Always Something to Learn

Next week I hope to be taking part in the Scottish Clubs heats at the Lake of Menteith, and having had only one pretty dismal outing to the Lake this year already, and it being a bit of a bogey water for me anyway, I looked into the possibility of getting a boat for a few hours of an evening from someone I know who as a boat there.

Sunday was duly arranged as on the weather apps I have it frankly looked the best….. at the time.

The Boat ready to go.

Waiting on the rain to stop- it was hammering down so I decided to wait.

Sunday turned out to be a rather unsettled day and I really wasn’t sure I would get out when I set out around tea time. However though there were a few cloudbursts, the loch did not appear too wild and there were boats out. It took me a bit time to get the boat set up, and I had hoped to use my electric outboard but the owners own wee petrol engine was mounted centrally on the transom and didn’t leave any room for mine to fit alongside. I made the reluctant decision to leave mine behind. I had the boat all set up, drogue fitted, seat and boat box all aboard when a huge rain shower passed through. I didn’t see any sense in heading out in that so waited for it to pass which took around 20 minutes. By now it was getting after 7 pm and the afternoon anglers from the fishery were making their way back to the beaching area.

I thought I might head to the Mallin shore but heading out across Gateside Bay I could see fish moving in the water that formed the boundary between the windswept loch and the bay, where this fringe extended from the Stable Point. It looked a wee bit hard going for the boats wee 3.3 Hp engine ( with no reverse) and I decided to start just out from the point drifting into the bay. I lobbed the drogue out, and started to fish, with my mixture of Diawl Bach, Hares Ear Nymph and a blob on point.

As fish rose, some really near the boat, I wondered what they might be taking. The calmer water was literally strewn with flies of every variety. Mayflies, midges, what looked like Sepia Dun’s, and I seen clouds of bright green flies come off, in the calmer periods- think the colour of greenfly but about 5 times bigger and upwinged.

I changed the point fly for a dry and cast out trying to cover the odd riser. This had no effect and I changed the point fly to a mayfly nymph. The boat was strewn now with shucks of flies that had moulted presumably in the water but might have got in the boat through stiction to the fly line. Size and colour they looked exactly like my Mayfly nymph imitations. That, therefore, had to be worth a try, but still no offers. As a rise would get going another brief, or not so brief shower would blast through putting the fish down, and the boat was pirouetting rather than drifting making casting a bit of a problem. Off came the floater, on went the midge tip. Then the rain would stop, and the fish were on top again, back on with a dry, now a sedge as there were loads of them about now too. I did rise one fish to the sedge but it came short of taking the fly but it gave me encouragement so I stuck with this though started changing my droppers for other buzzers or subsurface patterns.

Another boat came by and the angler stopped for a blether, he had been up at the Mallin shore and being equipped with an altogether bigger 10hp fourstroke motor his boat was making easy work of it. He said he had managed one fish on a yellow Blob but fish were definitely interested there if you could get a drift going in the conditions. He was between me and the buoy that marks an underwater obstruction about 20 yards from me.

As it had now calmed a bit I thought,  give it a go. I started the engine than realising I hadn’t recovered the drogue stopped again, got it on board, and motor running turned hard round to head up the Lake, as the wind got hold of the front of the boat I increased revs when clunk, it seemed to jump out of gear, the revs buzzed up so I reduced them manually and I put it back in gear….. I wasn’t going forward, but being dragged out into the wind. Not good.

I quickly lifted the motor but couldn’t see anything obviously wrong, the prop was spinning but it was going through my head that the shear pin had went… why I had no idea as I was well away from the shore and also well clear of the buoy and the surrounding obstruction, in fact the other boat had passed between me and it, though as the boat drifted in the wind I was getting closer to it now!

I left the engine up, got the oars and started pulling for the Bay, which was hard work. I was now regretting not having the electric outboard with me now, so after another inspection of the prop decided I needed to head in as more squalls blew through.

There was a bits bag in the boat with some basic tools and I had some shear pins in my own boat box but whether they would fit or how you fitted them in this particular motor I had no idea.  It was too heavy to go removing the engine from the transom to bring inboard and try to make some sort of quick fix. So a long row across the bay and back to the boatshed.

Back in the boathouse, and frankly, knackered I could see there was half a shear pin in the prop, the other half seemed to be gone. Why I have no idea. I wasn’t remotely near anything to hit or ground on that I could see. So a bit of a wasted evening and not especially nice conditions. I did learn though I need to get my flies organised for quicker access next week. Having them all boxed up as dries, wets/nymphs and blobs is fine but I really need a single small selection to hand in front of me all the time so that’s this week’s task, set up a small immediate use box and I can fall back on the others as necessary.

By the time I was offloaded and everything back to where it should be, it was late, the wind was really howling and I was glad to be home.