Recently I got married, you could say to my ‘personal best’. And what comes with marriage? A honeymoon of course! We had decided to play it safe and book an Autumn break in Scotland, with a few days on the West coast followed by the Highlands. It would turn out to be an exceptional break away, with Scotland truly living up to the hype. I even managed to squeeze in an hour’s fishing, which went some way to showing how effective LRF can be…
After a delayed flight and an overnight stay in Glasgow Airport’s Holiday Inn, we were itching to get into the hire car and find some scenery. We were soon on our way to our first Air BnB of the trip, a beautiful cabin near Loch Fyne. We both have always wanted to visit the country and it made for an exciting drive. My excitement piqued as we took the road past Loch Lomond. My childhood was filled with dreams of 40lb pike from that famous water and seeing the vast Loch in person brought them flooding back to me. One day I will have a try for a Scottish monster, but not this time.
Beyond Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park lay our destination, a 15 minute drive from the charming town of Inverarey. We may not have chosen a sun soaked tropical island for our honeymoon, but we made up for that with dramatic scenery, clean air and a wood fired hot tub! It was the hot tub that would be the background, and ticking clock, behind my inaugural Scottish Lerf the following day.
My attempt to get the wood fired hot tub to anything resembling warm the first night was a laughable failure. It was certainly entertaining as we battled the increasingly poor weather and alcohol consumption! We had decided to try again in the morning, starting the fire early and hoping to get into it by midday, with good weather on the horizon. It was during the wait for the water temperature to rise above tepid that my new wife said those magic words, ‘you can go fishing if you like’.
I didn’t need telling twice! I was on my way to the nearest harbour in rapid time. I knew this would be my only chance to fish and I didn’t want to take the mick with how long I was away. I set myself a challenge of catching a Scottish fish within the hour and leaving, to hopefully return to a warm hot tub and a happy wife!
In no time at all I was surveying my venue for this quick-fire Lerf, Ardrishaig Harbour. This mark had all the makings of a fine LRF spot, a large outer breakwater to shelter the harbour, a freshwater canal lock and a mix of rough and clean ground. I felt hopeful. I unpacked my travel rod, the Majorcraft Benkei BIS-644L 1.75-7g 4 Piece, a fine stick to cover the majority of my options around the harbour. One ‘essential’ I didn’t pack was any artificial baits, no Gulp, Isome or similar; so I knew this could be tricky.
When trying to get a feel for a venue, I will often use a Dropshot rig. The benefit of this rig being that it’s great for getting a feel of the mark. You can drop the rig between boulders, or bounce it across the mud and sand. Onto the dropshot I added a Majorcraft Paraworm Curly Tail in Pink Glow. The water was surprisingly clear and I could see the lure as I twitched it among the fronds of kelp. What wasn’t surprising was the first catch, a tiny pollock. Even at the opposite end of the British Isles I couldn’t escape these micro fish!
I couldn’t seem to avoid them so I moved closer to the lock gates in search of something different. Thankfully quite sheltered from the bitter winds blowing in from the mouth of the loch. My next few casts were met with repeated vibrato bites from tiny fish, intrigued to find out what they were, I changed lures. On went a bright pink C.A.N. Fishing Lures Micro Fry.
The next cast would provide me with the answer as to the species and it would be a brand new one for me… The tiny fish were in fact micro cod! I had hooked a tiny codling, a specimen so miniscule it would barely make a fish finger. I didn’t care at all though, it was something new. Even though it was a baby, I could still make out the famous mottled orange and cream markings. It was a creature of miniature beauty and quickly returned to the water to grow a lot bigger.
With the wind starting to howl over the wall behind me and only more micro cod biting, it was time to think a little bigger. The Dropshot was swapped for a 2g Majorcraft Darting Jighead, combined with a Keitech Shad Impact in ‘Sight Flash’. The intention was to dart the lure around the weeds, in the hope of a larger pollock or coalfish. I kept the rod low and the light pink braid out of the wind, flicking the lure into action in hope of a better fish. In the clear water I could see a shadow stalking below.
After a missed hit, my next cast found the target and a spirited coalfish was hooked! I have only begun to catch coalfish this year and despite all of them being small fish, I am impressed! This pollock-like species is all muscle and fight like it. You can tell the difference by looking at the straight lateral line, often with a white stripe accompanying it. The mouth also isn’t as underslung as the pollock. Overall they are a significant upgrade on the similar sized pollock and I was rather pleased to find one that day.
Three of the classic cold water species had been caught, codling, pollock and coalfish, could I catch another? I felt confident in the same lure and carried on flicking it out and darting it back. Again, I neared the weeds and had a superb take! This fish was far more manic, with vibrations feeding back up the line with every beat of it’s energetic tail. I knew what it was before I saw it. Not only did I see one mackerel surface once beat, but the whole shoal had followed it! They soon disappeared back into the depths as I lifted the fish so it could be unhooked.
What followed could have been a summer’s day at home, with every cast my lure was harassed by the mackerel. These weren’t large fish but they really pulled! My thoughts went back to September in Cornwall when many of us struggled to catch these tiger striped tuna, yet here I was in Scotland getting swamped by them. Perhaps talk of the summer shoals moving north has some weight to it?
I glanced at my now scale encrusted phone, my hour was up. Four species in sixty minutes wasn’t bad going at all. I made the drive back to the lodge in high spirits. Back to my wife and the rest of a fantastic honeymoon to come. On the fishing side of things, this showed just how effective LRF can be. All you need is a handful of lures and a travel rod, you can fish anywhere in the world and catch fish. It really is that simple.