4 March 2012 – Loch Leven

I’d had a good session from the boat on Leven about three weeks ago, but hadn’t been out since. The forecast was OK, but with the probability of snow and also moderate winds in the afternoon, so I decided to leave the boat at home and take the shore rods to try a couple of shore marks on the south bank of the loch that I’d earmarked from my last boat trip.

I arrived about half nine on Saturday evening and identified what looked like the spot to head down to my mark. After ten minutes of crashing around a woody hellhole it was obvious I’d got it wrong and my headtorch showed me heading down a slope that just seemed to get steeper and more cliff like. Not being completely suicidal I reversed course and sweated my way back up to the car. A change of plan was called for and I headed back down past Ballachulish and back up the north side of the loch to a spot I’ve fished before and where I reckoned I could pitch a tent down near the shoreline.

This mark is a rocky beach, but leading into quite deep water – perhaps 80 feet within easy casting distance. There was a nice wee patch of very soggy grass nearby so I cast out the baits and then set up camp for the night. After all the earlier buggering about I was getting pretty tired now so gave it only an hour so before packing up around 1130 just as the snow started to come down. A couple of decent knocks, but no fish.

The cold woke me up around six a.m., and encouraged me to get moving. Nothing had raided the bait bucket overnight, which was a bonus, and I soon had everything packed away and lugged back up to the car. I headed up towards Kinlochleven, stopping to get another look at my target mark from the north side of the loch, and to figure out where I’d gone wrong last night. In daylight it was pretty obvious I’d tried to come down the slope too soon, and in a very steep section, so it was just as well I’d not pushed my luck too far in the darkness.

Na Gruagaichean with Sgurr an Fhuarain in front - near Kinlochleven
Na Gruagaichean with Sgurr an Fhuarain in front – near Kinlochleven
Na Gruagaichean with Sgurr an Fhuarain in front - near Kinlochleven
Na Gruagaichean shows above the mist

A few more minutes and I was round the loch and getting ready to head down towards the loch. Although much better than last night it was still hard going down a steep slope and through deep spaghnum moss and heather, and I was very glad to perch myself down on the water’s edge. A few minutes later and the first bait hit the water, hitting the bottom some 90 feet below, and I got myself sorted for the session. The ledge was easy enough to fish, but quite slippy in places with rocks sloping nicely ready to drop you into the water if you did trip.

A smallish Leven thornback
A smallish Leven thornback
Looking west, down Loch Leven on sunny March morning
Looking west, down Loch Leven on sunny March morning
A beautiful spot to fish on Loch Leven, but a killer to reach.
A beautiful spot to fish on Loch Leven, but a killer to reach.

Although it was chilly the lack of wind meant it was pretty pleasant relaxing and soaking up the scenery – which was all I did for the first hour or so as I waited for a bite. For no obvious reason I then managed to miss the first two good knocks, followed by hooking a nice ray which got hung up on the bottom on the way in, and it started to feel a bit like it wasn’t going to be my day. However a small ray finally appeared on my next cast and the blank was off! It was followed by another three, each one getting a bit bigger, until I finished off by losing my last fish in the weed again. Total of four thornbacks, plus another couple lost on the way in, so I was happy enough – especially for a shortish session. Best fish pushing around 5lbs, so no monsters.

And the less said about the climb back up the hill the better – only about 150 feet, but over murderous ground.

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15 October 2011 – Loch Etive

Weather: Mild night with no wind and some light showers
Sea: Calm
Time: 2000-2330 – 3.5 hours
Tides:

A shore caught spurdog and thornback ray from Loch Etive
A shore caught spurdog and thornback ray from Loch Etive

It’s been ages since I’ve tried Etive from the shore, and years since I’ve tried the south bank, but I’d identified a decent and fairly accessible spot when dinghy fishing a couple of years ago. Having a few hours free in the evening I decided to give it a quick bash and see whether it held anything after dark. Access was even easier than I thought and my first cast found something like 70 feet of water and clean ground. It was a calm night and fairly clear between some light showers, so it was no hardship waiting for a bite. After nearly an hour a decent nibble translated into a small spurdog of around 1.5lbs, which was quickly followed by several others. Highlight of the evening was a spur of around 4lbs on one rod, plus a slightly larger ray simultaneously on the other.

A final total of 6 spurs and 1 thornback ray was quite satisfying for a few hours on a new mark, especially given how out of practice I am at fishing Etive from the shore.

 

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Feb 20th – Aberdeen

A nice bit of wild weather rock fishing in search of Aberdeenshire codling – good fun in stormy conditions, with half a dozen pan-sizd fish as a result.

Weather: Force 6-7 SE wind and overcast – chilly
Sea Conditions: SE or ESE waves around 10-12 feet – water a filthy brown colour
Time: Roughly 07:15 through 14:45 – about 7.5 hours
Tides: LW at 08:22 – large tide.

Heavy weather at the Flat Stone
Heavy weather at the Flat Stone

First time up in Aberdeen for about a year, but I couldn’t let the winter pass by without at least one trip to the rock marks in search of codling. As I was hoping the sea was pretty rough after days of gales, which usually brings in fish eager to hoover up worms and crabs turned up by the waves. It was still dark as I shivered my way into my Fladden floatie suit and rock boots before making my way down towards the Flat Stone mark near Downies Farm.

My bait of choice was lugworm and a few minutes later I lobbed a couple of rigs out as far as I could into the teeth of the wind and settled down to wait. The sea was quite large but the main problem was the strong wind which made it difficult to spot bites and was really blasting past at times – nonetheless there was a reasonable stream of bites in the first few hours and 4 smallish codling were landed, with a couple more lip hooked specimens falling off as they were lifted up the cliff. Things then went quiet and I decided on a move down towards the Red Rock, partly to get a little shelter from the wind and also ‘cos the sea was slightly rougher and more easterly in direction than before and there was more spray around than before.

Furnace Rooms
Furnace Rooms
Winter codling
Winter codling

I’d hoped to get on the high mark at Red Rock but this was already occupied, and it’s not really a spot for sharing, so I stopped off at the Furnace Rooms (or Furnished Rooms – depends who you listen to). In the conditions this mark was a little marginal, with heavy seas coming in rather close to the rocky casting platform and the occasional heavy lump of water crashing over the top of the rocks behind, so I cast out and then retreated a little up the rock for additional safety. The final ninety minutes produced another couple of codling, to just under 4lbs, before I called it a day.

A grand total of 6 codling for the session, which isn’t too bad for this late in the season but I was somewhat underwhelmed by their size.

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13th January 2010 – Aberdeen

An after-dark coddie session from the cliffs. Only three fish winched 50 feet above a raging sea to show for my efforts, but a good night for all that.

Weather: Strong ESE wind, force 6-7. Odd shower. Cold and overcast
Sea Conditions: Rough, with 13-15 foot swell and much larger breaking waves
Time Spent: 1600-2030 – 4.5 hours
Tides: Approx 1200

Heavy sea at night
Heavy sea at night

My first stab at 2010 after several weeks of staring at snow. Took the afternoon off work and headed north to Aberdeen,

Rough weather at Aberdeen
Nighttime fishing

where it was obvious a large easterly swell was running, and a little larger than I’d anticipated. I spent a few minutes surveying the Furnished Rooms before deciding that sooner or later a wave was going to sweep straight over them (which it did several times later in the evening), and then headed over to the high mark at Red Rock. At something like 5 storeys above sea level it’s pretty safe from the sea, but rather exposed to any wind and very difficult to land a decent fish from.

Aberdeen codling
Catch for the evening

Fishing wise it was OK, just rather difficult to track any bites in the rather wild wind and water combination. I only had three codling to show for my efforts, plus another one lost, but it was good to get out and the night was pretty impressive in respect of the conditions.

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27th November 2009 – Aberdeen

A fair heap of late season wrasse from Findon, on crab left over from smoothie fishing down the Solway earlier in the year. Only a single codling appeared, but it was a lovely day to spend lazing away on the rocks before winter descends properly.

Weather: Very light wind, mainly sunny. Cold once sun set
Sea Conditions: Fairly calm, with little colour
Time Spent: 1200-1800 – 6 hours
Tides: Approx 0930

I’d a day of annual leave to use up, so I decided to give Aberdeen a bash from the shore. Forecasts were for decent weather but only a light swell, and so it proved. Findon was the most obvious mark to fish in calmish conditions and a falling tide, so that’s where I headed first to drown a few frozen peelers (if that’s possible!).

Action was reasonably fast, with several wrasse taking the bait and a good number lost in the kelp. 4 ballans is easily my best tally at this time of year, and they were all a respectable size. I did hope for a few cod, but only one small codling appeared which was a little disappointing. By half three I’d had enough of the wrasse and decided to move to Altens in the hope of more cod.

Unfortunately things were dead quiet here, with only a solitary coalfish turning up, despite pretty good conditions. Overall a relaxing enough day, with a decent amount of sunshine as a bonus.

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30th August 2009 – Aberdeen

Weather: S-SW wind 2-4, mainly overcast, a little drizzle. Mild
Sea Conditions: Clear, with a 1-2 foot wave
Time Spent: 1600-2030 – 4.5 hours
Tides:

First time up in Aberdeen for a few months, and marks like the Red Rock were crowded with mackerel bashers. Altens was empty as usual so I set up a couple of bottom rods with frozen crab and also tried a float fished mackerel strip for a little while. Fishing was fairly slow, but I contrived to miss a couple of bites as well as land 3 codling and a seagull (!). A lot of lobster pot buoys about which restricted options a little.

Highlight of the evening was a very nice fish that took crab about 60 yards out – as soon as it felt the hook it just powered away smoothly against a heavy set drag and managed to pull off a good wadge of line. This happened repeatedly for 2-3 minutes – each time I made progress it turned and ran back. I could feel the line rubbing against kelp and rock all the while, and it was pretty obvious it wasn’t going to come in so it was no great surprise when the line finally abraded through. As to what it was – most probably a good cod, possibly a large pollack. I’ve had several fish in the 8-9lb range from this mark and it was substantially better than any of them. Ah well!

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1st February 2009 – Aberdeen

Weather: Dry, overcast, with a SE 4-5 blowing. Cold but not too frigid
Sea Conditions: Pretty rough, with a SE swell running 8-12 feet and a fair bit of colour.
Time Fishing: 0700-1330 – 6,5 hours
Tides: LW 10:30 – smallish tide

Armed with some hard won lugworm I decided on an early morning start up at Aberdeen, targetting a few codling. The forecast was for fairly rough conditions but dropping a bit later, so first light looked like my best bet and 6.30 saw me pull up outside Downies farm.

Initially I wandered down across the field (through ankle deep cowshit) towards the Flat Stone, but immediately decided to move towards the Square Stone as it appeared just a bit too rough at the Flat Stone – it was still dark and I didn’t fancy making a mistake!

The Square Stone was fine and I fished here for about 3/4 of an hour until it got light. Looking around I decided that the Flat Stone was perfectly fishable and that it would probably outshine the Square Stone, so it was a 10 minute hike back round again. The move paid off, with three codling in the next hour, best 4lbs 12oz, whilst a couple of guys who came down to the Square Stone just after I left it didn’t seem to catch anything.

However, initial success gradually turned to despair as the next three hours proved fishless and biteless, apart from a chunky velvet crab. A fourth codling turned up a little after noon, but that was my lot until I packed in around 1.30pm. Although I suspect I was still a bit happier than the passengers on the Shetland ferry which had to pound up and down the coast for about three hours waiting to get past Aberdeen harbour bar safely.

Can’t quite fathom the lack of success, given that all the fish looked like they’d been eating lug scoured out from the seabed (one as absolutely stuffed full of ’em); the sea was rough and coloured enough; and there were clearly some fish about. Always next time though…

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18th January 2009 – Aberdeen

Weather: Dry, with a variable SW wind – anything from 10-25 knots. Sunny for much of the time.
Sea Conditions: Quite rough, with a SSE swell of up to 10 feet, dying slightly during the morning. Some colour, but not a real chocolate appearance.
Time Fishing: 0745 – 1130 – 3.75 hours
Tides: HW approx 0630 – small tide

Rough weather at Aberdeen's cliffs
Fishing a roughish sea

Arrived just as it got light and hit three fish within the first hour, best going just under 5lbs. Thereafter it was quite poor, with only one small fish landed and another couple of bites. Bait was fresh lug, so no complaints there – the water was just not rough enough for long enough to get the fish in and keep them there.

Used the dvice again, and it certainly helped in casting a bait further than normal against the wind.

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