Scottish Fishing Diary 1993

Needle Tubes and Tube Flies

Scottish Fishing Days and Nights 1993

by John Gray

Fishing Diary 1993

Diary Archive
1985 1996

15th January

Great News! I have been invited to join Crieff 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).

February 1993

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.

Season 1993

I now have permits for the River Earn (Comrie 95, Crieff 105) and the River Allan (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 the hills.

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 arrived.

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, fulmers etc.

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

4 trout

 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 population.

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 again soon!

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

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 too high.

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

next page

Book - Sea Trout Nights



Comrie Angling Club Water

Comrie Angling Club Water

click map to enlarge



Crieff Angling Club - Strowan

Crieff Angling Club Water

click map to enlarge



Crieff Angling Club - Drummond

Crieff Angling Club Water

click map to enlarge






The Ginger Pearl with Squirrel Wing

The Ginger Pearl with squirrel wing







Magus Salmon Doubles

Magus 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.



















 Salmon Spinhead






Grays of Kilsyth

Salmon Flies

Trout Flies

Fly Fishing Knots

Sea Trout Fishing

Sea Trout Flies

Tube Flies

The Tube Fly Shop


 Slim stainless steel salmon and sea trout flies
HMH Tube Fly Tool





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