Hold it there and smile for the camera!
Two very special guests had picked up the gauntlet and agreed to do battle with the highland trout. Matthias Six and Elmar Elfers from “Fisch & Fliege” had arrived yesterday to begin
capturing the highlands in their rawest wild beauty for future publication in the pages of their magazine. We were trudging up the hillside to some of my favourite trout hill lochs. The hill is
not a long walk. It’s just demoralizingly steep!
Reaching the top after about 40 minutes we all agreed that a rest was in order. Taking off the rucksacks Matthias spun round and asked what the noise was. I smiled, knowing full well what it was, and was about to say “It will be a couple of torna….” when out of nowhere about 30 metres above us an RAF tornado screamed over our heads. I don’t know who got the biggest shock – Matthias or the pilots! The second one then flew low to our left and passed under us following the hillside. Both Elmar and myself were in fits of laughter but it was Matthias who would have the last laugh…..
The lochs looked perfect. The weather was also playing ball with blue skies interspersed with white clouds racing over the hilltops. Elmar was the first to get into action with a few small
but hard fighting brownies from the “hole” (a deep pool before the main loch) before we reached the loch itself.
It was at this point that I told them both that they were the second and third people to have fished here for the whole year. They couldn’t quite believe it. Advising both about bob flies and points we set about it. Literally after the third cast Matthias shouted, “I have one!” After a hard scrap a fine loch trout of about one and a half pounds was in the net. I smiled, knowing that we could have a good day on our hands! After the fish was photographed, released and the bob fly dried and re-treated the hunt was on again.
“I have another one! It’s bigger than the last one too!” came the call from Matthias. Now, to catch one really nice fish in the first few minutes is a lovely surprise but to then go on and get a bigger one in the next few minutes is nearly laughable. The fish was having none of it and ran time and time again away from him. Soon a fine trout of about two pounds came into view and was quickly netted. Out came the camera and the hip flask again and we had only fished the very start of the loch for about 10 minutes! We were, as you can imagine, very happy indeed!
A few more trout came our way as we fished along the north shore. We were heading towards the next loch when I told Matthias to have a try at the mouth of the burn where the water from the next loch enters. I knew this spot was a good one, with many happy memories from years gone by coming from there. As I watched him cast over the area his rod hooped over and he was telling us for the third time this morning that the trout was again a better one that before. Carefully playing the fish out soon revealed a stunning trout that any fly angler would be ecstatic about.
A beautiful male fish of two and a half pounds lay in the net and we all agreed that this one was a true highland beastie of the highest order! Starting to get ready for spawning, it had golden brown flanks, huge red spots circled in white and the beginning of a kyped jaw. What a fish and what a day so Matthias and Elmar to enjoy!
The rest of our time that day was spent with more trout, plenty more openings of the hip flask and a lot of laughter echoing around the hills. There were no more low flying jets either.
This was to be the main point of today’s activities. The weather had turned a bit nasty with strong westerly winds pushing rain over the hills for miles around. I chose to take both Elmar and Matthias to a loch, which I had arranged to fish from a friend the day earlier. With only a five-minute walk along a small single-track road this was going to make the weather far more bearable. The high bankside on the south and westerly side also made things a bit more fishable than the lochs up in the hills. Make no mistake though, this loch has produced some fine fish over the years and was worth our attentions in earnest.
Being a very small loch it also allowed us to fish nearly the whole length of the banks when the wind allowed us. It was one of those horrible, nasty and swirling winds that allows your line go out straight, change direction and see the flies land anywhere but near the intended target. Confident and undeterred by the weather we fished on – Matthias on one side, myself with Elmar on the other. Directing Elmar to a hot spot saw a good trout come up and miss the sparkle Kate completely. Spurred on by this we fished on with both anglers covering every inch of water perfectly when, at the end of the west bank Elmar’s rod sprang into life and the first trout of the day was played and netted. It wasn’t huge but a fine little trout of about half a pound was a very welcome sight on such a horrible day! I told him to cast straight back to where the trout had come from and lo-behold another trout took almost immediately!
This fish was obviously much bigger than it’s predecessor and started to lead Elmar into a proper highland fling! Twice it leapt clean out of the water in what could only be described as an impression of a Polaris missile. Frantically trying to get my camera out of it’s bag and get the focus ready I was just in time to see Elmar draw a lovely, long trout of about a pound into the net. What a fish! The head was huge with a massive big black eye staring at us. Its body was dotted with black spots leading down to a lovely golden brown belly. Nice one Elmar!!
We were then greeted by my friend George who, after a hard week’s ghillieing on both river and loch, had come down for a few casts and a chat with us. Sadly the weather then deteriorated even more and we made a speedy retreat back to the car and then to the hotel bar to sample some more of the funny brownish yellow water that they serve there. It was a long night…..
Last chance saloon. (Photos to come soon)
We had taken a break on Sunday to dry out (and even maybe wake up) from the previous day’s onslaught. Now we were back at the limestone loch where nearly a week ago I had hooked the almighty only to see it prematurely depart. It was our last day fishing together and hopes were high. Nice overcast skies broken up every 10 minutes or so by the sunshine would do us nicely. The only thing that could make it difficult was the wind. It never ceases to amaze me in Scotland how you can go to sleep after watching the weather forecast with a firm picture in your mind of how the next day will be and wake up in a different universe. The wind was not coming from the west but from the south and as for the light breeze? Hold on to your hats gentlemen, it’s going to be a bit of a wild one!
We started our attack on the south shore, wading out on the sandbank and casting out over the weed beds on the drop-off. Both Elmar and I soon had two fish apiece, both in the half pound bracket. We moved round the west shore and the biggest wind knot imaginable forced me to take a break and tie up a new leader. Catching up to them and casting along the shoreline I suddenly saw a nice fish jump out, open mouthed, after the orange crunch. Away the trout swam and headed straight for the weed beds. Trying to steer the fish away by holding the rod high and applying as much side strain as I dared saw it come out into open water and a long dogged fight took place. With both Matthias and Elmar watching the pressure soon came on to make sure the trout was landed for a few photos and happily the fish obliged. Drawing him towards the net I could see it was a nice one, not as big as the unseen one from a week ago but very much a fine prize – somewhere around the one and a half pounds mark.
With the fish safely released and all the photos that they required in the bag we could now fish “purely for pleasure”. It was a good job I landed it as it was about the only action that out rods saw for the rest of the day.
The last four days had flown by in a blur but everything had been achieved and it was a very happy trio that left for the car at 16:00. They were simply impeccable fly fishermen and fantastic company for the whole period and it makes me all the happier that they got the material that they had come for. The feature article will be in “Fisch und Fliege” early next year (2014) and I’m sure that it will be a fitting tribute and testimony to their time in the highlands.
Nice one guys and mission accomplished!