In the latest instalment of Not Exactly Fishing, Gordon Mack examines a trout’s stomach and finds an age-old debate among the contents.


Gordon Mack, in the latest addition to the Not Exactly Fishing series, relates a painful encounter with the gentle Daddy Long-legs and warns of the unseen perils of fly-tying.


BEN CRUACHAN: Still clothed in ermine

BEN CRUACHAN: Still clothed in ermine

THERE’S nothing like the first outing of the season to stir the blood.

Hope always seems undiminished by a dark wet winter. So a even a couple of casts from the bank in cold, blustery conditions on the vast acreage of Loch Awe in Argyllshire, with the occasional sleet shower passing by and Ben Cruachan still clothed in ermine, offered opportunity if low odds.

Heart over head, perhaps. But that favourite rod with its comfortable action and easy balance on the arm, a couple of new patterns tied up at the fly dressing club amid banter, the life-saver vest, worn as something akin to a badge of office, all bring familiarity and satisfying comfort.

So it was on with the neoprene waders, plenty of thermal underlay, the 10ft Hardy, an intermediate line and a wee box holding just half-a-dozen flies.

One fly accounted for all three species . . .

One fly accounted for all three species . . .

One it transpired, was all it required. Less than two hours later I had accounted for a plump little brown trout of about 12oz, a much fatter perch and a greedy pike of about 1.5lb – all to the same small fly.

There was no sign of surface insect life, although the swallows, the ospreys and the cuckoo are back and the water was much less chilly than expected. Maybe the warm April had had the right effect.

A bronze-head damsel nymph of my own dressing on a short-shank size 10 hook, proved irresistible to all three and delivered two treats for an early supper: Pike, properly filleted, I think is under-rated for eating. The perch was returned.

It was enough to begin a new season, and I retreated indoors to watch dusk fall and the pine marten enjoy his own peanut supper on the patio.

 . . . plump little brownie

. . . a plump little Loch Awe brownie

River Snizort - middle beats

Snizort – the cemetery beat

Gordon Mack, in the Not Exactly Fishing series, recounts a recent visit to the River Snizort, the Isle of Skye river where a fascinating renewable energy project sits side-by-side with an environmentally-precious,  successful salmon and sea trout fishery, and relates his high-voltage experience.


Between The Lines is taking an extended sabbatical to work on a special project.  This is expected to last throughout 2012.  It is hoped that this journal will resume publication in a new and updated format thereafter.  Meanwhile, existing postings will remain online for reference.

Many thanks to all regular readers and contributors.

Best regards for the New Year.

Gordon Mack

IT MIGHT be the close season in Scotland for salmon fishing, but there was to be no festive season truce this year it seems in the on-going battle between anglers and commercial interests over conservation and exploitation of the iconic species. (more…)

A 34.5lb SALMON from the River Nith in Dumfries and Galloway has won the 2011 Savills Malloch Trophy for its captor, angler Sam Valentine. (more…)

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