When we had a week to go before opening day and, having just returned from a weeks’ skiing, final preparations got under way. Assisted by Maggie and Pip (Carmel’s sister and husband) we managed to get all the boats back onto the water and fully kitted out ready for the Saturday. A heavy work schedule over the winter months meant that all the boats had been cleaned and repaired and serviced and even if I say so myself they looked mighty fine.
Stocking began in late February with the last of the new arrivals being introduced a couple of days before the off to stir things up a little amongst the numerous over wintered resident fish that we knew we had. Robbie Bell was also on hand to help as he and his good lady, Margaret were taking a few days break in Lochside Cottage. Robbie, who is normally more accustomed to taking fish out than to putting them in was clearly getting more and more excited by his potential quarry and as for most of us Saturday morning couldn’t come soon enough. But come it did, and at 8am with the sound of the pipes leading the way, the opening day cavalcade slowly made its way down to the loch to be greeted with a wee nip and the eventual sound of the gun fired by our old mate Dave Brabbin who has become somewhat of a fixture for our opening day celebrations. Whether he actually shot the pigeon that fell from the sky or whether it was launched over the cabin remains a secret but the fact that it was frozen solid either meant that it had come from a long way up or it was fresh from the freezer …. We will let you decide.
With both the bank and the boats full the race was on to see who would land the first fish of the season and to be honest we are not entirely sure but we think that it was Mick Kelley. Sorry Steve but the judges decision is final!
In much less of a hurry to get out, our canny piper, Hugh Gordon took his time preparing to go out and enjoyed a relaxed chat and some of the remaining whisky from the lodge. We are not sure if it was the chat or the whisky that kept him there but always we are most grateful to Hugh for his splendid playing and it continues to be a most special occasion for Carmel and I which even in our 4th year still brings a lump to our throats. Thanks again Hugh.
Suffice to say Opening weekend was a great success both in terms of the fishing and the meeting and greeting of friends old and new. The Saturday weather had the upper hand for fishing in that the morning in particular offered near perfect conditions, the bank anglers in particular doing well and we can report that 328 fish were caught on opening Saturday, every one of the 34 anglers having caught giving a rod average of 9.6 fish. In addition some lovely brownies were caught (see photos) and safely returned.
Opening Sunday saw the wind swing round a little to the east so the anglers had more challenging conditions but nevertheless approximately 150 fish were caught. As is the tradition here at Coldingham the bank was well attended on the Sunday of Opening weekend by the Tweed ghillies and their guests and we would like to thank them for their contribution to the barbeque at lunchtime which as always proved a great success on opening weekend.
So at the time of going to press and with the first two weeks of the season under our belt we can report that over 1000 fish have been caught in this first fortnight with many of them being returned to the loch. This is a trend that will alter as the season goes on as many of the clubs tend to take fish which creates a good turnover of new fish to the loch and maintains the better than national rod average that we record. Also worth noting is that many anglers have commented on the hard fight that the fish have been giving them.
So the story of the first two weeks has been cracking fishing from both bank and boat with predominantly good weather and the occasional day lost to strong winds and with spring well and truly under way it won’t be long now before the higher temperatures produce conditions conducive to insect hatches which will produce a feeding frenzy amongst the fish and some fantastic top of the water action. That said the story of the first two weeks has been that the fish are not lying particularly deep and floating and midge tip lines along with the occasional switch to a fast glass have proved to be most successful. Fly patterns that have topped the bill have included damsel, apps bloodworm (red crimson and green), cormorant and cats whisker. Buzzers, depending on the weather conditions have also been worth trying and the hotspots round the loch have included the ever reliable boat house bay, the east shore from the Uily strand to Lochside cottage and swing gate bay. However fish are generally very well distributed and people have caught in all areas of the loch with fish predominantly lying closer to the edges.
Due to the high numbers of fish caught it is almost impossible to mention everyone so here is a selection of notable catches:
- Rob Frame had 33 to his rod with fellow bank angler Pete Davison having 23. Robs catch included rainbows of approximately 5 and 7lbs in weight
- Neil Keillor along with his boat partner Darryl Young have had 3 very productive outings with each time around 30 fish to the boat. I’m sure Neil will appreciate you knowing that on the first two occasions he has been top rod but on their third trip Darryl beat him by one fish (see photos Darryl sent in of one or two of his bigger catches)
- It was great to see Bob Cockburn back to his usual best wit h29 on his first outing & very good numbers subsequently. No doubt Bob will be doing his best to beat his own 2014 season average of over 11 fish per visit. A tall order but we are sure it is possible!
- Ian Whyte has fished here 4 times already this season and seems to specialise in big fish as well as good numbers. It would seem that he has already had 2 fish of approximately 9lbs in weight and both returned safely to the water
- Gloria and Pete Teasdale (see photo) whilst staying here on holiday were fly fishing for the very first time & managed to land 3 cracking rainbows, two of which ended up in the oven not long after their session finished. We are quite sure this will signal the start of a fly fishing hobby for them and we look forward to seeing them back at the loch soon.
- Robert Learmonth fishing with his mate Jock Hunter recorded one of his best days ever and commented on the size and hard fighting quality of the fish.
The Instant Age.
We don’t really have to wait for anything these days.
24 hour News and Weather Forecasts.
Salads in the Winter and internet shopping around the clock.
Cash machines dispense money 24 hours a day.
Many rivers are open throughout the year as if it is not the Trout it is Grayling and of course the small water Rainbow Trout Fisheries are always open.
So when you do have an opening day somewhere such as the Loch it does let a sense of anticipation build up.
This year Margaret and me booked the Lochside Cottage for the weekend so this further drove the anticipation. We arrived early on the Friday and while Margaret got settled in I helped Gareth to put in a final stocking.
Our inspections about a month earlier confirmed a large head of overwintered fish and today’s stocking was a further top up of the plentiful stock that were put in two weeks previously.
I drove the boat while Gareth put in a small net full every thirty yards or so. We did a full circuit of the Loch before the barge was empty and there were quite a few big fish in the mixture of sizes.
As well as the Loch stocking being regular it is very gratifying to know that Gareth always spreads out the fish. This makes a huge difference to any fishery as it gives everyone a fair chance and the new kids on the block stir up the residents so the fishery does not become “stale”.
So after that it was back to the cottage for a cuppa and the torture of looking out the windows at rising fish……….. 🙂
Darkness soon came which was a relief!
After a nice dinner and with the wood burner complementing the central heating and a glass of wine in hand it became fairly obvious how the instant age has become ingrained.
There is no TV in the Lochside Cottage……………
There is a DVD player but no live TV.
So what do you do?
Well we did come prepared with books and after a while the lack of a goggle box became quite pleasant.
A CD playing some soft music in the background eased the transition…………
By the third glass of wine all was well!
The next morning I was up at six and with the kettle boiling I lit the fire which brought back pleasant memories of doing the same thing in a Cabin in Canada a few years ago.
We enjoyed our first brew while watching a Deer mooching along the east shore path before it disappeared into the gorse.
Well it was great. My partner Ian Whyte and I had a hatful each. Mind you it did take me almost an hour to connect with the first one but after that they came thick and fast.
It was also good to catch on Buzzers as well as the usual early season lures.
Back at Lochside Cottage in the evening the solitude and lack of TV were becoming more usual and the general pace of life seemed to be slowing down.
A splendid Roast Beef Dinner with Carmel and Gareth topped off a wonderful day and ensured a great night’s sleep.
The next day the fire lighting ritual continued and I had another great day this time fishing with Trevor Wadds. I even caught one fish on a Dry. A size 16 Black Hopper.
A Steak and Salad Dinner with the obligatory wine provided the fitting finish to another perfect day with almost no TV withdrawal symptoms at all.
A quick fish on the Monday morning resulted in 10 fish caught including 2 at once and then a nice lunch before we left for home.
It was great experience with some wonderful memories and I would recommend it to everyone and it certainly should be on everyone’s Bucket List.
Robbie Bell Resident Instructor and Guide
- Colin McIssac, a regular to the bank reported seeing a large bird of prey at the north end of the loch which we are pretty sure was a sea eagle. This is the third reported sighting that we have had.
- The otters continue to occupy the loch and are best seen either early in the morning or late at night although remain quite elusive and hard to spot.
- Hawthorn Chalet was completely re-furbished to a high standard over the winter and is a perfect destination for 2/3 people – please contact Carmel if you are interested in making a booking for this or any of the cottages.
- A very early heads up for the Lad(y)s and Dads Charity day which again will be held on the last Sunday in September which is 27th Already a number of boats have been taken for this day and with only 12 available (we will put an extra one on to maximise takings for the RNLI) we advise early bookings to avoid disappointment
- We have already been asked when evening sessions will start and we can announce that the first evening session this year will be on Friday 1st May when it should be possible to fish a four hour session from 5.30pm. The loch closes at 10pm once evening sessions are underway
- A new addition to the Fisherman’s Lodge include a water boiler and cooker
We look forward to seeing you all back at the loch and best wishes to everyone for an enjoyable and productive 2015 season.
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