A brisk start to the season interspersed with the odd day lost to strong winds best described the first two weeks and with the water temperature rising the fish are getting stronger and on some days a little trickier to tempt.
It was with this in mind and with the sound of the first Chiff Chaff of the season ringing out across the loch, that we started the tail end of March and early April which is often significant for the start of the real buzzer hatches and on occasion even the odd hour or two of dry fly action. The early part of this period was blighted by strong winds but those brave souls that remained undeterred were amply rewarded regardless of being somewhat limited to boathouse bay as a place to fish. First off the mark were Bobby Thomson and Ian Callow who in a very productive 8 hour session landed 40 fish to the boat using a combination of black damsel, Ally McCoist, and blood worm and on the same day fishing damsel, kitten and blob combos, Bob Cockburn also had an impressive 21 fish to the boat which included 3 double hook ups and a number of lost fish along the way.
The next day saw a repeat performance from Bob Cockburn who clearly took advantage of the intelligence gained from the previous day but he was not alone. Bob Harrison fishing with Ewan Whitelaw had 16 fish to the boat including one blue and all came to a damsel. Dave Turpie opened his seasons account with a fine catch of 7 to the boat followed up on a later session with 15 to the boat …. no doubt in part due to his new boat seat!! Jock Hunter and Robert Learmonth continued their good form with 22 fish to the boat and Robbie Bell fishing with Ronnie Glass had a superb day with a total of 34 fish to the boat (see Robbie’s corner).
At this stage all fish were being taken using damsels, cats, apps bloodworm and the like and the picture remained the same into the next day when notable catches included 10 to Guy Nicholson, 11 to Si Nichlos, 16 to Alan Morton 12 to Keith Row, 8 a piece for Peter Gallon and Robert Black, 9 to Graham Virtue, 15 to Karl Ferguson and 14 to Steve Kelly. The one thing that changed however was that a good number of these were now being caught using buzzers and dries and Mick Kelly who came in with 10 to the boat caught almost exclusively on dries. Whilst this on one hand is good it also signals the arrival of a plentiful food supply for the fish and inevitably with the larder now becoming full fish will at some point become a little more choosey. Enter the Heriots Club ……… now normally the lads from the Heriots can be relied upon to bump up the rod averages but on a bright and unusually warm spring day with (at times) virtually no wind, even they struggled to find the answer but more of that in club news. The point is that we then entered a period of unusually sunny and warm April weather and with an abundance of fly life around the loch the fishing became tricky. Frustrated anglers were coming off the loch stating that they had never seen so many rising fish but were completely at a loss to match what they were feeding on. Those that were successful seemed to be the ones that were prepared to move in search of fish and who throughout the day rang the changes with their tackle. Alan Morton told me that he had used 6 different lines during his eight hour stint and his perseverance was rewarded but not many of us would perhaps have the patience or the determination to dig so deep into our fishing reserves.
Ian Whyte and Bob Perret also rose to the challenge but their persistence with buzzers was what earned them a total of 21 fish to the boat, the colour green or olive being the most productive for them.
On the last day of the period Brian Palmer took his usual position on the bank and caught 17 fish mainly to very small buzzers, Swing Gate Bay being the hot spot for him. His bank partner Mark Straughen also managed a very respectable 8 fish and landed what he described as his best ever fish at Coldingham, a 9 possibly 10 lb rainbow, again caught in Swing Gate Bay. On a day when the boats seemed to struggle a little the bank certainly produced the goods.
So with the clocks going forward and the longer nights getting longer by the day it is fair to say it has been a largely changeable two weeks with no real consistency of tactics but a very steady flow of fish for those able to match the conditions. As is fairly normal, change has been the buzz word with no two days either looking the same or feeling the same. Wind directions have been all over the place and the strength of the wind has sometimes restricted movement but not necessarily the catch rates. Fortune has certainly favoured the brave and for those lucky enough to have been on holiday here over the last week not only have they caught fish but have also landed a good tan to go with it. Chick and John will certainly know what I’m talking about.
The forecast for the coming week is much more settled with temperatures that are correct for the time of the year. This being the case, I think it’s safe to say that we may be in for some superb fishing and almost certainly some top of the water action as we move further into April.
Last but by no means least a special mention for her first catch of her fly fishing career to Aimee Dann, young daughter of regular Saturday angler Pete Dann. They went out for a fish together on a boat during the Easter holidays and Aimee’s comment was ‘they pull hard!’ when she brought in a fine rainbow to the boat (see photo). We hope that is the first of many Aimee!
In Club News:
Heriots – As briefly mentioned earlier the Heriots had an uncharacteristically quiet day with 20 anglers catching 45 fish giving them a rod average of 2.25. Very bright conditions and fish being seen just about everywhere contributed to a frustrating day for some of the lads. Colin Riach who fished the bank and landed 6 fish provided us with some photos of the club fishing from the boats and also a cracking photo of a toad in the sun (see photos) – thanks Colin.
Eyewater FFC – Fished the bank on Saturday. Their 11 anglers managed 44 fish between them giving them a rod average of 4.4. The heaviest fish of the day weighing 4lbs 1oz when to Tony Robertson and best bag when to Gordon Patterson.
Edinburgh High Constables – reported having a brilliant club day despite the strong wind. Their 6 anglers had a total of 20 fish for a rod average 3.3.
Leith FFC – 10 rods in boats braved the strong, gusty winds on Saturday. A total of 14 fish gave them a rod average of 1.4 however it should be considered that a good number of their anglers fished for only half a day. The biggest fish of the day, and perhaps one of the best over – wintered rainbows I have seen (see photo) weighed 5lbs 4oz and was caught by Charlie Stewart.
Border Bears – Had their first outing of the season here yesterday (Sunday). A combination of boat and bank anglers started the day with bacon butties and despite the colder, wetter conditions reported having a good but frustrating day with some of their anglers saying they could see plenty of fish to cast to but just could not get find what would tempt them on to the hook. 17 fish for their 9 anglers was their final tally.
Best of both Worlds
The Loch is one of those rare places.
Well of course some of that is obvious. It is a natural beauty spot and the water is gin clear.
It is also quiet and relaxed with a great selection of wildlife but that is not what I mean.
I am thinking of its size.
At 22 acres it is not a small water of which there are many nationwide.
Nor is it a large open and possibly daunting bit of water. Like Rutland or Grafham or to a lesser extent the Lake of Menteith.
So we get the benefit of it being intimate but still big enough for a drifting boat. A nicely sized water that allows you to fish “Loch Style” and” Bank Style” at the same venue.
So I had a drift last Thursday. To be honest I did a bit of anchoring as well.
In fact I started off the day anchored just off the Boat Shed Bay.
My partner for the day was Ronnie Glass from the Orvis shop in Kelso and he had a few things to attend too before he could arrive. So I told him I would remain close by until he arrived.
Good call! I had six fish and lost one by the time he arrived……….
I was on a Fast Glass line with an Olive Leach and a Claret Leach ten feet apart on a 20 foot leader. This is my standard pulling rig these days.
The Fast Glass gives you the option of fishing pretty high in the water if you pull back straight away. However you can achieve a reasonable depth by counting to 20 or 30 before starting your retrieve.
it is now my go to line when I have no firm information on anything else.
It’s a sort of versatile midfield player.
Anyway after picking up Ronnie from the jetty back out we go .I am catching a few more but Ronnie is still blank. A move of about 30 yards along the south shore and he is straight into fish.
This neatly illustrates the need, particularly in early season to keep on the move. The taking fish were just on my side of the boat which was slightly deeper water.
It was now time to organise Lunch!
I was keen to try out the new cooker in the Lodge and had organised Pies and Peas and some cake.
We were joined by Gareth and Carmel as well as James and Bob Cockburn.
A Social Lunch is becoming a more frequent part of my fishing day and is now something I enjoy more and more. Gone are the days of having my sandwiches cut into bite size pieces that I could eat between casts!
Surely a sign of my ever advancing years. 🙂
By the time we went out again the wind had eased down to a gentle breeze.
Floating lines were now the order of the day and while I used Buzzers Ronnie went on to the Dries.
The buzzers were definitely more successful including two fish at once on three different occasions (see photo below).
However Ronnie was getting plenty of action but the fish were only rarely hooking up. As the wind eased further we started drifting across the middle and through the buoys with rising fish all around us.
By now the Dry Fly was working much better and my Buzzers were probably going too deep. Ronnie ended up with about 5 fish to a Black Suspender Buzzer and we later learned that Bob Cockburn had 7 fish on a small Black Hopper.
I probably should have changed to Dries but I had had such a splendid day there was no pressure to do so.
I just enjoyed watching one of Scotland’s finest anglers doing it for me.
(Safe in the knowledge that I was comfortably ahead of him thanks to my early start………. Ha Ha)
In other News:
- We would like to pay our respects to two of our regular guests / anglers who unfortunately passed away recently. Both lads from Glasgow, Alec Pickles and Jim McGee were not only guests but had become friends. Both will be sadly missed by their fishing buddies and us but we are better off for the great memories that they have left us with.
- We had a visit on Sunday from Anne Woodcock from Fish Pal who came to fish the loch with boat partner Cliff Johnstone (see photo). Anne was here to see for herself what Coldingham Loch was all about and will be writing a piece in her next Fish Pal new letter about her experience of the loch. We will provide a link to the report once it is published.
- The toads have arrived as is usual for them this time of year and have been seen in huge numbers in boathouse bay especially in the shallows along the fringe of the shore where the lilies are and can often be heard singing on a sunny morning (see Colin Riach’s photo below and Carmel’s second class one taken on the phone)
Over the next two weeks we will be visited by anglers from the following clubs:
We wish them a successful outing and good luck with the ever changeable weather at this time of the year.
To enlarge photos click on the individual picture and use arrows to scroll through. All Heriots AC photos are taken by Colin Riach and published with his permission