With piper Simon Usher once again leading the way (see photos), the procession of cars made its way slowly down to the loch for the start of our season and it was great to see so many familiar faces eager to see what 2013 was going to bring. Our thanks go out to Simon for the great job that he did despite the driving rain and freezing conditions. Not many people would have liked to be stood around in a kilt in those conditions!
After a wee nip to mark the occasion, the season got off to a bang with the sound of the 12 bore ringing out across the loch and the serious business of tackling up began. I should say again at this point that it was a very cold and wet day but given the pattern of weather in early March you would have probably already assumed that that would be the case! However, our intrepid band of anglers set off and it wasn’t long before both bank and boat anglers were feeling bends in their over wintered rods. Bragging rights to the first fish of the season belong to Steve Emerson from the boat and Bob Smith from the bank but after that it became difficult to monitor the catching as mutters of, “I’m in” could be heard from all corners of the loch. I say heard because at one point the weather pitched yet another curve ball in and a thick mist descended upon the loch reducing visibility down to almost zero with a temperature to match.
As noon approached the smell of the freshly cooked bacon wafted across the loch and anglers were treated to lunch and a welcome chance to thaw out in the lodge. It was clear that fishing had been outstanding and stories of large catches of fish were being shared when Peter White, fishing with the Anchor Inn returned to silence the crowds with his best ever fish, a magnificent rainbow weighing 12lbs 1 oz (see photo). Before the day was out though this was matched by Pavel Ciszowski (see photo) who also landed a fin perfect specimen weighing in at over 12lbs and again this was his best ever catch. We believe that he also landed another beauty of approximately 9lbs witnessed by Robbie Bell his boat partner, and this was safely returned to the loch. It’s good to see these larger specimen fish returned and know that they are out there for other anglers to enjoy catching.
The trend for large catches continued into the weekend when on Sunday the Tweed Ghillies made their annual pilgrimage to Coldingham to fish the bank to mark the start of their trout season and as an aside, celebrate Brian Palmers (Ginger) birthday. With a marked improvement in the weather good fishing was enjoyed by all and even the loss of an i-phone over the side of the boat and into the loch could not dampen the excitement of the day. Again reports of large catches came in and many people reported catching a good number of browns and blues along with their rainbows and perhaps worthy of a mention was Neil Keillor whose first fish of the day was a brownie of approx. 8lbs, safely returned …. Well done again Neil but how do you top that this season?
Over the first two days a range of fly patterns proved to be effective however the more notable ones were, black buzzer, black and red buzzer, damsel, diawl bach, yellow dancer, cats whisker. Most fish were lying a foot or two below the surface but floating lines with slow sinking flies and a medium / fast retrieve seemed to do the trick.
And then just when we thought the season had started the weather had other ideas. Over the next two weeks we probably only had three or four days when the loch was fishable and a couple of these were only approachable from the banks. The strong easterly winds, bitingly cold temperatures and no shortage of snow really halted the start to the season. However it could be worse ….. we could be farming sheep in Ireland or Wales!
On the days that were fishable we had a few hardy anglers brave the conditions and as they say, fortune favours the brave. Superb returns were recorded and no surprise a couple of these were attributable to Bob and James Cockburn and Robbie Bell from the boats and Ginger and Beasty from the banks. Again people reported catching a mixed haul of rainbows blues and browns and the number of over wintered fish identified clearly demonstrates how well Coldingham Loch can accommodate and feed fish during the closed season. We were particularly pleased with reports of how good the quality of the fish being caught was and this continues the trend from last season.
Without doubt the hottest spot on the loch was at the northern end near to the reed bed and once people located the pods of fish lying there they were reluctant to vacate their position, however, thankfully etiquette prevailed. Since the opening weekend the fish have become more dispersed and on Good Friday the regular Ashington Kingfishers group enjoyed better weather (although still very cold) and great sport around the whole of the loch, Steve Kelly and his son Mick having yet another particularly good day. Alan Morton also landed 12 fish to the boat and later reported that the fishing had been hard. Alan, you are getting hard to please ! Easter Saturday saw the loch basking in sunshine for the first time this season and one might even have dared to say that they felt warmth from the sun. And so what a surprise it was this morning (Sunday) when I looked out of the window and saw the loch completely frozen over and what a disappointment it was to the 14 or so anglers booked in. Despite attempts to break the ice with the work boat the loch remained gripped by the ice and it was only very late in the afternoon that two people Michael and John who had travelled from Newcastle managed to cast a line.
So all in all a very mixed start to the season summarised by large catches of fish to traditional patterns caught by those brave enough to endure the weather. All of us are hoping for some lasting improvements to the weather soon and it seems ridiculous to be entering British Summertime before the onset of anything like a spring season. It will be interesting to see just how nature copes with this and how it might affect the plant and insect life later in the year. We will keep you posted.
In other news:
- Continuing work to the banks progressed slowly over the winter due to an unusually high level of rainfall. There are one or two muddy areas around the banks and so bank anglers are advised to tread with care in certain places.
- The water pipe to Lochside Cottage is now laid through the loch and is attached to the previously laid electric cable. We are not anticipating any problems with the use of the mud anchors on the boats.
- Tiling to the floor of the fisherman’s toilet was completed over the winter and a new toilet installed. New tables and chairs in the lodge have also helped to brighten things up a little.
- Work to Lodge Cottage is now complete. New bathroom, kitchen, fire backing, carpets and flooring throughout as well as having been completely re-decorated inside has made this a really comfortable place to stay and is ideal for small parties up to six in number.
- A date of Sunday the 29th September has been set for the lads and dads, ‘L of a Length’ competition that we ran for the first time last year. We expect that this is once again going to be extremely popular and hope to be able to raise a good sum of money for the RNLI at St. Abbs. We will be sending out details later in the year but thought that an early heads up might be useful to you.
Over the next two weeks we are delighted to be welcoming The Eyewater AC who will be holding a bank competition here next Saturday; Heriots AC; Edinburgh Civil Service AC; Border Bears AC. and hope that the weather is kinder than it has been of late. Two other clubs that should have had their early seasons outing to Coldingham, High Constables of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Civil Service AC had to cancel due to the adverse conditions but we are delighted to have been able to accommodate them later in the season.
We have been very encouraged by the number of forward club bookings taken this year and hope that the 2013 season is at least as productive for them as last year.