James visits the beautiful Bowden Springs fishery in Linlithgow, East Lothin. Opting for a dry fly to imitate the September hatch, James enjoys a beautiful day on the water, relaxing with a pie and cup of tea at one point!
Bowden Springs Fishery is a former water board reservoir within a scenic hilltop setting on the outskirts of Linlithgow. There are 2 lochs at the fishery with Bowden Loch being the main fly fishing loch of about 2 acres and about 20 pegs or so with a maximum depth of the swim at around 9 feet. The bottom water is Carribber Loch, at about 5 acres, which caters for mainly bait fishing but also allows fly fishers to cast a line out too.
The facilities on site are top notch, with the main lodge housing a well stocked tackle shop and a weigh in room with free teas and coffee for anglers and shelter if the rain starts to get a bit too much. It also has some well spaced wooden platforms out into the water along the South bank which can help getting your cast out well towards the middle covering a lot of the water, but having fished Bowden many times, on several occasions I have jumped out my skin when the fish come right up under my feet below the platforms and along the waters edge.
I fished Bowden all morning without a touch on the buzzers and various wets but the fish were still moving all over the place so I had to change tactics a little. Sticking with top of the water fishing I opted for going with a dry fly. In some recent outings at various fisheries I have had some nice takes on the Cul-de-Canard (CDC) dry fly and put a light purple one on with grey wings which held it nicely up on the water as I threw it out first cast. The retrieve was dead slow and almost static, creating a little wake and ripple on the water by jerking the line a little harder now and then, hoping to attract a rise. After a while with no joy I switched onto a Golden Invicta dry which had a shiny gold tube along its body and would maybe glint in the sunshine and attract a fish in. After a few casts I had a take, a very fast one as the fly disappeared in a quick splash. I struck into the fish but obviously not fast enough as after a few seconds my line went slack and it was gone. The blood pressure was up a bit though and that few seconds sport had me eager to get the line back out and into some fish.
Tackling river trout especially requires stealth and skill, and clumsy presentation and thoughtless disturbance will produce little reward. The same definitely applied on Bowden Springs on this particular day as the water was flat calm, the sun blazing, and a good rise of fish on as the September hatch was in full flow. There could be nice rewards for the angler who approaches with care and a delicate touch.
I had no takes for an hour or so after so I lay back on the platform for a while and had a pie and a cup of tea for my lunch while keeping an eye on the water and the rising trout. As I had a closer look over the water it seemed the flies on top the water were small black sedges or similar, very small white winged flies, and these seemed to be the one bringing the fish to the surface. No sooner had I finished my tea, changed my fly to a dry black gnat and cast out had I hooked into a trout. I cast out to suit the conditions as I had been all day, very slow controlled drop of the line onto the water, and a dead slow retrieve. Nice change of tactic and my second hooked fish of the day, only this time I managed to keep in touch with it and land it.. a 2½ pound rainbow. I had cast out to suit the conditions as I had been all day, very slow controlled drop of the line onto the water, and a dead slow retrieve as the fish were easily spooked. Even while walking along the platform at one point to collect my fly box I disturbed a trout right in at the banks edge behind me.
Bowden Springs is an extremely popular water and was no different today as all the pegs were taken but as the catch return book showed not all were catching fish. The fish were definitely there though, as the place was teeming with fly life and visibly moving trout, although I would say you had to be fishing with a light fingered touch on the cast and patience on the retrieve to get your rewards on this day. The catch returns did show a few fish caught in the morning were taken on orange fritz and dancers lures but the majority throughout the day were top of the water dries and small wets. Overall I was pleased with my days sport and the one that I landed, and would always advocate that you take time to sit back and assess the conditions in order to maximize your chance.
Visit Bowden Springs online: http://www.bowdensprings.co.uk