Lin­lith­gow owes us…

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

“Given all this, it's fair to say we ap­proached the grande fi­nale of the sea­son's last day with some trep­i­da­tion...”

IT’S al­ways tempt­ing fate to say, “Wait ‘til next year…,” but if the signs are right, 2019 be could be a bumper sea­son at my own lo­cal patch, Lin­lith­gow Loch. Just say­ing good­bye to 2018 will be a start, for many of its reg­u­lars. We knew from its weekly stock­ing that there were plenty of fish in the loch this year, but for some rea­son, from late-July to the end of the sea­son, the rain­bows were just not be­ing caught in any­thing like the nor­mal num­bers. Even the venue’s most con­sis­tent an­glers were com­ing in blank, or with only a sin­gle fish to show for their ef­forts. The wa­ter qual­ity was checked by the experts and seemed to be fine. The feel­ing among the man­age­ment was that there was no sin­gle cause for the lull, but rather a com­bi­na­tion of sev­eral fac­tors. We had an ex­cep­tion­ally se­vere win­ter fol­lowed by an ex­cep­tion­ally warm sum­mer, with weed exploding into life all over the loch, and var­i­ous al­gal blooms caus­ing dif­fer­ent changes of colour in the wa­ter. As the weed died back, it left a vis­i­ble trace, which not only did noth­ing for the wa­ter clar­ity but also stank to high heaven. Added to this, there was long-term con­struc­tion work tak­ing place along one of the bank­ings, which led to all sorts of sed­i­ment find­ing its way into the wa­ter, and then, to top it all, the loch was a big warm bath for much of the hot sum­mer. The strange thing was that the place was alive with roach fry and huge clouds of stick­le­backs, even if ‘fry bash­ing’ was rarely seen. Nor­mally, when the trout are on the fry at Lin­lith­gow, pulled Cat’s Whiskers and Dancer lures come into their own, yet they pro­duced no re­sponse from the trout this year. Given all this, it’s fair to say that we ap­proached the ‘grand fi­nale’ of the sea­son’s last day with some trep­i­da­tion, although we were at least as­sured of that keenly-waited send-off for the reg­u­lars, which is a fea­ture of clos­ing day at Lin­lith­gow – with am­ple sup­plies of soup, sand­wiches, pies and other good­ies, as well as drinks on the house. Thank good­ness for that ‘af­ter-show party’, then, be­cause we were not par­tic­u­larly hope­ful of catch­ing fish be­fore­hand, and not only be­cause the trout had been so unco-op­er­a­tive through­out the late sum­mer. That par­tic­u­lar morn­ing, as if the sea­son was laugh­ing in our faces one last time, we had to scrape the wind­screens of our cars as overnight tem­per­a­tures dropped to be­low freez­ing, and we were faced with a clear cloud­less sky and a blaz­ing orb for most of the day; hardly con­ducive to de­cent catches, although we did no­tice that the clar­ity of the wa­ter had im­proved. Well, what do you know? The im­pos­si­ble hap­pened – the place fished its socks off, and plenty of qual­ity rain­bows were caught, up to 5lb in weight, and all show­ing the con­di­tion and hard-fight­ing qual­i­ties we ex­pect from Lin­lith­gow trout. Not only that, but the di­ver­sity in suc­cess­ful meth­ods was note­wor­thy - lines from midge-tips to fast sinkers, flies in­clud­ing Boo­bies, Cor­morants, Snakes and mini-lures. There were some ex­cel­lent catches, and that is why I reckon the signs look so good for next sea­son – al­ways pro­vid­ing, of course, that the fish over­win­ter well. Good news from the Lake of Men­teith is that boats will be avail­able through­out the win­ter again, weather per­mit­ting, on week­days only. The Lake had a su­perb sea­son, and fished well right through to the of­fi­cial clo­sure date of Novem­ber 4. The cages came off, as is nor­mal prac­tice to­wards that date, and an­glers could fish the whole of Gate­side Bay. That’s the time fish­er­men con­tact some of the larger fish in the Lake, trout which have been hang­ing about un­der the cages de­vour­ing the pel­lets drop­ping through from the feed­ers. Jim Lit­ster, one of the top men on Men­teith, landed a lovely brown trout of 8lb from Gate­side. Di-5 and Di-7 lines came into their own, with Snakes and Boo­bies do­ing a lot of dam­age, but catches were ex­cel­lent on all the well-known hotspots, such as Ho­tel Bay, Tod’s Hole and Chicken Leg Bay. Var­i­ous lines were used here, from midge-tips to Di-3, with Candy Booby, Cor­morant, FABs and Di­awl Bach all men­tioned in dis­patches.

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