On Nights Like These

Last night ( Saturday) was the 4th Heat I believe of the Scottish Clubs Championship at Lake of Menteith and myself, Willie the Chairman of SCAC and Stan Moore were the willing and able threesome to fish for the club as Team A. It had been a very agreeably warm day and seemed set to be a lovely evening. Hopefully, the midges would stay well away from us. There was a bit of an easterly breeze though it has to be said and the further up the lake you progressed the more it made itself felt.

I was partnered up with Frank, representing Monifieth AC in Dundee and he was on the engine end. He was very kind though in offering me first pick for locations to go. My sources had indicated three places were fishing well, Lochend, Sandy Bay and some fish were to be found in Gateside Bay near the cages. I chose Sandy Bay, the majority of the fleet went to Lochend judging by the race for the bottom corner, and a few went to Gateside and the Plantation. My boat partner said a few fish had been getting picked up at Plantation during the daytime session.

With it being so warm it seemed likely the fish might be down a bit, though I think everyone was ready for top of the water sport later on. The question was just how deep need you go at the off?

A roach from Lake of Menteith

A roach. I had an idea there were some in the Lake having seen some near the boat houses but never caught one before.

I opted for a midge tip and my boat partner had a slow glass on. I had basically a team of buzzers on. A Wedding Ring Buzzer on point, an Olive Skinny Cormorant on the middle dropper and a Black and red skinny Cormorant on top dropper. On the first drift down all seemed very quiet when I felt a fish then my boat partner was in too. But this was no proper Menteith fish and I thought maybe it was a wee wild Brownie. Nope, it was, of all things, what I think was, a Roach! And Frank had one two, quite decent sizes too. Pretty sure these were not expected to be recorded, they were both returned. I can only assume we hit a shoal of them on the drift. However, we soon spotted the dd fish topping, probably more to my side of the boat than Franks though the boat seemed to have a bit of a rightward drift to it anyway. I had just cast and straightened my line out and as I retrieved a fish topped about six feet to the left of my line but seemed to be heading my way. I just kept the retrieve steady and was rewarded with a solid hook up and a 3lb Rainbow into the net. It weighed in at the end officially as 2lb 14 and a half, but that was 4 hours later!

Around sunset on Lake of Menteith

A gorgeous evening on the Lake of Menteith

There was quite clearly a sizeable pod of fish out in the middle of the Bay and activity slackened off as we got further down towards the margins. Frank had reckoned he had a few pulls but nothing took solidly and we were still aware of activity behind us at the bottom of the drift so opted to run through them again. The fish were still showing, especially when the still bright and warm sun moved behind the fleeting clouds, but again no offers to speak of. I never had so much as a touch. I swapped a few buzzers but it made no real odds though left the Olive Cormorant in place. Right near the end of the second drift I had my second pull but it was fast and not very hard, and no fish to reward it.

We then moved up to Plantation. We had noted the one boat that went there had stayed so reckoned maybe there was some activity. However once up there it was incredibly windy and the wind was pushing the boat quite rapidly into the shore, and as it’s not particularly deep here I for one was getting snagged on the bottom right away. Frank reckoned on another pull here but again it never stuck.

It was pretty rubbish in the wind here and we decided to take a look at Gateside Bay. Only one boat was here and I had been up at the Lake the night before taking some photo’s and had noticed there was a few fish showing off the point at the corner into Gateside from the Rookery. We set up a drift here and right away did see one fish but that was it and it seemed pretty quiet and neither of us encountered any fish. The wind was carrying us out from the shore into the middle and didn’t seem terribly conducive to fishing the margins. We did notice a few Danica Mayflies making an appearance and for a time I tried a wee Mayfly Nymph Pattern to see if it stirred any interest. Nothing cared it seemed.

Motoring to Lochend

Heading down the Lake again

We then decided to go see what was happening at Lochend. Passing a few boats heading the other way, on the way down I noticed one of the was teammate Willie. I thought he indicated to me he had two fish as we passed. I signalled one for me. Down at Lochend, we had definitely encountered the fleet. There were five boats here with another three up by the Butts.

Franks second fish

Frank fighting the second fish, with a tail like a shovel

We found a hole and nipped in near the trees. There were a few anglers into fish as we arrived ad clear signs of fish rising close in nearer the chalets. I decided as it was now getting on for 9 pm and fish were visible to swap to a floating line but left my flies in place. Frank was still on the intermediate but toying with a swap to a floater when he had a take and his first fish of the night,  taking a cruncher on the point. I still had no offers so changed my point fly to a Pheasant tail nymph and first cast was rewarded with a hard pull that didn’t result in a hook up, unfortunately. The offers dried up but fish were pretty apparent all over the bay rising in pods then disappearing again. They did appear quite wary of the boat and if you tried to move close to them they vanished like ghosts for a while. As the sun set fully the temperature dropped quite markedly and the fish rose at times in numbers you felt you could walk over their backs and keep your feet dry. However were the catching only to be so plentiful… I tried a good few dries, a number of Yellow Owl variants, olive and black emergers and even tried a Double Decker in case it aroused some interest. I was fishing two dries fairly far apart but only had one fish rise for a look but it never swallowed the fly. Frank cast out to the side of the boat on one occasion and immediately was rewarded with a thumping rise and take from a fish with a tail like a shovel. Clearly not a recent stockie, it put up a bit of a fight before coming to the net.

Sunset on the Lake

A stunning night to be out, though it got cold it must be said

The night wore on and though we covered numerous fish, trying twitching flies and all sorts nothing seemed very interested at all. One or two anglers seemed to be getting fish fairly consistently so clearly had it sussed but as many didn’t appear to be getting anything.  After a stunning sunset which was a privilege to behold and another half hour or so’s fishing we motored back to the weigh in. I was expecting to be wooden spoon in my team for the night but nope, the other way round, I was the only one of our trio to catch. Willie had not seen fish all night and Stan had had two takes but they hadn’t stayed on and he hadn’t managed to suss what they wanted either. A few anglers had unlocked the secret and there were a few reasonable counts of fish but I think there were just as many blanks, very much a game of two halves and I was just on the good side of lucky.

Moonlit wake of boat

Then run back for the finish was quite nice with the moon shining on the water