Exercising the Thinking Tackle

Fishing recently has been hard. I don’t think I am unusual in saying that, I have heard it commented on several times of late, as we finally have a summer you could refer to as hot. The long dry spell and fairly high temperatures we have had up here in Scotland have impacted most waters. Rivers are at or near historic lows, and small still waters are almost warm enough that your fish come out semi poached! At larger waters fly fishing has become something of a race to the bottom, quite literally as it’s all Di7 sinking lines and Snakes, Boobies or sometimes deep fished buzzers.

My last three outings have been hard and like the last outing I posted on, my magnetism for Perch seems to have continued.

A Pre-Meeting Cast

SCAC were holding an onsite meeting regarding the boat, at Pendreich last weekend and I opted to head up early and get a wee hours fishing in before most arrived., I expected there to be a few anglers out as it was another cooler and cloudy start to the day, and fishing conditions looked perfect. I chose to get the wader son and to be honest standing in water up to my backside was actually quite cold, which surprised me given the recent weather. However the fish weren’t it seemed, any more inclined to participate in the sport and it became a distinctly one sided affair with me thrashing the water to a foam for an hour or som for no reward. Not so much as a pull, swirl or pluck. Until some of the members turned up for the meeting I barely saw a fish move and  gave it up as a bad job.

Mid Week Perch Magnetism

I was due away with work for part of the week so no fishing was possible later on and after a fairly cloudy cooler day on Tuesday with a brighter end and a bit of a breeze, I was eager just to get some fresh air and took a trundle along to Swanswater for the late evening “shift”. I was told it had actually fished quite well during the day with the cooler conditions and a few anglers had done well on cormorants. However, all I seemed to hook into was small Perch. There were quite a few anglers out and I never myself seen anything caught in the time I was there. One of the lads from SCAC was there having arrived about 30 mins before me and he managed a Rainbow on a green Blob right at the off, but that was all he had all evening. He mentioned how slow it seemed to be. I decided to move down onto the small ponds for the last hour and though there was a short 15minute rise around 21:30 it wasn’t sustained and nothing seemed interested in any of the flies I put in front of the fish. Mid Summer lethargy has set in.

Cloying for Success

Swan family

This family of Swans stopped me fishing half the lochan for some of the afternoon as it was hissing when you were anywhere near.

So the weekend arrived and I cannot tell a lie things are getting a bit desperate. The weekend brought more unsettled cooler conditions and even a bit of rain. But my recent outings had left me feeling a bit jaded and I needed somewhere fresh to try. Somewhere I have not been before. Then I remembered a place I had heard mentioned a few times on Social Media and decided to give it a look. Cloybank, near Haggs. I called first to make sure I could just turn up and was told in the affirmative and was there about 20 minutes later. There are three small lochans but two are partially drained for maintenance which limited my options but on the positive side ( from my point of view anyway) meant I had it all to myself!

I started near the car and there were fish rising all over downwind in front of me. I was onto the dries immediately and a fish came and slashed at my second cast but never took the fly. I decided a single dry on a tapered leader would be the best approach with such clear water and after changing the leader on my 5 weight set up tried probably 12 different patterns and scaled down to super tiny on fine tippet ( well, for Rainbows- 4lb) before I finally hooked a fish. Even then the take was barely perceptible and the fish, probably around 2lb didn’t feel properly hooked. Sure enough after playing it for 20 seconds at most, it simply “let go”.  Hook and tippet were still intact. I had heard foam beetles worked well here, but these were ignored totally for me.

I could tell this was going to be a battle of wills. Could I work out what they wanted? Time to get out the Thinking Tackle. The water was not that deep, anything weighted would find its way to snag on the weed beds on the bottom. From a high vantage point, you could see groups of fish patrolling in the deeper water though they seemed to be no more than 12-18″ down. They continued to rise most of the afternoon, often poking their heads out right beside my flies but not taking. I tried a couple of small nymphs, buzzers even a weighted damsel but it was totally ignored. I went back to dries and tried an LTD Sedge. This got most of the rise activity and again I had a very short hook up that again felt “not right” and was thrown very quickly. I was also by now starting to let paranoia creep in. Since getting the 5 weight rod, I have not landed a single trout on it. An unlucky rod? I am not a superstitious type but who hasn’t had these silly thoughts?

On my Knees

I had even opted to fish from a low a position as possible for much of the time to try stay out the fishes sight, maybe they were just put off by me?

I was looking through my boxes of flies trying to work something out when a fly called a Bullet caught my eye. Not a million miles away from a CDC and Elk sedge type pattern but with a bulbous UV resin’ed deer hair head. Not that different from some muddlers. This was “developed” for pulling on or near the surface on gin-clear chalk stream-fed waters down south. Could that be the answer? My first cast got me a grabby feeling take and the fish seemed to veer off to the side very quickly and once again shook the hook off. However, the reaction was promising. I had a few follows after that with the fly maybe 10cms subsurface and I thought maybe if I could just keep the fly a little deeper it might work. I went back to my car parked by the lochan and grabbed my other reel and slow intermediate line and changed over to this. I never imagined I would need the intermediate on such a small pond.  It was now getting on a bit in the afternoon by this point and things were getting desperate.

Fish on the 5 weight

A result at last on the Bullet with the new rod.

Low water

The westerly lochan is significantly below its normal level it would appear and not allowed to be fished at present

The line was really a 6 weight but the rod coped with it just fine. Once again a few follows I tried tying on a couple of blobs to the droppers to see if it would attract the fish in to take the point Bullet fly. I also moved up the bank to water I had not fished so much…. a family of swans decided to hunker down halfway up the bank for half the afternoon and I could not get near. I cast out and finally a slight pluck but yes a fish was on and this one did not come off. Relief barely describes it. My Bullet was mangled though so on with another and I got quite a few plucks but no firm hookups. For the last hour of what had been a challenging afternoon, I moved to the other end of the small lochan and tried a few other tactics just to see if they would work. I tried ripping blobs, static buzzers and even a Wotsit under a bung and pulling a few Zonkers. Nothing so much as a reaction. The Bullet seemed to be the most productive fly and a few more casts with this before I went home resulted in a few more plucks but the fish seemed very wary and hard to actually engage. Still, a very enjoyable afternoon in at times very blustery conditions, when the wind would whip around 180 degrees in the space of a false cast which was a bit mad at times.