Thursday 4 July 2013

'Watten long way'

By way of a change from the local fishing Jon Perry and Peter Macconnell drove 750 miles each way on a trip to Caithness in the far north-east of Scotland for the week 22nd - 29th June. The fishing was exclusively for wild brown trout for which the region is famous. It was an interesting and challenging experience and, what with the journey to and back, travelling between lochs and the towns of Wick and Thurso, we covered 1893 miles in the week. Was it worth it? Read on:
A brace of Loch Watten brownies
Jon and Peter based themselves in a caravan by Loch Watten which is one of the more famous trout lochs of the area but which, on its day, can be either very productive or very dour indeed. For our week Watten was mostly in a dour mood and we only managed to extract six trout from three visits. Though very lovely looking and tasting trout they were.

Peter's best Watten trout
Plenty of room for two anglers and their kit
Home for the week 

Watten at sunset

Heading out to fish 

In addition to Loch Watten, which is nearly three miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, we also fished the delightful Loch Toftingall and the windswept St. John's Loch by boat, and Loch Calder from the bank. All these and half a dozen others are within reasonable driving distance of Loch Watten and Central Caravan's site which was our base. Each of these Lochs had a different character, Toftingall was secluded in the middle of a forest, down a long unmetalled track at the end of which was a boathouse and three rowing boats. It's unique quality, from our point of view, was the massive and seemingly constant hatch of mayflies.  Loch Calder was, by comparison, a vast and windswept place with a population of seemingly smaller but easy rising trout. Here are some more pictures:
Mayfly at Toftingall
Typical free rising Calder trout
Toftingall Trout

One of the minor highlights of the week was Jon's Ghillie Kettle (a variation of the Kelly Kettle) which meant that at appropriate points in each fishing day we could put ashore and within minutes have the most refreshing cup of freshly brewed tea. It kept us going in the more dour and frustrating moments!
Teatime at Toftingall
Jon working wonders with a few twigs
In the end Jon caught around thirty trout and Peter ten. Mostly they were from Lochs Calder and Toftingall. We had only three each from Loch Watten. So was it worth it? Well personally speaking I can hardly wait to go again, but Jon may have a more sceptical view - Peter Macconnell


  1. Cracking report, Peter, and excellent photographs. Nearly 1900 miles in a week shows commitment and a certain determination to make the most of every minute. Did the infamous 'Highland Midge' find you that far north?
    Tony Hooper

    1. Hi Tony
      The driving was surprisingly painless. On the way up I drove to Lancashire, Jon then drove to Stirling, I then drove to Inverness, and then Jon again to Watten. I started from Plymouth at 4.15am, picked up Jon in Exeter, and we arrived at our destination at 5.50pm. I slept twice while Jon was driving and vice versa. Same routine on the way back which we did in 12 hours and 30 minutes. We were lucky that there were no road works or accident hold-ups on either journey.

      As to the midges, yes we met them. I strongly recommend the tropical version of Jungle Formula combined with 'The Stopper' Midge Head Net made by the 'Totally Herby of Scotland' company. Jon got them for eight quid each off Ebay. I can attest that they work well at Burrator as well!

      When are you off to West Cork?


  2. Hi Peter

    In 2006 we caravanned up the West Coast of Scotland, across the top and down the East side. Our most northerly site was at Altnaharra on the shores of Loch Naver. We toured around in the car and even made it out to Cape Wrath which was shrouded in a sea mist - typical! To avoid the pesky midges we travelled in April & May and back home in June (via the British F1 GP at Silverstone). Very enjoyable and a memorable trip which Sue & I must repeat.

    I am off to West Cork - usual place - on 1st September for five weeks. Jon Williams is over for two of the weeks and others are appearing as & when. I had my first bass of 2013 the week before last out in the boat with Laurence - 7lb and the only bass of the day. We had quite a few cod - my best 16lb & 10lb. Cyril went past holding up a big cod, too. The sea was very cold but this warm spell should improve things. I am away next week but I must have my Burrator boat course and try trouting afloat there.