August Luger 03/08 – 07/08.
After the fun and games of the previous day provided courtesy of the three hour delay of August’s flight and the subsequent late night (not much fun if you know how many red deer we have up North!) drive up to our hotel we were ready and willing to commence battle on Monday morning. We awoke to blue skies and bright sunshine. This was not ideal for our planned trip to a hill loch but what I hadn’t bet on was the wind, which was reaching near gale force along the coast. It all looked so inviting from the warmth of the breakfast room.
Undeterred, we decided to go to a series of lochs not too far away from the beaten track and after about one hour of steady walking we found ourselves at the top of a waterfall and the beginning of the chosen loch where we would begin our fishing.
After a brief introduction to the style of fishing we would be doing I soon gave the perfect example of how it all works, hooking a small trout after the first few casts. Now, I have seen many puzzled looks and heard many desperate gasps from anglers new to loch fishing when the dreaded situation of using more than one fly on the leader is raised but I have to say that August took it in his stride from the start. He was very quickly experiencing what magic could be had in the Highlands and I found myself being stuck behind the camera lens. He also passed the test of not getting into a tangled mess after 30 minutes of casting two flies in a gale force wind.
We worked our way around the loch taking countless numbers of trout up to the 1lb mark and if there was ever a better introduction to Scottish hill loch fishing then I have yet to see it. The only down side to the whole day was when the wind (typically!!!) died at the best spot of the whole loch. That’s just the way it goes and we certainly weren’t too upset by it. Admittedly, things could have been different if we had left our midge nets in the car!
We made our way back to the hotel and happily stuck our feet up, ate like kings and drank a few small ones (honestly!) before getting ready for day two.
This was the worst day by far of the week. It was one of those unforgiving days, known by many Scottish anglers, where the wind simply couldn’t make up its mind
what to do. It blew from the North, South, West, East and everything in between. Add some refreshing little spells of rain into the mix and you have a day where only the strong willed can
survive. Thankfully, for days like these I have got some small, easily reached lochs at hand and we agreed that we should see how it went and possibly make a quick retreat to the hotel if things
To say that it was tough going would have been an understatement. It can be a tough little loch on the best of days but today it was proving to be the proverbial pain in the arse. We both managed two trout up to about 1lb and decided to call it quits. Hopefully the next day would bring more of a smile to our faces.
Well the wind had certainly started to behave itself by now and we had the added advantage of steady cloud cover to add to the near perfect breeze awaiting us at our chosen venue. This is a big loch and one that sees many anglers return empty handed if they go to the wrong point. Thankfully for us the wind was perfect for the best bank to fish from and after explaining a few small safety issues about wading (there are some serious drop offs and going too far out could end in tragedy) we were ready to start. August had just let his flies touch down after the first cast when he turned to look at me. What he didn’t see was a true monster of a trout jump out after his tail fly. Alas, it was all too late and the slack line between him and the fish resulted in a look that we all know only too well in our fishing lives: “what do you mean, strike?”
After I had let my pulse calm back down again we started hitting fish. August had by now practically mastered the basic bank style approach and he could have easily emptied the loch of its entire trout population if he had wanted to. At one point we decided to take a small break and sat down for the equally rewarding experience of two guys simply talking guy stuff. Proper bank side chat that only an angler can, or ever will, understand….
The sun was back out again and so was the wind. It started off as a nice little gentle southerly. Perfect for pushing the boat out on a limestone loch. By 11 o’clock however, it was verging on pointless. To even hold the boat steady was now becoming a waste of time and a quick decision was made to abandon ship and head for the bank. A wise move it proved too…
For anyone new to limestone lochs, let me explain something to you. Take the trout stream from your wildest dreams. Oh yes, and also add the trout that would make you drop everything just to see. Also bring with you the feeling of dejection when they refuse your carefully presented gifts time and time again. Multiply all of this by 10 and you have a limestone loch. They can be the source of awe but the producers of “f##k awe”.
Again, after hours of fruitless casts into the clear blue waters and continuous “ahhs” and “ohhs” and “you bas…!”, August’s perseverance paid off. Just as we were working our way along the final stretch he nailed two lovely trout and lost two more. Between us we had taken six trout, which is far more than most people could hope for on their first time here.
We also bumped into a group of anglers from Glasgow on our way back who provided August with his first real taste of Scottish dialect. It was maybe a little bit cruel from my part but I could not help but stand back from the conversation, which left both parties more than just a little confused. August was thinking, “What in the name of hell is this language that these guys are talking in?” and they were purely puzzled as to why he couldn’t understand them. The benefits of being not only bilingual but also of native blood can truly be the trump card!
August was dead-beat after the long day in the sun and decided to have an early night but I decided to make the most of things when the weather was good and went back later that night. Fishing into darkness I took seven trout with two around the 2lb mark. There is something magical about fishing at this time of the night where you simply have to accept that your normal line of sensory guidance, your sight, is all but useless. The sounds of water gently lapping at your sides, the sensation of loose gravel under your feet, the feeling of the line whipping past you: all of this is deadened when you hear the splash and the line goes tight.
It was August’s last day. The really annoying thing for me was that he had hurt his right knee on the first day’s walking and the place where I really wanted to take him was judged as too much of a climb to reach. We had the perfect weather and an angler who, over the space of the last 4 days, had not only got to grips with the principles of loch fishing but also had proven that he could put it all into practice. All that I can say is that the lochs are waiting for him to come back. I’m sure he would do very well at the place where I really wanted to take him to and I can’t wait to see it one day.
As the sun was back out again we decided to have a last cast at a limestone loch. Today was to be another tough one but yet again perseverance proved to be the winning tactic. The end score was two fish to August and ahem, yes, well, somebody’s got to take the photos. Don’t they?
It was a wonderful five day’s fishing spent in wonderful company. I only wish that he hadn’t hurt his knee. The true gems in the hills eluded him this time but I have a sneaky feeling that he will be back for more. If his perseverance is anything to go by that is. Well done August!