Montana Country

I think I have heard Montana in the USA referred to as “Big Sky Country”. Orchil fishery just up the road near Auchterarder has to be Montana Country. I say that because it is the only place I have ever managed to catch anything on that well-known trout pattern, the Montana Nymph.  I don’t know the origins of the Montana Nymph, if it has any throwback to Big Sky Country, but if it does, I wouldn’t fancy bumping into one of their nymphs on a dark night in a poorly lit Cul-De-Sac I have to say if they look anything like the trout pattern.

I deliberately held off on a rivers outing this weekend, despite an offer to head for the Nith yesterday, and bright and fine weather today ( though maybe the rivers were up a wee bit after some overnight rain- I don’t know I never checked) mainly because I am trying to nurse my somewhat threadbare and tatty waders to May and have one or two outings, one hopefully later this week, where I definitely will need them. All that’s really holding them together now is a copious coat of strategically placed Aquasure. I have, you might be surprised to learn, already purchased a new pair, and some new boots too but for reasons too convoluted to bore you with here, they “aren’t in the country” just yet. The small matter of a 7000mile round trip isn’t immediately easy to overcome. So it’s make do with what I have and try to make the best use of them I have my hands on their replacements.

It being a bright day and above freezing I thought Orchil would be worth a visit, its been a wee while since I was last there, clearly longer than even I realised as a rather nice house has been built at one end of the lochan, and I don’t recall that being underway last time I was there. I am told the build started in March and am sure I have been there since then but maybe now. But Orchil has always been a good venue for me, and around this time 3-4 ( actually 2012- so a bit longer than that too!) seasons ago I had something of a red letter day there and caught it all on video. I haven’t repeated that particular feat there since but I live in hope!

When I bought my ticket I was told it was slow going and certainly that was my experience today. However, it was not for the lack of fish as fish were moving on top all around the main basin of the loch but they just didn’t seem particularly keen to take much that was offered to them. Most anglers seemed to be resorting to bungs though I have to say the evidence of my own eyes didn’t suggest it was a method that was “slaying” them. I saw one or two anglers catching under bungs but to be honest I think more conventional methods seemed to be more effective.

Top rod at Orchil

Top Rod: This lad went through a spell of practically a fish a cast. He had it sussed!

One angler who I guess had been there most of the morning, seemed to have it sussed. He was putting a bag of fish in his car as I arrived and then returned to fish catch and release opposite me. I think he might have emptied the loch had he fished at the same spot the entire afternoon as he hooked fish after fish for about 30 -40 minutes at one stage before moving on up the loch. He didn’t look to be fishing under any sort of indicator. For my part, I started on an intermediate with a small mini-cat on the point and a couple of spiders on the droppers. I think I might have had one slight dragging pull fishing like this but I wasn’t sure and it wasn’t until a fish splashed maybe 2-3 metres behind my retrieved point fly that I really thought that maybe that same fish had had a look.

Fish on the line

First fish puts up a fight

With fish moving on top all over the place though I decided to swap to a floating line and change the unweighted point fly for a weighted version of the same pattern. Almost right away I cast over an area I had seen a fish move and I got a solid take that then took me a few minutes to get to the net. I didn’t realise quite how big a fish it was until I managed just to squeeze it into the net, it was tight.  I kept the fish in the water as I unhooked the Cat but reckon it was around the 4lb mark certainly well over 3lb. A very deep solid Rainbow.

Heavy Rainbow Trout

The second fish, I think you can see here how little it tapers towards its tail, it was a heavy fish.

I fished on here maybe another 20 mins but no more offers came despite plenty fish moving. I had spied a few at the peg to my left so moved there to try my luck. I decided to give a washing line a go and lengthened my leader to about 18 feet with a skinny Cormorant and a Diawl Bach on the droppers and a Sugar lump buzzer holding the line up. I really wasn’t expecting the dry to be of much interest to the fish but I have to say while nothing looked to be about to take it there were some very close rises beside it. After giving this and a few other patterns, a go on the long leader, I changed the, by now, small point beaded nymph for a Montana Nymph. In the video above back in 2012, a good few fish were caught on the Montana and a kind of Montana variant I had with me then, and though I put one out now and again to give it a swim, I have only ever caught on it at Orchil. I tried it today and the second cast, out a good way, I felt a pull, though wasn’t initially sure if I had just a knock or an actual fish on. I think my rod was well past the vertical before I really felt the weight of the fish on the line. The distance out and line stretch definitely played a part here but I did manage to hook it and keep it on. However, this fish felt very heavy and I never caught sight of it until I was just about to net it when I finally got its head up. It just wanted to stay hard on the bottom thrashing its head like a Grayling and going off on long runs and trying to snag me in the reeds to my left, twice. But I kept the pressure on and was a little surprised at the size of it when it finally came to the net. Again, not a long fish but even heavier than the first. I could barely lift the net so decided not to, and managed to get onto a shallow edge on the loch to unhook it in the net in the water. Comfortably 4lb this time.

After this but for one further small tug when fishing on the other side of the loch, things went much quieter. Yeah, the odd fish had a splashing fit on the surface, I reckon they spend a lot of time dormant hard on the bottom at this time of year, and as a result, get covered in leeches so come to the top and splash around to try to dislodge them….. that’s my theory and I am sticking to it! But I decided to call it a day a wee bit early as my shoulders were giving me serious Gipp and I didn’t want to push things needlessly when the pickings were so slim. I think most anglers did get something but a couple of fish seemed to be about average. A nice day to be out though and must try to get back to Orchil sooner next time.