Win­ter of our con­tent

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - News & Views - Ian Muckle A con­trib­u­tor to Trout Fish­er­man for more than 30 years, re­port­ing on Scot­tish news and events.

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.

For­mi­da­ble reputation

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.

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