About a week ago I managed a "quick" week on Lewis with a pass for some fishing.
Lewis is not a spring salmon fishery and it is too early for the sea trout to be a serious proposition as yet so brown trout were the main area of interest. However, I had the flu in March and it has really knocked me back so I wasn't for walking big distances and so decided that some salmon fishing might be worth a try along with a cast for trout.
There are some trout lochs on Lewis that can produce really big fish, at least for a wild fish, and there are a few places where a 5lb fish is possible. Actually there are a few lochs where a double figure fish is possible but these almost always have cages on them for farmed salmon and so are feeling the benefit of the extra nutrient input. It seems to me that 5 - 6lb is as big as a wild Lewis trout will go on a loch with no human interference.
As it was on the day I got a fishing pass for some trout fishing I headed for two lochs that tend not to produce big fish, in fact one seems only to produce a few tiny fish while the other will produce nice fish but they seem to top off around the 1lb mark.
The loch with the few small fish was really just for the walk and as a nice lunch location but it did produce a few small fish for me:
The "better" loch is quite a nice spot to fish and usually does well with a good, strong, warm southerly wind. On the day I had a pretty cold wind but even so enjoyed the day out:
I only really had the morning to fish and had to head for the car as soon as lunch was eaten but I had about 10 of these little wild trout and while none were large, and they were all returned, I love fishing for these little wild fish in remote spots:
On the following evening I headed to another loch for a quick few hours and was presented with a plastic bag as I was going out the door so I took this as a hint. As it was I got lucky and returned with two decent trout to provide dinner. Unfortunately I didn't think to take any photos.
On the Monday I had decided to take a run up a river for a salmon and a local angler, who'd never been to this particular place, joined me for the day. Usually I like to fish alone in as remote a spot as I can find but it was most enjoyable to have a partner in crime:
Unlike last May the water this year was at more typical May levels and it is hard to know if this is a good or bad thing, in one way it makes the fishing a little harder and the fish probably a little less willing to take but in another way it might make the bigger spring fish hold up in the pools waiting for water to move them up the river, so each pool could have a few big springers lurking in it:
The chances of a spring fish are very low indeed but this is one of the most productive places to stand and cast for a salmon anywhere in the UK so it is always worth giving it some attention, and I lost a big spring fish in this pool at the end of May last year:
As it was I finished the day with one sea trout which put up a fantastic fight and felt like a much bigger fish than it actually turned out to be. However, that wasn't the story of the day. On heading back to the bus stop (the local angler was going to meet the bus) we were spotted by another local angler and the keeper of a neighbouring river who were driving past. They pulled in for a chat and mentioned that the local chap had a 16lb springer. We all laughed at the great joke, and then they showed us the photos of an absolutely perfect fresh run 16lb fish, certainly one of the best looking salmon I've ever seen. While that was remarkable enough the full story as to its capture was even better: the angler had come over to the river on the bus and so didn't bother with a landing net. He then hooked this amazing fish on a pool that is, basically, a hole in the peat with 3 foot peat banks dropping straight down into the water. So, he got on the phone to the keeper to ask him to get the argocat out, find a landing net and get up the river ASAP. The keeper obliged and at some point during the 20 - 30 minutes it took him to get up the river the angler broke his fly rod on the salmon. So there he was with 6ft of broken rod fighting a 16lb springer with only the distant sound of an argocat engine to keep his spirits up!! What can I say? This is certainly a story that will eventually become another Lewis fishing legend and I'm sure the fish will eventually become 50lb. By the time I was talking to him his hands were still shaking, but the fish was landed and then returned to go on its way.
Over the week there was also work to be done, and for some unfortunate reason a lot of it involved a product called Postcrete, however even some of the "working" days out were enjoyable and gave good views of the village:
The big problem with Lewis fishing is that there is just so much of it, maybe if they reduced it by 90% you'd have a chance of doing it all in a lifetime but in a week there simply isn't time to sleep and even then you only get to do a small percentage of what you wanted done. The day before I had to ship back out I hit another local river with thoughts of a spring salmon in my head. I did, once more, manage a sea trout though to be honest this one was a wee finnock but the spring salmon eluded me once more. Despite this I had a great day out and a wonderful wander up the river dropping by some famous pools that I've not visited in 15 - 20 years:
Already I'm starting to plan the next day out and trying to decide if it should be for wild brownies in a remote loch, or a sea trout, or even a salmon. It will be a few more weeks before I manage more Lewis fishing and by that time the salmon and sea trout should be starting to move up a gear so it leaves the angler with a lot of tricky decisions, and I'm not good at stuff like that :-)