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Thread: A little Lewis trip with stalking, salmon and bogs.

  1. #1

    A little Lewis trip with stalking, salmon and bogs.

    Now that the trout season is over and things are winding down for all of the fishing I thought to file a little report on some Lewis fishing and stalking. As this is a stalking forum it is probably sensible to start with the deer.

    As you may have seen from the recent report on an attempt at a Macnab at Amhuinnsuidhe the Lewis and Harris stalking is about as wild and remote as it gets and there is very little scope for stepping out of the pickup, shooting your deer, and being home for lunch and there is often no mechanical recovery. In some of the very remote areas the transport to work, when stalking, is a boat (Amhuinnsuidhe also use boats to access some of their stalking) and reaching the deer forest requires a rather nerve wracking jump from boat to slippery seaweed covered rocks. This is the boat departing after leaving me off:

    Once off the boat and up the hill it wasn't long until we were in among the deer and enjoying the views as well:

    The plan for the day was that we were dropped by boat and stalked into the northwesterly wind while the pony boys were dropped away to the north of us and they would walk towards us throughout the day with the hope that we'd meet in the middle. After a great stalk I made a decent shot and the stag was down. As some may recall I use Nosler Partitions as they often put chest shot sika straight down but for some reason this particular stag behaved like he'd not been hit. The strike was good though the exit on the far side was very high, perhaps due to a deflection, and on inspection there was lots of damage in all the right places so I guess it was just one of those things:

    Now it was time to sit in one of the most remote spots in the UK and eat my sandwiches until the ponies broke the skyline and worked down the hill towards us and it must be said that there is nothing nicer than sitting there, wondering what on earth I'd put in the sandwich that made it taste so strange, watching the ponies come in and the eagle circle us and knowing that I wasn't going to be carrying the stag:

    Two ponies came in to us because the younger one with the saddle is in training and they are putting it out with an older pony to teach it to avoid the boggy bits of moor. As you can see, even by the time it got in to us, the younger animal had already managed to make a few bad decisions in terms of where to walk:

    The loading of the stag onto the pony was left in the hands of experts:

    Then began the walk out, the intention was for us to try and shoot another stag while the ponies worked back towards a suitable landing spot for another boat:

    The wind was somewhat tricky for a second beast and in the end we were unlucky and came within a few seconds of being successful but it just wasn't to be. The estate buildings are not so very far from the stalking, if you have a boat, though they are at the end of a 7 mile single track road with no passing places so there isn't a lot of traffic but at the end of the day the stag was unloaded from the pony and carefully lowered over the seaweed onto yet another boat for our return:

    A major part of my interest is in fishing and this year I'd decided to focus on brown trout rather than the salmon or sea trout. This season wasn't especially good for salmon and, being honest, our sea trout run has been very bad indeed though past records show that it does tend to fluctuate like this. Despite the focus on brown trout I did have the occasional cast for a sea trout:

    With the season being so bad the truth is that I probably had 20 finnock and maybe 5 - 10 small sea trout for the few attempts I made on sea trout but I didn't have anything worth getting worked up about.

    Despite saying that I wasn't going to fish for a salmon I gave in during the first week of October. The wind came to the northwest and was cold and it was clear that the brown trout, although still in season, was basically over for another year. The good thing about Lewis fishing is that we have so many options we can always follow the sport and so I took off after a salmon.

    The first day out I had great water and pretty good conditions:

    Despite this, and moving a goodly number of fish, I just couldn't get them to stick and they all dropped off so I found myself in the rather embarrassing situation of catching nothing.

    Undaunted I tried for another day and once more had great water:

    I also managed to bag what might be one of the best parking spots in world salmon fishing:

    I fished pretty hard all day and that is very unusual for me as, mostly, I'm to be found making tea and looking at moss and the actual fishing part of the day fills only a few minutes here and there. However, despite my hard work I reached my lunch spot without a salmon to show for my efforts:

    With lunch over and done with I worked back down the river and things were starting to feel a little hopeless with only two sea trout for the day. This wasn't salmon fishing as I knew it and I'd put in nearly two whole days effort without a fish on the bank. It seemed like it was about time to call it quits. On what was to be the last cast of the day I moved a fish. It was in a tricky position and the water was very disturbed but I was sure I saw it move and so I worked hard to cover it again. It took a few more casts to get the flies to cover the same spot again but up the fish came and me and it were soon connected. It didn't run much, in fact it slowly moved over to join me on my side of the river and took to a bit of head shaking, and a bit of casual swimming up and down. After a while of this I was starting to conclude that it must be quite a decent sized fish as it was showing no signs of giving up and I was unable to bully it. The fish clearly thought it was time for action and so it jumped onto the bank beside me. Now, I'm giving to wondering if there is some sort of protocol to be followed in these situations and that, maybe, if it gets out then it is my duty to get in. At the time I didn't give protocol much thought as the whole event had a significant negative psychological effect upon me: it gave me cause to worry about the second fly on my cast and what would happen if it snagged something on the bank and it also allowed me to conclude that my net wasn't big enough.

    Luckily the estate provide rather large salmon nets which they locate in suitable spots on some of the pools and it was with some relief that I observed one nearby. The net problem was solved and the protocol problem was also resolved when the salmon flapped back into the river where it belonged. As it turned out it was a strong fish and so it belonged in the river for quite some time longer. However, eventually I got it onto the bank and released to go on its way and I snipped off the flies and called myself done for the day.

    The following morning I managed another few hours at salmon and, once more, the water was good and the conditions were lovely for a day out though maybe a shade bright for fishing if we wanted to fight over details:

    My plan for the day was to walk up the river a bit, having a few casts, have my lunch and come back down quickly and that would be me done for the year. With the water looking so good it would have been a shame to just walk and not take a cast or two and that worked out well for me as soon this fellow joined me on the bank for a quick photo:

    Having only a few hours at my disposal I then trotted up the river to my preferred lunch spot and had a quick bit of lunch and some tea. By now I was on dangerous ground in terms of the duration of my fishing pass but on the way back down a really nice bit of streamy water that I'd never fished before attracted my eye and it also produced a fish for me:

    As soon as I released this fish I snipped off the flies and that was my fishing done for another year.

    If I get the chance I might also do a little trout report in due course though I imagine most people are more interested in the deer and salmon than the trout.
    For self catering accommodation on the Isle of Lewis please visit:

  2. #2
    Great write up. I'm in the process of planning my 40th birthday treat in a couple of years. This would be perfect!

  3. #3
    Very enjoyable travelogue as always. Thank you for posting.

  4. #4
    A joy to read and see semi-familiar ground. Which estate do you stalk?

  5. #5
    That was a great read, what a kype that cock Salmon had, spawning soon.
    I enjoyed the stalking piece as well, great seeing the ponies at work.
    Thanks for taking the time to write this up.

  6. #6
    Lovely write up - thank you! Lovely to see the ponies being used - which estate was it?

  7. #7
    Excellent write up and photos, as usual. I see the fish had their autumn colours .

    A clever man knows his strengths, a wise man knows his weaknesses

  8. #8

    Thank you for sharing your time on walkabout - as usual the photos made it for me.


  9. #9
    Brilliant. A great few days sport. Enjoyed reading that write up.

    Alba gu brąth
    Blaser R8 Professional Success 6.5x55, Beretta Silver Pigeon 12g Over&Under

  10. #10
    Great write up with excellent photographs, well done.
    It really is an inspiring location.

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