Before I start this week’s main blog post, there will be one more post “from Islay” sometime probably in the next week, as I work my way through hours and hours of video footage, and try to order it into something reasonably watchable and not overly long. But yesterday I took a break from being sat in front of
The Tide is Out
The club was notified a few months back that the water was being lowered to let SW do some remedial work on the sluice and dam, and they said something like 6-9 feet would be removed from the water level. I reckon its more like 12 feet and some have suggested 14 feet. The tide really has gone out by some considerable distance leaving it nearly unrecognisable and tricky to access.
I had seen several photos from just last weekend that meant I had a fairly good idea what to expect but I have to say even I was surprised at how much it had lowered in the 10 days or so since they were taken. The wee burn that runs into the loch was little more than a foot wide trickle crossing yards and yards of flat dry cracked mud.
The mud patterns are very reminiscent of the mud flats of Death Valley in the USA, making all these crazy paving patterns
I started my fishing by the now very high and dry moorings, or more accurately the ballast for the moorings which has been left well exposed. We know this are was 3.1mtrs deep a few weeks ago and that was when the loch was maybe 2 feet down. These ar enow a couple of feet above the current water level and ther eis evidence to suggest the water has risen a foot, judging by some of the cracked mud being about a foot under water now- this had to be dry at some point. Nothing showed and casting was difficult as there was a strong swirling gusty wind below the dam level.
Another member I have not seen for a while arrived and fished at the same time as me and was having the same problems coping with the mud, the wind and the shy fish. I tried to fish from the dam wall for a while but I really did not feel safe with my daft arthritic feet trying to maintain grip on the rocks at the foot of the dam, and not slip in to some very deep water below. I worked my way out and wandered off round the South side, while George ( the other angler) had a go at the wall, where he evidently felt fairly secure judging by the time he spent there. Some of the subsurface structure really surprised me, I had no idea about the big “walls” and drops on the south side. Fishing from the hard footing of one of these while I cast out maybe 20 odd feet a fish saw fit to rise right under my rod tip before bolting for the depths. I seen it clearly as it headed down slope. This was one of the few fish I seen most of the afternoon. However round on a promintory on the south side as I fought with a near head on wind at times, a fish moved not 8 feet from the rocks where I had dumped my bag, in some very shallow water. I made my way back and worked out how to cover the rough area I had seen the fish and hoped it had remained on station. A couple of casts and there was a fairly gentle take and I was able to net a really rather lovely silvery Brown Trout with a fine big tail on it, probably just over a pound in weight. As Will Gregory had warned me in a text earlier in the day, unhooking was a messy afair and ended up with everything covered in mud.
I think what gets you is how sterile and environment the bottom of the reservoir is. There are plants and weeds around the top metre of the loch ( the margins) but no signs of any plant life at all below there which must be very dark most of the time…..however…..I will qualify that in a bit.
In the Quagmire
I managed to work my way over the wee incoming burn though managed to end up nearly stuck and knee deep in mud in the process trying to get over it. I had visions of Central Scotland Fire and Rescue arriving to winch me out at one stage, but once I got one knee clear and spread my weight a bit I was able to make my way onto firmer ground.
Back at my starting point it was by now very sunny and the wind seemed to be relenting a little, I decided for my last half hour to try an Intermediate line. It was too shallow around the south side for such a tactic but was worth a try around the moorings. I tied on a “micro-lure”. Basically a wee Humungous “style” pattern but tied as a bushy wet fly with a short marabou tail, short enough to fit in the Scottish Clubs Gauge and thus be valid for fishing at the loch. The first cast I had a strong pull. Within a few more casts I had another then another! I then managed to get a fish on, but as I played it, it inexplicably came off. Then having reduced my cast to two flies but now fishing two micro lures, one the Humungous inspired pattern, the other a Yellow Dancer inspired fly, as I fished a couple of walkers came over the mud to ask about the water
Once back fishing I continued to have pulls and even a fish follow