Friday July 12, 2013

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13 – Lucky For Some?

Written by Jamie Marwick

A_Leven_scowl_thumbThis is a cautionary tale of a fishing challenge that developed into an obsession, and ended up an unhealthy trout vendetta. A vendetta which, I might add scuttled what little angling reputation I had gained over the past 20 odd years.

The setting was Loch Leven, the most famous trout loch in the world, which due to one reason and another I neglected to visit. I recount exerts from my fishing diary: 

Trip 1.             September 2006

My first outing on Leven was an evening with my old school friend (and fishing Jonah) Kenny. Our initial drift uncovered one clear fact: there was no shortage of fish in this loch. They were big fish at that, some of which launched from the depths like a trident missiles, presumably chasing fry. Here began the challenge – a big loch with plenty of big fish. We tried most of our fly boxes that evening, fishing every tactic we could remember, but this only yielded one nibble to my last resort “Minkie”. Leaving the water despondent, we were somewhat comforted by the news that no-one else was doing any better.


Trip 2.             September 2006
The same as last time, but without the nibble.


Trip 3.             April 2007
2007’s first outing coincided with a strong, cold wind. On advice from the boathouse dad and I went to the “Hale o the Inch” and we went deep.  We might as well have fished a size 22 Tup’s Indispensible – nothing was seen nor touched.

Though I’m by no means adverse to the odd blank, this was now my worst record on any water.



Trip 4.             May 2007
Again the weather conspired against us delivering a cold, windy dour day. There was no action to report, though we did jealously watch another boat land a fish. So some progress I suppose.



Trip 5.             July 2007
Conditions were tricky again, this time being hot and calm. I was tweaking a Gold-head Hares Ear on a floating line off Vane Bank, when suddenly everything went tight. Panic! By panic I refer to me as oppose to the fish, who for a full minute behaved rather well before inexplicably throwing the hook. I was devastated.

This wholly unsatisfactory drama repeated itself near the yellow buoy behind St Serfs. A well hooked trout toyed with me for some time before refusing to complete on the deal. There is no justice, and yes I checked my hooks.


Trip 6.             September 2007
The last trip of 2007 was a cold, rain swept affair. I thrashed the water all day convinced that after last time my unstinting belligerence must be rewarded with at least one chance. It was. A monster of over 4lb leapt out of the shallows around Scart Island with my point fly lodged in its jaws. On splashdown we instantly parted company. I was shaking with adrenaline, disbelief and anger. The sight of couple of 3-4b stonkers on show at the boathouse did little to raise my spirits.


Trip 7.             May 2008
I started 2008 with dad, who hooked and lost one early in proceedings through not keeping enough pressure on. I was chastising him about this just around the same time as a fish head and tailed over my flies, which of course I promptly missed. Dad was kinder in his comments. Some fish rose in the warm thundery afternoon, but no other offers were forthcoming.

A_moody_Leven_eveningTrip 8.            2008 summer date unrecorded

It was a perfect warm summers evening. I motored over to Old Levenmouth. I set up my rod and rested it across the seats. I turned round, then stepped back, snapping my rod. I motored back to the boathouse.

After tying up the boat I vowed that I would have a fish off Leven whatever it took!




Trip 9.             May 2009
During the day I had slogged round the Edinburgh marathon. A Leven evening boat with dad offered little respite. A few fish moved, though very little hatched, probably due to it getting cooler later on. That critical ingredient of angling success – confidence - hit an all time low.


Trip 10.           June 2009
During a pleasant and promising evening I came across a pod of fish rising steadily – seemingly oblivious to the boat. No takers – though I admit that half the time I was fannying around in a state of high excitement trying to change to dry flies.

Willie (the fine gentleman who runs everything) suggested pulling a “Hummungus” fast if they were picky! I reflected that perhaps I was overcomplicating.


Trip 11.           July 2009
A massive hatch of “Curly Bum’s” and Caenis materialised late in the evening. I was covered head to welly in prime trout food. Did the trout rise up for this banquet before 11pm? No they bloody didn’t.


Trip 12.           July 2009
Would you believe it - I catch a trout off Reed Bower. The only problem is it’s a blasted tiny 1/4lber. By this stage that is no good - only a keeper will do. The news that loads of these young fish are being recorded, which is a sign of the loch’s returning health, is some consolation, but in truth after 12 trips not much.


Trip 13.           August 2009
Expectations are high this evening, with Willie admitting that he wouldn’t mind to be out on the loch himself – its overcast with a light south westerly. Between the Reed Bower and the Pink Buoy, after 3 years and 13 trips my size 14 Kate McLaren finally seriously connects with a serious fish. A massive fight ensues with deep runs, horrible head shaking and terrifying leaps. When a 2 1/2lb Leven trout is safely resting on the deck I experience absolute relief and elation in that order.

I fished on catching numerous smaller trout and missing a couple of bigger ones, whilst watching a pair of ospreys in a perfect evening .It turned out that my trout was stuffed full of freshwater pea mussels. So maybe that’s where it had been hiding all the time…..


2__lb_of_Leven_perfectionLoch Levenhas been hard on me, but she has also shared with me her stunning beauty, her rich wildlife of diving ospreys and squawking heronries, and her illustrious history of angling and imprisoned royalty. Will I be back? – You bet I will, but only in a warm south westerly!


Having served a traditional apprenticeship of worming in burns until age 9, Jamie Marwick has been pursuing trout and salmon using a fly rod ever since; sometimes with great success.

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