29th Sept – 11th Oct 2014

Can you believe that we are half way through October? Great weather has dominated the last two weeks with light winds and clear skies being key features with just a couple of days of torrential rain thrown in for good measure. As a result fishing has been good for most and excellent for some.

But if some people thought that the temperature wasn’t hot enough I did my best to assist by accidentally setting fire to a large section of gorse bushes at the south end of the loch. Those that were fishing were treated to an early bonfire display and a plume of smoke that did it’s best to create overcast conditions on what would have otherwise been a bright sunny day. Are there no limits to the lengths that we will go to, in order to create the perfect conditions for fishing? Joking apart, luckily Carmel and I were able to contain the blaze with little harm being done and a quick response from the local fire brigade ensured that the chance of re-ignition was eliminated (see photos). Nonetheless, 10 hours of firefighting and digging fire breaks was more than enough excitement for one day and I hope not to be repeating the event any time soon.

Back to the important business of fishing, one unlikely feature of the last period has been the number of broken rods whilst playing hard fighting fish. Believe it or not we have had 4 such incidents over the last two weeks and all have been on different makes of rods of 7/8 weight rating. There can only be two possible explanations for this, either we have a monster fish or two, determined to have their revenge on the fishermen trying to catch them or it has just been an unusual coincidence and a case of bad luck. Obviously we would like to think it is the former but realistically it is most likely the latter and despite the increase in large trout being landed and recorded the new generation of rods are more than capable of playing even the most lively fish.

In an eventful fortnight we also had another rod disappear overboard due to a fish taking advantage of a fly left dangling over the side of the boat. Happily, and almost unbelievably the rods owner, Peter Tuck was reunited with his tackle about an hour later whilst fishing in Swing Gate Bay when he happened to look over the side of the boat and saw the rod sitting on top of a small weed bed. Rod back in hand he then went on to land another couple of fish with it and claim the annual title from his fishing buddy Neil. You couldn’t write the script!

As ever the choice of flies, how to fish them and at what depth has been crucial to success and those that have been most successful have invariably had to go through the box and change tactics a number of times before hitting the killer choices. One such angler was Colin McIssac who after exhausting the usual patterns turned to an old favourite … the Hutches Pennell. Once the word got out, Hutches Pennells were appearing all over the place and anglers such as Les Lockey and of course Bob Cockburn took full advantage alongside adding some of their own personal killers such as Pearly Wickhams, Damsels and Minkies.

As always though, the fly only describes half of what’s going on with method and location forming the other and perhaps most important part of the equation. What should become apparent though is that as the weather changes and angler numbers decrease, trout will become a little less selective and will generally be attracted by a more diverse choice of flies. It is also quite usual for trout to become more localised as temperatures drop and particularly here at Coldingham the wind will play a major part in determining where to find fish.

However for now the fish are generally well distributed and this was clearly demonstrated the other day when James and Joy Gardiner fished the whole day loch style picking fish up in all parts of the loch and ending the day with a grand total of 32 fish to the boat. Not bad either when you consider that James and Joy fished the whole day using borrowed rods having forgotten to pack their own before setting off. It just shows that it can happen to the best of us and maybe there’s hope for us yet.

So here’s a quick mention of those people who have seemingly unlocked the secrets of how to catch during the last two weeks and as always, apologies to anyone who feels that they may have been omitted:

  • George Anderson and his boat partner D Scott had a very respectable 10 to the boat and reported having a great day with lovely weather. And on the same day Colin McIssac launched his Hutches Pennell on to the fishing world with 16 to the boat including two magnificent blues.
  • Iain Douglas finally got his mojo back with 8 to the boat whilst his long- time friend and fishing partner Stuart Anderson pitched in with a further 6.
  • Bob Cockburn launched in with three outing for 16, 25 and 7 respectively and I’m sure that you will enjoy Robbie’s Blog where you might detect a slight hint of gloating. Enough said.
  • Bobby Thomson and Ian Callow landed 15 to the boat with Ian just the victor by one fish and on the same day Dave Moody had 12 to his boat breaking his Sage rod in the process whilst landing a superb rainbow of 6lbs plus (Dave also had another 9 on his next outing a week or so later).
  • Colin McIssac added another 11 fish to his tally again using a combination of Pennells and Black Buzzers.
  • Les Lockey had a superb week staying in Elm Chalet and managing to fish every day and despite strong winds keeping the loch closed for most of the day on the 6th Oct he still managed to fish from the jetty at the end of the afternoon and in just an hour and a half landed 12 fish! Some people just seem to have the knack of knowing when and where. Additional catches of 10,16,19 and 20 meant that Les left the loch a very happy angler indeed.
  • Simon Nicols had a great day with 9 to the boat.
  • Derek Kilgour had a another great outing with 16 to his boat and caught fish using a combination of buzzers, diawl bachs, damsels and cormorants. On the same day two of Dereks friends, John Wastle and Colin Riach had 35 fish to the boat which included two blues and a good number of heavy fish … all returned. On the same day Mark Sumner and Keith Myers had a great time landing 24 to the boat with two of the fish weighing in at 5lbs 11ozs and 3lbs 8ozs.
  • Neil Keillor seems to be back to his best and in his last two outing has recorded figures of 18 and 12 … damsel has been his best fly.
  • Paul Hird whilst on holiday with his wife Sharon in Lochside Cottage had some great days fishing despite struggling with a sore shoulder. His persistence with buzzers always seems to pay off and his best day of 18 to the boat highlighted another good week for Paul.
  • Freddie Carter had 8 to the boat including a cracking brownie of approx. 4lbs. The number of brownies being caught during the last two weeks has increased and all who have landed them are impressed with the quality of these fish.
  • B Yule landed 9 on his outing and reported a great days fishing.
  • Mark Morrison came to the loch for the first time and he and his friend Craig enjoyed their day with Mark catching one and Craig landing a lovely 5lb 4oz rainbow (see photo)
  • Brian Redhead was delighted to land a 7lb 9oz rainbow (see photo) and thoroughly enjoyed his day. Think this may have been a PB?
  • Last but not least Karl Ferguson fishing with his boat partner P Maclean had 12 on one outing followed by 21 on their next. They should have been fishing The Till but high water prevented that and Coldingham more than made up for their disappointment.


Robbie’s Corner:

It is like Snooker.

I read somewhere that in snooker no two games are ever the same.

Well it is the same as Fly Fishing.

I had been up to the Loch on Sunday and even with a busy day I had a shed load of fish as well as half a shed lost in play and at least a greenhouse of other takes.

Most other anglers had a lot of fish as well

My friend and Coldingham Regular Bob Cockburn was there on the Tuesday and had even more fish.

So with a reasonable day forecast for the Thursday we arranged a trip together.

There was a quiet air of confidence about us in the morning induced partly by the sight of rising fish, our recent successes,  and the backup of a thousand previous days on the loch between us!

I still had my rod set up from the previous day and did not change anything.

The set up was a Midge Tip line and an assortment of flies.

I was not too bothered about the flies as on my previous visit I had caught on everything I had tied on during the day. I used so many flies that I put “Bassets” in the Lodge return book.

All Sorts in case you didn’t work it out.

Anyway off we go and we started just by the boat shed lilies as this area had been, in the local vernacular “Hoaching”

Zilch, Nothing, Nada, a big fat Zero!

There were fish rising so I picked up my Dry Fly rod.

Repeat as above.

Not even an inspection.

After a while Bob managed a fish but with around two hours gone it was the only one to the boat.

So I decided to change tactics. I used the same line and leader but put a size 16 tungsten beaded Czech fly on the point and a size 16 Diawl Bach and a size 16 buzzer above it.

Good Angling 🙂

Three fish in less than half an hour.

By the time we went in for Lunch I had six and Bob was on four so not a bad morning.

The afternoon started well for me with another two fish in the first half hour but then it got tough.

The wind was very light and kept changing direction and then died altogether and we were left with a mirror flat calm with the fish rising almost always out of range.

Bob eventually picked up another three fish and remarkably every one of his seven fish was on a different fly.

I had another two fish so we ended up with seventeen to the boat which is of course a great day but a complete change of tactics was needed from only a few days previously.

All my fish came to the Diawl Bach and Buzzer but although none to the Tungsten Nymph this was helping me turn over the cast and influencing the way the other flies fished. So it stayed on.

Our conclusion was that a violent thunderstorm overnight and a hatch of very tiny buzzers in the morning had just got the majority of the fish just a little bit wary.

No doubt a couple of more settled days will get them chasing again.

I suppose that means I will have to go back again. Just to check……… 🙂


Robbie Bell         Resident Instructor and Guide



In Club News:

  • Breadalbane AC – Fished on the day that had the additional spectacle of the fire and managed 31 fish for their 11 anglers. As usual there day was enhanced by lunch at Lochside Cottage courtesy of Glenys and John, also members of the club.
  • Lothian & Borders Police and Northumbria Police ACs – this annual competition finished with Lothian and Borders running out as winners much to the upset of the Northumbria lads who regularly fish Coldingham. There were 54 fish caught between 19 anglers with Lindsay Bell recording the heaviest bag of 8lbs 14ozs for his two fish.
  • Bank of Scotland AC had a superb outing with some of their anglers catching into double figures bringing a total of 65 for their 8 anglers giving a rod average of over 8 per angler. “Cracking fish and a fantastic day” was their general comment.
  • Newmarket AC who came for their last club day and stayed in the cottages over the weekend had two days fishing and as always commented on having a great time. They are already planning their trip for next year. Despite his previous days’ blank, Steven Craig took the heaviest fish of 5lb 2oz and won the £25 sweep….every cloud has a silver lining!


In other News:

  • Whilst for the rest of the season there are no more advanced club bookings weekends are still quite busy and anglers are reminded to phone if needing boats. The season will end on the Sunday 30th November and if the weather holds you can expect some superb fishing in November.
  • We seem to have inherited a pet Mallard variant which enjoys being fed. We are not sure where he has come from but he is a real character. Let’s hope he can survive the winter.
  • We have now been given a certificate from the RNLI thanking us for the money raised on the Lad(y)s and Dads day. It is in the Fisherman’s Lodge for those that would like to see it alongside the newly engraved trophy.
  • As the nights draw, fishing beyond 6pm is not possible. Anglers making bookings or turning up in the afternoon need to be aware of this.
  • Just a quick plug for our old pick-up which is still for sale. Anyone interested or if you know anyone who might be interested please let us know.


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