Tuesday 21 June 2016

Return to the Highlands - Part I

For the last three years fellow BFFA member Jon Perry and myself have made a trip north to fish for wild brown trout in the Scottish Highlands. In 2013 we went to Caithness, mainly to fish the famous Loch Watten. Our posting on here from June of that year, 'Watten Long Way to Go', tells the story. Then for the last two years we have based ourselves in the Lairg/Loch Shin area of Sutherland, about seventy miles north of Inverness. Both those trips are recorded in blog posts on this site. This year we went to the Loch Shin area again but with four key differences:
  • We moved up-market in accommodation, from a fairly grubby caravan, to a rather splendid estate cottage.
  • There were four of us as we were joined by Phil and Kevin Stuckey who are Jon's lifelong fishing pals. Very good anglers both, but fairly new to fly fishing.
  • We fished rivers as well as lochs.
  • I didn't end up in intensive care in hospital at Inverness. See last year's report  'Scotland 2015 - A trip with a difference' posted on 7th July.

The House and the Estate
Jon found the accommodation once we had decided that there would be four of us and that we would go for up to two weeks. I only stayed eight days, I didn't want to push my luck after last year, but Jon Phil and Kev stayed the whole of the fortnight; hence this being Part I. Jon will post about the second week in Part II. What Jon found was a four bedroomed house in beautiful scenery with both loch and river fishing included, set in a private highland estate. This proved to be fabulous value for money with absolutely heart-lifting surroundings and exciting fishing, though by no means specimen hunting.

The House

The white dot in the middle is the house

Boat fishing the lochs
This, previously our daily fishing when up north, played a much smaller role in our adventures. This was partly because, on the main loch we chose to book boats, Loch Craggie, the fishing was not up to the standard of  previous years. Loch Beannach, which Jon and I had fished only once before, proved to be a much better bet and and more enjoyable day out for four of us.

Sunset on Loch Craggie

Loch fishing from the bank 

Jon, Kev & Phil - about the set off for Loch na Stoine Luime

Kev fishing the hill loch - Snow on Ben More in the background

Access to the banks of Lochs Merkland and Loch  Ghriama were available free from the estate from whom we rented the house. Additionally numerous hill lochs could be reached by a mixture of off-road driving and walking into the hills. I only went to one, Loch na Stoine Luime, which was a tolerable walk, though over quite difficult ground in places. From these waters we took scores and scores of fish over the week I was there; all truly wild and those we kept were really delicious.

Tackling up by the roadside

Three for tea

Fishing the river
This, from my point of view at least, proved to be the highlight of the stay. Again this was fishing that came with the house. There were wild brown trout from an ounce or two up to a pound and a few a bit more than that. On at least two days I estimate that I caught more than fifty fish, frankly I lost count. The other three all caught at least as many as me and probably more.

A brace from the river - on Elk Hair Sedge dry fly

The River

Laying a ghost
Given that last year I had become quite unwell and ended my trip in the NHS Highland Air Ambulance on the way to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, I was able to return, enjoy myself immensely, drink a bit (not too much) eat fabulous food thanks to Jon's and Kev's efforts in the kitchen, and fish as intensively as I have done for many years.

To quote Paul Whitehouse

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. I am pleased you had a good trip. I think the river looks fabulous. Makes me quite envious. I think my Tenkara rod would do well there. Thanks for sharing.