Less than Favorable Circumstances

A couple of outings here condensed into one.

Midweek at Pendreich

I had a couple of hours ( probably not even that) up at Pendreich last Wednesday or Thursday- trying to remember now… I had a night shift (after my day shift) to do and needed a couple of hours out the house and away from screens and keyboards so headed up to Pendreich in the hope it might be OK. There was a fairly brisk Easterly wind and I couldn’t be bothered getting all togged up in waders etc. for the time I was going to be there so I just took a walk round, first having a wee cast from the South bank with the wind coming over my right shoulder, not ideal for a right-hander. Then I wandered right around the nature sanctuary end to have a wee cast from the North bank where there was one other angler. Never touched a thing and but for a few fish jumping out in the middle never seen any signs of life. Of the other anglers up there one had nothing, the other had managed one early on in his session but proclaimed it wasn’t fishing so well. I have not had too bad a season there myself this year. July can be difficult anyway but usually due to flat calms and fish either gorging on the inevitable Caenis or skulking in higher water temperatures. Not usually due to incessant east winds and cold! Not to worry, it made heading home to start work again easier than had it been a great night.

Pendreich from the nature reserve end.

The weather looks fairer in this image than the reality. A cold easterly dominated.

SCAC Outing to Carron Valley

Sunday I was at Carron Valley for a club outing. The conditions were a wee bit wild early on with a strong Westerly blowing into the east dam. I was a bit later than my appointed 09:00 start as we waited on some late arrivals to appear ( they didn’t) and I ended up in a boat on my own.   I don’t mind as it means I can do my own thing and take a few photos when I need a break from fishing. Having said that CV isn’t  a place I know that well, it is an imposing big reservoir and it’s about as close to sea fishing in a rowing boat as you will find shoreside, when out in the middle. Finding fish can be a challenge, having a more familiar boat partner can help a lot.

Finding fish can be a challenge, having a more familiar boat partner can help a lot.

We also had a bit of an administrative issue where the prices on the day £64 for an 8 fish, take ticket per boat did not match the prices on the website which says £56. CV needs to fix this.

As a result, we ended up on C&R tickets ( though maybe that was fortuitous in the end). Our organiser said he had seen that the night before’s Carron Valley Masters had shown few Rainbows landed and mostly all wild brownies were in the catch returns. In a water about 2 and a half miles long cover near enough 700 acres that’s like looking for a needle in several haystacks!

SCAC members getting out form the moorings

Getting the boats out with a moderately strong wind blowing into the bottom corner was fun

Initially, I opted to stay at the dam end in case my AWOL boat partner turned up late and I could motor in and get him. This was not making for easy fishing. Crossing the wind in the boat with only me at the stern was hairy, to say the least, and felt like it might lead to a capsize a couple of times as I hit a few bigger waves with the front of the boat relatively high. Then by the time you set the boat up beam on, stopped the engine, got the drogue over the side, and myself ready to fish, I had covered half the drift already and had not cast a line and was speeding towards the dam wall. I gave this a couple of goes. Restful fishing it was not and I was frankly struggling. But seeing a few other boats had given up on this too ( boats with up to three in them- there was a ladies competition on, on Sunday and so they had two anglers and a boatman) and not seeing any fish landed I eventually took the hint and made a run from the east end all the way to the shelter of the west end.

Things calmed down once you rounded the corner of the somewhat dog-legged reservoir, in the middle and up at the top end, it was really quite calm. The difficulty was what you could not see. A very strangely swirling breeze. One minute you were drifting into the dam all the next the boat was drifting across the wall the next away from it. As I had puttered into the west end I had noticed some fish rising near the weedy corner of the wall but do you think I could get the boat to either drift in suitably to cover? It was a struggle. I did eventually cover all this water but it was a right faff. I had a midge tip line on and a unweighted hot head damsel on the point and a Diawl Bach and black spider with a green butt, on droppers. In a few drifts I consistently had pulls, probably three or four but none of them resulted in hookups. I thought it was probably the damsel getting the reaction on a fairly brisk retrieve but no fish showed as a result. Another of our club boats motored over and Peter told me he got two rainbows in a couple of casts fishing a booby almost as soon as they arrived at the wall but then it had quietened and they hadn’t had more, his boat partner Dougie had lost one early on “pulling the fly from the fish’s mouth” he said. That happens sometimes.

Fishing near the Western Dam Wall at Carron Valley

Close to the Wall. The wind couldn’t make up its mind and here the lads are fishing off both sides of the boat as the wind changed its mind yet again

They fished in close to the wall for a bit where I pointed out some fish moving but I don’t think they got any. I continued to have issues with the boat changing direction, at one stage it drifted one way then turned, looping the drogue round the engine prop. Lucky I noticed and hadn’t started it! They motored off – it was now very calm but for frequent rain squalls, and I tired of trying to tempt these fish that wouldn’t connect so headed elsewhere. I had once had a successful trip to CV at one of the beaches where you can wade from and I noticed a shore angler fishing just up from there so decided to try my old haunt from the boat.

Along the line of the beach, I never got any reaction and the boat drifted into a bay that comes very near the road. I had changed flies a few times by now and I think at this point I was fishing a washing line of Boobie on point and an Olive and a Black Cormorant. As I neared the margins I decided to test the depth with my rod and even only 15 yards from shore noticed the full length of the rod held in the water wasn’t touching bottom. I decided to take the booby off and put a gold headed Damsel on, something to get down a bit. My first 4 or 5 cast had nothing and the thought passed through my head… “this is dead water” when suddenly I had a pretty strong pull. It restored my enthusiasm and I thought “try that again”. I cast out and never started the retrieve right away, just let the damsel sink a bit, then started to retrieve in short pulls, BANG!!! I can only say the pull I had this time was as close to accidentally touching the live wire in your mains wiring. It felt like an electric shock! The rod was nearly pulled from my grasp. Yet still, it didn’t hook up. I was literally shaking, I have never felt a fish pull like that ever and not to get the hook up was astonishing. It had to be on the Damsel. I was now getting too close to the weeds to continue so rowed out and before I tried again I cut the tail on the fly down by about half with my scissors.

The same tactic I think had two or three more sharp- not so strong this time, pulls but yet again no fish to show for it. My third drift the action stopped so I decided it was time to try elsewhere. I had noticed one or two boats on station in the bay directly opposite me on the other side so I motored over there. The first boat I encountered was Peter and Dougie again. “This bit is full of wee Broonies” they said. Splashing at the flies but not especially easy to catch. “What the hell” I thought “might as well give it a go”.

Carron Valley in the rain

Panorama of an unsettled and squally Carron Valley


you have to make a judgement call do I fish in a fashion suitable for rainbows or browns?

When you fish somewhere like CV I think you are really expecting to target Rainbows, as they are the fish you are paying for. The browns are the resident fish. So you have to make a judgement call do I fish in a fashion suitable for rainbows or browns? So far my focus had been on the Rainbows. I changed my cast for a team of wet flies still on the midge tip and went in near the first boat in the drift. I didn’t feel I needed to tuck in right behind as I noticed fish moving all the way in across the bay. Right enough fish were rising in clusters and sometimes they would splash along the line of my leader where my flies were but none touched it on this first drift. I decided to change to a full floating line and try some bushy dries. These too got no real show of interest, just nearby splashes.

I scaled down my leader to a tapered one, and put on some much lighter tippet with two dries, a Bobs Bits and a Small Yellow Owl in a #16

Carron Valley Brown

Not huge but welcome just the same, a wild Carron Valley Brown trout. All head and no body

Right away a fish looked at the Owl but it did not connect. I had a few more near things. I think on about my fourth drift through as the rain started finally a fish very near the boat just came up and took the Yellow Owl. What they were taking on the water was anyone’s guess, there were some tiny midges about but it wasn’t clear it was these being favoured. Even here they seemed to splash at their quarry and I suspect take then as they drowned. It wasn’t a huge fish, a modest wee wild Brown with an oversized head it seemed for its body. The fly was right down its throat so was a pig to release and it had to be the slipperiest fish I have handled in a long time. But the barbless hook came out with the forceps easy enough and it swam off.

Fun as it was I decided to go back to targeting ‘bows for my last half hour before the run back down to the bottom end but never had anything.

Anglers out on Carron Vallley

It’s a big water when it’s all out in front of you like that

At the end of the day, I think in total there were at best half a dozen rainbows caught amongst the twelve anglers from the club, quite a few browns were caught but it seemed mostly in the morning, the catch rate appeared to tail right off in the afternoon.  I don’t know how many blanks there were but there were a lot of anglers with one, fish like me. One had twenty browns, and one nine all but two being browns. The competition anglers sounded like they too had had a tough day with I heard 2 or three fish being reported by some anglers. So far from easy or ideal.

I noticed they stocked it today!