Monday 18/08/14The morning saw me wake early to a nice wind blowing the sunshine and clouds down the loch. Quickly packing away the tent and locking up the shed I felt that today could be a good one. Everything looked perfect. I was soon off down the road towards Scourie where I had arranged to meet Ralf prior to his day’s fishing. Ralf had fished with me in the previous year and was back for more and this time the weather appeared to be on our side. He had suffered a dreaded flat calm last year for almost all of his fishing time. After meeting up we were soon down at the loch and getting the boat ready for our day afloat. After putting the rods together and making up the leaders I opened my fly box and gave him a kate mclaren muddler and a peter ross. Both these flies had been working well over the weekend with over 10 sea trout being landed on the Saturday due to their combined magic. We rowed out and started our first drift with high hopes of silver and brown filling the net. We drifted along the near bank for the first 30 minutes without a single touch. I couldn’t believe it! Not a single touch! Back up went the boat and we started drift number two with both of us sitting like coiled springs waiting for the water to explode.
Again we drifted for 30 minutes without a single bite and I started thinking that the gods had been annoyed by our weekend success on the loch. I brought the boat as close to the shore as I dared and held it there as Ralf cast out towards the ledge. After 10 minutes of nothing I decided that we should move on when Ralf announced that he had a fish on. I looked at his barely bent rod and told him to bring it in quickly so that we could head back up when suddenly the rod arched over and the reel began to scream. I looked down at the rapidly emptying reel and realised that if this was as big as I thought it might be then we were going to have to give chase but Ralf expertly began to apply enough pressure on the reel to halt the fish and turn it back towards the boat. The unseen monster then plunged deep underneath the boat forcing Ralf to plunge his rod under the water to stop the fish making contact with the hull of the boat. Shortly after that it turned and came up to the surface and at this point I could see the size of what was on the other side. “Ralf, you are forbidden to lose this trout! Do you hear me?” I shouted, totally lost now with excitement. It is not often in a Highland fly angler’s life that such an impressive trout is hooked. I have seen big trout before and this was truly a special fish. Ralf was wearing his normal glasses and therefore did not have the polaroid advantage that I had so he was completely oblivious to exactly what he had hooked. He played the fish out over the next 5 minutes and soon it lay before the waiting net. With one last attempt to gain its freedom denied it was gently slid over the rim and we had it! Well done Ralf! It was only when I lifted it briefly out of the water that Ralf saw the sheer size of the trout. Quickly putting the netted trout back into the water we rowed the 10 metres into the side of the loch so that we could compose ourselves for a few photos before releasing the fish. I always advocate this technique of retaining a fish of a photo is going to be taken. Put the netted fish in the water at the bankside until everything is ready. A poorly prepared camera, a nervous hand, no time for the fish or the anglers to settle down or over eagerness to hoist the fish up for the winning pose can have devastating consequences for a fish that is to be returned. If it’s going to be kept then there is no issue but fish of this size (especially prior to the breeding season beginning) should really be returned to fight another day. The photos were over in less than 30 seconds and after a quick weight check Ralf was soon releasing 4 and a half pounds of wild brown trout back into the murky depths. So long big fish, see you again maybe?
How do you get back into a day’s fishing after that? We just sat there on the bank in a daze of astonishment. Did that really just happen??? Well it did, and we pushed the boat back out to have another go. Ralf managed another five trout up to just over a pound and also his very first ever sea trout – two of them! It was an even happier angler than last year who left me that afternoon. His attention and drive are a true credit to him and the difference from last year - someone has really been practicing! Ralf has lain down the gauntlet for every Wildside customer. Beat that, if you dare!