Scottish Fishing Diary 1994

Needle Tubes and Tube Flies

Scottish Fishing Days and Nights 1994

by John Gray

Fishing Diary 1994

Diary Archive
1985 1996

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.

Wednesday 2nd February

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 Clyde)

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. membership.

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 day.

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.

River Dochart

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.

8th June

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 £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 July.

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 sea trout

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 8 flies.

Monday 18th July (Holiday)

I took a £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 for parking.

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 pounds.

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 no luck.

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

Rive Allan

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.

River 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.

1994 Season

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.

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