Monday, 14 May 2012

Loch Lubnaig : Good Vibrations.

Saturday and a break in the windy, rainy weather saw us head inland in search of the elusive perch. We chose Loch Lubnaig (the Gaelic name for "crooked loch") situated west of Callander on the edge of the Lomond and Trossachs national park. Lubnaig has a bit of a reputation for throwing up large perch as well as brown trout and also Arctic char. After an hours drive we reached the town of Callander and duly bought our permits for the Loch from James Bayne Fishing Tackle Shop on the high street. As neither Scott nor I had fished this particular Loch we were treating this as more of a reconnaissance mission. When we arrived at the loch we parked the car and walked down to the shore, the sky was blue with a few white clouds and the view stunning.

Breathtaking view up towards the crook in Loch Lubnaig.

We setup up ready to fish. I geared up with my LRF gear, Graphiteleader Corto EX rod, Shimano Exage 2500 reel spooled with 8.5lb Daiwa Tournement braid and an 8lb Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon leader. Scott elected to go with a heavier setup, Shimano Speedmaster Drop Shot 3.5-28g, Shimano Exage 3000 reel spooled with 10lb Sunline Rockfish as he wanted the option to fish heavier jigheads and slightly larger lures to try and tempt a bigger perch. 

We knew the loch had a thriving population of minnows so I went with a Berkley Gulp! 1" Minnow in Watermelon Pearl mounted on a 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead. Scott started with a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad in Golden Shiner on a 7g #2/0 AGM football jighead. I worked my way down  from the car park towards the end of the loch where the River Leny flows out whilst Scott began working his way up the Loch. I fished the minnow right down to the river then back up the loch to meet Scott and neither of us had had any interest, except for shoals of minnows following our lures.

A change of tactics was required so I decided to go with a vibe lure as it would work deeper and maybe trigger an attack in the peaty depths. I rigged up a 5g Jackson Cymo in pink/silver as pinks and reds seem to do well in peaty water. I worked the Lure by casting in a fan pattern and retrieving in a sink and draw fashion. Short lifts of the rod tip made the lure vibrate upwards, pause and slow the retrieve and it would flutter down. After 10 minutes the lure was seized by a fish, as it splashed and writhed on the surface it quickly became apparent that it was no perch and indeed after a spirited fight I landed my first Lubnaig brown trout!

The Jackson Cymo proved irresistible to this brownie.

Marvellous, a proper wild loch brownie and a boost to my confidence in the lure. About 20 minutes later I got hit by a fish quite far out in the deeper water. My rod bent into the fish which had taken the lure just as it started to fall. It felt different to the trout and it immediately tried to dive down. It kept boring down as I played it towards me but I still couldn't see what it was, could it be that elusive perch? No, it's an Arctic char! I exclaimed as it slid over a weed bed and into view. I caught sight of its amazing colours, scarlet belly with an emerald green/grey back and white piping on its fins. Scott upon hearing my exclamation grabbed the net and hurried over towards me. It was a good sized fish, over a pound and as I drew it towards the shore I decided that rather than wait for Scott I would just beach it. Bad move! As I turned the fish back to come into the shallows it gave a shake of its head and out popped the lure! Gutted, If only I had waited for Scott. Still I can vaguely console myself with having very nearly landed a fish I never though I would encounter without having to travel to Alaska or Norway.

By this point Scott had tried a variety of soft lures but hadn't even had a bite.

Scott washes another lure.

He headed back down to the bottom of the Loch to fish near the mouth of the River Leny and finally hooked a decent brownie on a Skippy Fish in Golden Shiner but on its second leap out of the water it threw the hook. After speaking to a local angler who was fishing back near the car we decided to try a spot a bit further up the loch and for the last half an hour of the session we found ourselves at the mouth of a burn that flows into the loch. Where the burn flowed in it gave way to some deep water very close in. 

We began fishing and almost instantly Scott was getting bites but no hook ups. A few casts later and whilst I was watching the lure travel over the shelf another Arctic char darted in and began nipping at the lure. The fish missed the lure and slunk back down onto the shelf. I cast again and this time a good bite, he was hooked! Only for a short while though as he threw the hook. Win some lose some!

Scott hooked a brownie next which again threw the hooks as he was coming in to be landed. The trout however couldn't resist the Jackson Cymo and a further 2 brownies were landed and released as well as losing a few more before we could land them.

Another beautiful Loch Lubnaig brown trout.
Its always great to catch a wild trout and these were no exception.
Ready to swim back to feast on the minnows.

No sign of any perch on this trip and a rare blank for Scott but we are assured the perch are there, however, my brush with the Arctic char population has really inspired me so a few more vibe lures have been ordered and another visit is on the cards to target and hopefully land one!

Tight Lines, Schogsky.

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