Sheep, stones and salmon in the Hebrides

caorach

Well-Known Member
I thought to file a little report on a few days out on Lewis.


The trip was not primarily a fishing trip as there was lots of visiting and lambing and other stuff going on and as everyone else will have noticed the conditions were less than ideal with a cold northerly wind for most of the time I was there plus it was often a strong cold northernly. There were quite a few days when the car was saying it was 2 degrees. At this time of year I think the moorland looks at its worst with the molinia all dead and very little new growth started, that doesn't mean there isn't scope for interesting things to see and spectacular views though.


Due to changes in the FlyBe timetables I flew up through Inverness rather than the more usual Glasgow or Edinburgh. This is something I'd do now and again anyhow and in the distant past I used to spend a lot of time just a few miles from Dalcross Airport on the River Nairn:





Once my feet were on the ground it was no time until I was chasing sheep. The croft is specially designed with rushes which are the ideal height for sheep to hide behind so you can have 40 sheep in there and not see any of them until you bump them:





As is always the case at this time of year I gained several little "pals in a box" who came indoors for various reasons. A neighbour has one which is now called Stanley because it spent so much time by the stove:





The failures are a bit soul destroying, especially when covered in blood, mud and on your knees in horizontal sleet, but it is nice to get some success as well:





In terms of fishing then I managed two mornings at trout. On the first I headed out to some lochs which are managed by the Stornoway Angling Association and which are mostly quite shallow so I held some hope of getting an occasional fish:





The truth is that I didn't do too well but as it was my first real fishing day of the season it was great to be out and about on the moor watching the world go by. I had a few wee trout that weren't worth much and a salmon:





OK, so it was a very small salmon, but I'm laying claim to anything I can get. I find it interesting that this loch is attached to the sea by a rather long and convoluted path and yet the smolts seem to spend some time up here in these lochs rather that in the lochs much lower down the system. It looks to me like it will not be long before this one is in the sea.


On my second fishing morning I hit a very local loch that is deep and so likely to be very cold, unlikely to fish well this early in the season with no warmer weather to heat it up. It doesn't look deep with its rocks and islands but there is 60 feet of water in places and a lot of it is well over 20 feet. It also has some interesting glacial erratics balanced around it:





The island in this photo may contain the oldest building in the village and was occupied for some time by a notorious local bandit, the same one who was said to have lived in a cave above Uladail:





At least there was some sun on this particular day and although the wind was cold it was nice to get into some shelter and make tea:





Of course the fishing wasn't great but I did have one wee trout and to be honest I'd come more to look at the stone circle (no photos but see later...) and the erratics plus the loch was close to home and so handy for the quick run out.


While I was up I took a run to some local estuary fishing. I didn't actually do any fishing and the wind would have certain stopped me getting a cast out but it was just for a quick look. It didn't look to have changed too much over the winter:





On the day before I came home I had a full day fishing pass and the chance for a cast for some salmon. I'd been jokingly telling everyone that I was going to have the first Hebridean salmon this year but I was already well beaten to that but, unusually for me, I went out optimistic and confident that no matter what happened it would be a good day out:





Fish, or no fish, you simply can't do anything but enjoy a day out here and the river is managed to provide lots of fantastic, streamy water ideal for the fly in almost any water level plus, of course, it has this pool:





In due course everything went tight and I was attached to a springer. Now on Lewis we fish for salmon with trout rods so I wasn't attached to him with a 15 foot rod and a heavy line and a fly 8 inches long. I was attached to him on gear suitable for a 1lb trout. The fish seemed unaware of this point and was unwilling to make allowances and so commenced something of a struggle. Our pools are relatively small and the fish usually stay in them so long, blistering, runs are rare and in truth at no point was I into the backing. What I did get into was a whole lot of trouble. Having used the resources available in the pool and deciding they may not be sufficient to allow him to throw the hook Bob the salmon (we were now on first name terms having known each other for some time) decided upon a return to the sea. This was a really bad thing from my perspective as the pool has a sort of weir arrangement with a chute down which the water flows and Bob took a fancy to the chute. To be honest I thought either the rod or leader must break as I tried to turn his head from going down the chute and I'd so much pressure on him it actually dragged him to the surface where I saw the big tail waving at me, a worrying sign.


Thankfully the tail didn't wave goodbye and the hook held long enough to get him onto the bank and snap a quick photo, some scale samples were also gathered to be examined and then Bob went on his way with a rather more cautious attitude towards any black and silver supersquids he might see on his travels:





As previously mentioned I've been recently shooting some 4K video and currently youtube is sucking up my first edit. Being alone with no tripod for most of the time means this isn't quality video production plus I was messing with image stabilization and might have overdone it in a few places. This is just general stuff but there is a Brocken Spectre, some music, some Lewis beaches, sheep and a pal in a box, a peat buried stone circle, a finely balanced glacial erratic, a classic salmon river and some estuary fishing in this short video, in due course I might do a wee fishing video as well and will post a link:


stabilized 4k - YouTube
 

ben0850

Well-Known Member
What a fantastic write up. We are about half way through lambing so feel your pain! They look like Swales? Not the expected scotty black faces?
Fantastic salmon too!!
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
What a fantastic write up. We are about half way through lambing so feel your pain! They look like Swales? Not the expected scotty black faces?
Fantastic salmon too!!
Thank you, as you can imagine a springer is some sport on a trout rod :)

The sheep are black faces but in the Hebrides any sheep that makes it through the winter is a good sheep so the honest truth is that there could be nearly anything in their blood lines. As with the salmon I'm far from an expert but I like to help out with the sheep when I can and I enjoy it despite the "bad" days. Last Sunday it seemed like we lost everything that was born and several that were days old plus the eagle got away with one as well but I managed to save the one in the box in the video so that was a success.
 

oager

Well-Known Member
I'll be up there in the last week of May. I normally have a cast on the Ness, and head out to the moor. Anywhere that's worth a try for something different?
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
I'll be up there in the last week of May. I normally have a cast on the Ness, and head out to the moor. Anywhere that's worth a try for something different?
Do you mean you are going to fish the River Ness in Inverness? If so the Nairn is also well worth a cast, much smaller river but I think it is nice and they are now getting a decent run of fish and you can easily get day tickets. It has been a long time since I fished it, and it was nowhere near as good then, bit I like a smaller river so it is where I'd head.
 

tarponhead

Well-Known Member
Fabulous early season fish and great to release to make lots more salmo salars! Any sea trout left in those lochs?
 

opticron1

Well-Known Member
Well done on the springer - they are the nicest looking salmon of them all! Sorry to hear of the losses on the lambing front.... no doubt our specially re-introduced sea eagles will be doing well again, a friend in Sutherland has lost a few over the last few years - always denied by SNH/RSPB . Keep up the good work/reports!:D
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Fabulous early season fish and great to release to make lots more salmo salars! Any sea trout left in those lochs?
There are plenty in that estuary and also some in the loch/river towards the bottom of the report (The lochs towards the report start don't get sea trout) but that area is better known for its salmon. However there is no shortage of fantastic sea trout fishing take a look here:

Sea trout fishing in the Hebrides

or...

 

sauer

Well-Known Member
Ever do any sea fishing Phillip ?
Beach casting , they beaches look good for flatties ... never considered sea angling over there ...

Cracking write up as always

Paul
 

oager

Well-Known Member
I'll be up there in the last week of May. I normally have a cast on the Ness, and head out to the moor. Anywhere that's worth a try for something different?
I meant to say 'Gress'... sorry for that wild fish chase. So it's fishing in and around Bac and the like!
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
I meant to say 'Gress'... sorry for that wild fish chase. So it's fishing in and around Bac and the like!
Gress doesn't open until 1st June to allow the sea trout kelts to get back out to sea. If you want sea trout a day at Steinis might be worthwhile, some years their sea trout come early and sometimes they are late so at this stage we can't predict how it will fish when you are up but sometimes it produces a goodly number of sea trout early in the season.

Loch nan Leac, out from the Gress track, used to be the best trout loch in the Hebrides. It generally only produces small fish these days but it is a nice walk out there, though a long way, with lots of lochs to fish on the way. That always makes for a nice day out
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Ever do any sea fishing Phillip ?
Beach casting , they beaches look good for flatties ... never considered sea angling over there ...

Cracking write up as always
Glad you enjoyed it Paul, I never sea fish as there is only a certain amount of time and mine is already almost completely full :) There is plenty of sea fishing from the beaches, though the ones in the video are not known for their fishing, with flounder and turbot seeming to be the main catches. Occasionally I get delivered a good dinner from someone who has been on the beach and that is the sum total of my knowledge.
 

purdey24

Well-Known Member
Great video, thanks for sharing, it shows what a wonderful country we live in.
It's a safe bet that the guys who built the stone circles did not video them in 4K.
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Great video, thanks for sharing, it shows what a wonderful country we live in.
It's a safe bet that the guys who built the stone circles did not video them in 4K.
The interesting thing about that circle is that the peat has grown up around the stones, and many are fallen and now buried, and it has not been excavated plus I've never known it to get a visitor apart from myself. It is sort of nice to see it like that as about 1.5m of peat has been cut from most of the "famous" Lewis circles such as the one at Callanish.

Anyhow, here is a fishing video. It is just really a walk down the river as I was on my own so not much scope for action shots when there's no one to take them. It starts in a similar way to the previous one but soon moves to the river and would be of interest to anyone into their salmon as many will recognize some of the spots. I did try to get an action shot of the salmon being released but he had a lot of life in him and, as you will see, that didn't go to plan:

Grimersta 4K 100mbs final - YouTube
 

MW3

Well-Known Member
Are the Ballallan boys, Bochi, Diesel Dan, Elf etc still poaching the hell out of the Grimersta ?
 

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