Sunday, 19 October 2008

Highland Piking

Well, as the trout season in Scotland is now over and as we had a few days booked in Fort William, there was only one thing for it - take the pike gear.

We headed up to The Bill on Thursday the 16th October in the middle of a traditional school holiday in our area. As my eldest is now in Primary two we're restricted to school holidays for our holidays and it's a right pain in the neck as far as I'm concerned because it's put a stop to our cheap winter sun week in the Canary Islands mid January. Anyway, every cloud has it's silver lining and it means depending on when it falls I can get a bit of fishing done. If it's before the end of the Trout season then all the better but if not then Pike are on the agenda. Not that I'm implying Pike are a poor second to Troot's, it's just that I prefer fishing for them.

Friday was a day with the family and with the weather not looking too bad I started making plans for a favourite West Highland Loch of mine quite close to Fort William and fairly accessible by car. There's enough of a walk in however to keep it off the fishing tourist track which is something I like about it. You always meet the odd walker, angler or deerstalking party but these are all folk with a love of the outdoors and always have something worthwhile to chat about. The prerequisite visit to The Rod and Gun shop in The Bill was required as there's always the odd piece of tackle to be got even if it's not really needed. My excuse for this visit was I'd forgotten the trebles and wire traces for the dead bait so that was something I had to rectify and duly did.

Saturday came and the rain on the Caravan roof seemed to be pelting down in the morning so I had an extra couple of hours sleep before I washed my face, combed my hair and stumbled down the stairs to meet the day. Nipped into Morrison's to pick up some dead bait and there were no Sprats - gonnae have to pickle some - so I picked up a few Mackerel instead.

The weather on the way up the Glen was a bit changeable but I seemed to have the right weather window as the bit of rain on my walk in seemed to disappear when I got to my chosen spot and the wind which was blowing quite strongly seemed to dissipate.

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It was about three O'clock now and I wasn't in any kind of rush so I organised my bubble float with my pike trace and stuck on a Mackerel head. Highland pike are a bit less fussy than the lowland ones when it comes to bait - if there is such a thing as a fussy Pike that is. The bubble is filled with water to provide a neutral buoyancy weight which will sink the bait but keep it moving
around in the bottom currents, this imparts a bit of natural action, making it very attractive to a predator looking for an easy meal.

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I fished here for about two and a half hours and had absolutely no luck which was quite disappointing as it's been a fish producing area for me in the past. A stalking party returned from the head of the Glen by boat and if I could ever get a bash with the trolling gear on this Loch then they'd be the guys to speak to. From their attitude towards me and the no fires and camping signs which are now up on the approach paths, I think there's been a bit of trouble with " Fishermen " recently and a shot of their boat is probably looking very unlikely.

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So, a bit disappointed it was time to start heading back and I got my gear together leaving the rod's up and started on my way. It took me about half an hour to get to the bottom of the Loch and I'd thought about the North side but on closer inspection found the banks are quite steep and unsuitable for fishing, so I walked round a massive Hydro sluice to have another bash. The levels on this loch fluctuate massively and I don't know whether it will ever be possible to find regular fish producing areas but it's in a great setting and if you're not catching - well there's always something of interest to keep your attention.

With a little less confidence than I had when I arrived, I got a Mackerel flank on my Ugly stick light spin and cast in I was trying a little less water in the bubble float however and all this did was allow my bait to float round and hook up on a tree which was floating at the side so I pulled this out of the way, filled the bubble and stuck the bait on the bottom again.

I had some Rapala's with me so decide to give these a try but there was nothing happening and when I lost one on the bottom it was game over for that lark as at a tenner a pop you cannae afford to be losing them every ten minutes especially when Piking.

I gave it another go with the Mackerel on a slow retrieve but it just wasn't happening today and at 6.15 p.m. with the light fading and a twenty minute walk to the car it was time to pack up my gear and go home. I launched the last mackerel into the Loch so no doubt some hungry Pike will have had an easy meal but as usual there was no disappointment in this trip as there is always something which can be learned about this place.

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