Etive Spurdog – and a Hot Tent Overnight Camp

What with lockdowns and life generally, it’s over a year since I was afloat on Etive. I finally remedied that last month with an overnight trip with Ian.

The local swans hassled for a payout as we launched at Taynuilt and headed out into a calm loch.

We planned to camp well up the loch but started down at Ardchattan. This was a banker mark for ray and spurdog but has definitely faded in recent years, although it still has its moments. Today wasn’t one of them and we were treated to a long series of dogfish and not much else.

Cutting our losses we up-anchored and shifted a few hundred yards over to near Airds Point. The water here is deeper but the fish seemed happier and we soon boated a succession of reluctant visitors.

I’ve found rays quite scarce in Etive (and Leven) for a while now, but there were a few around here, albeit pretty small stuff.

We’d a whiting or two, with this chomped one proving there were plenty of spurdog around.

We had a good number of the beasts, but mainly very small. Ian managed a respectable one of around 7lb but most were nearer 2 or 3lb in weight. Pretty typical of Etive in my experience, as I find only a small percentage break the 10lb mark.

Setting up Camp

By now it was early afternoon and we needed to shift up the loch to set up camp for the night. A quick tow with the Alderney ring and I retrieved the anchor and then we headed up past Bonawe.

Beyond here the loch is much wilder, with only a few scattered houses and no public roads. Very much my preferred state of empty and isolated country!

My Longliner was rather overcrowded with camping gear, shore rods and food so we stopped ashore and offloaded anything we didn’t need for fishing.

The Robens tent went up pretty smoothly on the gravelly shoreline, weighted down with a motley collection of local boulders for extra security.

This all took a fair while but we still had enough daylight left for a session out on the boat, and headed out to another favourite mark.

We’d a load of small ranging down to tiny spurdog, plus a whiting or two, but quality was conspicuously absent.

At least we had a lovely flat calm loch and a decent sunset to watch, even if the fish were largely babies.


I took us back in and set the boat up on a temporary mooring for the night before we retreated to the tent. I’d taken the tent stove in for tonight so we soon had it up and running and got dinner underway. Just an all-in-the-pot chicken effort but pretty easy to put together and filling enough for a chilly evening.

I’ve caught spurdog from the beach here on several occasions so we’d taken in a shore rod each, just to see whether we could catch anything whilst dinner was cooking.

I wasn’t too surprised to find the place crawling with little spurries, given the numbers we’d taken from the boat, but these were decidedly on the tiny side. Ian kept going for a while but I gave up after a couple of casts and concentrated on dinner instead!

To be honest it wasn’t too cold and there was no wind, so the log burner was probably unnecessary. I’ve no problem indulging myself a bit, though!

Downhill All the Way

Next morning was a slightly different story. Decidedly overcast and with the breeze increasing a little – pretty much in line with a forecast that suggested wet and windy later on.

We’d another cast or two as we sorted out the tent…

…but with a very similar result – loads of tiny spurdogs. When these are around you usually can’t get through them to pick up any better fish.

The sky kept darkening and the wind was getting a bit gustier so we packed up and headed back out in the boat.

A few miles down the loch it was becoming pretty miserable with heavy rain and squally winds. After a little dicking about to find somewhere half-sheltered from the wind blasting up the loch I slung over the anchor.

I kept a set of sabikis swinging off the stern and then retreated to the cuddy and kept the coffee coming. Ian, being keener or more optimistic, fished a little more seriously. Diligence didn’t get him anywhere however, his only reward being a couple of doggies. Even my half-hearted effort returned a little grey gurnard, but that was that.

So, a game of two halves really. A fine easy day 1 and overnight stay, followed by Etive showing it’s more robust side. I have no idea how many fish we caught in the end – Ian had getting on for 50 spurs by himself, so I’d guess the total was 70+ (I wasn’t bothering to fish half the time), and we both had a fair load of doggies in addition. Add in the rays and whiting and we must have been at 90+ fish. Very much quantity rather than quality, however!

Share this:


  1. Good effort Doug, setting a fine example again. I can see a lot of preparation has gone into just one night away, well done. The tent & stove look fantastic, & I think it does well to stay up on loose gravel too. Well done the lads.

    1. Hi Ash,
      I’m just catching up on a some older reports that I’ve not had time to write up yet. Next instalment goes up in a minute or two!

      Between the boat, camping gear, videos and food I’m certainly kept occupied on these trips. All part of the fun for me though, and sometimes I even fish 🙂 The less fun part is drying that big tent when I get home, but I guess you know that yourself.

      I don’t think I’d want to chance the tent in gravel if the wind rose too much. Even with boulders pegging it down the holding power is pretty limited in such loose stuff. I bought some sand/snow tent pegs and they will certainly help with a smaller tent but I’m not sure they’d make much difference with the bulky Robens.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.