Monday, 23 March 2009

March 21st

On Friday night i hatched a plan to visit my all time favourite water for the first time this season.

The place in question is where i caught my first fish on the fly, mix that with the spectacular scenery, sense of isolation and you can see why it is my favourite.

It is not a big fish water, typically upland burns like this do not hold many fish over 1/2lb, in fact a fish of that size is equal in importance to say a 15lb pike. I often think the trout that inhabit these lofty locations are the bravest of all fish, daring to combat the odds where no other species can survive.

To add to the occasion a mate of mine expressed an interest in giving it a go as he is keen to get into fishing, i knew that even without fish this place would sell it to him without too much hassle.

Our day started slightly later than planned, as most of mine do but i consoled myself with the thought that this would serve to heat the water up at least a little and increase our chances.

Much to my surprise I bumped a fish on my second cast from a tiny plunge pool at the bottom of the glen, it felt a decent little fish from this place too. We continued upstream, casting in all the tiny pockets of water big enough to offer some refuge for the native brown trout.

Fishing these tiny waters can be equal parts infuriating and exciting. Whilst half of the pockets you try appear devoid of life, you are given glimpses of the trouts existence often enough to sustain your interest and drive you further in your quest to meet some of its residents.

One other consideration on the day was my mate. We all know folk like him, big clumsy types, the one that falls in the water, gets snagged on every rock, spooks your pool by standing at the head of it and shouting questions at you. Maybe i could have been more helpful with the advice i gave him...either way, the fish were not the only goal on this day.

The thing i love most about these places is that no matter how dire the fishing may be on the day, you always have plenty more to occupy your mind. its hard to concentrate on the fishing actually when your surroundings are as gorgeous as this.

That picture actually does no justice to the scale of the place, the low water doesnt help either, the waterfall on the skyline is about 40ft high!
I would love to fish here with a 1wt but given the constant winds associated with our hills a 3wt is as low as you can get away with, save for the calmer days mid summer. Regardless, the dark little trout you find here are spirited creatures and punch above their weight, as brownies often do.

As you push upwards the burn changes character quite dramatically, another feature i love about it. It is constantly broken into sections. There are 3 wooded gorges which take real determination to get in and fish, not for the faint hearted. These are interspersed amongst stretches of classic v-shaped valley, high sided and worst affected by the wind. About 3/4's of the way up it runs through a narrow gorge, much like the wooded sections except without the trees! This is where the best fishing to be found.

Less pocket water and more deep plunge pools, often the stream is bordered by huge walls orf rock with nothing but brave clumps of heather clinging on for dear life. The light here is often spectacular with the shadows deceiving your eye, adding corners where there are none and adding complexity to the area. It is hard to photograph this place and give any kind idea just how it looks. Some places are better left imagined than represented poorly.

In here though lies the very pool that kickstarted my love for flyfishing, It wasn't actually that long ago, maybe 4 years. About that time i used to spend more days than i should of up here, often sacrificing a day at school for an adventure "up the glen". One day i took my 7ft 5/6# (bizarre combination i think). I mucked about with various unsuitable flies, all of which looked fantastic to me at the time. I tied on a non descript scottish wet fly and cast...probably not very well, into this pool. Much to my amazement the fly line stabbed forward! This happened a good 10 times before i struck accordingly and hooked up with a fish. I hadnt really thought about how id play a fish on fly gear when the opportunity arose but i had to think quick with this little creature tugging the other way! Within seconds he was in my hand, all i remember was thinking just how much more colourful he was compared to the lowland trout i was used to catching on bait from lowland streams. He was slipped back from shaking hands into this pool........

The cave pool.

Just upstream of here are a succession of waterfalls and chutes, culminating in the biggie, once reputed to have saved a laird whilst being chased from a battle locally. I'll say no more. You can actually sit behind this waterfall, i often do this in high water. I cant think of a finer place to have my sandwiches on any given day.

The pool below it has many glorious trout whose testicular fortitude must be praised given the power this cascade posesses in wetter times.

Then a strange thing happens. The burn changes name, and character. Gone is the steep, rocky gorge im so used to, the land opens out whilst the burn seems to condense itself into a narrower, weaker channel. Good sport can still be found up here though, it has a very eerie feel to it, especially when fishing alone as i usually am.

From here there are few pockets big enough to hold trout though in those that remain there lie larger than average fish. On this day we tried every pool we came across with no reward for our efforts. Just to be back in this place was enough for me though, a trout would just have been a bonus, one im sure i'll get soon enough.

We decided to quit whilst we were ahead so to speak, turn around and savour the last of the views as we headed home. I know it won't be long before i'm back.



Pike fly-fishing articles said...


dry flies and deadbaits said...

I fucked up, pressed return just after i had written the title haha

Pike fly-fishing articles said...

Wow Scott, great story,and stunning scenery. I can see why its your favourite place. Am very envious indeed mate.

dry flies and deadbaits said...

Thanks a lot simon, I intend to spend a lot more time writing whatever i put on here, might aswell make it worth reading!

I put that up quickly before work, should have proof read it!

Hopefully i can get better shots soon, they really don't do it any justice, perhaps there will be a few trout to show off in the next one.

aliferste said...

Amazing - lovely writing - my censor ar work blocks the images however your description has really made me look forward to getting home to see the pics.

Keep it up!

dry flies and deadbaits said...

Thanks for the comments alistair, hopefully you liked the photo's. like i said though, they dont do the place any justice at all.

It's not that far from you really, as a matter of fact it is the first kelvin tributary to give your home river any real volume being about the same size as the main river where it joins.