Fishing Loch Ness
You may think this is about the delicate art of trout fishing, but think again, think about Loch Ness Ferrox.
Following a great family Christmas break in the mountains above Loch Ness, we decided to go back in the summer and this time I'd see if I could latch onto a few Scottish Pike, having failed dismally in the snow. So in August we all piled into the Volvo estate (my wife, daughter, her friend 2 Basset Hounds, 1 German Spitz and me). We had to put the luggage and tackle in a trailer and even then it was a bit of a squeeze but after nearly 12 hours we arrived at the house we'd rented, halfway up the side of a mountain along the south shore of the Loch. The Highlands in the summertime are an incredible experience, especially when you try to drag that much weight up a 45 degree gravel track up the side of a mountain.
Look at a map of Scotland and you will soon realise that there is so much water around Loch Ness and the Great Glenn that it ought to be an angler's paradise but I soon found out how wrong you can be. After trying 3 of the nearer Hill Lochs and the shore of Loch Ness without a single bite, I decided it was time for a bit of local knowledge. A run down to Inverness and the only tackle shop for over 100 miles was less than promising. Unfortunately, unless you are talking Salmon, everyone looks at you as if you were a bit wrong in the head and info on any local Pike boiled down to "you can try a little Loch near Erogie". Obviously this was their favorite Pike venue as we found the remains of their dead bait bags etc. but still no fish.
A Misty Loch Ness
By now I began to realise that most of the Highland waters were so barren with a clean stone bottom that they just couldn't support more than a few fish per acre and with no prey fish, no Pike. My only hope was to find a local Pike angler that could actually tell me where we could find a fish, it was quickly becoming a possibility that I could blank the whole trip. A visit to the Tourist Office at Fort Augustus produced a guide to fishing the Highlands and a lead to a guided fishing trip on Loch Ness with a Ghillie named Bruce Wynne. Bruce turned out to be a fantastic bloke with a large boat on the Loch and a B&B in Drumnadrochit but most of all, he was a keen Pike angler when he wasn't helping tourists catch Trout and Salmon. Most of all, he caught my interest with tales of huge fighting machines called Ferrox Trout, a true wild species found only in the depths of the Lochs of Scotland and Ireland. I just had to have a go at these ultimate predators.
In the meantime, Bruce soon put us on to a couple of Lochs that produced some nice Pike that were an experience on their own. Nothing this side of the Border fights like the long, lean Scottish Hill Loch Pike. A 7lb fish caught on a lure in just 4ft. of water kept me busy for about 15 minutes and was still having a go when I finally got it in the net.
Either a very small pike or a very big man!
I managed to book an afternoon on Loch Ness with Bruce for the Friday before we came back, (Friday 13th.) and duly arrived in the field by his dock as directed. After a short wait, Bruce arrived in the boat and off we went. Over the last 7 years, Bruce has mastered the art of catching one of the hardest to catch game fish there is in this Country and he does it solely with lures, trolled at depths only obtainable using 8lb downriggers. Nine rods are fished at a time, 3 each on 2 downriggers at 10ft intervals from the bottom weight and trailing about 20ft from the link. These can be as deep as 100ft down if that is where the sounder pinpoints the Arctic Char that the Trout prey upon. One rod is fished from each back corner, rigged with a deep diving lure and one straight out the back with one that runs just below the surface. This way he manages to cover all possible depths from the deeps where the Ferox run, up to the surface where there is the greatest chance for an elusive Salmon but more likely a Sea Trout or Brownie.
Bruce coming into dock
We started to fish right under the walls of Urquhart Castle and headed up the Loch towards Fort Augustus. It's an incredible experience fishing the Great Glenn.
The mountains climb straight up from the bottom of the Loch to an incredible height, some well over 1,000ft and with 25 miles to run before you even have to turn around, the fish finder is essential.
The awesome view up Loch Ness
It was a bit slow to start off with, a few small Sea Trout and Brownies fell to the shallower lures but no action at all from the depths. Bruce then decided to try the Solvkroken Lax on the bottom rigs and almost straight away we heard the scream of a slipping clutch and the right hand rod tip hit the water. Unfortunately it was Bruce's rod so it fell to me to panic and try to get 8 more out of the water as fast as possible while he tried to get some sort of control over a fish that obviously hadn't read the rule book. It soon became clear that this was no average fish, my best clue was the language coming from Bruce as he tried to slow it down before he ran out of line. Every time he seemed to gain a bit it ran again, diving straight down, running away and charging towards us. I soon appreciated why Bruce uses American high tensile rigs, the lunges would have snapped up a conventional lure set up in no time. With all the excitement it seemed like hours but I suppose it was about 20 minutes before we actually saw the fish and to be honest, from the fight, I was expecting at least a 30lb Salmon. You can imagine my surprise when I netted a Trout that eventually weighed in at 16lb 8oz. I would never have believed a fish that size could fight so hard.
Bruce and his 16 Ferrox
We carried on for the rest of the afternoon and my best was just short of 5lb but at least I can claim a Ferrox Trout, even if it wasn't the Loch Ness Monster I was hoping for. One thing though, that 5lb Trout put up more of a fight than any 20 I've ever had. A real mean fighting machine.
One afternoon with Bruce really hooked me on the experience of Loch Ness so Jim and I are going back in May for a weeks fishing. This time let's hope the Monster is feeling hungry.
The man in action
Bruce can be contacted on 01456 450279 and can offer guided fishing trips with accommodation.
(C) Baintonfisheries.co.uk, 29 May, 2014 . All rights reserved, no reproduction without prior permission
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