Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lindores Loch - Chasing Scotish Rainbows (May 08)
by Iain Mc Master

Heather has started coming with me when I go fishing. It’s good as far as I’m concerned because it gives me someone to talk to without having to worry about a trout fly thumping into my ear at 80 mph! With the hot weather starting to come in it gives her time to top up her tan or read her books.

Speaking of hot weather, it really has been hot here the past few days. And when the water starts to get warm, my attention always turns towards Lindores Loch. Lindores is a beautiful, natural loch set amidst the lush pastoral scenery of lowland Scotland. The loch has a fair bit of history attached to it and around it too. The monks of Lindores Abbey, which stood on the site of an already ancient Celtic religious site, used the loch to catch their Friday meal of fish in the past. On the 12th of June 1298, The Battle of Black Irnsyde, one of the many battles of the Scottish Wars of Independence, was fought near the loch. Finally, from a fishing perspective, the loch was one of the first in Scotland, possibly in Britain to be stocked with the now dominant rainbow trout.

So all in all, Lindores is quite an interesting and special place to fish.

On the morning of the 19th, Heather and I found ourselves pulling into the car park beside the fishing lodge. The loch was like a huge black molten mirror, with trout rolling and rising on the surface. What little breeze there was, was blocked from reaching the water by the surrounding hills. I always hear people complaining and saying that it’s impossible to catch fish in flat calms…Bollocks! It might not be ideal, but if you’re very gentle, use a fairly fine tippet and creep up on fish it is perfectly do-able!

So, I set up my beautiful David Norwich 7 weight with my beautiful Fly Logic FLO reel and tied on a 7lb tippet with two beautiful hares ear nymphs; and very gently we rowed out. Lindores isn’t a huge loch, but it’s not small either, a good 20 minute row in favourable conditions from top to bottom (and the boats are light fibre-glass jobs rather than the traditional wooden heavies) So to avoid making to much disturbance and to start fishing more quickly I started with a drift along the edge closest to the lodge. Not that it was much of a drift in the flat calm that the great god of fishing had decided to bestow upon us. But the fish were obviously feeding as they were rising fairly hard. I decided to fish extremely slowly, barely moving the nymphs back towards me at all with a tiny figure of eight retrieve. The figure of eight is one of those things that I hear tell of a lot, but have never actually used. So I tried it. Within five or six casts, there was a nip and a slight tightening of the line, my heart did the old leap into my throat and my wrist did the old raise of the rod. I felt that wonderful kick on the end of the line, but only for a second, then nothing. Damn! The dis-appointment when a fish gets off still never leaves me, or the excitement when it takes.

I saw what appeared to be a nice trout rise a couple of times quite near the boat, “That’s the one” I said to Heather, who appeared interested enough. So stripping more line off of my reel I put out a longer cast. Again slowly I inched it back towards me. What happened next was one of those enraging things that we sometimes can’t avoid. There was a mighty swirl, a momentary, monstrous thud and then nothing. Smashed! My cast had parted neatly about 6 inches below the dropper, leaving some large trout swimming off with a delicious looking hares ear and about 2 or 3 feet of fluorocarbon hanging from it’s mouth. Excellent! On with another cast.


A hot sun and a decent drift on Lindores

The wind had started to pick up by now and the temperature got a might cooler. The fish went down in the water and for the next couple of hours I fished away fruitlessly. At one point when the wind gave us a fair wave on the surface I even tied on a claret muddler and got one or two half hearted plucks.

Heather and I always go to the same bay to eat lunch. It is right at the top end of the loch and perfectly sheltered. So off we went to regroup and fortify ourselves for the second half of the battle.

I decided to set up my intermediate outfit, which I had been reluctant to do as I wanted to get some top of the water action, but needs must. I put on a trusty old damsel nymph and an un-named black and red bushy pattern and set off to where the trout had plucked at the muddler.

Some days when boat fishing the wind can be a real pain, when you try to get a drift along the edge or into a bay and it just won’t let you. My plan had been to drift into the bay and explore the margins with my damsel nymph, but the great god of fishing had other plans and decided to sweep me along the mouth of the bay and back out! However, as we passed the middle of the bay the line went solid. Bang! The reel fizzed and 2 or 3 minutes later I had a beautiful 2lb, full finned, silver Lindores rainbow trout in the net.

“Well I think this is the way to do it today” I said to Heather who was utterly engrossed in her book. Only a few casts later again the line was almost ripped from my fingers by a thundering take. The trout leapt twice and threw the hook. I fished the drift out until we reached the top of the loch again with no more offers. It was one of those rare occasions where I had been lucky enough to find the very drift where there must have been fish feeding whilst no one else on the loch was hooking anything. So I rowed us back to the entrance of the bay and drifted through again. And once again two trout took in succession and were boated after two hard fights. The fighting power of rainbow trout never ceases to amaze me. One of those 2lb fish felt more like

a 5lb trout. I have the fight on video to prove it. If ever there was a trout that deserved to get off, it was that one. At one point I laid my rod down to pour a cup of coffee, when I picked it back up the line had drifted under the boat, when I stripped the line in to re-cast it was heavy. Number three! By the end of an hour and a half’s drifting and re-entering the bay I had four trout in the boat and had lost another three. It was the most marvellous sport. It felt more like mackerel fishing; they were leaping on the fly. I did try to get Heather to catch one. I even did the casting for her and let her retrieve the flies. After ten or fifteen minutes, she was starting to get the hang of it too. Eventually she decided to go back to her book and said that if I hooked another she would play it for me. Next cast…thump! She got cold feet about the idea though and refused to be persuaded other wise. Tragically I had to play that trout myself which turned out to be the best of the bag. A beautiful bullet of a fish at a little over 3lbs.


A 2lb Tiger!

Lindores has a pair of resident anglers. Not of the fly fishing sort. Not of the spinning or bait fishing sort either. There is pair of ospreys, which you are almost guaranteed to see if you go to Lindores. I hear that tourists pay big money up north to go to a nature reserve where there is a pair of breeding ospreys. They needn’t!

What a site it is to see those birds hover above the loch, fold back their great, white patched wings and rocket into the water like and exocet missile! Usually emerging with a trout hanging from their talons. It’s always a real bonus to go and see nature’s fishermen at work. After all, if it weren’t for nature and our love of it, fishing wouldn’t be a sport in the first place. It’s not just the fishing that makes Lindores a very special place to be, it’s the company…and I don’t mean Heather!


Another in the net