Sea’ing Things – Islay blog 1

Sunrise over Arran

Scenery like this is worth the early rise for. Sun rise behind Arran from the Mull of Kintyre

After a really early start (3 am) on Saturday morning, I was on the Mull of Kintyre before sunrise. I had been watching the weather and cloud forecast all week prior, making my mind up whether I should rise so early and make the effort to try get a photograph looking towards Annan and the rising sun or leave at a more leisurely 6am and head straight to Kennacraig and the boat to Islay. My Photographers Ephemeris App suggested with the right weather it would be worth it and I think the result was acceptable.

After feeding myself to the beach loving midges down Carradale way I headed back to Tarbert with the remaining bits of my face to grab a quick breakfast at Tarbert and then head for the boat. There was not a breath of wind. One think the forecast got wrong.

Cal Mac Ferry

The ferry to Islay

I was on Islay by lunchtime but wasn’t due to meet up with David Wood and Glen Pointon of Fly Fish Islay until after 4pm so used the rest of the afternoon to explore some more photography spots, look at a nice wee river that has to be full of fish, and then meet up with some very old friends who live on the island.

Sunday was to be unsettled. That’s understated language for several rotations of the seasons in one day, sometimes in just one hour. As it was so windy the plan was set to head out and try a bit sea trout fishing in the sea.

At Octovuillin on the shore of Loch Skerrols I met the guys and two more of our small party and after a wee dram, and a blether on what the week had in store, and some nosebag, myself, Glen and Simon went out on Skerrols for the last hour before sunset.

First wild brownie on Islay

Small but perfectly formed. First fish of the trip on the “house” loch , Skerrols

Skerrols is a very shallow sheltered Loch with trees on three sides. There was a perfect amount of ripple on the water and I cast out to make a start from the boat and hooked a fish while I was spooling off some slack line for the next cast. It was just a tiddler and it was flung off somewhat unceremoniously by my lifting the rod tip to make a more deliberate cast. It had taken the small beaded nymph I had on point. However I very soon had the first real fish of the trip on the good old Kate McLaren. Nothing huge but as wild as they come.

Duck broken we fished until after sunset. There was a lot of weed and Simon had the better method I am inclined to think for avoiding the patches of weed on a single dry fly over my three fly team of wets which being just subsurface was picking up snags a lot. Still we both had a fair few small fish.

 

This is something ‘totally’ new to me and I tied up a wee Clouser Minnow pattern for the under Glen’s direction before we headed out.

It was blowing a hoolie at the assembly point and we trudged off to the shoreline ready for the tide turning.

Initially at least it felt a bit futile casting into a narrow channel seeking those salt loving troots as while the tide times suggested the sea should be heading in, it was quite apparent it still wasn’t. I suspect the wind had delayed the in-rush of water. I think also my own misunderstanding of what these fish are about didn’t help. I believe, now, that the are kind of estuary bound fish that live just off shore and come in and out on the tide to feed. Then they will run up the wee local burns to spawn at the appropriate time of year. I didn’t realise this and thought it was more a case of fish that had been to sea for a year or more after some journey round Iceland like a salmon. So it kind of felt like thrashing the water to a foam for the sake of it a bit, which was very probably mistaken. My wrongness was borne out when one of our group had a very big Sea Trout refuse her Muddler within minutes of starting.

Fly fish Islay in the salt

Been there done that, got the hat.,

Brewing up

Mr Pointon gets a brew on….racing against a rising tide!

The tide though did turn and we worked our way up the flats by wading between the kelp seeking out the trout and it became a lot more enjoyable once this was the case. However it was a lot of casting and pulling and like you will know if you read my blog, lure pulling is not something I enjoy that much as it plays havoc with my joints. That and the wading through sand all accumulated to wear me down a bit within about 3 hours and I eventually had to call it a day a wee bit earlier than the rest of the group.

It was an experience and I am glad I had a go but it think it confirms everything I need to know about other branches of the sport like Salmon fishing that it’s never going to be for me. It’s a bit of a lottery and blind hope. I had one wee pull for my efforts and seen a fish swirl by my line but that was it. None of us had one of these rare fish on this occasion. Been there, done that got the tee shirt hat, now on to find some broonies ….