, in
the boat. They didn't seem to be too selective, as I had fish on all
three flies. The second drift produced another two trout about the same
weight, by which time I had changed the Grouse & Green for a Blae &
Yellow with ginger hackle and a tippet tail. Things went quieter for a
time, the peak of the rise having passed ( between 2 and 3pm) but
between 4 and 5pm I had a good response to a Pearly Wickham's tail fly
around the middle of the loch, which seemed to be the most productive
drift. I added another two fish to my tally, which I released as I had
reached my 6 fish limit. All in all, a great three hours fishing, with
swans, geese, cormorants, ducks and coots for company. My best fish of
the day was a lovely well marked, full tailed brownie of around 2
Wednesday 28th September
Still no rain! I met John Webster in Crieff the other day and he told
me he'd had about 12 sea trout from the Earn, mainly around the Willows
stretch, just above Dornoch Dam and only a few hundred yards below
Templemill, where I had been concentrating my efforts. His fish were
caught mainly in May and June, some a good size of three to four pounds.
It seems That I may have been fishing in the wrong place!!!
Thursday 20th October
At last ... it's raining! and has been for most of the day. With luck
it will continue long enough to give us a spate on the rivers.
It has been the driest fishing season in my experience, with only one
or two small spates on the Allan and one four foot spate on the Earn,
which ran off in a day. Alec Johnston tells me that he has had 19 sea
trout averaging about 3 lbs from the Endrick, mostly from the Dam at
night, so all is not lost. I may consider rejoining the LLAIA but I'll
give the Earn at least another year of night fishing first.
Friday 21st October
River Allan 8am - 9am
A clear dry morning, a little cool. The river is running at a perfect
height at Kinbuck, having been at least a foot higher yesterday. I
fished the steam from the Kinbuck side for an hour without an offer,
although I saw two fish move. Probably a bit early in the day, as the
sun is not up yet. There should be a few fish caught today but I must
get back to open the shop!
Monday 24th October
Rivers Allan and Earn
The water level was just a bit on the low side. I heard of one or two
fish caught on the Allan and a few coloured fish on the Earn but I had
The rivers were high the next day, Tuesday, when many fish were
caught on both rivers .... when I was working of course!
Wednesday 26th October
Again the river just running a few inches too low. I fished for an
hour of so down as far as Johnson's before setting off for the Earn.
The river is running at a good spinning height, having been even
higher yesterday, when a good number of fish were taken. Today fish were
still being caught, on both spinner and fly. I tried Comrie, Lennoch and
Crieff, where I witnessed a thirty pound cock fish being landed below
Crieff bridge on a red/gold/black Devon minnow. Most fish were being
taken on Flying Condoms, though. Several salmon were caught on fly in
the run below the Turret burn. I must give it a try from the left bank (
It would need a 14ft rod I think ). I also heard that club member Archie
Cameron had 50 sea trout this season, mainly from the Coup. I must try
harder next season!
Monday 31st October
Last day of the season. Very heavy rain in the morning resulted in
rising rivers during the rest of the day. I fished the Allan and Earn
with no result, both rivers being too high for effective fly fishing,
with the additional problem of leaves, particularly on the Earn. I
fished the Turret burn stream with a 13 footer. It would be a nice
stream to fish with the river just a little lower. It may also be worth
trying for sea trout at night. Handy parking at the playing fields.
The best laid plans ......
All in all my worst sea trout and salmon season ever.
Sea Trout - 2 (River Allan)
Salmon - 0
One or two good days of brown trout fishing, particularly on
Drummond Loch, offered some little compensation.