Winter of our content
IN a winter often bedeviled by snow and ice in Scotland, those anglers keen enough to follow their sport through the inclement weather have had some remarkably decent trout catches. The smaller bank fisheries have certainly been producing the goods, though one of the few Scottish boat venues open throughout the colder months, Raith Lake in Fife, has seen some spectacular returns, with heavyweight rainbows and browns featuring on a fairly regular basis. The quality of the fish there has evoked praise from many of Raith’s visitors. My regular boat partner suffers from withdrawal symptoms if he can’t trout fish at least once a week, and he has been dividing his time this winter between two popular bank fisheries, enjoying excellent results at both. Wellsfield Fishery, near Stirling, comprises three well-stocked lochans in 30 acres of land, two of them fly-only and one for bait fishing. They are always fishable, no matter how low the temperatures drop, thanks to their automatic ice-prevention wave machines. There’s a wide range of fish sizes, and the man in question has been catching plenty of quality trout using a variety of methods, though sink-tip and intermediates with Dancer lures have been particularly profitable. However, small patterns have had their moments too: it all depends on the climatic conditions at the time.
The second venue is also not far from Stirling, and that is Swanswater Fishery [featured in TF503]. I suppose it’s not strictly correct to call it a bank fishery since there are a few boats for hire which have to be moored in the middle before fishing commences. However, it is as a bank venue that it has gained a formidable reputation, as shown by its many regular visitors. It’s been a cold week as I write this, yet 90 per cent of the anglers going to Swanswater caught fish, and there were some fine baskets among those catches. Heather Johnston from Neilston had four for 15lb, a mixed bag which included rainbow, blue and gold trout. Alec Knox from Glasgow had three blues for 11lb 12oz, the heaviest of them tipping the scales at 4lb 8oz. Some fine browns were also caught and released, with Graeme Heatlie putting one back that was estimated at 6lb. Small lures of the Dancer and Whisker variety were effective on an intermediate line under a slow retrieve, although some anglers reported doing well with Bloodworm and Buzzers. The central belt fisheries haven’t had it all their own way, though, and reports from all over the country have been favourable. At Markle in East Lothian, heavyweight rainbows have continued to feature, with Bruce Hunter taking fish of 10lb 2oz and 8lb on an Apps. A Scottish Fund Raiser tournament saw 141 trout caught and returned. Further north, near Dundee, the multi-pool complex at Forbes of Kingennie kept its customers happy. On the Boathouse Pool, Greg McLaren caught and released 16 rainbows, while a Mr Burnett had nine of his own. Small flies were to the fore. The same Greg McLaren also cracked the code on the Burnside Pool, where he returned 13 trout, the same number as Ed Valentine. Even further north, towards Aberdeen, the brave souls who ventured forth at Lochter Fishery were usually well rewarded, and I liked the way the management phrased its weekly report. “A hardy strain of angler was called for,” it declared, “one who looks skywards and scoffs at what Mother Nature can throw at them with a fortitude borne with stoical indifference.” Peter Young had 15 trout from the Muckle Troot Pool, using Buzzers and lures, while Graham Duthie stuck to lures to account for 14 fish, the heaviest being 8lb.