Tuesday, 18 June 2013

At Loch Ewe – Scotland Tour 2013 – Living in a Hiace Camper Van

Today's been another one of those days.. The weathers not so great, but fine and more usual for these parts. We decided to head into Gairloch to get some fishing supplies, before heading to a great location to see how it would go – things ended up going very well as you will find out..

The shop we went to is one of those that has just about everything you might need for the outdoor life, and much more besides – I love this about the Scottish highlands; you come across all kinds of curiosities in the most unusual places. This 'Farm and Garden' shop had everything from rubber boots, to lanterns, to bird feeders, to gas and midge nets. We headed to the fishing tackle section.

Sarah's been coming fishing on the west coast for thirty years so advised me what might be the best equipment to get if I was going to catch fish to eat. Perusing the various rods and other tackle on offer here, I picked out a Water Spin rod rated 30 – 60 grams 2.7 metres in length, so not huge and still relatively light. I also bought some quick release swivel fasteners, and four silver lures, two of the wedge type at 28 grams, and two of the fish shape, at 40 grams. Sarah picked out a longer heavier rod as she had recently broken the tip of her previous one on the rocks, and some of the same spinners as she'd recommended to me.

After getting some food and other supplies it was time to head back to the camp and get ready to go fishing..

We arrived at the spot about 9pm. It was quite a still night but starting to get a little chilly on the headland, but we'd come to a location where the loch met the open sea, and where the rocks went straight into very deep water – a perfect location to catch some sizeable sea fish. The first thing to do was climb down onto the rocks nearest to the water. This was not exactly for the faint of heart, as it involved scrambling down some rocks beside a deep gully, with cavernous water sounds coming from deep within..

Once down on the rocks, however, we prepared our rods and spinners and immediately got to casting out into the deep dark water beyond, wondering what might be lurking beneath the black undulating surface. Immediately on the first cast I hooked a fish and reeled it in, a Coalfish about 6 or 7” long, I unhooked him and launched him back into the water.. Second cast, and I again felt one on the line – this time twice the size and another Coley. We decided not to keep him as it was obvious that the night was going to be a good one! So this one too was returned to the night sea.

Over the course of the evening we must have brought in about 15 or 16 fish, mostly Coley and Pollock of various sizes which was an amazing first expedition out for me on Scotlands west coast waters. Suddenly I felt a much bigger strain on the line, and the rod bent over sharply, forming a U shape in the night air.. I began to reel in, only to have it go slack again 5 seconds later, then it went tight again, and then the rod almost bent over under the strain, but almost right in front of me. The fish must be going down and under the rocks.

Sarah said, thats what they will do.. If you hook a big Pollock it will run towards you and dive down, making it much harder to bring it to land successfully. I decided to let out slack on the line and wait and see. The slack soon disappeared and went tight again, and the line was rubbing dangerously against the rocks and barnacles.. Again I let out quite a few feet of slack line – again it soon went taught again. At this point I decided to slowly try and retrieve the line..

After quite a bit of tense reeling in a huge fish finally broke the surface and with the rod bent over I managed to bring him onto the rocks on which we were standing, with the water splashing close to our feet. It was a monster Pollock with huge ominous eyes, and it'd been a mixture of good judgement, sound advice, and luck that had helped bring him in. This one was going to be tomorrow evenings dinner, and probably the next days too! After administering the last rites, the fish was left in the rock pool while we fished on until it became dark and knew it was time to make the scramble back up the gully, head torches lighting the way, and fishing gear stashed away in our backpacks.. Quite an experience to start the northern adventures..

Ernest Hemingway

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If you're looking for a good map of Western Scotland and the Western Isles, the one I recommend is the 'Road 2' - this map used to be produced by OS, but they stopped doing it. You can buy it here for £4.99:

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