And suddenly it’s that time of year and I find myself in a car full of fishing kit heading up the A1 to the far, far northwest of Scotland in search of one of the elusive four pounders that lurk in the hill lochs of Scourie.
First stop is John Norris in Penrith to replenish my stock of moleskin trousers. Mild tragedy when I discover that I now need the next size waist up.
Anyhow, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, Pitlochry, Inverness, Ullapool and, some ten hours after setting off from York, finally Scourie. Hoorah.
Day one saw me on one of the plum bigger fish beats, Mid-Chain. It’s a busy beat with a lot of lochans and if you connect with something there’s a decent chance it will be a good fish. This is a typical bit of Mid-Chain water:
Well, after a lot of walking and many hours of hard fishing I did end up connecting with four fish. Sadly none of them were the biggies which was a bit of a bummer, maybe around a pound. But no blank – let’s be grateful for that:
Well I’d knackered myself on day one, so day two was bank fishing from the massive roadside loch Na Thull. Unusually for a big loch there are some good fish in here. The thinking is that is probably because there’s some fish farming activity in the loch with a raft of floating cages and that some of the local fish get a good feed of pellets. This is one view of part of the loch from a cliff that I found myself reluctantly having to scale if I wanted to get around:
Incidentally, there’s some weird flora up in this part of the world, not least some kind of carnivorous plant that looks a bit like a venus fly trap:
Also spotted a nice example of what I think is a northern marsh orchid:
Enough of this Fotherington Thomas nonsense and back to the fishing. Again, no monsters just a dozen or so ranging from 12 inches downwards:
Day three and it was up to another beat with the potential for something meaty, ‘Numbers’. One of the hotel anglers had picked out a two-pounder the previous day from one of the smaller lochans on the beat and had been smashed by something ‘considerably bigger’.
This lochan looked promising and I hid up behind the rock and watched it for a bit in the drizzle:
It’s more or less triangular, about 20m each side. I spotted something moving in the far corner and spent about half an hour edging forward on my knees, casting an emerger six inches further each time. Got to the end and nothing happened. Boo. So I stood up, aching, and fished as much of the water as methodically as I could. Suddenly something swirled up and a nice fish took the fly. At first I reckoned it was a two-pounder, but I think I may have to revise that downwards by a bit. Let’s say a pound and a half:
Whatever, it was a nice fish and I was chuffed with it. Had another smaller one on a different loch:
Ended up with half a dozen or so.
Final day was Sedwicks beat, lots of water involving a fair bit of hiking. It flippin rained all day in only the way that it can in the Scottish hills. I had about 20 fish altogether but none reached the pound mark:
And that was that. Plenty of fish, no clonkers. Next year maybe.