July 2010

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Red sky

What a beautiful view a couple of nights ago as I glanced out the window at 10pm. Best guess I can come up with is a lenticular cloud. I’ve seen lots of these clouds in photos by Galen Rowell, most commonly associated with mountain areas. There are mountains not too far from here I suppose, but whatever caused it I’m glad it did. Perhaps it’s time to call in the cloud busters, aka The Cloud Appreciation Society..

It’s almost a month since I’ve been on a river or loch. And with the hit and (mostly) miss season I’ve been having on most of my usual beats I decided on Sunday that it was time to explore a bit. An important lesson I’ve learned over the past few seasons, however, is that to explore does not necessarily mean to travel far.

So it was with some excitement that a fishing pal and I stalked through woods and across fallow fields towards a hidden stream which slid quietly through the undergrowth. We arrived to find the water running slightly high and with a beautiful Ardbeg tinge. After the barren month of June all this recent rain suddenly felt rather welcome.

We tackled up under a tunnel of overhanging trees. Upstream the late afternoon light crept through the layers of canopy and twinkled all over the streamy runs and pools. The feeling of anticipation on such days is tangibly electric. I wasn’t expecting anything big, indeed that was not the point at all. It was something else, much less describable, to do with the combination of yellow light, yellow bellies and the perpetual flow of clear water.

I flited about between fishing a small dry terrestrial and putting up a similarly small nymphal offering. Hope prevailed (as it seems to when on a river) and on went the dry. Some poor wading, poor casting and generally shocking rivercraft soon put paid to the first few pools. By the time a large, slow bend pool was reached however, I’d come down a few sizes to a no. 22 nondescript grey spinner and was once again feeling optimistic.

After several further failed attempts I finally managed to concoct the right combination of airy cast, steady feet and luck, and the first yellow-belly came scrapping back towards me. A couple more followed before we moved upstream as the sun dropped lower and coolness started to fold itself around the valley.

I switched to a wee brown-wire nymph, but our dutiful comrade stuck to his guns with a dirty duster and was rewarded with a pool of multiple rising trout. A couple of LDRs followed before finally his first brownie of the season came to hand, followed in quick succession by a brace more.

Twenty minutes later and the fish were still sipping at some indeterminable surface offerings, but a mutual decision was made to draw things to a close and go in search of a mucherious goodfoodus (pizza). This we achieved with not even a hint of a long distance release.

Well I finally got around to ordering Bruce Sandison’s essential guide to the rivers and lochs of Scotland. It arrived this morning and it certainly looks like a very handsome refresh of the last edition, complete with a smattering of nice pictures and updated/new details for many waters.

My opinion (which many others seem to share) is that it’s basically essential for anyone fishing in Scotland, be it regularly as I do, or for a holiday. I bought it direct from Bruce, which meant he kindly signed it with a short quotation from Norman MacCaig as I requested. More details over on the (excellent) Wild Fishing Scotland web forum. If you prefer Amazon, it’s for sale here as well.

My favourite comment about the (original) book comes from Bruce’s son, who called it “the finest work of angling fiction ever written”. All in good humour, of course.

Mildly amusing case of the lost Shackleton whisky over on the BBC website. Looks like an outstanding marketing oportunity for the distiller involved..


All this changeable weather we’re having is playing havoc with the river levels. I suppose it’s a good thing given the incredibly dry May/June period. It’s also a good thing because some of the evening skies over the past days have been terrifically beautiful.

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