Wednesday, 29 February 2012

No fish but what a great day

I was back on the Tay again today in search of that elusive Tay springer.  After the high water of the last week, which was now dropping nicely I was hopeful of catching.  I always prefer the bank, although I do accept that harling from the boat is usually more productive.  It didn't make any difference today though and no fish were caught from either bank or boat.  Conditions seemed ideal with the water running at 2' 11" and clear.  

No shortage of wood in the store, but with temperatures of 10C there was no need for the fire in the hut today.

Andy getting the boat ready for the day.  Harling is a method using 3 or 4 rods with lures out the back and by controlling the motor you drop downstream allowing your lures to 'work' over the lies.  It is very productive in the spring as you can fish your lures very slowly.

The lure of choice.  A 4" Pink & Pearl Tomic.

Looking upstream towards the Ferry Pool.  Alas despite trying this pool a couple of times today we had nothing here either.  With views like this though who cares?

The Abu 6500C is a great reel for bug rivers like the Tay.  With its large capacity and ease of use, it is ultra reliable.  Just what you need when you do eventually get that big Tay springer.

So no fish, but great company and lots of laughs.  Its a cliche, but there is indeed more to fishing than just catching fish.  Very mild today and although the daffodils aren't in flower yet it will only be another week or so.  Back again on Monday.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Washed out on the River

Having seen the forecast and then listening to it driving up the road I wasn't at all surprised to see the river running at 4' 11" this morning.  Now that height by itself isn't a problem - it's a good height actually - but what is a problem is the 8" it rose between me arriving and tackling up just a short time later!  With Andy as enthusiastic as ever there was no chance of a morning in the hut and we were soon heading over the river to fish the Cottar.

This is a good height to fish the LH bank of the Cottar and a 36g Blair Spoon fished round beautifully.  The water wasn't at all coloured and the copper & silver spoon looked great in the water and I even saw a few fish splashing, but the ones I could see clearly were pretty dark looking and certainly not fresh fish.

I fished through the Cottar twice but my 'marker' stick was disappearing as quick as my confidence in the rising water.  I thought I would head up to the Pine Tree where Marc caught his wee springer last week, but the force of water up here was just too strong so back downstream for a blether with Andy.

Where Marc caught his springer last week, but just too much water for here today.  At the very top of where you can see the water is where Millar and I had success with the grayling a few weeks ago.  They will be left in peace now as they start to approach their spawning season, but in another 8 months time I know where they are....

It was very windy and these oak trees had a few branches less by early afternoon.  Cracking woodland though and again I saw the Fallow Deer that call this area home.  The snowdrops were out and the daffodils are beginning to show as well.  It was a very mild 13C and it was great to know that with the bigger water and milder weather, even more spring fish will be heading upstream now.

The 'Box of Tricks' and my old favourite fishing bag.  There is a mix of floating and sinking devon minnows here - including my favourite spring colour of pink & white.  In these days of fishing vests and rucsacs, who uses a fishing bag anymore?

With the water continuing to rise the taking strip moves closer and closer to the LH bank so no need to wade at these heights which makes for a pleasant day's fishing.  There was good banter with the guys and much discussion over the rights and wrongs of culling seals, goosanders and cormorants.  It's very easy to see how the Cottar Bay holds fish in big - and even bigger - water.  I'd happily trot a worm through this pool in a few months time.  So nothing doing at all today and with the water still rising I called it a day at 2:30 but not for Andy who was heading out into the wind and rain to harl the Cottar.  With any luck it will have dropped for my return next week.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The river gods feeling generous.

Despite the low water levels the River Tay has been picking away with the odd fish each day.  More importantly though is that a few fish are now being caught on the middle beats so clearly the odd fish is sneaking through despite the cold weather and low water conditions.  I was at the water for first light but as usual Andy had beaten me to it and the fire was going in the hut.

After a quick blether and a coffee, the sun was soon streaming through the hut windows enticing us outside and I am so glad I did.  It was stunning and even at this early hour you could feel the warmth on your face.

The morning was spent harling the lower beat and for two hours we fished our lures over likely looking water, but despite feeling very 'fishy' nothing was doing and we headed back upstream where there was some wood to be dealt with.  Fishing and Firewood - could I be any happier?  :D

Enough firewood to keep the bothy warm for a few months!

Having spent a few hours in the boat, I was keen to take a turn from the bank to warm up a bit.  Despite the sun it was still only 1 degree...  I headed to the top of the 'Cottar' and starting below the wires, with the water running at 1' 11" it took an easy 20 yard wade to get over the dead water to ensure I was fishing the known lies properly.  Not far down the stream fishing my 18g Silver Toby I had a great draw from a fish, which immediately took off downstream.  I followed the fish downstream, but staying out in the water.  Fish don't like being played in slack water and I was glad to have the current to help tire the fish as I played it.  Only when it tired, did I start to wade towards the bank, where I selected a nice grassy bay to beach the fish in.  At this point Andy with perfect timing arrived from downstream and as the fish was drawn onto the bank he gave it a helping hand and the fish was ours!

A topper of a Tay springer - 12lbs and sea-liced!

A few photos and it swam away strongly.  I was keen to get back in the water but there was nothing more doing and an hour or so later we decided to return to the lunch hut for a coffee and a bite to eat.

Andy was happy to get another fish in his book and feeling I had 'earned my keep' and done my bit, I brought out the trotting rod and wandered upstream to see if I could find any grayling.  Unfortunately grayling permits aren't issued here but having paid for my salmon ticket Andy didn't mind if I had a go for a couple of hours.

The first fish came very quickly and it was a nice wee grayling of 10"

For the next two hours I had fish after fish on trotted maggot, including my largest grayling of the winter season at 2lbs, which I was over the moon with.  I ended up with 8 grayling and 2 out-of-season brown trout of about 1.5lbs each, before I was called back downstream for 'proper' fishing as Andy called it!

Another hour or so, throwing lures about but if the truth had been told, I'd had such a fantastic day I was happy to sit on the bank and have a blether while Andy fished.  One Sea-Liced Springer, Eight Grayling and Two Brownies isn't a bad day by any standards and I was absolutely delighted with the day.  Back again next week, but I've promised I'll fish for salmon the whole day next time!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Fun in the Ferry

Minus 7 as we drove up the road.  We were on a new piece of water for us, but it only took a short walk to identify one obvious run where our intended quarry would be.  I started off trotting a couple of bugs below an Avon style float but in my efforts to get down to the fish I snagged the bottom a couple of times, losing my bugs in the business.

The run I was fishing was well over on the left bank and it took a long wade through deep water to get to within casting distance.  It was immediately apparent the temperatures were going to cause a problem and the braid was constantly freezing in the rings and even to the braid on the centre pin spool.  Each cast was a nightmare and I had to dip my rod and reel into the water each time I wanted to cast to prevent the whole outfit icing up.  This continued until almost 12 noon, when the temperature warmed up enough to allow proper fishing to commence.

A deep wade and a high rod tip to keep the line off the water's surface.

Things came good at lunchtime and I had a grayling of 1lbs on a Sawyers Bug.  A second fish came almost immediately - the same size as the first.  In the wide waters, the fish fought well and after the morning when I really thought I was facing a blank, it was nice to have some activity.

The activity was now pretty steady as some fish were landed and others were hooked   but came off.  Grayling have very quickly become my favourite fish.  That great big dorsal fin with those amazing colours.  We were fishing with just bugs/flies today and for the first time during the whole winter, we never had any bother from the out-of-season brownies.

Come four 0'clock the temperature dropped once more and the line started to freeze again, bring our terrific day to an end.  Never mind, we were extremely happy with our lot.