Saturday, April 11, 2015

Great expectations.

I've been trying to sort out a day afloat on Loch Etive with my mate Martin since the start of the year. The weather when we were both free has made this pretty impossible however. At the start of last week the weather at the weekend looked great though so the boat was booked and my mate Nick was free too so two became three and I was looking forward to the trip. The day after booking the boat I developed the initial symptoms of "man flu" and by midweek I had been sent home from work to get in bed and rid myself of it. It soon turned into the worst dose of man flu I've ever had but by Saturday evening I thought I was over the worst of it and I wasn't going to pull out of the trip.

Nick and I met Martin in Dumbarton and off we went in Martin's car. I didn't feel great at all and while Martin and Nick chatted away about kayaks I just sat there quietly until I had to ask Martin to pull over so I could be sick. Not a great start to the day and a few more pit stops were required before we finally arrived at Loch Etive. Luckily by that point I felt a little bit better and as the water was flat calm I didn't think I'd be adding any man flu groundbait to it. Gear loaded into the boat off we went to tie up on one of the many large buoys found around the loch.

Loch Etive has a strange draw. It's well known that it can produce large spurdogs and thornback rays and holds an impressive amount of other species too. It's also surrounded by stunning scenery and on a nice day this makes being afloat on it a real pleasure. Those anglers who have fished it regularly will also know that it can also be a very hard place to fish at times. Every time I fish it though I still have high expectations and if I'm honest they are rarely met. Last Sunday would turn out to be one such day with the fishing proving very slow at times. After a few small members of the cod family were boated at the first spot followed by a lull in activity we decided to head further up the loch to tie up next to a fish farm.

My first whiting of the year adding to my 2015 Scottish species hunt tally.
Fish cages can be a good place to try when things are tough. Feed that makes it all the way down through the trout filled pens attracts small fish which in turn should attract bigger fish and sharks. That's the theory anyway.
Nick baits up while I hold my rod hoping for a bite.

One of the downsides of fishing near these large floating fish factories are the many ropes down below which often end up snagging your tackle when you wind it up from the bottom. Not really much of an issue unless you are getting bites but when Martin eventually hooked a nice spurdog and got it almost to the surface that is exactly what happened so we started the engine and I slowly moved the boat away from the offending rope. This did the trick and Martin was able to free his shark and soon had it in the boat.

A nice spurdog and we were all hopeful that more would follow as they normally move around in packs.

Unfortunately this was the only action at the fish cages however so after a while longer we decided to move again. Trying a third area sadly didn't see a huge improvement in our fortunes either. A few tiny knocks resulted in me boating a poor cod and a switch to some Sabiki then saw Martin catching a succession of little grey gurnards. Nick then caught one too.

Small but perfectly formed.

I tried in vain to catch one as well but had no luck, instead thinking I had one only for a small coalfish to appear from the depths. It had been a slow day on the fishing front and heading back to shore we had one last drift close in. This saw me hook a fish which came off and Nick almost immediately afterwards hooked one as well, boating his biggest fish of the day, a cod weighing a couple of pounds.

So the fishing wasn't very good but there's just something about Loch Etive that keeps me going back. I'm not sure what it is exactly because more often that not the fishing disappoints. Never mind it was a nice day to be afloat in good company and the fresh air probably did me good too.

Tight lines, Scott.

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