Galloway Forest Trouting

I’ve been planning to explore some of the wilder lochs in the Galloway Forest for a good while now and last weekend I finally got around to it.

Target for the weekend was a circuit of around 20 miles, taking in between 6 and 10 hill lochs. As a bonus there was a fair bit of bog hopping too!

I made good time at first on a solid but pretty boring forest track before I crossed the Blackwater of Dee and set out across the Silver Flowe.

The Flowe is a large blanket bog and nature reserve and is very wet indeed in some areas. Passable with reasonable care but expect to get wet feet at the very least!

Silver Flowe

Down to Business…

By the time I reached my first loch I’d definitely earned my coffee as it was quite hard going with a backpack on. I’d a new toy to play with in the form of a 6 piece fly rod that packs down nice and small for the roving angler. I’ve not really fly fished for many years so will need a fair bit of practice!

Amazingly enough, my first cast produced a little brown trout, which hit a March Brown with misplaced enthusiasm.

First cast, first fish

He was quickly returned and swam off, suitably disillusioned with all anglers.

Beautifully marked brown trout

I carried on flogging the water, but no-one else wanted to play. By now the breeze was picking up and the sky was turning more leaden by the minute.

Sucker number two also grabbed a March Brown, fished around the remains of reed bed. Only marginally bigger, this little trout was soon returned too.

Onwards and Upwards

I couldn’t spend much longer at this loch if I wanted to make it to my camp for the evening. At the next loch in this little chain I performed a few more casts without much subtlety or success. Even better, I converted my leader into a horrendous tangle just as the only other angler for miles around turned up. As a YouTube viewer, I can only hope my display of distracted ineptitude wasn’t too offputting ūüôĀ

Moving on, I covered the rest of the loch quite quickly, as conditions continued their downwards spiral. More tangles followed, largely due to my own incompetence, and I swapped to a spinning rod for a while.

I did pick up another brownie on a Mepps before returning to the fly in a slightly more sheltered bay. My March Brown took another victim before I headed up the hill to loch number three.

By now the weather could fairly be described as pretty foul with increasingly heavy rain and a stiff wind. My enthusiasm was dented and the trout showed no interest whatsoever, so I didn’t spend too long here.

Into the Clouds

My final destination was buried in the murk 1000 feet above my head and the weather didn’t show much sign of improving. Probably time to bite the bullet and get moving!

After a miserably slow, trackless, soggy ascent into mist and cloud it seemed an age before my destination emerged behind a final ridge.

It was a very saturated angler who ditched a heavy pack and pitched his tent. With a little sunshine a sandy beach like this makes a lovely spot, but it was rather more elemental today!

I was glad to crawl into shelter, remove the worst of my wet clothes and then get some dinner on. Just simple stuff tonight and I took the risk of cooking inside the tent given the conditions outside.

Originally the idea was to fish on a bit in the evening, but I’m not that masochistic and settled for an early night and a video.

Claggy Morning

Opening the tent flap next morning revealed a very grey scene, but at least it wasn’t raining and the wind had reduced.

Fortified by a rather lazy breakfast of bacon, eggs and coffee, I reckoned I’d better actually do a bit of fishing before heading back. Packing away the sodden bundle of joy that passed for a tent I set up my rod again. At least the fishing was more manageable this morning although there were still some hefty gusts of wind.

Easier or not, I remained fishless as I worked round the loch and I didn’t see any sign of activity.

Towards the southern edge of the loch I came across scattered pieces of aircraft wreckage. I knew it was there but hadn’t seen it on my only previous visit here. You can find out a bit more here – it’s a WW2 Whitley bomber that crashed in 1940. Most of it, including one of the crew, is probably still in the loch.

Scattered aircraft wreckage

More Bog Hopping

The going was easier for a while, following a boggy path down the hillside to a couple of lower lochs. I did make a few casts along the way, but it was very much a token effort.

The next couple of lochs involved more off-piste trekking across wet and rocky ground. By this time I was falling seriously behind plan and also getting tired, so dropped any idea of bagging the last two lochs on my route.

This meant crossing the blanket bog again, but much further down from my original entry point. Some of this ground was frankly terrible, with mixed spaghnum moss, tussocks and deep peat that swallowed my walking poles with every step. Happily, there wasn’t too much of it and I eventually got back on to more conventionally swampy stuff. From there the hike back along the track was a comparative dawdle.

There’s a couple of obvious lessons from this trip – this circuit is really a three day effort rather than two, at least if you’re doing any meaningful fishing. I also need to practice my fly fishing technique, which has got woefully rusty and just wasn’t up to the job this time!

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