As is my normal pattern I took the first 3 weeks of September off work to fish on the Isle of Lewis and although I had an absolute ball the conditions this year were extremely difficult indeed for the salmon or sea trout angler. The lochs and rivers, and even the sea, are stuffed with fish in huge numbers but there has simply been no water and we have often faced bright sun or flat calm. Even the fisheries promotion officer is describing conditions as "dire." There was a decent flood in May, before the normal run, and another big flood in mid-August and that has reflected the sum total of good fishing water this year, it has literally been a year like no other. However it is great to see so many fish in the systems even if they are not getting caught and, of course, the law of averages means that we will probably have a fantastic season next year.
In saying that on Lewis there is always trout fishing to fall back on and also both salmon and sea trout can be caught in some estuary areas where they often congregate in huge numbers. It is also the case that for many people their interest is in fishing and not just in catching and so they enjoy a good day out. I spent one day on a loch boiling with salmon and sea trout and was getting fish following or swirling at the fly probably on every tenth cast but no matter what fly, or size of fly, I tried I just couldn't get them to take. It was a fantastic, and exciting, day out in the most wonderful location and while it would have been nice to have hooked all those fish I wouldn't have wanted to have been doing anything else in the world.
So, enough rambling on, here are some photos with brief comments which hopefully illustrate yet another Hebridean fishing adventure:
The car parking for the walk in to the remarkable loch mentioned above where fish moved to my flies almost constantly throughout the day. Although the car park looks nice the road up is so steep that you can't see over the bonnet of the car and so have to drive looking out the drivers side window. The bloke on the quad (probably with a stalking party) had the right idea:
You can just see a little spur of the loch sitting in the valley as I walked out to it:
A little spur of the loch with the huge cliff that hangs above it, this cliff overhangs so the knowledge that it might one day drop into the loch adds to the excitement:
Unfortunately all good things come to an end and this is the little fishing hut all locked up as I prepared to head for home. There can't be many fishing spots in the world more dramatic than this:
And back up the hill on the way back to the dramatic car parking spot:
Despite the lack of success on the dramatic loch I also spent some time fishing tidal areas of rivers and an estuary. This is a little river at high tide when a significant number of sea trout moved in but I just couldn't connect with one despite some other anglers in the same area doing quite well. Sea trout are not something I know much about so clearly much work on my fishing is required:
On the same day I also went to an estuary which was boiling with salmon and sea trout but in the bright sun and difficult conditions I don't think anyone managed to connect with anything. This area also holds the most fantastic head of slob trout which run to double figures and feed on the little sea fish. Often the surface of the estuary boils with the little fish escaping from the slob trout and I think an angler with experience fishing fry patterns on a reservoir might clean up here. It is great to have these tidal and estuary options if conditions are not suitable on the lochs or if the fish haven't yet run into the freshwater:
In search of another adventure I headed for a remote loch famous for its big sea trout. The trip out there is an experience in itself and for the angler is certainly something that must be on every list. First you head for the track:
And then it is a case of going up, and over, the hills on a really spectacular drive. Who could fail to enjoy a commute to their fishing when it is like this:
Then it is a case of parking up and starting to walk into the hills until you come upon the most wonderful loch. As you can see it was flat calm and bright for me so success very limited indeed but the loch was, once more, boiling with fish that I just couldn't move or hook:
As if it weren't bad enough having no water it was also flat calm for most of the time. This is considered by some as the best trout loch in the Hebrides and, as you can see, the conditions when I got there weren't ideal for getting fish from it though I did manage some action:
At least with the trout you can usually find a way of getting a fish or two. I was sent out to get some for lunch and in an hour was able to return with these ideally pan sized fish:
Of course it wasn't all fun and games as there were some sheep to be worked at and sent off for sale:
There were also some sheep missing and so I spent a morning out on the moor with the telescope having a good look to see if I could spot them. I could spot plenty of sheep, but unfortunately not the ones I was looking for:
This only makes up a small part of my fishing adventure but I thought some might enjoy the reports and the pictures. Maybe if I get inspiration I will do another report, or maybe report on a day in more detail.