A Couple of Late St. Andrews Reports

I’m way behind in writing up my fishing reports, so the next couple are a pair of late summer/early autumn sessions out of St. Andrews. I’ve still got another three or four to catch up on!


“Mackerel – no problem, there’s tons around!” I exaggerate Ian’s words slightly but you have no doubt already guessed what happened next…

Truth be told, we did extract enough to settle down to have a crack at the pollack and cod, but our bait proved much harder to catch than planned.

No doubt this passing pod of dolphins laughed at our incompetence as they headed out to Fife Ness.

We’re not completely hopeless though as we knocked out a series of small to middling pollack and a few codling. We mainly fished at anchor as it was a blustery day to be drifting, and hooked up on a mix of thin mackerel belly strip and lures.

There were a few respectable fish, a little over the 6lb mark and our totals slowly added up.

Ian’s dedication was eventually rewarded with the largest fish of the day, at a little over 8lbs. They certainly fight hard in shallow inshore water and we both also lost fish to the kelp under our keel.

We also redeemed ourselves on the mackerel by thinning out some passing shoals. Just as well, as the winter bait freezer is in serious need of a restock!

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  1. Hi doug Recently travelled to loch etive on the 21,2.22 fished a little pier near ardchatton priory but failed to check weather forcast properly and arived to greate storm Franklin heavy rain and gail force winds on arriving used a pully rig with 10 white beads very similar to yours and baited up with macrell not long after my umbrella turned inside out and ruined my session i braved storm Franklin out fora couple of hours was not enjoying it so packed up and had planned to sit it out camp in car and fish friday but after checking forcast and -7 and snow warning decided to go home do you have any advice on fishing this area tide times wind ect best times fish ect so i dont make the same mistake twice as its quite a far drive to blank ha ha aprox 700 miles thanks in advance .Paul wilson south shields

    1. Hi Paul,
      I reckon you’ve already learned the key point – weather! If I’m thinking about heading to Etive then I just obsessively check the forecast for Bonawe on sites like xcweather. At this time of year I wouldn’t bother if it shows above 10mph from any direction, as it gets very cold (although I don’t often take a brolly or shelter with me). Etive can go wet, windy and horrible for weeks at a time, but it’s also surprising just how often you’ll get a spell of really calm conditions. Sometimes you get really lucky and have calm and very sunny conditions, but I wouldn’t hold out for that. Generally speaking, the nearer the sea the windier it’s likely to be. Etive is a long loch so it can pay to head inland as conditions can be very different in different parts of the loch – easier to deal with on a boat, but “up” from Bonawe can sometimes feel like a different planet to “down” from Bonawe. If you’re fishing the shore from late April through to the end of September then midges are your enemy, and you do want a bit of a breeze to keep them away (and a headnet). You can catch fish at any time of the year, but you’ve got better options elsewhere over the summer months which is why most anglers treat it as a sheltered venue to retreat to during the winter.

      Most of Etive has a 5 hour flood and 7 hour ebb tide but I’ve never found it to make much difference. Fish come and go and I’m not very convinced it has much to do with the tide (which is almost non-existent on the deeper marks, at least down at the bottom). It may well be different on shallower marks like the Windsock or Ardchattan, but these are not places I fish myself (look up Big Spurries posts on World Sea Fishing for info on the Windsock – some big fish come from there, but the tactics are different with larger baits, etc.). Tactics are really simple – mackerel fished on the bottom – but you can hit fish within seconds or wait all day for them to appear. Make sure and change baits regularly as fresher bait does make a difference. Whether you move marks because nothing is happening is a personal choice and you can argue either way, but I would definitely move if I’m not catching fish but crabs are stripping the bait – if the wee critters are about it usually means the bigger fish are somewhere else. I often find dusk triggers activity, and I imagine that the shallow marks fish better in the dark. The deep marks up from Bonawe will fish at any time of day or night as it’ll be black at the bottom anyway.

      If you’re travelling a very long distance it’s worth researching some backup marks too – e.g. a strong easterly wind isn’t great on most of Etive, but there are spots south of Oban which should be OK

      Good luck!

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