Thursday, 13 March 2014

St Marys Loch & Loch of the Lowes - August 2014

Where Loch of the Lowes narrows onto St Marys Loch
An overnight stay at the Tibbie Shiels camp site allowed me to purchase a 24 hour permit for St Marys Loch and the adjacent Loch of the Lowes.

Beginning on the latter at the south west shore with a jighead and Lake Fork Baby Shad lures I began exploring my way up the loch side. The resident species are Perch, Pike and Brown Trout, so I felt quite confident that something was possible. Although the Loch of the Lowes isn't as renowned as its larger neighbour, they are connected by a small stream and it certainly has the potential to hold decent fish.

However, despite my enthusiasm, there were no takers. I was kept interested though by the follows into the shallows of the occasional small Perch in the 6" range. With only an unidentified bird of prey to report, I headed camp wards with the increasingly bored offspring in tow to where the wife would hopefully have constructed our home for the evening.

Blank well and truly busted
Jettisoning the sprogs with their mother, I made my way keenly the 10 metres or so to the loch side. There was a small jetty which I walked to the end of before lobbing the lure as far as I could into the clear water of St Marys Loch.

Boom, a fish was on first cast and then the reel began to squeal as whatever it was made off on a hefty run. Having been told a 5 pounder was a wee one in here, I was immediately worried as I was netless with relatively light tackle and was going to have to struggle alone with this beast. My six year old daughter had tagged along, but no matter how much I told her to go and get her Ma, she extremely annoyingly refused, seemingly preferring to watch her old man lose a potential PB.

After a few minutes I was able to bring the fish into sight identifying a quite decent but not earth shattering jack Pike. He was also being tailed by another slightly smaller pike attracted somehow by the exertions of his larger buddy. But he was sturdy and angry and put up a decent scrap making quite a few runs before I was finally able to beach him/her.

Excitement ahoy
By this time it seemed half the camp site had been alerted to the commotion, the first quote on the scene saying something like "they fished it all last night and didn't catch a thing, how long have you been fishing", to which the truthful reply was simply "eh, first cast mate"!!!

By the time I had the fish measured, photographed and returned, five fellow anglers had appeared and were now getting their lines wet (wee boys and 'holiday' anglers really - I set up a young German boy with the same set up I was using to help him along - to no avail).

And I really should have stopped there as it was the only bite I had for the rest of my stay!!! Not to say I didn't give the venue a good thrashing. I worked round the entire north shore and up round the western (road) shore and off the larger jetty and berthed boats in the south eastern corner too. Some really nice looking spots, but absolutely nothing. The only other sign of encouragement (aside from the multitude of young fish along the margins) was the next morning when a trout of a good pound and a half leapt three feet clear of the serenely still loch. Later that morning after the wind had gotten up a fair bit I explored around the north eastern shore, distracted a little by a lady training sheep dogs in a nearby field whilst I ploughed on in ultimately futile pursuit of fish number two.

The lack of surface activity by the trout was interesting enough that I mentioned it when emailing my catch return. In reply I was told that this was of some concern to those who look after the loch and preliminary investigations have suggested that the brown trout are evolving from surface feeders into bottom feeders as a result of the pike in the loch. This made me think of the very similar conditions at Loch Chon, somewhere I'd expect to see brownies rising, but the abundance of Pike and Perch, may have forced the trout down to the bottom for food there too.

The final mention goes to the the 8 or 9 fighter planes that roared (not very far) overhead during the course of the stay. If you decide to have a dabble at St Marys Loch be sure to bring some spare pants.

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