Coldingham Loch 20th April 2013

Start of a blowy 90 minute session

Start of a blowy 90 minute session

Well, I gave it a try. Thought I would go out for a couple of hours at and test the arm. Couldn’t really do it, managed about 90 mins and most of that was left handed casting. Not getting much better on that score either, caught on the bank, up trees around my neck birds nests you name it I did it. My excuse it was blowing a bit! ha. All said and done though, I managed to hook and land 2 rainbows about 1.5 lbs each caught not on a Damsel but a wee black and red buzzer.

Most of my time was spent drinking tea.

Most of my time was spent drinking tea.

The fish are now moving out into the Loch away from the bank making it a bit more difficult for me at this time. Probably 2 reasons its warming up (aye right) or there is more anglers bank fishing. Its amazing how many anglers wade straight in with out trying out the 10 -12 feet of water near the bank. No wonder the fish are being pushed out. A bit of a brisk cold wind that didn’t seem to be churning up the surface but flattening it, strange. You Can see that effect in the top picture.

Got back to the cottage early and enjoyed the rest of the weak spring sun. Not tempted yet to fish from the harbour wall, although it is something I could probably manage. It all seems a wee bit easy sea fishing and being a rotten sailor the wall is as far as I would get. But never say never.

Tight Lines

Back so early it was still light at cottage. Sat and watched the boats

Back so early it was still light at cottage. Sat and watched the boats

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Coldingham Loch 11th April 2013

How can I beat that this year. What a fantastic day at  A bakers dozen 13 although I did lose count a bit so I only wrote 12 in the clubhouse fishing log book. It was one of those days where I couldn’t go wrong it seems. Colder day than Tuesday but with a hint of warmth from the south.

Me wrapped up and ready for a great day, coffee first though.

Me wrapped up and ready for a great day, coffee first though.

I made my way round to beyond the fishing lodge at 11.30, I picked up the first fish at 11.35, 3 more to the net before 12.00.  All rainbows so far and on a small size 14 Damsel nymph, cracking stuff. My arm was holding up but only just. Working my way along the bank for 50 or so yards with the gorse fresh behind me,I was continually hitting and landing fish, both on the Damsel and also on a Gold Ribbed Hares Ear, GRHE.

Gorse on the far bank smelling like coconuts.

Gorse on the far bank smelling like coconuts.

By 3.00pm I was well exhausted and had 9-10 in the net. I then caught what I had hoped for, a lovely full finned overwintered Brownie of about 3+lbs beautiful fish and like all the fish today it was returned safely. A well earned lunch and snooze, before heading across to the far bank near the reed end, where I had spotted a few fish moving, close to the bank. All day I hadn’t got my waders wet, two bonuses there, I wasn’t cold because the water was freezing and secondly I wasn’t having to cast that far, 40ft maximum so I hoped I wasn’t straining my elbow. Unfortunately the toll of playing the fish and casting was beginning to be felt. I couldn’t cast anymore with my right arm, the pain being so great. So my emergency plan came into action…….. learn to cast with my left arm Ha!  It was a really weird feeling, I had little control, I felt very amateurish, I couldn’t cast very far but no one could see me, abonus. Through perseverance and a bit of luck I think, I got another 2 rainbows having to switch to my right arm to play them, finally I had to give up, too sore.

Reed end Coldingham, taken between my las t 2 fish of the day.

Reed end Coldingham, taken between my last 2 fish of the day.

What a day and certainly one for my record books. There were other fish caught I could see from the boats but I was concentrating hard, lost in my little world.

I expect the fish were hungry after having very little food throughout the winter, although they were in great condition. So I should imagine as more natural food becomes available they will be harder to catch, fine by me, you don’t want that every day, some days but not every day, well quite a few days but not every day.

As a bonusI saw and heard one Chiff Chaff and one House Martin, all the way from Africa, spring is on its way!!!!!!

I have the problem of my arm now, what to do. That was a 5  hour session, maybe I should cut it down to 2 or 3 hours at a time and see if that helps. In theory although I would rather be fishing it will give me more time to take photographs which have been woefully short on my blog. Lets see what happens, it has been great to get out again and already I am looking forward to next weekend for another trip out hopefully to do some wild brown trout fishing in the Whiteadder Reservoir in the Lammermuir hills. Or maybe a couple of hours on the Whinney Loch it would be lovely to see the owner Ted,Tina and Margaret, the original owners of Coldingham Loch.

Stumpy tailed Damsel nymph, the fly that did the damage today.

Stumpy tailed Damsel nymph, the fly that did most of the damage today.

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Coldingham Loch April 9th 2013

Well thats it the big build up has come and gone.I had a cracking days fishing at

I had planned to photograph all the steps I go through in the lead up to my days fishing as outlined in my blog ‘Thoughts on the new season’ but it went out of my head such was my excitement, I’m not very good at this really, I just get so carried away with the fishing, will have to concentrate more. So all I have is a photograph of my sandwiches and the approach to the Loch…. nice sandwiches though.

Sandwich making!!!

Sandwich making!!!

Approach to Coldingham first in 2013

Approach to Coldingham first in 2013

Freezing cold easterly wind off of the sea but sunny and in the shelter of the wind it was quite warm, not balmy but warm. I did however have a warm welcome from Carmel and Gareth the owners, nice to see them again and they have worked hard on the Loch during the close season. The footpath round the Loch is so much better.

I decided after all not to take a boat but to bank fish, good move and I worked my way anti clockwise round the Loch. Started off with a Bibio and a Black Pennell. Casting was a bit of a problem in the wind but mostly I was a bit nervous of using my elbow too much, I shouldn’t have worried so much it seemed to last the day although I am pretty tired and aching after all the exercise.

No luck at the swing gate bay a bit too shallow at this time of year so I moved up beyond the Lochside cottage, I changed to a Damsel and a Diawl Bach, the latter a Welsh fly and not one of my 15, so much for that!!!. I cast to a moving fish, surprising given how cold it was and the Damsel was snapped up by my first fish of the season a lovely full finned overwintered rainbow about 4lbs, a cracker. Next fish was on the Diawl Bach around 1.5lbs. The next, on a different damsel was the fish of the day a beautiful Brownie about 3lbs but it fell off at the net so I didn’t get to touch it, it was so close but didn’t count. In total I landed 5 all returned safely. I lost 3 including the Brownie, thats barbless hooks for you. All fish caught on the east bank.

A wonderful day and a great start to the season. It was so good to be back on the water, I rested my elbow throughout the day and even managed a wee nap under some gorse bushes with their wonderful coconutty smell from the newly blossoming flowers.

Great to be back and I will be out again in a couple of days. Apparently we have more snow forecast tomorrow, its the middle of April for goodness sake.

Tight lines

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My Favourite Flies and the Countdown

The countdown is well upon me for the start of my fishing season. The cortisone injection in my elbow has been a great success, I hope it lasts. Maybe it has been just as well that I couldn’t fish as it has been an absolutely dreadful weather wise. Snow, freezing cold winds all the way from Siberia and no let up this week, this time last year we were in the middle os a very unseasonal heatwave, which was almost the best weather of the year!.

I thought I would fill the time and mention my favourite flies that  I will no doubt be use this year. My fishing chum Tom and I have often thought life would be so simple if  we could limit ourselves to say 15 flies in various sizes and tying and that was all we used in a season.  For one thing I would certainly travel lighter without all the boxes of flies that I never use. Never going to happen but here is my list of 15 that I have photographed (too many variations to list).































Thats my 15, mostly tied by myself,  hard work to narrow them down but I think that would last me all season. I may add 1 lure, a Mini Cats Whisker size 14. All in all though that amounts to well over a 100 flies taking into account the varieties, still a lot though. Of course the reality is a little different. Flies I also like to use Coch Y Bhundu, Kate MaClaren, corixiae, Grouse and Claret, Soldier Palmers, Bumbles, Dunkeld, Mayfly nymphs, Pheasant tail nymphs, Diawl Bach, the list can go on and on but I would be happy with my 15…..I think.

So that’s it, my next blog will be of my first trip out for the 2013 season. Normally I try to start on the Whiteadder resevoir in the Lammermuir hills but they are still covered in snow, so its going to be Coldingham maybe from a boat with electric outboard, tell  you what though, I can’t wait.

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Thoughts on the start of a new season


Me on a good day at the Whinney Loch


I am not much of a fisherman. A seemingly brutal statement

from a dedicated fisherman who has been fishing for such a long, long time.
2013 will be my 43rd season. I should explain that when I say I am not much of a
fisherman, what I really mean is I am just an ordinary angler who loves to fish but
at times doesn’t always get it right.

One would think that all these years of experience would have helped a little,
maybe placed me slightly above my fellow anglers, sneaking a fish when no-
one else is catching, landing that fish of a lifetime while everyone stands around
with looks of total awe and admiration on their faces. Effortlessly casting the full
length of my line, ending in a perfect turnover and a Grey Duster settling gently
onto the water surface, to be sucked under by the huge brown trout everyone
has been trying to catch all evening. But no, despite all my experience, I am not
the fisherman I dream I should be, like those I read about in fishing publications.
These people are piscatorial wonders who seem to know exactly what they are
doing at all times, on all waters, with the correct flies, in all conditions and yep,
they always catch fish. Just because they are wonderful, if only the reality was
like this.

I am mostly a solitary angler and I do catch fish, but certainly not in the quantity
that I think I should in relation to amount of effort involved, what with the
thousands of flies in my boxes, the best rod and reel I can afford and all the
modern paraphernalia that I have been tempted to buy. I look quite the picture of
an expert. Looks can be so deceiving as I stroll casually and confidently down to
the water’s edge, looking for all the world like someone from a high class tackle
catalogue who knows exactly what he is doing. Ah, if only they knew.

The real beginning of my fishing process usually starts after I have just finished
fishing for the day and I am driving home. In my mind I go through all the flies
and techniques that I will use the next time I am fishing that particular water
because I just didn’t get it right this time. I am not downhearted at this point.
No, that would have happened as I made my penultimate cast before packing
up for the night. However, once I am in the car, “hey! tomorrow is another day
where everything will go the way it should do.” Maybe I did get a little fed up to
see other anglers’ rods bending fit to break, especially when they were either
side of me and using my own favourite fly, the Bibio. They were catching on the
exact same set up as I was, but I couldn’t touch a thing… but tomorrow, oh yes

I do land fish. I do have red letter days when I am the one making the catches
and there are murmurs flitting around the loch about the great angler on the far
bank. Sorry, I was dreaming the last bit again. In truth though, I have had times
where I thought I was wonderful and that things would always be like this from
now on – perfect fly selection and faultless technique. If only wishes were fishes.

You see, it’s the anticipation of the next fishing trip that keeps me going, I get
so excited by the prospect of an evening’s fishing, any evening’s fishing. Myriad
thoughts flit through my head. Getting my sandwiches ready…which way is
the wind blowing?… flies, line, leaders all in order…dries, wets or nymphs? –
hopefully dries. Pouring coffee into my flask… will it rain tonight? Packing the
car…will there be a good hatch? Then, on the road… this is going to be a great.
Tackling up in the car park watching anglers two handedly dragging bags of fish
to be weighed… today is the day!!

Ah well, c’est la vie there is always tomorrow.

I am sure that there are a few like me out there who simply enjoy fishing for the
sake of fishing. My fishing friends will hate this and run for cover when I quote
or misquote Izaak Walton again, ‘piscator non solum piscatur’ – ‘there is more to
fishing than fish’. Like pulling up a boat onto the shore of a mountain loch after a
morning session and having a great lunch with my friends and talking about all
the fish we missed and might catch later. The feel of the take of the first fish of
the day. Sheltering in the woods in a downpour, watching ospreys getting it right.
Sitting having a coffee and a cigar watching bats in the twilight after a good day’s
fishing. Memorable stuff.

This scenario roughly sums up how my fishing seasons pan out. That said, I
do admit to rare brief sojourns into the bushes to retrieve my rod, where I have
thrown it after a bout of fishless temper. Hardys would be horrified. Alternatively,
it might have been the lovely Diawa I once won in the Trout and Salmon
crossword. However, I always carry on regardless, such is my dedication to the
art of the angle.

As in previous years, nothing can diminish the excitement I feel during the run-
up to the 15th of March 2013 for the start of another wonderful season, no matter
how good or bad it, or I, turn out to be. It’s not going to depend upon bag size or
fish size. I am certainly not a trophy hunter. It’s going to be about the quality of
my time spent on the shores of the lochs I love.

I’ll say again, I am not much of an angler. I know there are going to be great
times and some not so great. At the end of the day these will all be wonderful
in their own way – wonderful enough to keep me going throughout the close
season, eager to cast a fly once more. That’s what fishing is all about. I can’t

Tight lines.

A wee  extra note to this post. It is 3 days to the start of the season, for the last 5 months I have been suffering from lateral epicondylitis ( tennis elbow). Unknown-1

Apologies for the quality of this image and thanks to the Maya foundation

The pain has been excruciating and I have been unable to fish over the close season and it has left me a bit fed up, hence very little blog action over the last while.  Last week I had a cortisone injection and the pain has died down so heres hoping I will be able to fish soon. I plan to have my first outing on the 6th of April after some physiotherapy so fingers crossed. Getting old doesn’t come on its own. Anyways up watch this space and I wish a good season to everyone.

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Where have I been?

Sorry about that I seem to have lost my way a little since the end of the season. I had such high hopes too. This is just to say I will be back on track soon with lots of news on the run up to the 15th of March. Watch this space. Tightlines

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Coldingham Loch……29th September

What a difference a week makes. Here I am back at Coldingham Loch  six days after the eventful or non-eventful session on the boat with Alan. This time I meant business Ha! . The wind was blowing even harder than last Sunday but not as bad as last Monday/Tuesday when the wind was so strong, gusts over 70mph, that the owners Gareth & Carmel had no choice but to shut the Loch for fishing for safety reasons, two days of atrocious weather must have been really bad.

Coldingham Loch

As always I prefer the end of the day for my fishing and I try to time nearly all my sessions to finish as its getting darkish. This sometimes means I have a lot of Lochs virtually to myself on a Saturday or Sunday night, just the way I like it. Of course its getting dark about 6.45 now and for a 4 hour session I have to start about 2.45, so there are usually a few day anglers fishing till 5.00.

No boat for me this time, waist waders on and into the water I went. I had to fish along the left bank as it looked almost impossible to fish anywhere else with the wind direction, blowing right up the Loch towards the boat house. Just at the end of the Lilies and at the end of the trees I started to fish.

Coldingham from the shelter of the stone wall

The water was really choppy and cold, I started with a black Diawl Bach but soon changed to a size 14 Holo backed Damsel. 3rd cast I had a lovely 2lb rainbow in the net follwed 5 mins later with another. I had been counting the Damsel down for a count of ten and then a figure of eight retrieve with small jerks every now and then. Another fish followed shortly after. The 4th fish was strange, there had only been a few fish showing and I saw a huge rise just what I thought was out of my casting range but the wind helped a lot and I dropped the fly in the right place ( lucky shot believe me with that wind). The fish must have leapt about 3 feet into the air as it took the Damsel as it hit the water, fantastic on ehungry fish. A good fight followed and a lovely plump full finned rainbow in the net around 3lbs, cracking.

Another fish after that and by then it was getting dark and a full moon rose above Lochside cottage. It seems that I am either a photographer or an angler, I can’t seem to do both. I had forgotten my camera again and this is supposed to be a fishing blog supported by images. So apologies for the shocking quality of these two pics taken on my phone, don’t tell my photography friends.

Coldingham last cast

A great night, 5 fish four hours, thank goodness I laid the ghost of last weeks trip to rest. Only a few more sessions left. I’ll post the pics tomorrow.

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Coldingham Loch……23rd September 2012

Dearie me what was that all about. A disastrous night at Coldingham Loch Not anyones fault except my own. What started as a really good feeling session, gradually worked itself into a comedy of errors.

My friend Alan Ramsay who is just learning to fish came down from Edinburgh to join me. For the first time this year on Coldingham I booked a boat,

No 8 on a completely different evening….how it was meant to be

big mistake, this was not the boats fault, it was lovely, a good boat…….. number 8……… one off my lucky number. The wind was getting up (again) although I can’t blame the wind for my incompetency, I was fishing as if I had just learnt to fish the previous day. Nothing was going right on a night when we should have hauled the fish in. It started off when we couldn’t get the anchor to hook up in Swing gate bay and so most of the session was rowing and trying to avoid the rocks and bank, we tried a long rope but it swung us round on to the bank, a short rope just caused the anchor to pull out, it didn’t seem to matter what we did, we got it wrong. So no rhythm was established and I just couldn’t get going (lame excuse). Other anglers were anchored up and a few fish were being caught.

My new Greys rod came apart and got caught behind a rock as we drifted helplessley bumping along the bank, I was well into the backing before we managed to get control of the boat and row back up the loch to retrieve my rod, another day it might have been funny. I had turned a fish on my first cast but touched nothing else till my last cast, apart from a fish chasing my fly which I failed to hook (nice one John). Gareth and Carmel shouted encouraging words of advice from the bank but it might well have been the theory of relativity for all the good it did me, it literally fell on deaf ears.

My lovely Greys rod came to pieces again on a forward cast and I thought I had lost it for good in the weed. A hook in my thumb improved my mood, (aye right) luckily it was barbless. At the end of the session after we had tied up the boat we had a few casts from the jetty, great news I hooked a fish, astoundingly bad news, the knot came undone. It just summed up the whole evening. The loch was fine, the boat was fine as were our hosts Gareth and Carmel, it was just me.

Here are 2 pics, one of Alan getting kitted up before it all went so wrong,

Alan….little does he know

and one of him rowing into Swing gate bay,

Alan putting his back into it and still smiling.

he looks surprisingly happy, maybe because he didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t take any more pics after that. Still he enjoyed it all in all. I had hoped he would have caught something, anything, whereas I couldn’t have caught a cold that night and we left with what I thought was the sound of uproarious laughter of all the other anglers rebounding off the hills, had there been anyone left to witness the debacle that was my fishing technique. 4 hours no fish. C’est la vie, probably wasn’t as bad as I have made out, just disappointing when there are so few trips left.

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8th-15th September……Lochanhully and Avielochan

Week 37 it must be Carrbridge!!!!!!………BRILLIANT. Once again we headed north to our timeshare outside Carrbridge near Aviemore, we have had it for 16 years thanks to money Tricias Mum left us and we always toast her with the first drink of the holiday. It is something Tricia and I look forward to each year, lots of walks in the Cairngorms and in Rothiemurcus estate We originally got the timeshare to coincide with the week before the begining of term, for Tricia at the University and me at the Art College. Times have changed Tricia with her own busuiness and me now in the main photo dept at the College or should I say the University as we have now merged with Edinburgh University, that aside we managed to squeeze in our visit here for the 16th year. Ross, my ex fishing chum joined us again, for walking and good cooking but no fishing unfortunately.

Our wooden chalet sits beside a small thin long Lochan called Lochanhully. It always reminds me a bit like a carp water from my coarse days.

Lochanhully view out of our chalet on a dull late evening

just outside Carrbridge and is completely surrounded by trees. While it is really scenic and with beautiful surroundings the Lochan is really dificult to fish. I purchased a day permit for £20.00 in the understanding that I would fish a couple of hours a day for the week, 8 hours in total. I wouldn’t want a full weeks permit (£50) as the fishing is so limited and difficult. Still it does present a challenge.

Me fishing Lochanhully. Photo taken by Tricia

I walked the 10 paces from our chalet to the Lochside and started casting, its that close. The wind often howls up the lochan and the first session out was no different, with very few casting places it is difficult in that wind. As there had been no fish showing at all I put on a gold head GRHE and surprise, I got a fish on my 3rd cast and turned one the next cast. The Lochan is really dark and peaty and the fish reflected this, a rainbow with a really dark back and stomach, about 1.5 lbs. Good start I thought.

Lochanhully on a fine afternoon

I met up with a few other anglers and they had only 1 fish between them, so I felt pleased. Unfortunately that was the first and last fish out of Lochanhully that week, apart from one other and here is the story.

The other 4 anglers staying at Lochanhully, had had a terrible week by the Friday, they had one fish between them and they had paid the full money, ouch. I didn’t know that on the Friday morning they had decided to try some bubble float fishing with worms, which strangely enough is allowed. After their 3rd or 4th cast the nylon snapped above the float leaving the float adrift in the centre of the Loch not attached  to a fish.  I had had a cracking week more of that later but on the last night of the holidays I went out to  the Lochan for a last couple of hours before going to the Carrbridge Hotel for steak and chips mmmmmmm.


I had had a couple of casts when I noticed the bubble float which I was sure wasn’t there when I started. Sure enough the float disappeared again, there was a fish attached. I tried casting to it but it was too far out. I remebered seeing a float rod kitted out near reception. I ran down and got it and started trying to hook up the bubble float which kept appearing and disapearing. I had gathered quite a crowd by now when I finally managed to hook the line under the float. It seemed a biggish fish and after a bit I got it into the reeds and lifted it out of the watern it was lovely not as dark as the one I had caught on the first day. Bad news though there was a muckle size 8 barbed hook well down the fishes throat, shocking. I had to knock the fish on the head such a shame. I wasn’t best pleased with the other anglers as they said great,… fish for tea. I left them to it, all my enthusiasm had gone, I cannot believe some anglers, no respect for their quarry, terrible.


Now for  Avielochan.

Avielochan panorama taken after the event

The main event………. the reason for taking my fishing gear up on holiday was to fish my favourite Loch of all…Avielochan. Avielochan is managed by a really nice bloke Jim Cornfoot. He has it really because his first love is ornithology and with ospreys nesting at Loch Garten he stocks it with fingerling Brownies which grow incredibly fast and provide a great food source for the the ospreys, which visit daily in the summer, also good nesting for the likes of the Slavonian grebe and also Dabchicks etc beautiful water with the Carngorms in the distance. Good winter water for wild fowl too. There is also a lovely bird hide at one side of the Loch. Thank goodness he does let a few anglers fish it and I am pleased to be one of them. After fishing and photography my next love is nature and birds, so Jim and I hit it off quite well. The Lochan is reasonably shallow with one or two deep areas and really interesting reed beds and Lily beds.

Avielochan toward the Lilies

It has been so wet this year that the Lochan hasn’t gone down in level since the spring. Being so high there was very little bank casting to be had so Jim got a boat ready for me. Great move I have never fished on a boat there and it gave me so much freedom as I was the only angler. Traditional flies are the order of the day for this Loch, spiders, Kate McLarens, black pennels, Blae and Black Bibio etc etc but there is one fly that stands out for me there and it is the Invicta, cracking fly and I prefer the silver or pearly Invicta.

Avielochan, area where I got my big brownie

I picked up a lovely Brownie around the 1.5lb mark, beautiful and perfect finned, a good start. My next fish was  a similar size but my next fish was a belter. I hooked it and didn’t see it till I got it to the net, conservative weight 3lb fin perfect. Guess what, my camera was in the car and I didn’t want to leave this hot spot. Next fish………my best fish of the year and my best brownie for a long long time, minimum weight I reckon 4lbs but maybe more. It was an absolute cracking fish….no camera……it had the start of a kype brilliant fish again it stayed deep for the whole of the fight, I just couldn’t get it up near the surface and it was in control till the end. I fished for 6 hours missing and losing a load of others again due to barbless hooks and much more acrobatic fish. I didn’t mind though, I was as happy as Larry, 6 fish at the end of the day, I have caught a lot more there in the past but as days go they don’t come much better. All fish returned alive even if Jim did allow you to keep a fish which he doesn’t, got to leave them for the Ospreys.

Avielochan and the Cairngorms

Thanks Jim, for letting me fish here again.

Later I popped back to the car and got my camera, back in the boat and a few snaps to remind me of my great day. We had a lot of lovely walks and here are some pics taken when I wasn’t fishing but not far from water.

Lochan Eillean 

Lochan Eillean and the Cairngorms 

An Lochan Uaine…The Green Lochan it really is that green

Not many trips left, days are shortening and its getting cold. Time to get out the Salmon and Grayling gear. Tight lines

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Loganlea……6th September Thought I would squeeze in a session after work. As it is getting dark early it was going to be a short session. I invited my friend Alan whom I have been rather unsuccessfully (on my part) been trying to teach him the finer arts of the angle. The wind had been blowing hard all day and as we were about to go afloat I was a wee bit concerned. How right that was, we weren’t allowed to take a boat out onto the white horse strewn water in fact the gale blowing toward the dam was so strong we couldn’t fish at all. Its a difficult water to fish on a good day from the bank due to the steepness and height above the water. There was 2 anglers fishing the only castable part at the river end with the wind behind them, anyway we had no waders. So it was a non starter, so we went to the Flotterstone Inn for a lovely pint  End of story.

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