Our resident writer James McAllister visits Swanswater Fishery in Stirling, Scotland and manages to land a lucky blue.
I arrived just before 8am and began setting up. The late July morning was blazing sunshine and rather warm and muggy as it has been for a while and it looked as though we were in for conditions more suited to sunbathing than fishing.
I had always had some good success in the past on this water, both with lures and smaller wets patterns, and was full of confidence as I pondered what to tie on. I opted for something bright and noticeable, a pink mini-dancer lure, and a gold-head to take it down a good few feet to where I was hoping the fish would be hiding from the sunny morning glare.
First cast out, I let it sink for ten seconds, then a fairly pacy figure of eight retrieve.. Nothing going. Second cast.. a quicker longer stroked retrieve this time.. and again nothing. Nothing unusual there then I thought on a morning like this.
Third cast was then launched out.. mini-dancer hits the water. I barely have time to adjust my line and start counting the sink when “Bang” my line tightens and my reel is being stripped down a good few feet into the backing!.. What a shocker.. I must have cast right on its nose as it came up to the surface.. pin-point luck!
My hands and arms were trembling slightly as I kept tight into a strong active trout.. the odd flash of its body now and then told me it was a feisty Bluey that took a good 5 minutes to tame and bring to the net. 4 pounder too .. nice start to the day.. good omen hopefully.
The hook on the lure was bent well out of place though with the force of the take and the fight, so I sat back satisfied and looked through the fly box.. what next?
The fish seemed surprisingly near the surface which confused most anglers who were trying to find them in the depths as I was!
I opted for tying on a top of the water pattern this time with a suspended buzzer on the point and a couple of okey dokeys on the droppers and fished them on a very slow figure of eight retrieve this time. It was mid morning and the water had been almost flat calm since I caught that Blue and the fish weren’t’ rising much.. only now and then when the water rippled in the breeze was there more movement.
No more tugs or nibbles were being tempted by the buzzer pattern so far and with the flat calm of the surface my line seemed a bit too noticeable and shiny in the glare of the never ending sunshine. I always carry some ledasink, one of my must have necessary items when fishing small waters, and quickly clouded my leda, which instantly made my cast look much more presentable.
I changed over to a red-tinged dawl bach on the point too and had almost instant success when a sharp tug on the line jolted me into readiness. This continued into the early afternoon with the odd pull here and there to keep me on my toes but no further fish.
The water was very clear and calm, which made some fish easy to spot with the Polaroid’s on, another of my essential items. I noticed a good few gold trout patrolling out towards the middle of the water, just about in reach of a well launched cast, and these had my attention, would love to snare one of them. I kept pinging out the line and watching for the turn of the head and hopefully take, but they seemed a little disinterested. Only once did I get a reaction but when it came up to the point fly the head just turned again and it ambled away.
The bank fishers weren’t getting much action now in the afternoon, with the majority of fish being caught from the boats. There are 3nr boats on the water which tie to buoys in central points of the water, which I would recommend you try if you want to pay a couple more pounds. The boats were having great success as the day went on, with white tailed lures such as white rabbits and dancers doing the trick out in the middle.
I plodded away fishing on the bank, moving around the water from pier to pier trying out different areas. The banks of the fishery are immaculately maintained, with sturdy walkways and many piers to fish from, so was no trouble wandering around and throwing a line out in other areas. Most bank fishers on the water seemed to be in the same frame of mind, with most of us taking half hour to and hour at one spot then moving on. By trying more of the water the more fish you are covering I say so don’t stay rooted to the spot on Swanswater. There are good hotspots all over the place, as I discovered talking to others about their catch’s on the way round.
As I made my way round the water back towards the weigh-in lodge I had a few casts on the smaller pools next to the car park. These pools were bubbling with activity, ripples of rising fish all over the place. Suited well for beginners and novices, I would imagine these pools over the years have given many a young lad or lass the thrill of their first trout to brag to their pals about.
To the rear of the lodge are the holding ponds for the various sizes and breeds of trout, which range from Bows to Blues, Tigers, Brook, Brownies and Gold Trout. It was a sight to get the mouth watering, wandering among the ponds, admiring the flash of colours and girth of the fish waiting to be stocked, waiting to be set loose on the main water and I’m sure give many an angler a great day out.