I can’t claim 2014 was a great year for fishing, as a broken leg put me out of action for several months and I barely fished the early part of the autumn for various reasons. So it’s a case of onwards and upwards for the new year, I guess 🙂
Looking back, I’d say my highlights were a Galloway trip at the end of May, a couple of gorgeous days out on Etive in late summer, and a 3 day camping/fishing trip in November, hunkered down in the hidden anchorage at Dun Ghallain, Loch Sunart.
Galloway is in a league of its own concerning summer fishing, with a range of species difficult to match elsewhere in Scotland and a setting that is wild and beautiful, but just a less bleak than further north.
Trips to Etive and Sunart are more about atmosphere than quality fishing and it’s true that in recent years I’ve found I’m as much interested in exploring our coastline, nights under the stars in remote spots, and photography as I am in catching a few fish and I’m guessing this will continue.
At the same time boundaries still need to be stretched a bit, and Etive, Leven and Sunart get a little restrictive after a winter confined to their sheltered waters. Time is still my main constraint, with only a few opportunities for multi-day trips in the year, which is one of the reasons I try and target effort carefully.
So the top 3 fishing targets…
A week in Galloway in June is high on the list. I’ve tended to try and juggle family pressures, forecasts and tides to try and take time off at very short notice. However the result tends to mean I don’t get down there often enough, so a different approach will apply this year and I’ll just have to accept the risk of south westerly winds blowing solidly for a week. So tope, bass and smoothies are probably top of the fishy hit list.
I want to get back to Mull. It’s southern and western coasts are amazing with some very remote and dramatic spots – but with weather to match. A couple of years ago I took Alcatraz right round Mull, on a 110 mile daytrip, and it’s tempting to do a repeat over two or three days to allow for a little more fishing time. Backpacking along the south coast, or into the Wilderness (its actual name) near Gribun is up there too, with or without a rod. In surroundings like these I’m not sure I care too much about the quality of fishing. There’s also the banks surrounding Caliach Point if the weather plays ball in late August or September – although hauling a trailer along to Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan might make for a long road trip.
Third place is a draw between the far north west (think Laxford, Sandwood Bay, Durness) and Skye. Weather and travel times are the bigger issues here, as neither are exactly day trip territory. I’ve been to Sandwood a couple of times before, but I do fancy taking a shore rod and a tent along in autumn once the midgies get less troublesome and before the winter gales really set in. Skye is similar, and I’ve been there before as well, but not for many years. The temptation here is to take along the inflatable as well as some shore gear and hope the weather gods tolerate me for a day or two.
And my also-rans…
– I’ll probably get around to this again in the grim depths of March, but skate fishing doesn’t really get my juices flowing. It’s just got the wrong mix of boredom mixed with spells of back-breakingly hard work. Every now and again I forget how bad it is and give it another go, but I usually need some persuasion.
– And of course I’ll be out east coast coddie bashing and west coast spurries/ray fishing, hopefully fairly frequently, but this is bread and butter stuff so doesn’t really rate a place in the target list. I could pop down a 10lb cod, 15lb spur, etc. but I don’t find that much of a motivation – delighted if I catch a cod double, but it’s not really what gets me out on the water.
– Shetland has obvious attractions, but also has weather issues. I just don’t fancy all the hassle of getting there only to be blown off or restricted by the gales that tend to blast the islands. Given that I’m not particularly motivated by a large cod (or by charter boats) I think I’ll leave it for now.
So what new toys are in mind? A lighter backpacking tent and a shiny new camera lens are part of the plan, but I’m not so sure about any fancy new fishing gear. I’ll probably replace my Grauvell Teklon spinning rod that met an unfortunate accident last year, but no rush to do much more. My pair of old Zzipplex shore rods are both well over 20 years old now, but still do a decent enough job, and I don’t really do enough shore fishing to justify spending a small fortune replacing them.
The boat needs a new VHF and I’ll probably get a new handheld with integrated GPS as a backup and for use on the inflatable. I’ve just acquired a new Crewsaver Ergofit lifejacket which is a big upgrade over the previous kit – smaller and much more wearable, plus it has a sprayhood and light fitting. Other than that the Warrior looks set for the year and I think I’ll manage to resist the temptation to upgrade to the latest and greatest sonar.