Getting Smutty

Saturday was the first outing for the 2018 season of Stirling Castle Angling Club and to pick the one day out of 365 which turned out to be summer in Scotland, has to be sheer good luck.

Epic Day Report

There was a lot of talk in the car park before the boats got underway of the epic day at Menteith earlier in the week, and posted on Facebook on Friday night by the fishery. A SANACC clubs heat was held and returned a record catch of 403 fish and a rod average of 11.5 fish! One angler had 39! If there were any blanks you would want to keep that quiet!

As we got the gear to the boat fish were rising right out from the beaching area and once boats were underway angling started immediately. My boat partner was David Hunter and he made for good company through what was to turn out a

David Hunter

My boat partner for the day David Hunter, a thoroughly agreeable crew member!

very seasonably warm day but it has to be said very, very hard.

Finding fish was not an issue there were fish in every area we ventured. Over the day we fished from Hotel Bay right up to the Malling Shore and never really encountered areas devoid of fish. Yeah, they switched on and off at times but they were there. Catching them was a whole other kettle of fish. I am not sure if they got wary from the leathering they had earlier in the week or if they were preoccupied with something smaller than we could see in the water, but getting one t take was a real problem. There were fly hatches throughout the day, some more obvious than others but I never once seen a fish actually rise to an obvious fly on the surface,

Catching them on dries, though seeming to be an obvious tactic, never returned even so much as a look at the fly. Teams of buzzers in black or olive either straight lined or washing line style, on floating, midge tip or slow intermediates I think seemed the most popular method employed throughout the fleet but was being met with very limited success.

I started with skinny Cormorants washing line style, changing the booby on point for a dry and then another and another and had nothing. David my boat partner had a couple of pulls when he put a damsel on the point but was similarly fishless going into lunchtime.  After lunch I got my first real pull on a wee cruncher ( I think- it was hard to tell which fly was the one being looked at) but it wasn’t the dry fly on the point.

A Lost Cause, Nearly a Broken Rod

Finally, as the wind rose and the drift became faster ( in the morning we were becalmed for long periods as it was very still) after putting a small beaded nymph on point I had a slamming take about 2-rod lengths from the boat. It was a deep powerful fish that lunged for the bottom. We couldn’t though have been in the water more than 6-7 feet deep and as sudden as the take was, the line just went totally solid and wouldn’t move. I was unsure, was the fish just sitting hard on the bottom or was I somehow caught on something? I did not have long to do something about it as the boat was drifting quite fast and if I didn’t release it we would drift into my rod. I was forced to straighten things out and try to pull on the line to release it and then the line suddenly came free. I couldn’t feel the fish and thought I must have been snagged on a log or root with the fish getting loose. In releasing the line it sprung back coiling around my rod shaft. And as I started to recover it suddenly away it went again, the fish was still on apparently! But now with the line around the middle of the rod and the boat right over it, I was in real danger of breaking my rod as the fish went right under the boat and I couldn’t get the line to run out. Luckily ( in a sense) the fish broke off the fly on the dropper- I think it was a small black and grey ribbed buzzer and I got everything else back without any breakages.

  • David plays his fish

    David fighting the second of his pair of trout

    A midge

    A Midge cripple that I managed to recover, black with grey segments and about a size 14. Matching this hatch was ineffective.

    Just another turn of my luck at Menteith which continues to be a bit of a bogey for me. We drifted here between the Malling Shore and Stable Point a few times and with no more offers moved up to the top of Roman Bay and just as we started and I think as David was about to lift off he hooked into his first fish of the day on a Green ribbed Diawl Bach right on the surface by the boat.

    It was definitely much quieter here as we saw fewer rises but there were still fish around. As we drifted back towards Gateside Bay David got a second on a Yellow Dancer. I opted for a total change of tactics and went onto a slow intermediate, a Yellow Dancer Booby on point and a couple of buzzers on the droppers.

    Returning a Menteith Trout

    My fish going back

    Down the side of Gateside Bay we saw a fish rise a couple of times and I cast slightly into a headwind at this time ( it turned throughout the day) and just as the booby landed there was a rise right behind the fly, as I retrieved it came again and while I never felt anything seemed to have a look. I tried again and on landing, nothing showed. The booby slowly went under as the line sank and I retrieved and about 2-3 metres into the recovery there was a sharp pull and at last iIhad a fish on that I got to the net. This looked to be a blue trout, certainly, it looked very silvery blue.

    During the last hour or so we encountered another of the club boats and it seemed they too had had a similar kind of day to us,  with quite a few lost fish and only a couple actually netted. Back at the lodge it semed a common story with nearly everyone with a story of lost fish and being surrounded by rising trout with nothing t show for it. The theory was they were smutting and fixated on something very small. I think there were a handful of boats from the fleet that did reasonably well but the majority seemed to be ones and two’s. Still, one of the best days this year to be out on the water, hopefully, the weather improves enough for there to be a few more.