Top-of-the-wa­ter Tinto

Two lochs at Tinto Trout Fishery pro­vide a va­ri­ety of fish­ing con­di­tions and chal­lenges. Au­topi­lot an­glers should look else­where…

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents - Words & pic­tures: Jef­frey Prest

Three Tinto regulars show­case their sur­face tech­niques

ON an­other oc­ca­sion, they could have been f it­ting epi­taphs to the an­gling day from hell: a jour­nal­ist driven to semidelir­ium by a tor­rid sun be­cause he hasn’t any wa­ter with him, and a fish­er­man with arms so red that when he low­ers them into the wa­ter in search of re­lief, you half-ex­pect to hear hiss­ing rem­i­nis­cent of a black­smith’s forge. Yet how­ever in­aus­pi­cious the weather for f ish­ing, it has been a glo­ri­ous day at Tinto Trout Fisher y in ever y sense, right from the mo­ment when Gwen­do­line, wife of the late owner John Reid and mother of his son and suc­ces­sor Munro, led me to the top of the dam wall on Loch Ly­och, the lower of the venue’s two f ive-acre lochs. As we look across the ledge on which it sparkles, against the im­pos­ing back­drop of the Tinto Hills, a sparse stand of Scots pines el­e­gantly lin­ing the western bank, f ly fish­ing seems al­most to have been pre-or­dained for this per­fect set­ting.

Mis­sion state­ment

The Reids’ wish is for this to be a f isher y for fish­er­men. Not a unique mis­sion state­ment and one which non-an­glers would find barmy, but you and I know what they mean. A place de­void of the ‘quota and con­veyor belt’ mind­set. There was a time when ever y thing in the two lochs was brown with dainty spots and had to be re­turned, but then Munro be­gan to feed rain­bows and blues into Ly­och to coa x ad­di­tional vis­i­tors. Some­where be­tween ide­al­ism and com­mer­cial­ism, lies a happy medium. But f ish­ing by num­bers it cer­tainly isn’t. As the day pro­ceeds, I’ll watch Greg For­rest and his f ish­ing part­ners, Gre­gor Flem­ing and Mike Walker, be up to their waists wad­ing one side of Ly­och, while work­ing skinny wa­ter on the other. When they take me up the hill to Loch Cleugh, home ex­clu­sively to brown­ies both stocked and wild, I am con­fronted with wa­ter that looks im­pos­si­bly clear. So clear, in­deed, and so crazed by thirst am I at this point, that, hav­ing watched one lo­cal hap­pily quaff from a Perthshire loch a few days ear­lier, I de­cide to risk a mouth­ful. Two months on, not so much as a rash. That clear. The prob­lem with ul­tra-clear wa­ter, of course, is that while see­ing your f ish so v iv idly is ver y ex­cit­ing, the process is enti rely re­cip­ro­cal. By the time you fac­tor in the bar­rier of weed just off the south­ern bank, through which you have to ne­go­ti­ate any thing you catch, you re­alise that this is a venue that is likely to re­quire your A-game. A f isher y for f ish­ers, in­deed. Greg For­rest is one of those who has em­braced rather than re­jected the chal­lenge, for around 20 years. “The lochs aren’t too man­i­cured, which en­cour­ages plent y of in­sect life, but feed ing can be ver y dif­fer­ent be­tween them,” he says. “The up­per loch is deeper, so it’s more ter­res­tri­als. You get lots of heather f ly; some sedges. I use smaller f lies there and black’s a good colour.

“The lower loch is shal­lower, with weedbeds more a fac­tor. There are a lot of damsels and Buzzers fish well by the dam. There are some tiger trout in there that have been taken on Buzzers. You also get a lot of black bee­tles and some big sedge hatches, more so than on the up­per loch.” The shal­lows on Ly­och’s western shore, he adds, pro­vide some great ‘f lats-st yle’ fish­ing when fish ven­ture into them on cool evenings, so never wade with­out ex­am­in­ing them f irst. Once it’s time to push out into deeper wa­ter, you can wade to about knee high, which should be enough to ex­plore the deeper wa­ter in front of you. Wad­ing to waist high is pos­si­ble from the eastern bank. Sub­merged weedbeds en­sure that there is as much food in the wa­ter as there is ar­riv­ing on it. The apex form­ing the loch’s south­ern tip, where grasses emerge above the sur­face, can be a sedge hot­bed for any­one cast­ing in the v icinit y.

See for your­self

At the time of writ­ing, Google Maps ser ve v isi­tors well, for not only does the satel­lite im­age show Ly­och’s shal­lows and weeded ar­eas but it also shows Cleugh empty for main­te­nance. With steep sides, wad­ing in the lat­ter is best left to those an­glers who know it in­ti­mately, for there are some sharp drop-offs. Not that those are our main prob­lem to­day. Wa­ter clar­ity and fe­ro­cious sun­light, you’d think, would be fa­tal for our chances on Cleugh, yet amaz­ingly, the boys take f ish up there, Greg net­ting the trout of the day - a long brownie whose golden belly is topped with crazy paving cover of crisp, dark spots. “It’s taken a CdC pat­tern which I got

“The Reids’ wish is for this to be a fishery for fish­er­men...A place de­void of the quota and con­veyor belt mind­set.”

from TroutFish­er­man, ex­cept I’ve never been able to tilt my CdC heads, so it just stands straight up,” says Greg. “It’s still caught me loads of fish, mind…” What­ever its orig­i­nal name, this pat­tern is now known as the Gumbo Spe­cial, Greg’s sur­name hav­ing pre­dictably earned him the nick­name ‘Gump’… On both lochs, he has fished it with two Buzzers or Di­awl Bachs dan­gling wash­ing­line st yle be­hind it (see di­a­gram). Let­ting the f lies set­tle, he even­tu­ally gives them an oc­ca­sional tweak or em­ploys a ver y slow f ig ure-of-right re­trieve. “If sedges are hatch­ing or there are a lot of olives about, I’ll re­trieve with a faster f ig­ure-of-eight,” he tells me. “The CdC em­u­lates a sedge los­ing its shuck.”

Imi­ta­tion all year

In def­er­ence to its wild oc­cu­pants, he con­cen­trates on im­i­ta­tive pat­terns on Cleugh through the year, the ex­cep­tions an oc­ca­sional Cat’s Whisker or Damsel lure as win­ter ar­rives. With such pris­tine wild browns com­ple­mented by stocked fish at Tinto, I asked Greg about the ad­just­ments he has to make when he’s had his quota of stockies and wants to tar­get a wild trout. “It’s not such a big change here be­cause the stocked f ish switch on to nat­u­ral f lies quickly,” he replies, “but I al­ways look to match the hatch. I’ll f ish a Bibio with a dr y f ly some­times, be­cause the Bibio im­i­tates a lot of black f lies. With lures, I might tr y a Black Rab­bit, as we get a lot of min­nows. “A nother op­tion if you’re af­ter a brownie would be a Bibio with a size 14 gold­head Hare’s Ear. Sparse, Clyde-st yle wet f lies also do well on Cleugh.” Brownie, blue trout and rain­bows: for three guys who were ap­par­ently “pan­ick ing” at hav­ing to pro­duce f ish to or­der for a mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle – they cer tainly haven’t shown it. But be warned – you’re a thou­sand feet nearer the sun by the time you’ve climbed to Tinto, and ev­ery now and then, it will feel like it. Wa­ter bot t le. Sun cream. En­joy.

“...he con­cen­trates on im­i­ta­tive pat­terns on Loch Cleugh through the year...”

Mike Walker pre­pares to net one on Ly­och. The Tinto Hills form a mem­o­rable back­drop to the fishery.

Such im­pres­sive mark­ings. The fish isn’t bad, ei­ther.

Af­ter a spell on Loch Cleugh, Gre­gor, Greg and Mike head back to Ly­och.

Work­ing your catch safely through the weed patches is one of Cleugh’s chal­lenges.

Sedge pat­terns can be deadly at Ly­och’s south­ern end.

An Odva Beetle (above) and reg­u­larly de-greased leader were key for Scot­tish in­ter­na­tional Gre­gor Flem­ing on his first visit to Tinto. FACTFILE

Odva Beetle Hook: Size 16 Thread: Black UTC 70 Body: Pea­cock herl with foam shell Wing: Pink Aero Wing Gumbo Spe­cial Hook: Size 12 wet fly Thread: UTC 8/0 black Rib: Fine sil­ver wire Body: Fox squir­rel and mother of pearl tin­sel Wing: 4 (for calm con­di­tions) or 5 CdC plumes

UV CdC Hook: Size 10 or 12 Ka­masan B160 Thread: Black UTC 70 Butt: Red Holo Tin­sel Body: UV, black and gold strag­gle Tho­rax: Squir­rel dub­bing Wing: 10-12 CdC plumes

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.