A dream I hardly considered possible given that I was restricted to bank fishing due to my lack of access to a boat, and that the fishing was difficult from this spot, hard going, ending in a lot of blank days.
I was once a fairly pessimistic angler, and therefore didnít expect to catch. If I caught it was a bonus, but I must admit the 30lb pike was a big bonus! I have put this pessimism down to a lack of confidence but slowly, as I seem to be accepted as being Ďseriousí by the piking guys I meet, my confidence is building and I now at least hope to catch!
I will never forget my most memorable moments when playing my 30lb Pike. It was pure unadulterated pleasure when the fish took off once again for yet another long run, and the water from the line I had gained on my reel splashed up into my face as the fish stripped it off yet again. I remember grinning wide and just feeling fantastic, yet somehow felt no fear that I may lose the fish, I just knew it was on to stay, mine. It seemed to move in slow motion, so did I. It felt great!
To see this monster from the deep lying on my mat was almost surreal. I was shaking, especially my knees. It was so big, as it tried to move it could just manage a lazy and cumbersome looking half hearted flop, and as I unhooked it, my trace caught just in the scissors, a dark hooded menacing eye seemed angry and moved around to get a better look at me. I was amazed. I think of that moment as unique in my lifeís achievements. I heard no other sound. It was just me and the fish. And more than anything I feel honoured. Many better fishermen have fished Loch Lomond long and hard, and not caught a 30lb fish from her depths.
Loch Lomond is a special place to me. I have camped and fished in the summer when the midges are at their fiercest. (It is no wonder the Romans turned back when they tried to invade, such an army!). I have fished in mid winter in minus 15 degrees but the summer offers moments such as when I caught the white roe deer and her brown mate silently watching me from the trees less than 20 yards away - whilst I sat at the waterís edge under an August sky filled with activity as a thousand shooting stars flew across the sky on their final journey.
The winter offers still glassy waters with pink morning skies reflected on their surface. And cold hands wrapped around warm mugs of soup whilst the sound of the optonic on these clear crisp days seem to echo across the whole loch.
I never really Ďblankí as I see it. In summer I take home armfuls of wild flowers, filling the house with the scent of Lomond, and in Autumn I collect panfuls of fresh Chanterelle mushrooms and fry them up in olive oil for breakfast.
However, my main reason for being out there is to catch fish.
In my quest for pike, I aimed last year to fish pastures new. My search for wild places and unfished Lochs (probably brought about by bedtime reading of romantic tales from the hand of Walton and such authors) have taken me into the Scottish Highlands and I succeeded in catching my first highland pike last September from a peaceful north western Loch A handsome, peaty, orange and brown lad of 7 lb. A real beauty! A further reconnoitre involved canoeing the perimeter of Loch Morlich to check out the possibilities. Successful piking orgies taking place at every bend! Beautiful but busy.
Then on to Loch Eck reckoned to be the only other body of water in Scotland apart from Loch Lomond to hold shoals of Powan. Enough said on this trip. Letís just say it certainly tested my durability to the limit and donít try to fish the top end from the shore!
I have a plan to head off with limited kit and walk across a Glen or two fishing and camping as I go for a few weeks. But that is one for next year.
I have since merged my two great loves, fishing and travel into one, and now wherever I travel I take a rod. I look for fishing possibilities prior to leaving for my destination and my love of travel has taken on a new element. I now have an aim, or more like a mission, when I travel.
I had my first taste of fishing with my dad and brothers when I was a young. We fished at the local harbour in Granton, Edinburgh, not far from the famous Port of Leith, once a thriving port of call for many large ships and cutters. Whenever we fished this popular jetty, I got the job of digging up the lugworm on the beach, and then gutting the mackerel when we got home. The boys that were fishing there used to be disgusted when I broke off and sucked the raw Partan Crabs claws clean as soon as they were caught! They were juicy and fresh and my attempts at offering the guys some met with loud uggghhh noises and screwed up faces!
I just loved the outdoors. My first job when I left school was with a well-known Scottish angler, Alastair Dickson. He owned a sporting agency and I was trained to sell fishing and hunting to the Italians, Danish and Germans. I learned how to stock a small loch, while Alastair made a TV programme about teaching a new sport to a celebrity famous for a different sport. That man was Ian Botham.
Hence my initiation had me hooked! I seem to attract 30ís. I have fished in Portugal for Blue shark, biggest, 30lb 4oz. Thailand for Barracuda, and India for Golden Mahseer - after 5 painful years, the biggest to date is 30lb on the nail! I just cannot seem to break the 30lb barrier. However, I am ever-hopeful and am aiming to do it with a Mahseer. I have travelled long and hard in India in pursuit of that extra-large legendary bar of gold, and have managed in that time to secure a nugget.
However, that is another story and one I hope to tell very soon. Watch this space!
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