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
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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18 September 2011 – Loch Etive

Weather: Calm or light winds, warm and quite sunny
Sea: Calm, fair peaty colour to surface water further up loch
Time: 0830-2000 – 11.5 hours
Tides: Moderate tides, HW approx 1100

Lovely day to be out although the fishing was a little slow. I tried about 5 marks during the day, mainly between Airds and the Priory, but finished up well up the loch near Cadderlie. Finished up with a dozen small spurs and 14 thornbacks, plus more whiting than I’ve seen for a while (if you include a couple of head-only captures). Fish seemed pretty evenly spread across all the marks – nothing outstandingly good or bad.

To be honest the day was a lot better than it sounds, as the loch was looking beautiful in the late summer sunshine and the lovely calm evening was completely relaxing – a great antidote to city living.

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26-27 July 2011 – Loch Etive

There's more to fishing than just fish...
There’s more to fishing than just fish…

Weather: Hot and sunny, with an afternoon sea breeze
Sea Conditions: Flat (and 19.5 degrees water temp in the shallows!)
Times: Roughly 1400-1900 on Tuesday and 0800-1600 on Wednesday – about 13 hours altogether
Tides: LW approx 1120 at Bonawe on Tuesday, small tides

Took my son, Mike, and Bonnie the manic spaniel across to Loch Etive for a couple of days on the boat and a spot of camping. Etive’s not my first choice for fishing at this time of year but both Mike and Bonnie suffer from sea-sickness so it’s a good bet from that point of view, and there’s almost always something to catch.

Bonnie hijacks the skipper's seat
Bonnie hijacks the skipper’s seat
Camping on the shoreline
Camping on the shoreline

I’d deliberately tried to go for a couple of days good weather and the met office didn’t let us down – basically hot and sunny sums it up, with only a light sea breeze in the afternoon (quite welcome, as it was almost too hot in the boat). We tried a variety of marks both east and west of Taynuilt and caught a decent number of fish, mainly small spurs (best 7lb, but most around 2lbs) and a fair number of thornbacks but also doggies, gurnard, whiting, codling, coalie and pollack. Only a single mackerel turned up so it was just as well I’d taken frozen ones plus some squid. I lost count of the final totals but several dozen fish came aboard and the dog eventually lost all interest in them as they wriggled around.

How to spend a summers evening
How to spend a summers evening
Just to prove we did a little fishing
Just to prove we did a little fishing

Overnight, we camped well up the loch at Barrs – a fantastic little spot only accessible by sea or a long hike. The tent went up in a few minutes and then it was time for a beer and a barbie, plus a modest campfire to help keep the midgies at bay. For the first time I’d put together a sliding mooring for the boat, which allowed me to keep her 50-60m off the beach overnight but pull her in to shore as needed. It seemed to work pretty well, but I was pleased/relieved to see her still there next morning. To be honest the highlight of the trip is summed up by the first image – waking up to a view like that is simply inspiring, doubly so when you see some of the highland magic click with your kid. Mind you, Bonnie was more inspired by the bacon than the scenery…

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10 Feb 2011 – Loch Etive

A few hours fishing from my Rover inflatable on Loch Etive – chilly but otherwise a beautiful day, with a few thornbacks and spurdogs appearing to keep things interesting.

Weather: Calm, sunny and beautiful – but a bit chilly
Sea Conditions: Flat calm.
Time: Roughly 0900-1630 – 7.5 hours
Tides: HW approx. 1100

Ben Starav from Loch Etive
Ben Starav from Loch Etive

The weather’s been it’s typical wintry self recently – cold, wet and windy – but I grabbed a few hours of calm between the gales to give Etive a try. I’ve been trying to run-in the little 5hp Tohatsu O/B I bought back in September and also get my Rover inflatable back into more regular use, so it was a chance to kill two birds with one stone, and hopefully get a few fish as well.

The 120 mile trip across to Taynuilt was certainly easier and quicker without hauling the usual trailer, although there were some terrific potholes around the Tyndrum area which had to be treated with caution in the semi-darkness. Arriving at the old pier the weather was beautiful – calm and sunny – and I quickly got the inflatable set up and ready to go.

Ready for a day on the loch
Ready for a day on the loch

Once out on the loch I headed out for a couple of hundred yards and then tied up to the outermost mooring buoy and set up a couple of rods – a spinning rod armed with hokkais and 20lb class rod with a standard 1 up 1 down mackerel baited rig. Fishing was fairly slow, but three respectable thornies and a couple of doggies appeared over the next 90 minutes before I decided to move further up the loch beyond Bonawe. The rest of the day I spent tied up to the fish farm or on a slow drift, and it wasn’t the most productive experience, with only a couple more thornbacks, 2 spurdogs and a few LSDs making an appearance.

Although sunny, the day was still very cold and I was quite glad to pack up around 4 o’clock as I was starting to freeze – one of the downsides of an inflatable is the level of exposure coupled with an inability to move around to keep warm.

Totals for the day – 5 thornbacks to 5lbs, 2 spurdogs to 3.5lbs and 7 doggies. All on mackerel baits.

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20 November – Loch Etive

A fairly typical day at Etive, with decent numbers of thornback and small spurs showing – plus my first ever tagged spurdog recapture. And don’t forget a few mussels picked up for dinner later in the week – a little bonus for the effort spent getting a boat too and from the west coast.

Weather: Light E wind, dry and mainly overcast. Pretty cold.
Sea Conditions: Flat calm, 8 degrees C.
Time: 0930-1700 – 7.5 hours
Tides: HW 0626 (1.9m) LW 1340 (0.4m)

Alcatraz on Etive
Alcatraz on Etive

Mainly thornbacks today, with 9 or 10 coming aboard. Nothing huge with the best around 5lbs, but only one micro fish for the day which is an improvement on the last couple of trips. Tried a couple of new marks, both of which produced 3 or 4 rays but only one spurdog – both look interesting for another time, although there were a fair number of LSD present as well.

Around low water I stopped off to collect a few mussels for dinner later in the week, although there were only a few visible and it took a wee while to get enough – a bit chilly on the hands when picking them up underwater!

A tagged spurdog
A tagged spurdog

Afterwards I headed further down the loch, to the deep water opposite the church where there were a few more spurs. However these were small ones so I didn’t hang around for too long, particularly as the tide had swung the boat stern on to the very cold breeze.

Back up to a deep mark near Airds Point and I decided to stay here until darkness fell, and see if any spurries were moving around. Initially things were very slow but picked up after around 30 or 40 minutes with a couple more thornbacks and a few spurdogs to 5lbs or so, alongside the usual LSD. Best fish of the day came in the shape of a 9.5lbs spurdog which was carrying a tag from the shark tagging programme.

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15th August – Loch Etive

More like a family fishing day than my usual efforts, with two kids and a dog for company. Plenty of tiddler spurdogs for amusement, plus a little barbie on the beach miles from anywhere. Lots of sunshine too, so a great day out before it’s back to school next week…

Weather: A great day, with light W wind and mainly sunny

Sea Conditions: Calm

Time: Roughly 1100- 1730 – 6.5 hours

Tides: HW 1200 – Large tide

Katie's first "shark" - a small spurdog
Katie’s first “shark”

Had a fun day out with the kids and the dog(!), spending as much time cruising about and lazing ashore in the sunshine as we did fishing. Even so we managed 26 spurdog, mainly small but with the biggest at 6.75lbs being caught at the last minute by Mike. Funnily enough we caught nothing but spurs – no mackerel, whiting, LSD or thornies – which is a first for me. Most of the fish came a long way up the loch, about 2-3 miles from Glen Etive, where the bottom was carpetted with small spurries.

Lunchtime on Loch Etive
Lunchtime

It was Katie’s first time out in the boat, but she was quite happy steering us around, and managed to keep a respectably straight wake most of the time. Less said about the dog the better – she demanded to be treated as a lapdog most of the day and also managed to bring a motley collection of ticks aboard after we stopped ashore for lunch, much to Katie’s disgust.

Only downer of the day was losing a tyre at Crianlarich on the way home – the valve blew out (a new one on me), but it took only a few minutes to change to the spare, so not really much of a drama.

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4th April 2010 – Etive

Weather: Warm in the sunshine, but some cool and windy spells
Sea Conditions: Calm
Tides:
Time Spent: 09:30 – 16:30 – 7 hours

Mike with a small thornback
Mike with a small thornback
Bonnie and thornie
Bonnie and thornie

Took Mike and Bonnie (the dog) over to Etive for a few hours at the start of the Easter holidays. The fishing was fairly poor but we had a modest selection of species with spurs, thornbacks, whiting and gurnard all hitting the bait – no LSD again though.

Bonnie gets comfy
Bonnie gets comfy
Bonnie and Mike
Bonnie and Mike
Fishing up the loch
Fishing up the loch

We motored around a wee bit, as far down as Ardchattan and then all the way up past the lodge at Barrs and tying up to the old pier near there for a break. Bonnie distinguished herself by falling overboard as we landed at Barrs, but was otherwise well behaved.

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7th March 2010 – Etive

Weather: Chilly with a light SE wind and mainly overcast. Wind less than 10mph all day
Sea Conditions: Calm
Tides: 11:36 1.3m
Time spent: 0900-1700 – 8 hours

Started off at Inveresregan in about 210 feet, and maybe 150 yards from shore. Fishing was slowish – quite a lot of small rattles, probably from whiting – but not many coming aboard. The count gradually climbed, with a respectable range of species but nothing of any size. Oddly enough there was no sign of LSDs at all – not that I’m complaining much.

A shift down the loch to Ardchattan for a couple of hours produced a flurry of small spurdog and a couple of small rays, but little of excitement. Overall it was pleasant enough, but nothing to write home about. Total for the day – 4 thornbacks, 14 spurs, plus codling, whiting, poor cod, pouting and gurnard.

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4th October 2009

Weather: Generally good, with a fair bit of sunshine. Initially no wind, later a F2-3
Sea Conditions: Calm, lot of fresh water on surface (esp near head of loch)
Time Spent: 0830-1830 – 10 hours
Tides: 0743 GMT – 1.9m

Loch Etive
Loch Etive
calm day on Loch Etive
Mirror calm

Started off at Ardchattan, using a small groundbait block alongside the anchor. This produced immediate results, with 4 thornbacks and several spurs, plus LSD and whiting. When this tailed off I moved down to near the Priory for a while, but this produced only a couple of spurs. A more substantial move all the way p the loch produced some tiny spurs and whiting. Stopped off at an old pier for a wee exploration before having a couple of hours off Kinglass in 270 feet – caught a plague of tiny spurs plus a couple of decent poor cod, a couple of thornbacks and a very manky looking codling that was covered in little red worms.

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