We were over on Lewis Harris back in September for a family holiday and naturally I packed a rod just in case I managed to ‘get some in’. If you’ve never been, I very much recommend a visit. If you live in England it’s a long old mission and we broke it up with a stop in good old Moffat and then Ullapool before getting the CalMac Ferry.
Just as different parts of mainland Scotland have their own geology, flora and ‘feel’ so do Harris and Lewis despite being part of the same island. Lewis is fairly flat and charmingly bleak (outside the bustling metropolis of Stornoway) if that can make any sense at all whereas Harris is more mountainous and picture postcard. Both have a very relaxed atmosphere that is only present in certain places I’ve been to – remoteness does not guarantee it.
I fished once before – Harris 8 years ago on a fine sunny day, taking myself into the hills to fish a couple of lovely lochs and visit the location of a wartime plane crash (I’ve just realised I never did a post on this – a situation I must rectify). It was a truly memorable day (2 pics below) and ideally I would have fished both Harris and Lewis this year but this was most definitely not a fishing holiday!
When the opportunity finally arose I’d already put my time in on the living room carpet in the cottage with Bruce’s bible and some OS maps. I’d chosen a loch not far from where we were staying called Loch Orasaigh which Bruce suggested may have a slightly better stamp of fish. When I got there it was blowing a hoolie as evidenced by the wind turbine on the Eastern shore which should have been a bit of an eyesore but wasn’t, it just seemed to fit into the bleak, windswept feel of Lewis. Again, I do not use those words in a negative sense.
In the limited time available I fished my way all along the Northern shore using a range of standard loch patterns plus some more desperate choices. I only saw a couple of fish move and only one showed an interest in anything I had to offer when I chucked out a Mayfly type creation which despite being out of season can have just the right triggers to get a fish’s pecker up. I unfurled a very satisfying long cast which delivered the dry fly with a tantalising kiss to the water and a second later a big shape rolled on the fly. I lifted into nothing and my fly landed in a heap. Further recasting was fruitless. This was the sum total of my action on this loch and I was a bit downhearted not to have caught as it will probably be a while before I am back on Lewis. The reality is you can’t expect to do any serious fishing on a family holiday where young children are involved. Perhaps a dedicated Lewis Harris fishing holiday is required, by which time I will probably be well into my fifties!