Plagued? by Perch

Saturday I spent trying my best not to move, though I did manage a rather stiff walk later in the afternoon. Anyone who seen me and thought I was walking like I had shat my pants please be assured I was merely trying to negotiate ankles that wouldn’t flex! I thought maybe my fishing was going to be canned for the foreseeable future as it wasn’t a great day for me. But 24 hours later things seemed a fair bit improved, such are the vagaries of inflammatory arthritis, and  I was inclined to try a few hours fishing on Sunday.

It had been a somewhat changeable day, with occasional heavy cloudbursts and any journeys across town were curtailed by the Stirling Marathon that had been run (sic) this day. The river was tempting but with the rain, I thought it might be a bit dirty so I decided to have my first visit to North Coulter. I haven’t made it up there this season yet.

Very low water, especially for time of year, usually the water is up to the edge of the grass on right.

I left the house about twenty past seven in the evening and it was quite bright and not at all breezy at the house. Even climbing up the back roads to Coulter around by North Third, it seemed reasonably fair. Then I arrived at the loch. It was very grey and once clear of the shelter of the dam wall there was a very stiff wind blowing across the loch right in towards the boathouse and there was a fair bit more than a ripple on the water. It was quite a wild sight.

A Bit of a ‘Brisk’ Night

Not the settled evening I hoped for intially

A bit windy and wild. Not the settled evening I hoped for initially

I was going to be fishing from the bank unfortunately as I have been tied to my pager this weekend, it is an on call week and I need to be able to get back quickly if it goes, so I was bound to fish from the bank, but the wind was not going to make it easy. On the flip side, they do say the windward shore is the place to be and you often don’t need to cast far to find fish. We would find out. The other thing ( and it wasn’t a surprise given recent weather, was the water was very low. There was a good6 or 7 yards of exposed shoreline right round the loch and I would say the water was possibly 4 to 5 feet lower than usual. Once ready in waders- and undersuit, as it really was not warm, I set up my floating line with a gold beaded pheasant tail on point, a Diawl Bach on the middle dropper and a Kate McLaren well ginked up on top. I found a spot about as far from the boathouse along the shore as I could get and started fishing, though the bottom is quite rocky here and the wading a bit tricky and uneven.

Perch

Small Perch

First Perch and a typical small one at the Loch

Larger Perch

Probably the largest Perch I have caught at Coulter, it put up a decent wee fight for a small fish.

Fishing directly out from the bank you could maybe get 25 feet at best and still manage adequate turnover of the flies but it was not easy and I knew I would tire rapidly trying to fight it. Turning slightly side on helped a lot but still casting range was fairly limited and the flies were sweeping round quite quickly in the wind. If I had been in a boat I think I might have been tempted to fish an Intermediate or Neutral density line just to get the flies to hold position in front of me but here on the bank it was quite shallow and the beaded point fly was touching bottom if you fished slow enough to let it. I then had a knock, not hard though and I pulled the line in and had encountered my first Perch of the evening. Nothing big but in the conditions quite welcome. While many anglers complain about being plagued by Perch at times, I personally don’t bother too much, it’s called fishing not trouting, and on a night like this catching one made me feel less alone! I think they are an attractive wee fish. This one took the Diawl Bach. As I worked my way along and into some easier bottom for wading I had a second, this time a proper thump and quite a respectable “large” Perch, for Coulter, it put a bend in the rod and I thought I had a Trout until it came right into hand. This one on the PTN. Two more were caught as I worked along to the boat mooring.

 

The front moves through

The back edge of the weather front that blew through, a clear band of sky behind the earlier heavy clouds.

The Front Moves Through

The weather was still not great and then I spotted the light at the end of the tunnel, well actually the light behind the clouds. Looking south there was a clear line of clear blue sky behind the scudding clouds and I hoped that might be the back edge of the weather front that was clearly passing through. Maybe a little patience was necessary? I had changed flies already but another change was in order and I tied on a wee hares ear on point, and a couple fo bushy flies on the droppers, the top one being one of my recently tied wet Wickhams. The wind started to ease and within 20 minutes there was clear sky overhead, the wind dropped to a breeze and as I fished I spied the first sign of insect life, as a midge rose off the water, soon to be followed by more.

At Last, The Trout

First trout of the evening

First trout on a Hares Ear

I wasn’t sure but thought I had seen some movement in the corner of my eye, it’s funny how our peripheral vision is so acute and it picks up on undue movement. I stopped for a moment to watch and right enough two fishes heads rose literally not a foot out from the water edge, inside of my position. The water wasn’t more than 3 or 4″ deep there. I covered them from close range and thought I felt some dragging at the flies but no take.  A fish splashed out from me so I decided to cover that one and landed the flies acceptably close, much easier now with the wind having dropped so much and as I did a slow retrieve, a pull had me into a trout which turned out to be quite a long slim fish, not sure if that’s a recent addition or a longer term resident, I am inclined to think the latter. Welcome nonetheless. I was then getting frequent plucks and that feeling that there is something there but not quite taking. A fish leapt clear well down the bank towards the dam wall and I pulled off more line and managed to cast close to my entire line ( slightly breeze assisted I must admit). Almost as soon as the flies landed there was a take, I lifted, the rod bent and for a few fleeting seconds a fish was on…. then it wasn’t.

At Range

A fish leapt clear well down the bank towards the dam wall and I pulled off more line and managed to cast close to my entire line ( slightly breeze assisted I must admit). Almost as soon as the flies landed there was a take, I lifted, the rod bent and for a few fleeting seconds a fish was on…. then it wasn’t.

A late fish

Better fish on a wet Wickhams, in the dusk

I kept casting that direction and was sure I was getting some sort of interest but nothing firm. Then I had Perch number five. By now it was getting quite dark and I decided to give it five more minutes. Again a fish moved well out from me and again I covered, let the flies settle and started a slow figure of 8 and again the line tightened and this time a slightly fatter trout was brought in on the Wickhams. By now midges were coming off all over and there were fish showing quite regularly so one last cast led to another and I did get the odd pull, arguably I lost another fish but they were not sticking, before I called it a night. Was great fun though and I was glad I made the effort and stuck it out in the conditions, and I don’t mind the odd Perch to liven up a night.