Etive Fireworks

20 October 2012 – Loch Etive

Literally! I was sitting in the boat off Barrs last night when suddenly, after an hour of stargazing, the sky was lit up with great flashes of light as a firework display suddenly started up from behind the old lodge on the north shore. Although the spectacle didn’t last too long, it was very impressive with the sound of exploding fireworks cannoning off the mountains on every side and the loch being lit up by the show. No idea who or what it was for, but whoever set it up picked a brilliant venue – so thanks for the free ticket!

Pity that fireworks wasn’t a description that could be applied to the fishing though. A poor days fishing around Airds and Ardchattan which produced only a scattering of small spurs and doggies, a lone whiting and thornback plus a couple of mackerel, so I’d pointed Alcatraz up the loch and kept on going all the way up to Barrs. There I stopped off for a break ashore and a few photos of the autumn colours, although there was no sign of any party goers at that point.

Late afternoon saw me anchoring at the head of the deep channel that runs up Etive as far as Barrs, and settle down for the final try of the day. There were more spurs here than down the loch and the total gradually mounted up, with the odd LSD thrown in for good measure. They were all small fish, with the biggest going to around 7lbs and a andful around the 5lb mark, but it was a fine night and I decided to stay out for a while after dark. I hung around until about nine and lifted my total to 32 spurs and a fair collection of doggies before things went quiet, more cloud rolled in, and I decided to call it a night and trundle back to Taynuilt.

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5 February 2012 – Etive (yet) again!

Weather: Cold – but calm. A few showers and a little sun, but mainly overcast
Sea: The usual Etive millpond. Surface water temperature up over 2 degrees in past 3 weeks – 6.5, up from 4.3 degrees last trip.
Time: 0830 – 1930 – 11 hours
Tides: HW 0605 (1.5m) LW 1325 (0.4m) HW 1840 (1.6m)

The forecasts during the week were tantalising, but slightly on the windy side of what I enjoy when sitting in a small boat for several hours in winter, so it was a Saturday morning decision to give the west coast a go again. A forecast of 5-6 mph, even with a little rain and heavy cloud , seemed too good to turn down and so the boat was loaded up for an early start on Sunday.

Given a westerly wind forecast, and an ebb tide for the morning, I decided to tuck in close to the fish farm off Airds Point, reckoning that I’d be sheltered and also just downtide of any trail of fish food that might escape the farm. In practice there was no wind at all, just a nice calm morning, but I stuck with the plan and anchored a couple of hundred yards down the loch from the farm.

After about 15 minutes there was a good run on my uptider and I hooked into a reasonably solid weight which turned out to be a respectable thornback of 6.75lbs. A good start, but alas the remainder of the morning was fairly poor, with a slow stream of rays, spurdogs and a few gurnard adding to the catch. Low water saw a move down to the Abbots Isles area, near where I’ve done well once or twice from the shore. I stuck it out here for a couple of hours, but with zip to show for my efforts – quite disappointing in ideal conditions. However, with a little bit of sun to warm the boat up I wasn’t too bothered. Next was a shift up towards Ardchattan, towards a spot that usually fishes well. Another hour, another disappointment, as only 1 micro cod showed up, alongside a couple of LSD.

By now it was heading towards sunset, so my next move was probably the last for the day, and I decided to head back up to Airds but to fish the opposite side of the loch where the water is considerably deeper. Sunset was around 5 p.m. and that seemed to trigger more activity as I picked up a double shot of rays soon after, followed by a stream of smallish spurs, LSDs and more rays, with a codling and a poor cod thrown in for good measure. Given there was no wind it was very pleasant out on the loch, so I stayed on for a couple of hours enjoying quite relaxed fishing and watching the stars come out.

The final tally for the day was around 40 fish, with 13 spurs, 11 rays and a motley collection of LSD, grey gurnard, codling and poor cod. Nothing huge, with the best fish my first one. In return for 11 hours afloat it couldn’t be considered a great catch (with virtually nothing at all during most of the flood tide), but it was actually a great day to be out and a perfect antidote to a 9-5 style city life.

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15 Jan 2012 – Etive Fails to Shine

Weather: Cold! – but little wind. A little sun but mainly overcast
Sea: The usual Etive millpond, with a few ripples. Temperature down to 4.3 degrees now
Time: 0900-1700 – 8 hours
Tides: HW 1100 – smallish tide

An overdue chance to blow a few cobwebs away saw me leaving home at about 5.30 a.m. on a very frosty morning, towing Alcatraz over Etive direction. Ian met me a Lochearnhead and we trundled on to Taynuilt to get launched on a fairly frigid morning.

First stop was well down the loch, at one of my usual haunts, where we stayed until just after the top of the tide. Just a couple of spurries and a handful of rays and LSD showed, so I moved up to Airds Point to catch the early part of the ebb tide. Here we were anchored in around 150 feet and initially things looked pretty good, with my first Etive ling for several years followed by a couple of modest thornback rays. The next couple of hours were pretty slow though, with 3 or 4 more small spurs and a few rays – although a pouting, grey gurnard and a couple of whiting added to list, alongside the odd hungry LSD.

By two o’clock we had to decide whether to stay for the rest of the day, or head on up the loch to a mark that’s done well for us in the past. Staying put wasn’t that attractive, so it was a case of up anchor and then heading up the loch past two or three other angling boats and on to Barrs. Up here the sun was out and the loch calm so it was almost warm for a little while as we waited for some action. And waited. Things were really very slow in the first 40-50 minutes, and only picked up slowly as the light faded, mainly with small spurdogs. By way of compensation for the slow sport and spreading chill, the sunset was beautiful over the mountains behind us, as they reflected off a calm sea loch.

Five o’clock saw darkness falling rapidly, and the cold becoming brutal, and the fishing wasn’t improving any. Executive decision made we upped anchor and headed home down the loch.

The fishing was pretty poor overall – a dozen small spurs to 5 or 6lbs, ten small rays and perhaps 15 LSDs, plus a few whiting and a single ling, pouting and grey gurnard to up the species count. No monsters, but good company with decent weather (and a lovely sunset) in a beautiful location – I’ve had much worse starts to the fishing year.


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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

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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