26th June – 10th July 2017

This report will be relatively brief as regards the fishing here at Coldingham as I am writing it (Carmel) , however thanks to Robbie there is plenty of good reading to follow at the end of this report as we asked him if he had anything from his recent trip away – enjoy.

As is normal this time of year many of our regulars have not been here this last period as we are full into the holiday season. However, for the time of year the conditions have been pretty decent at times and for some anglers some excellent fishing has been enjoyed, especially by holiday guests who have been on site to take advantage of favourable conditions. And again, like the previous fortnight reported in the last loch report, this period has seen some larger fish being caught by anglers.

Thankfully the very large hatches of caenis flies seem to have abated though they are still about some evenings they are fewer in number and are not being seen every night so fingers crossed that we are seeing the tail end of them now. As reported last time we are seeing plenty of fry and Les Lockey who was fishing the loch last week said one of the rainbows he landed, spewed out a number of fry as it was coming to the net – it did though, take a dry fly not a fry pattern!

One of our regular anglers, Alistair Fyvie  sent in this email after fishing a pretty dire day in that it poured with rain all day wasn’t very warm and I think there was a wind to contend with too – it just shows that fortune does favour the brave:

‘I have to report to you on the fishing yesterday in that awful weather. It was great with a lot of action going on during the day. I caught a fish weighing 4lbs, In all the years I have fished at Coldingham  I have never had a better specimen of a Rainbow trout It was a beautiful silver fish identical to the fish I caught on Rutland a few weeks ago both in weight and form. The fins and tail on this fish were absolutely perfect, strange as I had just been telling you before I went out all about that fish and it happened again! Could not get a photo in the bad weather but what a fight this fish put up and what a great time we both had even in that horrible weather. We both hooked and lost a lot of fish yesterday and ended up getting four each to the net and I returned a fish of at least 5lbs.’


And here is a run- down of some of the other catches during the last fortnight:

  • John McGee and fishing partner Chick had 19 to the boat on hopper, damsel and rabbit
  • Adrian Thomson had 7 from the bank fishing an evening session on black muddler
  • Scot Mitchell had 10 to the boat on a variety of flies including buzzer, damsel, blob, cruncher and bloodworm
  • John McGregor reported having had great night landing 8 fish including 2 fish which he reckoned were at 7lbs + in a short evening session on cdc emerger and size 16 damsel
  • Neil Keillor has had a couple of top sessions in this last period – one day he had 12 to the damsel and diawl bach as well as losing a lot of fish as well and today he had 13 including 3 blues
  • Richard Potter and his son Steven whilst staying a few days in Lochside cottage had all sorts of weather and enjoyed some good fishing as well as a tricky evening when the caenis were about. They had landed 12 and 9 fish to the boat on buzzers, fabs and dries
  • Les Lockey once again reported having had some very good fishing when he fished every day during his week long stay. He had some healthy numbers including: 14 to the damsel and diawl bach, 15 to the same flies plus a fab, 10 to the summer bibio and olive damsel, 11 to the diawl bach, damsel, pheasant tail nymph and his best day was 18 all to the summer bibio (see note below re an article he has written about this fly in this months Total FlyFisher)
  • Holiday guest Peter Collings fished every evening of his stay here and reported having had some good fishing and plenty of fish including 8 to the boat when the caenis hatch were on (he did confess these were to the squirmy but if it beats the caenis…)
  • Taff and Rob Green had a ‘fab day and evening best fish approx. 5lbs’ landing 15 to the boat including a brownie using black nymph, yellow owl and buzzer
  • Ronnie Hunter had an amazing 12 in an afternoon session from the boat using diawl bach and blob
  • Holiday guest John Bruin had 5 to the bank in a short evening session using cdc
  • Holiday guests Bobby McMillan, Billy Nicoll and Michael Penny reported ‘been fishing all week, had some very good fish, one about 6/7lbs, numerous 2/3lbs fishing from boat and bank – diawl bach, buzzers and small dries, all fish returned…happy days
  • Robert Learmouth had ‘great day off the bank, good quality fish!!’ landing 10 using daddy and diawl bach
  • Bob Cockburn: 9 to the boat using sedge, olive minkie & bloodworm
  • Colin McIssac had 15 to the boat including a brown that was about 4lbs using a fiery brown crippled midge and hopper and on another day he had 6 in a 4 hour session from the bank on a crippled midge and reported having missed another half dozen.
  • Judy Whitelaw and grandson Ewan had a few days staying in Lochside and enjoyed their stay both of them having fish and Ewan landing his first ever fish on the dap when dapping one afternoon of their with Bob Harrison who had come over to join Ewan for a bit of fishing.


Club News:

There have been no clubs this last period but we look forward to welcoming the following clubs in the next fortnight:


  • Linthigow Bridge Inn FFC
  • Hoy and Hope
  • Ladhope AC

Other News:

  • Total FlyFisher has an article in this July written by one of the loch’s  regular holiday anglers, Les Lockey we are awaiting a copy so have not yet seen it but we believe there are plenty of photos of the loch and lots of interesting information about flies, in particular the summer bibio which Les had a very successful day on here last week
  • Raffle tickets are now on sale and will be drawn on our annual Charity Day which is, as always, the last Sunday in Sept. Prizes include a beautiful print of a painting of Puffins by wildlife artist Jan Ferguson, a fishing bag donated by Total Fly Fisher magazine, a box of flies, a bottle or two, a fleece, cap, T-shirt etc from St Abbs Independent Lifeboat. All proceeds from the raffle and the Charity Day go to the St Abbs Independent Lifeboat
  • Places for our annual Lad(y)s and Dads Charity Day are going fast so please contact us to book your place. It will be held as usual on the last Sunday of September which is Sunday 24th Sept 2017. We will not be  contacting people this year so please don’t assume that you have a place ring us to book it – numbers are limited and not many left!
  • We mentioned in our last report that it is the time of year when we are keeping an eye on the weed with a view to cutting it over the next few weeks and this remains the case. Gareth had also promised one of our farming neighbour to cut the weed in his loch and we want to share with you an extraordinary feat of nature when he did this. The neighbours loch is 4 miles away by road and the weed cutter was hitched behind the tractor and taken by road then launched down a steep bank into the loch, taken about 30 or so times around the loch, brought back up the steep bank 4 miles back down the road to the yard here. Once it was parked Gareth was doing some work on it getting it ready to launch in our loch and heard the sound of chicks making a right old racket. He knew there was a wag tails nest on the cutter as we had watched them busy with their young but he also knew the chicks from that had fledged. Then he saw adult swallows diving in under the weed cutter and to our disbelief when he looked under the cutter there was a swallows nest with three fully grown chicks in it about a week off fledging. So these chicks would have been in the nest under the cutter, 4 miles down the road, down a steep bank into the water, 30 times round the loch and then the 4 miles back to our yard – about 6 hours away from home and when you look at the nest it was 4/5ths under water – you can see the top inch or so is dry and under that must have been submerged. A testament to the parents building skills that the nest with three chicks in it survived all that and returned intact. So we are leaving the cutter in the yard until they have fledged – another week we think.


Robbies Blog:

Please note that Robbie includes smiley faces in his blog but for some reason the website displays these as a ‘J’ – no idea why and I have tried to sort it but can’t so wherever you see a J it is a smiley face!

Stillwater and River Fishing.

In recent years I have been doing a bit of River Fishing abroad.

Norway, the Czech Republic, Canada, and Colorado and Montana in the USA.

This year I decided on a trip to Slovakia with Local Angler Allan Cook and my friend and Canadian Fly Fishing Team Captain Ken MacAulay.

Unfortunately the Fishing turned out to be very disappointing. Information from friends around the world had said the fishing would be great but perhaps due to a flash flood a couple of weeks before we went the Rivers seemed devoid of many fish.

Now for me the best fishing of all is Good River Fly Fishing.

However Rivers are much more cyclical during a day, a week and a season and so good river fishing is never guaranteed.

Stillwaters can also be up and down but on the whole they are usually less temperamental.

If you are a Stillwater Angler who is interested in starting river fishing then the following which I originally wrote for my fellow members of the Ellem Club may be of interest. Some of the following should also be useful for Stillwater Fly Fishing especially from the Bank.


Basic River Whiteadder Fly Fishing

I was recently asked by Ellem Club Chairman George Wood to provide Members some Basic Information on River Fishing.

If there is too much information here of course you are free to ignore it but it is there for those who may be able to use it.  Additionally the content is only my opinion.

So getting started on River Fishing is easy! Just buy a Permit and give it a shot. J

In fact on the Tidal Waters of the Tweed and Whiteadder you don’t even need a Permit!

However as in any other walk of life if you wish to become competent and successful then it comes down to time, effort and usually money.

Just like doing your garden, a project, academic studies or almost any other thing in life, what you achieve will be directly proportional to the resources you put into it.  Fly Fishing on Rivers or Stillwaters is no different.

However to start here is some information which may help you in making better equipment choices which should help get you on the right path.  The right tools for the job in hand makes learning so much easier.


These are a bit like Screwdrivers or perhaps Golf Clubs .

A full set will enable you to choose the right one for the particular job or shot you are faced with.

You can sometimes use a Flathead on a Phillips but it is never ideal. A Driver on the Green will never be perfect.

With rods you can make more of a compromise and only chose one for River Fishing although it will not be perfect for every situation.  Obviously a 15 foot Salmon Rod is not ideal on the Upper Whiteadder! J

You could use your Stillwater Rod on the Whiteadder but it is unlikely to be ideal. Mind you the Trout neither know nor care what is catching them!

There are a now a number of rods on the market with built in extension pieces which do make them more versatile however if I was to single out just one rod for the River Whiteadder it would be a 9 feet 4 weight.

This would be delicate enough for fine terminal tackle, suitable for the environment you will be fishing, balanced to the average size of fish you will catch and light enough to use all day.

An example is here;


This is a more versatile rod.


Fly Lines

This will need to be balanced to the rod you are using and for a 4 weight rod I would recommend a Double Taper Floating 4 Weight Line in a subdued colour. An Olive Line is probably best but if the eyes are no longer as good as they were the Greys Platinum in a light grey colour is both visible and hopefully non scary.

So with a light weight rod and line you should be able to achieve a delicate presentation and perhaps it is pertinent at this stage to remember that the Whiteadder is no longer stocked and the trout are indeed all wild.


These should be as light as possible and a basic check drag is all you need. Disc drags only add weight in this situation. A nice reel is a joy to own and fish with but Reels are relatively unimportant in River Trout Fishing.

Leader Cast Tippet.

Call it what you will but make sure you use the good stuff. This is getting to the business end and skimping here is a false economy. I use Co-Polymer in 5X and 6X. This is strong and fine.

If your casting is not the best a tapered leader can help. I would recommend “welding” it in to the end of your fly line in order to make a smooth joint which will not catch in the rod rings and will aid presentation.

You can find out how to do this on You Tube.  Although it is not essential as Tesco would say every little helps.  Add a micro ring on the thin end of the taper and you can then add and renew your tippet without eating into the taper.


Modern Breathable Waders are a definite advantage. Comfortable, light weight and non sweaty.

I would recommend Chest Waders in the stocking foot variety. You might not wish to wade deep but chest waders allow you to sit down on the bank and keep your backside dry. J

Wading Boots.

By using Stocking Foot Breathable Waders and separate Boots it is like going fishing in a pair of Hiking Boots and a pair of Waterproof Trousers.  Comfortable and with great ankle support.

The boots I recommend are felt soled with studs. These are definitely the best in the river. Whilst not quite so good on the bank as Rubber I would prefer the odd slip there than a tumble in the River.


These are very useful. If you get the ones which are combined Knee and Shin Pads they are the best.

When the river is low and clear being stealthy is a requirement and kneeling down on rocks and gravel is no fun without them. If your kneeling days are behind you which mine almost are they do have other advantages. They protect your waders especially Breathable ones which are quite delicate and they do soften the blow if you bump into any unseen rock or barbed wire.

Fishing abroad as I do, and perhaps even in this country they do provide additional protection against snakes! J

Wading Staff

This is an essential bit of safety equipment and I just about need one to cross the road these days!

I also believe they help me catch more fish. After all if I fall in and go home soaking wet that is my day over.  In coloured water I can still safely wade to my usual spots.

A Wading Staff has enabled me to keep River Fishing for many years after my natural balance started to deteriorate. A telescopic locking walking pole with a lanyard is one alternative but a stout stick could suffice.

If you do use a telescopic one tape it up as an additional safety guard against it collapsing on you.


These are many and varied. Their main function for me is to carry everything I need for a day on the river. Boxes and Bags are cumbersome and reduce your mobility. If you like your flask and sandwiches perhaps one of these might be in order.


However safety has to be your number one priority and something like this can be used in the river and on the Lochs.



A good net suitable for catch and release is highly recommended. Even though you may be keeping a fish or two you will need to release Undersize Fish and Grayling. You are also encouraged to catch and release and the Local Associations have Slot Limits.

I use these and think these are the best.



This should be appropriate to conditions and I would highly recommend subdued colours.

Fluorescent Yellow Jackets are a definite no no!  J

Hats and Spectacles.

These are essential safety items. A hat will shade your eyes and protect you from the sun and wind.

Spectacles whether they are Prescription, Sunglasses or Clear Safety Specs should be worn at all times to protect your eyes. This is true when fishing solo in the River and may be doubly important when in a boat with a fellow angler nearby!   Polaroid’s do help you see the fish!

The Fishing.  (At Last J).

The basic method is Wet Fly Fishing.

If you are new to fishing and your casting is relatively modest you may wish to just use a single fly.

Among Flies to consider are;

Pheasant Tail Nymphs

Endrick Spiders

Hares Ears

I would have these with a small metal bead as this helps turnover and gets the fly and leader down below the surface more quickly.  Size 12 is the maximum on the Berwick Water and sizes 14 and 16 are also useful.

If you are confident to fish 2 or 3 flies then these are some you should consider.

Greenwell Glory and Greenwell Spider

March Brown and March Brown Spider

Sooty Olive    Invicta   Partridge and Orange  Snipe and Purple    Waterhen Bloa   Olive PTN

If you go to 3 Flies put the Beadhead Fly on the point, a Winged Wet such as the Greenwell Glory in the middle and a Spider on the top dropper.

This will aid casting and presentation but also fish the flies appropriately in the water column.

Barbless Flies are recommended these days and good ranges are now commercially available.

These are good suppliers.



You can de-barb flies with Pliers and a File but I would recommend you give them a little touch of varnish after you do this to stop them rusting.

Fly Tying.

This is a great way to be able get your Flies in just the right Size and Weight on just the right Hook.

However do not think for one minute that it will save you money.

Like a lot of us you could end up taking over a room in the house and have enough materials and hooks to last for three lifetimes! J


I use a six or seven turn Blood Knot for tying on the flies and a 2 turn Water Knot (Surgeons) for making the droppers.  Knot videos are here.


A cast (leader) for the river should be between 7 and 15 feet long but make sure you are presenting the flies properly. It is no use having a 15 feet cast if the flies land in a heap.

Downstream Wet Fly Fishing

This is the basic and most popular way of fishing.

Approach the River quietly and possibly crouching down and/or using Bankside Cover of trees, bushes or rocks. Do not go right up to the edge but start a rods length back up the bank.

Do not blunder waist deep into the River (or the Loch) before you start fishing!

Trout are often in the edges!

The basic method is to cast at approximately 45 degrees to the flow and allow the current to swing the flies to straight downstream of you.

Follow the fly line round with you rod tip as the current moves the flies and when on the dangle leave them for a few seconds before casting again.

After the second or third cast move downstream a few paces and repeat.

So there you are you are now River Fishing!

Congratulations and welcome to the ranks maintaining the Clubs Oldest Tradition.

Once you have mastered this basic technique you can start to add in wrinkles such as mending the line upstream to slow the flies down in fast water and the opposite in slow water.

You can add Nods and Circles to the rod tip to add action to the flies. Retrieving line is sometimes a useful addition.

Learning to Tuck Cast so your flies hit the water before your fly line focuses the Trout’s attention where you want it.

This video may be of use.


The Whiteadder.

None of us are getting any younger but there are parts on the River where access is much easier.

If you have a wading staff and move slowly and carefully you can fish parts of the river that are no more difficult than fishing the bank at Coldingham or Chatton or the Watch Reservoir.

Clarabad is one such place where you can park close by and you have a closely cropped small grass field to walk across to the River.  In 2008 while on crutches with my ankle in plaster I caught three nice Trout there in a Spittal Club Competition.

Cawderstanes is another area where there is nearby parking and cut paths along the river as well as a good footbridge across it. (I strim some of these myself)

Above Allanton Bridge there is some reasonable walking and a fair bit of river you can fish even without waders.  Again with cut paths.

At Blue Stone Ford you could fish out of your car window!!  J

Competitions  If you are interested in these they do need practice and the Berwick and Spittal Clubs hold 5 River Competitions per year between them. They are always looking for new members. Please get in touch if you would like more details.

Best Regards

Robbie Bell.

  1. At all times your Personal Safety must be your First Priority and your First Responsibility.

If in any doubt you should seek expert advice elsewhere.

Information given here is only my personal opinion.

Photo gallery – sorry we don’t have many pictures from this last period  – anyone with photos of their fishing time here please fee free to send in and we will put on the next loch report thanks.

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