Fishing The Fly Forum, based in Aberdeenshire,  Scotland

Peter Davidson

After the fairly recent spell of good weather we had high hopes of a summer day fishing but the few days previous to our May outing were more winter like than winter was. Never mind, with a rush of enthusiasm we headed away early on the delightful drive to Loch Lagg Trout Fishery in Assynt. 
Even from Gairloch it’s a three hour drive so a long haul from “real” civilisation but still one of the finer journeys in the Highlands. The early drizzle began to lift just north of Ullapool as we headed up Morefield brae coffee-less because we were too early for a carry out, but with rising spirits when the sun broke through grey skies lifting horizons to reveal Stack Pollaidh  and the northern moonscape of Sutherland at its very finest. Lochinver was open when we arrived so very welcome caffeine was obtained before the final leg up the single track to just north of Clashnessie. Day Release relaxed and sipped his brew, I did battle with a few early morning motor homes, changing gears, tight bends, blind summits, and……….occasional gulps of best Java latte. 

Loch Lagg is perhaps a conundrum to some fly fishermen. It is a small hill loch fishery split between a small lochan and Loch Lagg itself, one of the hundreds of such lochs hereabouts but to fish this one costs £20 per day when a day ticket for the area would most probably be less. I would only say, as an absolute beginner, that for us it was a very worthwhile fee. There are big, BIG fish here, brown trout to well above 10lb with even larger rainbows up to 16ib. The pictures in the bothy made the catches look even bigger! The loch is 300m from the main road along a good car track, it has the usual facilities and boats are available for those that want them but we decided to fish from the shore. A rough track connects the two fisheries and, later in the day I did circumnavigate Loch Lagg by foot - but more of that later.

There was one lone fisherman heading away from the bothy as we arrived, no one in sight but a quick mobile call confirmed we could just fish and someone would see us later in the morning. The inevitable catch book had a few recent clues as what to fish but it was all pretty vague and the weather had been tricky. We both rigged floating lines and traditional early season flies, mine being a black pennell with Day Release using one of his own tied butchers then headed up the short path to the higher lochan in bright cool conditions with a fair breeze from the north west. 
Very quickly we settled into our own routines, finding a good casting site, ignoring the rest of the world and just enjoying the moment. I saw and heard a fairly large fish break the surface close to where I was fishing but countless casts into the ripples were fruitless. Indeed, across the water there were no signs of rising fish despite the slight, but steady signs of insect life around me. I was just pondering this problem when a voice told me - “It’ll be hard to catch them today. They’ve been pretty scarce the last few days.” The voice belonged to the owner but I was somewhat bemused by his honesty - no one has ever told me their fish are tricky to catch - they’ve all told me how many others have caught “just the other day”. It was very quickly obvious that Tom runs this place and the surrounding few hundred acres as a hobby estate purely because he loves doing it. With a wave he and his black lab, who was desperate to go swimming but had clearly been told no, wandered away to speak to Day Release. An hour later we had caught nothing and neither had the lone fisherman whom, Tom assured me, was very good at catching here, so I reeled in and wandered back to Day Release who agreed we should try the lower loch.

He changed to a sinking line but I persevered with the floating one, trying a few variation of flies but without a nibble or even a sign of a fish before lunch time. Food was taken at a picnic table with a grand view of the loch and the mountains to the east. More coffee was consumed and we constantly scanned the water looking for signs of fish. Eventually there were a few, a flip of a tail here, a ripple there and so we were encouraged to return to our rods. I had decided that, as the fish seemed fairly random I would take a few casts then walk around to the next vantage point so as to, if nothing else, have a nice walk round the loch. A word of warning, this is only possible if you are wearing wellingtons, there is one section that would have a considerable scramble and height gain to get around the crag if you were in shoes. Not impossible but not really desirable. I tried a few spots but to no avail, Tom came out again and had a look at my fly, a bloody butcher, “If they’re there it’s a good fly for today.” was his encouragement. More walking, more casting. I saw a fish jump 20 metres away and quickly got to the bank and cast…………..but no………it was only teasing!

Almost three quarters around the loch I will admit I was beginning to think this fishing carry on was a bit over rated really but I persevered and tried a few casts to where water was being driven through a narrows by surface wind into a a lily bed. All of a sudden the whole day changed, my rod took a good bend at the tip and even an absolute beginner could tell it wasn’t a lily he’d caught but a proper fish! And proper it was, a brown trout of about two pounds which I slowly handed in the line, savouring the moment before remembering………………….Day Release had the landing net and he was 500 metres away. In retrospect I should have landed it quite easily but, after six months of trying, I was perhaps heading nearer nirvana than I should have been. I foolishly brought the fish into the side of the raised bank, snagged my line on a robust heather root and……………the fish was gone! Just like that! If only I’d reeled the fish in then raised the rod and swung it onto the bank - so easy to say now but heigh ho, every mistake is a lesson learned.

I walked back to Day Release with the news, fully expecting him to have caught something by now but no………..not that it mattered of course, but I was in the lead for the day by a very narrow margin. Loosing the fish was merely an inconvenience to me, not the disaster I’d imagined it would have been. The thrill of having caught a fish an a fly deliberately cast was enough to keep me smiling, even though my companion caught and landed a very very miniature brownie giving him victory shortly thereafter, even though our lone fisherman companion caught two fish of eight and twelve pounds that afternoon too. I felt I had moved very slightly up the learning curve to being a fly fisherman and made a note to buy my own landing net now that there was a possibility that it may be needed in the future. Roll on next month!!!!

Hamish Young

Re: Absolute Beginner & Day Release head north to Loch Lagg in Assynt
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2017, 07:15:56 AM »
Getting there Peter  :z16
Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience ;)

Terry Coging

Re: Absolute Beginner & Day Release head north to Loch Lagg in Assynt
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2017, 09:17:36 AM »
Excellent report Peter. I was with you every step.
I used those roads you described last week.

Derek Roxborough

Re: Absolute Beginner & Day Release head north to Loch Lagg in Assynt
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2017, 13:48:14 PM »
I'm must admit I'm a bit non-plussed here, you are a member of Gairloch Angling club and you didn't take advantage of your £20 member ship , free boat access in the Afternoons, access to a premier Brown trout loch that a lot of anglers would sell their wives for, we have 20 + lochs available, visitors last week had 27 wild brown trout off a local loch one after noon last week, fair enough no 16lb fish but sport all day up to 1lb fish, but what ever floats yer boat Peter, support your local angling club  :z18 , Derek Roxborough   


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