Antermony Loch

Thursday, 8 September 2016

With a Little Help From My Friends

It's been a fair bit since I published my last post.  Without getting too personal, I've had a turbulent year or so; a health issue, a demanding job and life in general have all taken their toll on me and conspired to  turn my world upside down, some would say brought it to an abrupt halt where fly fishing is concerned.  Well, let's examine the evidence.  I sold my rods, my reels my lines and everything else one accumulates over the years - I'm not known as a tackle tart for nothing!  I went to the Caurnie Anglers Fly Tying Club, took my vast collection of materials and bodly announced it was all for sale.  It was like a scramble at a family wedding as my fellow piscatators vied over a cornacopia of fly tying materials. Metz Saddles, Wasatch tools, Bug Bond and exotic feathers, quality bling in the fly tying world all went for a song.  But I didn't mind, I no longer had any use for them and I knew they would be going to good homes.  Next, I resigned my position from my club's committee and without giving it so much as a second thought I walked away from my fishing chums who had contributed hugely to my fly fishing enjoyment over the previous ten years. Pretty damning evidence I would say, case against me proved. The question is why? Why would I behave in such a cavalier and disrespectful manner towards the hand or hands that fed me only good things? One word. Depression.

suffer from depression.  Yes I'm that 1 in ten of the population who feel persistently sad for weeks or sometimes months.  The affects are felt in many different ways.  For me it ranges lasting feelings of sadness to losing interest in the things I used to enjoy (fishing and fly tying) and often feeling tearful. Physically, I feel constantly tired, I sleep badly and sometimes have no appetite, though to look at me you wouldn't have thought I've missed too many lunches.😀

When those who know me first become aware of my illness their initial feeling is one of disbelief and I'm not surprised.  Professionally and socially I hid it well.  Whether in self preservation or self denial I know not, but I played a bloody good Walter Mitty until one day my world came crashing down, the
details of which are not for this forum.

An extended period off work, weekly visits to a therapist quickly followed, and yes I can confirm it is
like the movies- there is a couch and I do lie on it and chew the fat.  Nevertheless it is an important part of my recovery.

Of equal importance is The Caurnie Angling Club and the members within it and one ex member now living in St Andrews and this is the real point of my post. Like most clubs you become closer to some members than others. My closest friends (four in particular and I won't embarrass them by naming them but they know who they are)  well, they knew something was wrong but were sensitive enough not to intrude or judge.  Instead,  they stayed in touch with an odd email here and a wee text there just letting me know I was in their thoughts and that despite my walking away from my club they valued My friendship. They didn't let go in the same way I deserted them.  For this I am will be eternally grateful.

The upshot is I am well down the road to recovery, enough  down the road to write such a revealing post.  We all need our hobbies and the friendships that come out of them.  I lost sight of that but thankfully my chums didn't and as a result my interest in this wonderful past time of ours has all but fully returned and with it the banter that I have missed so much. I'll finish by leaving you with this story.  I think it's very apt in my case.

A guy is walking down the street and suddenly falls into a hole.  It's a very deep hole with steep sides and he can't clamber out.  The guy looks up and sees plenty of people passing but they don't stop.  suddenly, while looking up, the guy sees his doctor and shouts him for help.  The doctor stops, looks down and writes a prescription before dropping it down the hole and walking on. A few hours later the guy looks up and sees his minister walking by and he shouts him for help.  The minister stops, looks down and prays for the guy before walking on.  A few hours later the guy sees his friends
passing. They stop, look down and without the guy asking, all three jump into the hole.  The guy says "what are you doing? Now all four of us are stuck down here".  One of the friends says "relax, we're you friends.  We've been down here before and we know the way out".

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Cock of the Loch

He is alone, he is in a boat and he he is deep in thought. A forlorn looking figure drifting towards the entrance of Morton's Bay on the Antermony Loch.  He is blanking magnificently and contemplating the long row back to the dock and and the even longer walk of shame when he gets there.  The sun is dropping quickly now, behind the Campsies, bathing them in the last light of the day and signalling the last cast. He draws his line in and inspects his fly in the palm of his hand. It is a Diawl Bach, almost devoid of any material; It is a sorry looking fly that has seen many, many better days and reflects his make do and mend attitude to life.

A forlorn figure
 Feck It! he says and tosses the fly over the side. He quickly makes a false cast, and another before shooting his fly into the gathering gloom.  It plops gently on the now becalmed water. Sinking below the surface film he counts to five. Knowing this is his last chance, he slowly figure of eights his grubby fly back towards his boat, willing it to work its magic. But its not.  He is almost half way through his retrieve and all hope of catching a fish is fading.   

He is spent, looking across the water now. The lights of the HOWF are bright in the distance, laughter and chat punctuate the quiet of the loch. They are gathering like the cormorants that stalk our trout.. The walk of shame beckons.
Wallop! his line locks and straightens and he is instantly roused from his flagging interest. His wrist, on autopilot, snaps into action, raising his rod tip causing the hook to set in the scissors of its mouth. Feck! this fish wanted that fly. His heart is pounding hard, his senses fully alert now, he settles in to fight the good fight. His fish runs deep and turns his boat.. It is strong. it is powerful, but most importantly it is tiring. He's in control, playing his fish with confidence, he knows he's winning this one. It's just a matter of time. All played out, he brings the fish to the surface. On its side and with mouth gaping he slips the fish over his submerged net and lifts it into the boat. It is a majestic brown spottie. He estimates 3lb plus and in top order. He quickly dispatches it before admiring it more closely.  It's his biggest fish out of the Antermony.  He gently places his prize in a plaky bag before organising his boat for the long row home. 

As he draws closer to the jetty he is smiling for he knows the cormorants that are the Caurnie Campers will not be feeding on him tonight. Others yes but not him. There will be no walk of shame.  He moors his boat, scrambles out and marches purposefully toward the HOWF. There is much banter but he keeps his own counsel in favour of removing his fish from his plaky bag as he does so, he achieves the impossible; he silences the Caurnie Campers who are looking at his fish in awe. He places his fish in the pan and puts it on the scales. You could hear a pin drop in that moment. He waits for the scales to settle and after a pregnant pause proudly announces to those who have gathered around him 3lb on the nose!!!  
Peter Leadbetter Proudly displaying his 3lb brownie

He is warmly and sincerely congratulated because that's what we are about at Caurnie Angling Club.  We share in each others successes and our failures are softened by our friendships- after we've taken the piss of course lol.

Peter Leadbetter take a bow.  In fishing terms you are the cock of Antermony Loch. Well done you!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Caurnie Chain Gang

The email read: '4 volunteers needed to fill in the pot holes on the approach road to the Antermony'. I replied and volunteered almost immediately as I knew the others would follow suite.  15 minutes later the Caurnie Chain Gang is born. The others being John Shaw, Eddie Scott and Broon had also volunteered as I knew they would. We exchanged emails and agreed to meet at the HOWFF at 8 Saturday morning where Sandy Bankier, proprietor of near by Woodburn Trout Fishery, would kindly drop off his tipper truck filled with hard core.

I arrived at the Antermony slightly late. I'd stopped off at Tesco en route to buy milk and rolls.  True to form the others had done the same.  John and Eddie were already slaving over a hot frying pan while Broon was sitting in a boat in the middle of the loch fishing, except he wasn't.  A quick look through the binoculars revealed that he was on his mobile. Someone tell him you cant catch fish with a phone.  

Broon, coming to a school near you
I prepared the rolls and made the tea and shouted Broon in before John and Eddie served up a full Scottish.  As we tucked in I noted spirits were high.  Broon was coming to the end of his dissertation and would soon be a qualified teacher, Eddie was still euphoric after netting 10 brownies the night before, while John Shaw was still waxing lyrical over the double brownie he'd landed the previous Sunday up at The Woodburn.  Me, after a difficult week at work I was just happy to be among friends in familiar and pleasant surroundings. 

We continue to enjoy our breki and discuss the day ahead.  Our plan was to spend the morning repairing the road, thereafter have a spot of lunch before spending the afternoon chasing brownies. The club would benefit from our work and we would get some fishing in. Win, win.!
Caurnie Chain Gang

Dishes done, we make our way up the road and begin shovelling hard core into huge pot holes that have appeared over the winter.  It's hard graft but we break into song:

'Thats' the sound of the men
Workin the chain gang
All day long they are saying
Ho ha ho ha'.

I bag's being the driver
We sing like the cats chorus and scare the lambs away.  'Aww, they're soooooo cute, how can anyone eat those?' I say thinking out loud. 'Auch eat those, nae problem' John blurts out and the others gaffaw in the background. We are having a good laugh and making short work of our task.  Pretty soon we are done and with laboured breathing, hearts pounding and dripping in sweat we are 4 heart attacks waiting to happen looking back down the road surveying our work.  Not a bad mornings toil we all agree and retire to the HOWFF for tea and medals. 

A hour later we are recovered but our numbers are halved; Broon is summoned by his partner to do we know not what, while Eddie has made plans for an early dinner with Mrs S, leaving John and yours truly to fish the loch in the afternoon. We have another cup of tea, load up the boat, cast off and head south west towards Morton's Bay but that's another story. ......................................

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Walk of Shame

Being back at work is ace.  It means I don't have time to fish the Antermony, which means I don't have time to blank which means I don't need to do the Antermony walk of shame anymore for a while.

In general parlance the walk of shame is the act of going home the next morning in the clothes from the night before having got a lumber at the dancing.  Broon gets to do this regularly, apparently. The Antermony wailk of shame usually follows the act of being in a boat and thrashing the loch for eight hours while fish rise left right and center and fellow members rake them in and you don't.   Subsequently one has to moor and unload ones boat and convey ones tackle past the HOWFF on the way to ones car during which one is usually verbally abused by the likes of Shaw, Broon, Biggar Leadbetter and Pedro AKA Caurnie Campers. Shouts of "yer donkey" and heeeehoring are not uncommon while "blankety blank"  and  "Couldnae catch a cold ye wassock" are ones personal favourites.  What the tabloid flung at David Moyes last week is nothing compared to the slings and arrows one receives from the Caurnie Campers during a walk of shame.  I had to endure it several times while I was on annual leave and I can tell you that I've never been so happy to be at my work.

Oor Wullie
One member who most definitely has not had to suffer this fate is Willie McCutcheon.  I bumped into Oor Wullie before I blanked on Thursday.  He informed me that he had had an excellent day on the loch, landing 22 fish 4 of which he kept. Willie is a qualified angling coach and resident Ghillie at Gleneagles He is also an excellent fly tyer and is chair-perso of the Luggiebank Fly Tyers club in Cumbernauld.  If you require any flies from him, orders may be placed at the following email address: Well done Willie. An outstanding day by anyones standards.

Broon: Er how does this work then?
John Shaw with his new rod
Other note worthy returns include Colin Biggar with 7 last Wednesday.  Colin however was just pipped by his boat partner Ed Higgins who had 8.  Bet that was an interesting drive home boys.  Johns Shaw returned 7 the same day while trying out his new 11ft 4 weight rod and followed this up by returning  8 the next evening. New rod seems to be working alright then.  Peter Tanner  AKA Pedro returned 8 last night (Sunday evening) including 2 double hook ups!!!.  His boat partner Broon, claims to have netted a 21/2lb brownie while trying out his new boat seat.  We have received no photographic evidence of that catch yet so the jury is still out on that one and in any case someone needs to tell Broon you don't usually use your boat seat to catch trout.

I took a stack of photographs over the last three weeks. I thought that I'd post some of them up, hope you enjoy them.  In the mean time I'm going to try practice my blanking.

Antermony sunset

Antermony cloudscape
Moody Antermony

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ledyatt Loch

6.45 on a bright Wednesday morning and I'm still on leave. It feels like I've been off for ever and a day but I'm not complaining; I know I'm getting horsed when I get back so, I'm making the most of my time away from the organised chaos that is work. I'm on the A9 heading for Perth, Broxburn Roundabout to be more precise, where I have a pre arranged rendezvous with the Major and a sausage and egg Macmuffin.Though he doesn't know yet, he's paying - compensation for the hour or so I spent the night before tying up a batch of Kates which I have put in a neat little fly box for him.

Understanding the importance of punctuality,  I arrive a couple of minutes early.  Not so the Major and as ever he turns up late.  I'm not caring though.  It's been a while since we fished and it's good to see him.  He looks well- trim and fit; the consequence of taking regular exercise and consuming all things in moderation.  The major greets me with a warm handshake and after exchanging sincere pleasantries the banter starts.  He gives my new runaround the once over and under his breath mutters something about it being hairdressers car. Him and Broon share the same sense of humour.

I hand the Major the box of Kates which he's pleased with and immediately offers to pay for breakfast. Ha, plan worked! Over breakfast we catch up and I learn that the Major and his wife Sally (not her real name but its too embarrassing for me to explain) are planning a move back down to the central belt from Inverness next year, something I'm really looking forward to. 

Compact and bijou
We finish our breakfast, decant the Major's car into mine and gun the hairdressers motor north, towards Dundee.  We are heading for Ledyatt Loch, One of six lochs dotted around the magnificent Kipurnie Estate, not far from Coupar.  It's a delightful venue where Ghillie George Donaldson always treats us well and the fishing has been memorable.  As a small still water venue it's hard to beat. 

The Major's on a 2 fish ticket and I go a sporting.  We both survey the loch.  Its calm but there is a nip in the air, we are quite high up in the hills above Dundee. Fish are moving on the surface but past experience tells us to discard floating lines in favour of intermediates.  George agrees and we both attach lures The Major a coral dancer with a rainbow warrior while I'm more conservative and just go a small yellow dancer.

The east shore
The Major already has his flies swimming and as I'm chatting to George the Major's line straightens. Fish on!  The Major's beaming. After a long hard winter happy days are back.  Savouring every moment the Major plays the fish like it's his last, until eventually the fish is all played out and is gently brought to the net.  It's a rainbow of about 4lb and would be the best of the day. It had taken the coral dancer, one which the Major is at pains to tell George is the one which yours truly tied!!! The fish is quickly and humanly dispatched before the major poses for his glory shot.

The Major opens his season's account with a 4lber
We fished on but it was hard going.  Plenty of movement and the odd bump but nothing was connecting. Much of the movement was just beyond our reach.  Oh how we wished for a 40+ or a shooting head.  The Major did manage another before lunch, a rainbow again had taken the coral dancer. A fish of about 2 1/2lbs it too was dispatched efficiently.  I was still blanking royally; dummies and toys would be well and truly thrown out the pram if things didn't improve after lunch.

The bridge at Ledyatt
The first of my brace of rainbows
During lunch that never was (the Major had linadvertently left it in his car back at Perth) I sought George's advice about what to do next.  He suggested a floating line, short leader and single black buzzer, cross the bridge and fish the east side of the loch where the wind would be behind us.  I followed his advice to the letter and soon after I landed 2 rainbows in quick succession.  Both were confident takes, hooked in the upper lip, which made removal of the barbless hooks easy.  Both fish were around the 3lb mark and in pristine condition and provided me with excellent sport.  But time was moving on and with a strengthening wind and the Major facing 120 mile drive, we reluctantly drew our lines in and returned to the lodge where the wood burner and a hot cup of tea lifted our spirits before the long drive home.

We arrived back at Perth decanted the hairdressers motor into the Majors before wishing each other well and safe drive home. Later that evening I received a text from the Major. "You got my fish in the back of that hairdressers motor?"  Fearful my car is stinking of fish, I dash out and check every nook and crannie.  Mercifully the fish are nowhere to be seen. "No" I reply. After a few texts back and forth we conclude that like the lunches, the Major had left his catch in the car park at Perth to. Oh well I'm sure the local wild life appreciates The Major's senior moment and are gorging themselves as I type.  Thanks for a good day John, here's to many more to come.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Kate McLaren

'To go fishing without a Kate McLaren in your box is to be improperly dressed.'  I read this on the internet not long ago.  Can't remember where, having a senior moment just now (I get them all the time these days lol). But this statement does give an indication as to how highly regarded the Kate McLaren has become among those who prospect for spotties. Indeed Stan Headley rates the Kate McLaren as his number one fly - 'A simple fly which will go anywhere and catching anything'.  How so? what makes this pattern so successful?  Some say its down to its colour, predominantly black ribbed with silver oval will always attract fish. Others say its tail, tied in properly, gives the Kate an upwing dimension that appeals to trout, particularly brownies.  Whatever the vagaries are surrounding its success, there is no avoiding the fact that it isa super effective fly and one I enjoy tying.  Enjoy the demo. Oh, theres a wee Freudian slip in the video somewhere. See if you can spot it.     

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Quint Glen - Safety to the Uninjured is First Aid.

Quint's FB Page
Flicking through the forum on Sunday evening and this popped up.  Unfortunately it appears that Quint Glen, Fishery Manager at the Lake of Mentieth has sustained a significant injury to the fingers of his right hand.  The exact circumstances surrounding his injury were not clear at the time of writing but from Quints FB page it does appear to involve a propeller and a rope.  Ordinarily I would not post such pictures on my blog but there is method here and I'm sure Quint would not mind me exercising it.

Last week Alan Gilbert, current Scottish Stillwater Champion, and I attended a 3 day First Aid course.  Now, I know folk out there will be thinking a post about first aid boring, boring, boring. At face value it probably is until that is, you find yourself in a situation where you require it.  As fishermen we frequently find ourselves in remote places, often alone and no matter how expert or careful, or focused we are, bad luck and human nature mean accidents happen as I'm sure Quintin will testify.  In any event, whether its a minor situation or something more serious, first aid knowledge will give you the confidence to act and could mean the difference between life and death.  So, why not do yourself, and those around you a favour and learn some first aid.  Once youv'e done that, buy a first aid kit. They're not expensive and like your knowledge could make all the difference. I bought one from Halfords

Alan Gilbert Scottish Stillwater Champion.
and it now has pride of place in our HOWFF at the Antermony.  Finally, Quint thank you for allowing me to use your unfortunate accident as a means to promote First Aid awareness. may you have a speedy and full recovery.