Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rays of sunshine.

All of last week I couldn't decide where to go fishing on Sunday. The weather forecast locally wasn't great so I started  to look further afield. Trips to Lochaline or Killantringan were considered but in the end I decided to revisit Loch Leven to try again for thornback rays. With my girlfriend/ghillie Lillian joining me we made the scenic drive north west and arriving in Glencoe Village turned off the main road and headed along the southern side of Loch Leven to Kinlochleven to look for a spot to try. I stopped the car at a few parking places high above the water but couldn't really see how difficult access to the rocks below was so we headed to the top of the loch and back down the northern shore. As we drove I spotted two anglers fishing next to a lay-by and pulled in to talk to them. They had a few bait rods set up but told me things were slow with the only fish caught being a few small pollock on their spinning gear. The mark looked quite good however so I decided to give it a go anyway and quickly set up along the rocks from them.

A nice day with the sun making the odd appearance through the clouds and hardly any wind meant the loch was like a mirror.

Fishing two rods, one with a pulley rig to try for thornback rays and the other with a three hook flapper to see what else might be around I baited up my circle hooks with cocktails of mackerel, mussel and razorfish. 

We relaxed, trying to keep an eye on my rods whilst also enjoying the scenery, it was a lovely peaceful day but unfortunately my rod tips were rather peaceful too. As high water came and went I was starting to think I was going to blank for a second session in a row when I finally got a decent bite. Lifting the rod the culprit was hooked and I wound in quickly to get it up over the ledges in front of me and through the kelp and bladderwrack. 

It took about two hours to get a bite. This nice little thornback ray, my first from the venue, was worth the wait though.
They are very graceful swimmers. An elegant flap of their wings and they glide for a while. It's a real pleasure watching them go back.

Pulley rig rebaited and cast out again it wasn't on the bottom long when I noticed the line moving in a peculiar manner. Not enough to move the rod tip but I suspected something was hooked and reeled in to find a small and rather greedy dab had guzzled a fairly big mackerel and razorfish cocktail.

Dabs are almost transparent when held up in strong light. 

After that it went quiet again for an hour or so. As the tide ebbed its strength increased making holding bottom difficult to the point I was thinking about calling it a day but before I did my pulley rig rod tip suddenly arched over and sprang back again. Another fish on, the lack of fight gave away the identity of the shark on the end and my second Loch Leven thornback ray was soon landed. 

A larger specimen to end the session. 
Put back it sulked around in the weeds in front of me before heading through them and disappearing.

I had another couple of casts but the current in front of me was now pulling my gear around with relative ease. Lillian was also feeling hungry and as I hadn't needed her expert net handling skills was a bit bored too so I packed up. We headed home stopping at the charming 17th century King's House Hotel in Glencoe on the way for a tasty bit of grub in its public bar.

So, a fairly short session fishing wise but the drive was a real pleasure and we escaped the weather at home which was pretty miserable. It's always good to catch the target for the day, even if it's a species that the venue is renowned for producing. It was also good to find another mark for future visits. I have a feeling it may be a popular spot though given it's extremely easy to access. The ledges typical of many deep Scottish sea lochs were also not as much of a problem as the spots my mate Nick and I fished earlier this month. I think finding such marks where the ledges aren't such an obstacle to landing fish is the key to a successful day fishing such venues. I also think Loch Leven is perhaps a venue that's better fished afloat as this obviously takes rock ledges and weed out of the equation altogether. I also note from a few online reports that those who did so at the weekend enjoyed excellent fishing and caught dozens of thornbacks. Another reason to get myself a kayak and explore fishing sea lochs from it.

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. Nice Thornie Scott, a Yak would be ideal up there....