A Hebridean trout, sea trout and salmon adventure

#1
Back at the start of the month I managed a few days fishing for trout, salmon and sea trout. Now I well knew that I was a little too early for the salmon and as it turned out I was also early for the sea trout, or they were a little late for me. Either way it was a fantastic few days out.

Most of my interest is in the brown trout fishing and so I set off with my tent for a night wandering the moor and visiting a few lochs on the way. The trout in these lochs are not large and that I know of a big fish has never been taken from any of the lochs I visited but they produced good numbers of small trout that fought well and gave me great sport. I've recently gone to a more lightweight camping setup for my nights out and this was my gear at the first small loch where I stopped for a cast:



As I walked I was met with some nice views, the clouds were heavy and gave me a few periods of heavy rain but when the sun broke through it did light up the countryside well:



This time of year is said not to be good for brown trout fishing but to be honest I never find it any worse than any other time of year plus the more is alive with plants and animals. Even the very common stuff adds a bit of colour and interest to the loch side:



On arriving at my destination loch I spotted some deer in the distance and as I'd no binos with me I took a wee stalk in for a closer look and a quick photo and this delayed dinner by half an hour or so:



Eventually I returned to a disused shieling where I intended to make my dinner, these old buildings were where the local people stayed when they put their cattle to summer pasture and although most are now disused there are some still in use with quite a few fulfilling a role as a sort of very remote man-shed:



The shieling provided the ideal spot to get the stove going:



Once dinner was over it was time to get the tent up and to start to think about getting settled in for the night:



The evening didn't produce a great sunset but with the big clouds and rain showers and areas of blue sky I got a lot of really weird lighting effects:



The next morning the heat in the tent woke me just after 8 as the sun strengthened so I got up, made breakfast in my shieling and headed back towards the road fishing a few lochs on the way:



Lewis has some fantastic sea trout fishing and so I also took myself for a cast at sea trout on a local river. That I know of all the sea trout fishing is done in daylight and a small fly is often the key to catching a fish. Some exploring of the river revealed that I was a little too early and the fish simply hadn't come in from the sea as yet. Some areas of the river are tidal:



But others look like more traditional sea trout or salmon water:



Despite the almost total lack of water I did manage one small sea trout about 1.5lb for my trouble and, of course, the main run started into the river just a few days after I returned to work so I'll have to catch up with them when I'm next free:



As a further adventure I set out to a very remote loch that holds both salmon and sea trout, it is quite a long walk but it makes for a fantastic fishing location even though it didn't, as yet, hold big numbers of fish. Even without the fishing the journey to the car park and the walk to the loch would count as a day out in their own right so here are some general photos of the walk:







On arrival at the loch there wasn't much of a wave on the water and things didn't look too promising:



I was soon holed up in the hut making tea and cooking lunch and such important things:



There were certainly a few salmon in the loch but there seemed to be a very many more sea trout and many of them seemed to be lying out of reach of the bank (I always fish from the bank as I hate boats) but none the less I took off my Park Shrimp on the point and replaced it with another blue fly to match the Donegal Blue on my top dropper and within a few minutes my new "sea trout" fly hooked me a very small grilse of around 3lb which was quickly photographed and released:



After a little bit of success on the loch for a salmon I gave a small Lewis river a cast for salmon on the day before I departed. I was joined by a local angler and he was soon attached to a fish and I managed this very lucky photo of it jumping as he was playing it:



The fish put up a great fight and was soon returned to the water:



I was soon into a reasonable cock grilse of maybe nearly 5lb myself, though it put up a pretty dour fight that mostly consisted of it sulking, and it was quickly photographed by my fellow angler and returned to carry on its journey:



After much making of tea, as is the tradition, plus a good lunch I moved another fish which I eventually got to grab my orange muddler on the top dropper but, unfortunately, I failed to hook it. However I discovered that there was one tiny patch of water where, if I could accurately land my fly, I moved a fish for every cast. However I just couldn't get this fish to touch the fly, all I saw was a big, deep, boil every time I hit the spot. Having observed that the fish was coming to the orange muddler every time I decided to take my silver stoat off the point and replace it with something fairly large and orange and so on went an orange flamethrower. On the next cast I hit the spot and had a savage take from the fish that had given me such sport. I'd guess it was nearly half an hour from my first moving the fish to actually hooking it.

This fish put up an amazing fight and decided, rightly, it would be a good tactic to spend some time messing about in the weeds under my bank. To say that this caused me a few heart stopping moments would be an understatement but in due course the fish, about 5.5lb was netted, photographed and returned:



All told I was reasonably pleased to get a few fish despite the main run not being into the rivers. Over the last week the tides have been high and there have been good amounts of water in the rivers and in most places the main run has come in and anglers are now having considerable success with both the salmon and the sea trout, I can't wait to get back and get a go at the new arrivals and especially the sea trout which were mostly absent doing the visit I'm documenting here.
 

sauer

Well-Known Member
#4
Read the title & immediately thought
Gotta be Caorach !

As usual a great read, great pictures & as usual jealous as hell !!!

Thanks for sharing

Paul
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
#6
I place sea trout above all other native game fish, they are good eating too! Those wee grilse are toy boys for the big hen salmon, every young fellas dream :). Great write up and pictures f some good sport.

John
 
#7
Every time I read one of your articles and gaze at the pictures I tell myself to book a week on Lewis. It really looks like paradise!

From your photos you're having a bumper year for bog cotton as well - never seen so much in Sutherland as we saw a week or so ago.
 
#8
Every time I read one of your articles and gaze at the pictures I tell myself to book a week on Lewis. It really looks like paradise!

From your photos you're having a bumper year for bog cotton as well - never seen so much in Sutherland as we saw a week or so ago.
You'd better make it two weeks though - 1,000 trout lochs alone :)

I don't know what it is with the bog cotton but I've never seen so much and when the light is low and catching it there are some areas that look like it is snow lying on them. It has been a good spring though, last year we didn't have much growth until the end of June whereas this year everything has been nicely on time except for the sea trout that were a wee bit late for some reason known only to them. If there is enough water to get fish in then the main salmon (well, grilse) run usually comes the week of the 2nd big moon in July and this year it is spot on time.
 
#9
You'd better make it two weeks though - 1,000 trout lochs alone :)

I don't know what it is with the bog cotton but I've never seen so much and when the light is low and catching it there are some areas that look like it is snow lying on them. It has been a good spring though, last year we didn't have much growth until the end of June whereas this year everything has been nicely on time except for the sea trout that were a wee bit late for some reason known only to them. If there is enough water to get fish in then the main salmon (well, grilse) run usually comes the week of the 2nd big moon in July and this year it is spot on time.
That's interesting, as talking to the stalker and his wife in Sutherland it seemed like everything was two or three weeks behind where it was last year.

We saw plenty of birdlife and deer, but there didn't seem to be anything like the number of insects and smaller mammals that we saw the same time in 2016.

As for salmon, the river looked pretty sparse. I had an 8lb cock fish on the Monday, but other than a couple of sea trout to the dry fly I didn't see another "proper" fish until the Friday, when the river rose over 18" in a little over an hour and suddenly there seemed to be fish moving everywhere! They clearly weren't fresh run, so they must have some real hidey-holes for when the water is low.
 

mjf

Active Member
#13
Excellent write up.

I'm due to be up in Lewis in September for some end-of-the-season salmon and sea trout fishing. Very much looking forward to it
 

tikka_madras

Well-Known Member
#14
Enjoyed that, thanks. Have been to Lewis a couple of times for the deer, grouse and salmon, but both times later in the year when the weather was a wee bit more dour.

Think I should make the trip in the summer...looks fantastic.
 
#15
Enjoyed that, thanks. Have been to Lewis a couple of times for the deer, grouse and salmon, but both times later in the year when the weather was a wee bit more dour.

Think I should make the trip in the summer...looks fantastic.
I always prefer September and although the sika are kicking off in Ireland in September i'm usually on Lewis for the month. The more changeable weather can be better for the fishing, though July was pretty changeable this year as well, plus everywhere tends to be stuffed with fish though, of course, some will be coloured. On top of that, as you've already noticed, there is lots of other sport once you get into September.

If you want to go in the summer months then timing is everything. I was up the first week in July (my movements were dictated by factors other than the fishing) and so the main salmon run hadn't come so I was just picking up a few fish here and there. Usually the sea trout come a little earlier than the salmon but they have been quite late this year so I didn't put much effort into sea trout and I didn't have many fish either but I can always have a good run at them in September. Fresh sea trout will run right to the end of the season (15th October in most places) and last season I had 3 or 4 (can't remember exactly) fresh sea trout plus a coloured salmon on 14th October, however fresh salmon will also run in October and in the 2014 season one local river took a good run of fresh fish on 14th October. So, going late in the season may, in an average year, not produce the absolute best sport of the season but it should still produce good sport and just sometimes October can produce the best sport of the year. If you look at the 5 year averages then a lot of fisheries do as well in October as in September, bearing in mind that there are only 2 weeks fishing in October.

I think the other key about Lewis fishing is to be flexible - we usually get people good sport if they are willing to follow the sport rather than are fixed on, say, getting a salmon. Last year the salmon fishing wasn't great, very low water right from July until the end of the season, but one visitor with us who was flexible managed great sport with sea trout (he'd never caught one before) in both fresh water and salt water. If he'd really wanted a salmon then I'm pretty certain we'd have got him one but it would have been pretty dour fishing rather than the exciting sport he got, in my view. Also don't overlook the brown trout fishing on the more remote lochs - the fish can be relatively small but they are real wild brownies and a big part of the day out is wandering the moor and exploring the most remote lochs you can see on your map. There are bigger fish in many lochs and some lochs will produce decent numbers of 2 - 6lb fish and hunting them down and getting the fish on the bank is real, serious, sport.
 

tikka_madras

Well-Known Member
#17
Must try to go again this year...have emailed my friend who usually takes a lodge for a week.

He likes to go at the end of October, so we get sporting grouse (plus a snipe and woodcock day) but we're on the hinds rather than stags and the trout are out of season so we can't fish the lochs - it's salmon only, and usually pitch-black-coloured ones at that. There's some great flighting too - I got a brace of grouse, salmon and a right-and-left at geese in the same day a couple of years ago. Couldn't bear to go out after a hind having got the other two ticked off even with four hours of daylight to spare. It would have left me permanently mourning my not-quite-a-Macnab. Was very glad I went down to the foreshore instead!
 
#18
I got a brace of grouse, salmon and a right-and-left at geese in the same day a couple of years ago. Couldn't bear to go out after a hind having got the other two ticked off even with four hours of daylight to spare. It would have left me permanently mourning my not-quite-a-Macnab. Was very glad I went down to the foreshore instead!
That was probably the right thing to do and a great day out even if it wasn't quite the standard MacNab. In the end the "MacNab" thing is really just another challenge and the ones you set yourself are equally as valid and, maybe, on some days more of a sporting challenge. It must be said that we have just so many sporting opportunities that it is sometimes hard to get visitors to come to terms with it all and it can also be hard to get people to "follow the sport" in the sense that not every day is good for, say, salmon and so on that day it is better to do something else that will offer good sport. I'm also a big fan of the trout fishing and I know people will knock it in favour of the salmon but getting a wild trout from each of 10 remote lochs on the moor is a really challenging day out and you can make up all sorts of similar challenges. Later on I might try for a salmon and a sea trout from different rivers plus a brown trout from a trout loch, just for some fun.
 

DRN

Well-Known Member
#19
Thanks for a great write up and photos (must get back next year), I biked to that same loch a couple of years ago and managed to persuade my other half to row me around for a few hours before she lost her sense of humour. Truly stunning spot. Looking forward to the next instalment if you get back before the end of the season!
 

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