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

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