Assynt 2011

Be prepared to climb off that grammar outrage bus and enter a world where tenses past, present and future merge before your eyes…a world where the concept of a blog becomes bloated like a festering, decomposing corpse of literary standards. My wasted years. My stifled creativity, my hatred of mushrooms, fighting dogs and flour-coated baps..all of it, all of it is channelled into this annual self-indulgent tome. I make no apologies for the sheer scale, it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to. It’s here. Bigger, bolder, rougher, tougher and ribbed for your pleasure….the Assynt 2011 blog.

Thursday 16th June

Last minute tying session to knock up some old favourites. I began sober, and tied up some Claret Bumbles, couple of Zulus, a ‘Bob’s Bob Fly’ and an Alexandra but ended somewhat touched by the Co-Op single malt and tied an ‘innovative’ imitation of a mouse – my secret weapon!

Friday 17th June.

The plan – Stu picks me up at 8am, we drive to Otley to rendezvous with Phil, swill down a quick brew then jump in his Disco and hit the road by 9am.

The reality – Stu sleeps in and picks me up at 9:30. We drive to Otley even though Phil is missing in action (presumed in flagrante) and sit around drinking cups of tea/smoking tabs until he finally turns up and gets round to packing for the holiday. What a disgrace. We eventually bite into the A65 at 10:30, giddy as teenage girls at a Justin Bieber sex party. The annual fishing holiday is underway!

As always we split the journey into two stages, Friday being the first leg up to Glencoe. Much of this journey was to a backdrop of slate grey skies and driving rain but by the time we hit the Red Squirrel LZ myself and Stu had numbed our weather related blues with the communal Jura. Luckily the rain eased off in time for us to put up our tents in a mere drizzle. More good news followed as it became clear the menu, and indeed quality of food in the Clacaig had improved considerably and our Grozet bangers in Yorkshire Pudding went down well alongside several pints of real ale and a cheeky Japanese single malt. The obligatory camp fire and the rest of the Jura followed.

Saturday 18th June

The plan – awake 7:30, depart 8:15

The reality – awake 9:30, depart 11:15. Sigh

With thick heads we clambered onto the running boards of The Little Corporal Phil’s mighty panzer and clattered out of Red Squirrel onto the Ballachulish Steppe to resume our mission. We had earlier convinced ourselves that there was no need to call into Fort William because it ate up a couple of hours for no real benefit so it was with some surprise that we found ourselves walking down Fort William high street, drawn to the Rod and Gun Shop/Blacks to rack our brains for unnecessary things to buy. We also troughed down a fine Scottish breakfast complete with boot leather lorne sausage and a bit of Eastern European crumpet before jumping back on the A82 and skirting the side of magnificent Loch Ness. No sign of the monster but I’m sure I saw a square rigged trawler on the water, anyone know wtf that was all about? Next stop was Dingbat Dingwall Tesco’s for the weekly shop where we spent a paltry £160 on communal supplies and £50 each on ‘personal’ items (whisky and sugary treats).

Onwards and upwards, the final leg of the journey to Lochinver! Somewhere en route we pass a film unit parked in a remote lay-by and Stu feels sure they’re shooting Brownlander, a Highlander-inspired porn movie. As ever, we are also mesmerized by the opening salvo of the vistas that Assynt has to offer. We arrive at our cottage to discover t-shirt weather, indeed it’s been 26 degrees during the day. Oh my, things are looking up!

Once the unbearable tension of the legendary drawing of straws is out of the way ( I win, king sized room with sea view balcony) we unpack and break out the BBQ to cook our Tesco’s finest burgers and minted kebabs to perfection as the sun goes down in a blaze of Boddingtons glory.

Sunday 19th June

1st fishing day of the week, hurrah! We’ve split the 6 fishing days into 3 ‘elective days’ and 3 ‘common ground’ days. Today is a common ground day.

The plan – Up before 9am.

The reality – We’re all up before 8:30 and the admin is minimal due to sterling sandwich work from Phil the night before. Could it be we’ve turned over a new leaf?

The mission begins with a trip into Lochinver to buy our permits then we drive out on the short length of road that heads out to Glencanisp Lodge although the few parking spaces are actually well before the lodge. We bail out of the Panzerkampfwagen and survey our destination with frothing enthusiasm, for verily it came to pass we were to return once again to the shadow of the mighty Suilven.

I was so ready for this. My brand new matching breathable base layer trunks and top felt good, my new walking socks felt oh-so-cosy and my almost new Bear Grylls action trousers (padded kneecaps and asspiece) just felt awesome. We set off at good pace, past the lodge and skirting the side of Druim Suardalain (Glen Loch) which looked very picturesque and ever onwards on what is known locally as the “long walk”. Funny, on the map it doesn’t look that much further than coming in from Inverkirkaig. Maybe it’s local humour?

We pass more lochs that chain down from na Gainimh, all dominated by the mighty Suilven.

After some time we begin to gain more understanding into why this is called the ‘Long Walk’, it’s starting to feel like the path will never end.

We break for some tiffin and receive a welcome flypast from a lithe young lady out running the hills, her eyes clearly drawn to my Bear Grylls action trousers, then push on again down the path of justice. Eventually, we reach the turn off the path and cut South across rough terrain to take us to our destination, the collection of lochs and lochans on the North side of Suilven. Our oft repeated walking mantra of “I wouldn’t wish this on a broke dick dog” received substantial usage but after a grand total of around 2 and a half hours we hit the first of our target lochs, Choire D****h seen here with Count von Tittenstein in the foreground. As you may notice the weather had closed in by now making any ascent up Suilven completely pointless. Indeed, Stu had made it crystal clear that he would not be dragged up that f***ing mountain unless the view was going to be worth it. He had hammered this message home again and again for the past 2 and a half hours and frankly I was on-board with him.

We spread out around the water and finally, finally got round to doing some fishing…at 4pm! Stu caught the first fish of the holiday, then we all followed suit with numerous “standard loch sized” fish, like this one of mine.

I found myself in a good steady purple patch, a fish every few casts, calm and content when I witnessed one of the most horrific examples of grooming and manipulation imaginable. Stu was on the opposite bank, some way off and looked to be having as much fun as me pulling out wee brownies and enjoying the fishing to its fullness when Phil sauntered over to go sit beside him. I knew something was amiss. I think he even had a bag of sweets with him. The undulating breeze brought with it fragments of conversation. “No, I don’t want to”. “Go on, you won’t regret it”. “… you’ll love it up there”. “I said NO”. “But the sun’s shining now Stu!”. On it went, I knew Stu would break in the end, so much for our pact. For a moment I considered staying at the loch whilst they went up but I knew they’d come back down with tales of unimaginable fun to make me bitterly regret not joining them so I glugged down a cherry Lucozade and went for a sh*t. Preparation is key.

To be fair, the ascent was relatively easy up this side of Suilven despite the steep narrow path, and initially we clung onto hope that the views would be ok from the top.

but within a matter of minutes the brief window of sunshine was firmly closed and all summits were bathed in a Gloy Gum clag. By the time we reached the Grey Castle summit we were presented with this.

Oh well, it’s not as if we didn’t need the exercise. Heading back down we knew time was limited (bearing in mind the 2 and a half hour walk back) but still wanted to do some more fishing so we picked another nice looking bit of water out of the various named and un-named lochs and lochans on the North side of Suilven to spend a wee while on. I shan’t tell you which one we fished because we all did quite well on it and the fish were bigger than average. Publishing specific locations will, I now realise, condemn every big fish in that loch to death.

It must’ve been around 9:30 pm when we set off back to the car. Energy levels were flagging and my poor little feet which are blighted by over-pronation were in complete agony. Yeah I know, boohoo cry me a river blah blah. But they fekin hurt. Now, now we knew why it’s called the long walk for verily it is a long bloody walk (25km round trip) and we were knackered when we got back to the half-track at midnight. Still light though! Back at the cottage, supper was a Bombay Bad Boy and triple whisky.

Monday 20th June

The plan – there isn’t one.

The reality – no-one up before 10:30.

I feel like I’ve been run over. It takes several cups of tea, a Lucozade and a round of marmalade on toast to make me feel even remotely human. Stu draws a line in the sand, he’s not walking anywhere today and I’m in full agreement. By the time we speak to Peter all the boats are out on our chosen venues (Cam, Veyatie, Awe) so myself and Stu settle on Borralan whilst Phil decides to spend the day away from his friends and walk up to Loch a Bealach Cornaidh under the looming presence of Quinag (pronounced cun-yag, we’ve been told).

We all indulge in a pint at the Altnacealgach Motelthen Phil drives off leaving myself and Stu alone in a boat that hadn’t been used all season and looked like it had been dragged over angry rocks. She didn’t sink though, and that’s all that matters. Quite a few fish were moving, taking mayfly in or on the surface but Stu was using a soldier palmer when he started catching fish, which surely looks nothing like a mayfly! His one-fly cast was comprehensively out fishing my 3 fly setup which seemed most unfair! Eventually I cadged a soldier palmer off him, stuck it on my top dropper (I think) and this got me going.

Borralan isn’t a spectacular hill loch at the foot of a Corbett, nor is it a vast, wild windswept loch but it’s still very easy on the eye with quirky views of Suilven.

We did several drifts and caught a lot of fish between us. At certain points it was a fish almost every cast! No whoppers but I tell you what, a lazy day in a boat catching loads of diminutive scrappers was just what I needed to contrast the previous day’s beasting.

By about 10pm the conditions were beautiful. Gentlest of breezes, glorious sunset and a host of rising fish but alas we were alerted to the presence of Phil on the far shore in front of the hotel, running round in circles and yapping. We tried to ignore him but eventually it became clear he wouldn’t be quiet until we rowed back to give him a fuss and some attention. Upon reconvening, it transpired he’d unfortunately blanked up on Bealach Cornaidh despite the efforts involved in getting there (although he did manage 8 fish in a quick 15 minute session on Borrallan!). We indulged in another pint before returning to our cottage for fried trout with a side-order of Stella, and whiskey for dessert (18 year old Glenlivet in my case.

Tuesday 21st June

The plan – get up early and go fish Loch Assynt

The reality – On the water for 2:30. For the love of God what is wrong with us?

I’d chosen a day on Loch Assynt for my elective, having become frustrated at always driving past it without wetting a line. It’s a big piece of water, almost 300 feet deep in parts and subject to very changeable weather conditions that have contributed to the demise of anglers in the past. Undaunted we picked up the key and outboard motor from Peter’s cottage and set off to find the boat.

“Did anyone ask where the boat is kept?”

“Err, no”

Eventually we find it through a mixture of luck and guesswork and load the plastic pig up with our provisions and tackle then set out for the the North shore (furthest away from the road) to set up some drifts.

Knowing full well that sticking close to the shore is key to catching wild browns on lochs big or small we set up a rota system for the drifts– 45 minutes on the oars each whilst the other 2 fish. Our drifts are somewhat hampered by a malformed drogue but we crack on and start finding fish within about half an hour. I lose 2 or 3 then Stu manages to hit a purple patch and lands a couple of nice dark, brooding Loch Assynt fish but is unable to fully enjoy the moment whilst the majority of his stainless steel flask remains lodged in his colon – such an unfortunate incident.

More fish follow, look at the bend in that rod, despite the fish being under half a pound!

The pattern starts to emerge, it’s all or nothing. We drift close in working the oars and for half an hour there’s nothing then suddenly it kicks off for 5 or 10 minutes with frantic activity. Then back to nothing. It’s difficult to find a common denominator to the good areas but we do notice that ‘middlin’ shallows often fish better than deep water (judging by the bank angle).

With a few fish under our belt we indulged in some lunch on dry land and I took the opportunity to have a few casts off the bank but had no offers.

Our last session took us down to the area around the small island of Eilean Dubh where we hit more patches of fish then motored back over to the North shore.

By about 7pm we reckoned we’d had enough as the fishing had dropped off and the cottage was calling us. However, seeing as today was my elective day I ensured we didn’t tackle down yet so that we could stop off to fish the river Inver on our way back to Lochinver. I’m glad we did because I caught a cracking fish of just under a pound on a Klink fished upstream. Bonus! I celebrated with a Lucozade orange and a snout to put down the b*stard midges.

Back at the ranch it was Bodingtons and a Pot Noodle for tea, followed by more whiskey. I glance at my waist which already seems to have reduced somewhat. Could it be I’ve stumbled upon a revolutionary new diet? Mind you, I’d already forgotten when my last solid ‘motion’ was.

Wednesday 22nd June

The plan – It’s Stu’s elective day and he wants us all to fish Loch Ailsh.

The reality – Myself and Stu agree to fish Loch Ailsh. Phil cannot face another day in a boat. Or perhaps just cannot face another day in a boat with us. Greta Garbo got nothing on this guy.

We stop off at the Inchnadamph to get permits for Ailsh and the boat key, all the time admiring the whacking great brownies mounted in glass cases on the wall. We decline the outboard, figuring we won’t need it. Ailsh features in Cathel’s book and also gets plenty of mentions online, it seems very popular – indeed we’d been lucky to get booked on at all this week. I think much of its popularity stems from the variety of fish it is host to – not just bigger than average browns but also sea trout and salmon.

Our pint-sized panzer commander bid us farewell with a swish of his officer’s baton and headed off on his own mission for the day, probably hunting partisans up in the hills with ruthless efficiency. Stu and I clambered into the boat and got out on the water, both of us secretly harbouring fantasies of hooking a Salmon or Sea Trout as well as the big browns. Oh yeah. But my first impression of Ailsh were mixed. It’s not unattractive, God no, but it was a bit of a contrast to the typical ‘rock and heather’ Assynt Hill lochs or the big sheets of dark menace like Loch Assynt. I think perhaps it was the abundance of trees or more worryingly the discarded 15lb+ nylon left on the bank. That aside it’s still a nice place.

Anyway, yes, we’re out on the water and yours truly is rowing. I’m heaving away like a galley slave but not going particularly fast and I can see Stu looking at me like I’m some kind of rowing f***wit but he says nothing. It doesn’t help that we’re not entirely sure where we want to drift but I quickly decide it’s not the other end of the loch, that’s for sure. We setup a drift a hundred yards or so past the island and start fishing our teams of wets.

Stu had a couple of offers then lost what looked like a good fish. Things were looking up! Within a short period of time they were looking down, proving yet again that a good start is a bad start. The wind picked up, making rowing even harder (Stu struggled as well – the boat doesn’t exactly glide through the water!) and the offers melted away. Nothing for an hour or so. We beached the boat on … a beach…and got stuck into our sarnies, oh thank God for food, and hip flasks. I also broke out my daily lucozade to perk up my enthusiasm. Whilst on the bank I spotted some rather fetching flowers which I duly took a pic of, anyone know what they are?

Back out on the boat we setup another drift after another lengthy session of rowing. We drifted close in to the island but the water was very shallow and gave up no goodies but as we got closer to the shore I felt a good solid pull on my muddler. Ay up! The fight told me this was a nice fish and when I got it to the boat it was indeed a handsome creature, around the pound mark I reckon. It went straight back, naturally.

An hour later, another drift and roughly the same spot close in to the shore Stu finally managed to land his own Ailsh resident, not as big as mine but still a grand fish with great markings

Our last drift took us into the bay where the Oykel flowed out but despite looking very fishy we had no further offers. By now it had got really cold and there was nowt going on with the brownies so we decided to call it a day and wait for Phil to come back. At this point we went a bit mad, for reasons unclear. I spent half an hour smashing rocks and looking for fossils even though I knew the rocks geologically couldn’t possibly contain fossils whilst Stu ran around inside a large pipe. It was a good job Phil turned up when he did.

On the way back we had a couple of close encounters with the local deer. The light was far too low for photography so I’ve had to blast the pics in photoshop unfortunately.

Thursday 23rd June

The plan: Fionn loch. Get up early, really pack in a full day seeing as holiday drawing to a close.

The reality: We set off walking by 13:15. Actually, that’s not bad for us…

We’re no strangers to this route as regular readers of my Assynt blogs will know. It took about an hour and a half to get up to the boat on Fionn and the 1st view of Suilven you hit on the path is as staggering as always. My camera-phone couldn’t do it justice but man, just look at it, it’s the stuff of dreams. That view right there is what Assynt is all about.

Before we could go anywhere on the boat we had to carry out some repairs on the outboard that Peter from Assynt Angling had asked us to do. This involved sawing through a stuck shear pin with my Leatherman – a good quality multi-tool can be a life-saver, the amount of sh*t I’ve fixed with that thing is unbelievable! Once we’d fitted a new shear pin we motored out to the North shore of Fionn to drop Phil off because hey, guess what, he wanted to go skipping through the heather and fish on his own again. Even random strangers in Assynt who recognized him from the blog commented ‘Are you Phil who likes to go off in the hills on his own?’.

Once we’d dropped off the Titmouse I chugged us down to our favourite bay at the SE end of the loch. (Note – when coming through the narrow ‘neck’ at that end, for Christ’s sake use the oars, not the outboard, I’m fairly confident that’s where the outboard got shafted by the last anglers). It was here that I truly felt at home again with the little green boat pulled up on the bank and Suilven spread out behind like some long forgotten but sentient space craft left by visitors unknown, broadcasting a presence you can almost feel in your teeth. There are a handful of places I’ve been where I’ve felt truly relaxed and without a care in the world, this is one of them, it’s as if the rock, wind, sun and water absorb every ounce of negativity from within you.

We had a ball catching loads of little Fionn trout like this one….

then set off on a wee mission to fish 3 lochs known as Na Tri Lochan. It’s a fairly easy yomp over rough terrain to get to the first loch, with some good views along the way as seen below in this picture taken from a rocky outcrop above the loch.

We went straight up to the biggest of the lochans and within a few minutes I’d caught numerous small brownies in the first bay I plotted up on whilst Stu had hooked but lost a good sized fish. I had a good feeling about this place and was in for the duration whereas Stu, feeling he’d missed his best opportunity on this loch stayed for maybe half an hour more before heading down to the first loch we’d passed. The views alone were worth staying for in my opinion!

I fished my way along this bank, feeling very content, especially when I found another little ‘shoal’ of fish off the end of a point and landed a goodly number of brownies. I celebrated with another Lucozade and my Lochinver pie.

Then something very odd happened.

To my right, this part of the loch and its surroundings were being subjected to a different kind of light compared to the rest and as I looked at it a feeling of dread began to drop down through me. I felt as if walking further this way would be stepping into a time long gone. I then observed standing stones on the high ground, almost certainly naturally occurring but they were still part of this feeling, a very big part actually. At this point I decided to take control of these completely irrational thoughts and just carry on fishing, and then received added resolve when I heard Stu tramping up behind me through the burned heather stalks. It’s a while since I’ve been that grateful to see Stu! The problem was, he wasn’t there when I turned round, there was no-one there.

I packed my shit together and got the f*** out of Dodge, I knew I really couldn’t be here any longer. The funny thing was, as I walked back past the first bay I’d fished everything was back to normal, like I’d jumped forward several millennia in the space of a hundred yards. I can’t describe just how strong the feeling was that something very bad had happened at that end of the loch a very long time ago.

I walked down to the bottom loch and found Stu fishing away so I joined him for a while but didn’t feel convinced I was going to catch anything here and eventually we just dropped back down onto Fionn. After a final session it was time to go pick-up the wandering Titmouse from his solo-stint.

As we drew into the ‘neck’ where Phil was waiting for us he inquired as to how we’d got on, in such a way that I instantly knew he couldn’t wait to nonchalantly follow up with how he’d got on. He’d caught another big brown in one of the lochs in the vicinity of Suilven, bigger than last year’s whopper. Hard earned as well, several hours fishing resulted in one take, this fish. As you can see it’s what they call an ‘eel fish’ up here, long and slim, but still a magnificent specimen.

For comparison, here’s Phil’s big fish from last year. Err, hang on a minute…

We had a few more casts from the boat whilst admiring Cul Mor in the last few minutes of the golden hour…

..then called it a day, or rather night seeing as it was now 10:30pm!

Friday 24th June

The plan: Really make an effort this time, for God’s sake it’s our last fishing day!

The reality: We leave the cottage around 2:15pm. Reprehensible.

Whilst we’re all milling around in the kitchen gathering fodder for our packed lunches, the previous 7 days of harmony is undone when a headcount is carried out on the Lucozade. Phil says he’s only had one, Stu confirms he’s also only had one. Where have the other 10 gone? All eyes turn to me. I receive a public dressing down and once again I’m known only as Bob the Locust.

Today, for Phil’s elective (oooh, nice of him to join us) we’re walking up to Loch Mhoalach-coire, better known to most as Loch Gillaroo. We park up near the Inchnadamph and get our freak on.  Phil looks at me blankly, not entirely sure who I am whilst Stu pretends to look at the map whilst dreaming of long-lost Lucozade.

It’s a steady walk up to Gillaroo, if you do it make sure you keep looking back because there’s more cracking views to be had!

The route also takes you up past the famous Inchnadamph Bone Caves where remains of polar bears, lynx, reindeer have been found, along with human remains from over 4000 years ago.

After about an hour and a half (actually more like 2 hours taking into account the mincing and an ill-planned detour) we finally get to the loch itself and we like what we see.

We spread out on the Western shore and get stuck in.

A few fish are rising but they look small, and when Stu catches a couple early doors they are indeed straight outta tiddler-town. I decide to fish all the way around the loch in order to make the most of the last day and also try find better fish on the Eastern side.  Once past the outflow burn I walk further into the Eastern bank and start finding slightly deeper water with surface plant life. I knew this had to be a good spot, and was proved correct with a number of bigger (but not big!!) fish.  Look at the contrasting markings.

I had a whale of a time plinking dries in front of feeding fish amongst the weeds until they seemed to get wise to my intentions so moved further on to a rocky outcrop that allowed me to cover deeper water (I didn’t have waders with me, in fact, whilst typing this I’ve just realised none of us used our waders once this holiday!).

I caught plenty more fish off this point using wets this time, just keeping as touch as they came round with the breeze with the occasional yank for good measure . A couple of these were around the half a pound mark and were the biggest we had out of Gillaroo. We saw no sign of the famous Gillaroo strain of trout, the second fish above has the vivid red spots associated with this species but no deepened belly so my assumption is that its a ‘normal’ brown trout. Would love to be proved wrong though!!

By 8:30 the midges were on like Donkey Kong and we were all fished out so decided to call it a day. Our last fishing day was over. The walk back was lively due to a proliferation of young stags (bucks?) lurking in the bracken eyeing us up with interest, and a startled pair of Golden Eagles. We also got talking to an older lady who had the lease on the cottage above Inchnadamph who told us an extremely moving tale regarding a wartime aircraft crash on Beinn an Fhurain North East of the loch. More info can be found here http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/n9857.html

Saturday

The first leg of the journey home. Whilst leaving Lochinver we pull up to observe a bloody great big Golden Eagle perched on a tree stump at the roadside. The interest is not mutual and he departs at a rapid rate of knots. A few hours later we’re back where the holiday really began, the Clacaig Inn, Glencoe. Our friend Tom decides to drive 300 miles to join us for a couple of pints and a pub meal – good lad.

Sunday

Final long drive home. A gigantic pile of post holiday admin at my feet, the misery begins to set in. Another fishing holiday has melted into history and Monday morning brings with it the crushing reality of office based bullshit, clockwatching, Qualcomm processors and Powershell reports, a wasted life. Oh sweet Lord, bring on Assynt 2012.

ASSYNT HOLIDAY 2019

Friday – set off late as usual, journey took much longer due to our electric car needing a recharge every 50 miles. Stu’s toupee lost somewhere on M74 whilst hanging out of window wolf whistling at some young dolly birds.

Monday – arrived at Lochinver after having spent a £1406 in Dingwall Tesco on 2 crates of beer, Tuna friendly whiskey and 18 Bombay Bad Boys.

Tuesday – call into Tourist information centre in Lochinver to buy our weekly permits. Interactive holo-wall display gives us up-to-date information on fishing in Assynt. Shocked to discover over 50% of the lochs in the area are now devoid of fish due to over fishing. A further 25% of lochs have been stocked with rainbows to try boost ‘fishing diversity’ and bolster interest from potential anglers. Remaining lochs still maintain small populations of stocked triploid brown trout and an even smaller population of truly wild brown trout.

We head out to Green Corrie and discover all the newly installed casting platforms are busy with mixed-method anglers so head onto Red Corrie. Arrive just in time to see Team Daiwa coming down off the hills with their bass bags bulging, having won the Titmaster Trout competition with an 8 fish limit each (plus time bonus). With heavy hearts we abandon any thoughts of fishing and sit down to eat our packed lunches but receive momentary cheer as the monthly RAF training sortie flies over in their Jet 2 sponsored Cessna 172s. We wave meekly at them and cry into our flasks whilst trying to ignore a nearby black throated diver choking to death on 12lb nylon….

Back in Lochinver that night we drink our government endorsed 1.5% proof fat free alcohol in the new Zany-Wharehouse pub and gaze longingly at the last big wild brown trout caught in Assynt, mounted Billy Bass style up on the wall- a cracking fish of 3lb taken on the minnnow.

Best think on really, hadn’t we.

If/when you too decide upon a fishing excursion to Assynt, this book is an absolute must have

Trout Fishing in Assynt: A Fishing Guide to 30 Trout Lochs of Assynt in the North West Highlands of Scotland


29 thoughts on “Assynt 2011

  1. PKV (Panzerkapitanvater)

    Truly excellent Bob,hilarious and made me want to see Assynt. Soon. Make sure you save blog for posterity, maybe a book. Embarrassingly, I once won a pressed wild flower competition and think the Ninja is right – Birdsfoot Trefoil

  2. tony cave

    Having read and enjoyed your blog for several years it was a pleasure to finally meet you at Peters when you were collecting the key for Fionn.
    Hope to see you on your Assynt2012 trip !
    Tony

  3. Bob

    Thanks Panzerkapitan, get your self up there mate, you won’t regret it! I entered a pressed flower competition at primary school, didn’t win though, it was a fix, may even have been doping involved.

    ha, just realised, panzerkapitanvater, Martin!

  4. Bob

    Ay up Tony, good to meet you guys too, hope all is well. Can’t wait for Assynt 2012, we’re up there for same week in 2012.

  5. Eddie Sinclair

    Thanks for the laughs. I am part of a team of idiots from the north east of scotland who fish Assynt and Durness regularly and blogs like yours keep me going through the dark months of winter waiting for the masocism to start all over again. Keep up the good work.

  6. Eddie Sinclair

    Bob, one way of saving the long walk to Fionn is to take a boat from Boat byy on Sionasgaig across to the shieling and then it is only about a mile over the hill to where the burn from Veyatie comes in to Fionn. We did this last year and camped at the Shieling for a couple of days. Like you said Assynt 2012 beckons bring on the madness.

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  8. Peter

    Great blog……
    Nice to know that there are still Yorkshire nutters around!
    Have you tried Jura? Wild and remote, one road,one shop, one pub and the Jura distillery.
    Folk are really friendly and the lochs are great. Makes a great change from my home waters on the Nidd.
    Tight lines wherever…

  9. Bob Post author

    After reading your comments about Jura, I did a quick Google. Good recommendation Peter, it looks very appealing, walking & whisky :-). Oh, and fishing as well!

  10. Stewart

    Hi! Liked reading the blog, I’m lucky enough to live here! drop me an e-mail sometime, I think I have a loch worthy of some frantic keyboard abuse upon your return from ‘Assynt Assault 2012’! 🙂

  11. Stewart

    Oh… And another thing… Those lochs at the base of Suilven used to be dour (slow, to the un-initiated!) but had monster fish in them. However on my last trip (2004ish!) I got all excited to see some rises but was promptly amazed and deflated to see fish of less than half a pound on the line. I guess there was a change in the environment that suddenly allowed the monsters to breed… Mind-you, they are still in there somewhere!

    1. admin

      I caught my best fish of the week in the lochs at the base of Suilven last year. Made the 2 hour yomp in worthwhile!

      I’ve got to say I’m envious of you living up there, one week a year just isn’t long enough and the wild brownie fishing down here just doesn’t compare. If I win the Euromillions I’m going to buy a small chunk of Scotland!

  12. Graham Williams

    Hi Bob,
    Loved reading your blog which I came across while searching for a particular monster loch in Tongue area and have spent the last hour reading about your Assynt trips over the last few years. All sounds so familiar as have been going up there since 1973 and can certainly remember not setting off to Fionn until 2.00ish after a few pints had been sunk at the Culag bar which was awesome back in the 80’s. I know Phill’s eel loch well having bumped into it in ’76 but they do get fatter and even longer but every year seems different. Have been poor in completing my West Sutherland blog but have them all written down just need to type some up. Tight lines for 2014 I will be back in wales by mid June so will miss you when in the hills cheers Graham http://scourietrouting.blogspot.co.uk/

    1. Bob Post author

      Hi Graham

      Thanks for your comments, glad you enjoy the blog!Just been having a look at your photosets on flickr, particularly Scourie. How do you rate the whole Scourie experience? We’ve mulled over it for some years now but we’re never quite sure if we’d get on with being told where we are going to fish for the day! I look forward to reading your write-ups of last year

      1. Graham Williams

        Bob,
        Scourie is paradise if you only have permission from her indoors for 7 days fishing hols, it means you get a full 6 days on some great lochs and some of the best scenery outside Assynt. Firstly you are not told were to go fishing, that would never suite my style. You are given a selection of beats which if you are a walker you can select from over 30 beats, you are on a list of guests which is in arrival order but you climb the list each day and i am normally at the bottom and always have plenty of choice despite say 12 names above you. Often 50% go to lochs near the road anyway but you are also free to fish the Scourie District Lochs, go back to Assynt for a day and even ask the Westminster estate to fish a remote loch or two.
        Perhaps the hotel format is also more suited to you when your limbs get a bit tired and the cottage set up becomes a bit tiring. the other benefit is some of the other guests who have become good friends over the last 25 years that I have stayed there.
        I am not staying there this year as have to be back in Wales half way thru our normal week so fishing Tongue, Scourie District, Assynt waters and hopefully some Westminster secret lochs (see grid 365395) over 10 days for me. Tents 4 me see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uchrIqsTiPs&feature=youtu.be my failure last year not much fishing tho.
        ps Na Tri Locahn and old haunt of mine since the 70’s but not my Ghost yet, we were there in 2012 for a night and still has some biggish fish in it.

        1. Bob Post author

          Thanks for the info, I think it’s gotta be done. Looks like this year will be back to Assynt but maybe next year….? I do like the idea of propping up the bar every night when we get back in from a day’s fishing.

          1. Sandy Laird

            Agree entirely with the comment above. If you’re staying in the hotel you choose from the 40+ hotel “beats” the night before. Admittedly it means that you can’t wander anywhere you want for that day but the plus side is that you know that you have exclusive access to your beat for the day. If you can’t find a loch to your liking on, for example, the Dour Beat covering 1000+ acres and containnig at least 10 fishable lochs, you’re really hard to please!
            Check out the pocket guide to fishing the Scourie hotel lochs on, sale from the hotel.

  13. Matt

    Bob,

    I’ve been revisiting your posts ahead of a long delayed return myself this summer. Couldn’t help but notice the big fish which Phil caught – was the second photo really a year later, or is it you having a laugh? If the former, that’s remarkable!

    M

    1. Bob Post author

      Ay up Matt. Second photo honestly was taken a year later! I’m wondering if it could be a ‘seeded’ trout and therefore has the lochan pretty much to itself, or at least very little competition. Who knows. Big bugger, that’s for sure, trust Phil to catch it…twice!

      1. Sandy Laird

        Biggest trout caught on a Scourie Hotel loch in 2015 was 8.5lbs! Think it was caught (and returned) in the first month of the season. The loch it came from is only a few hundred yards in circumference. There’s a few big fish going about in Sutherland!

  14. Sandy Laird

    Two things I appreciated about your Assynt trip. 1 “It went straight back,naturally.” As it says in a fishing guide to an area just up the road a bit, “Dead trout tend not to rise very well, at least not to the fly.” 2 “Publishing specific locations will, I now realise, condemn every big fish in that loch to death.” How very true. If everyone used a camera instead of a priest, it would not be a problem but there are sadly still some for whom the sport isn’t complete unless they have made sure that all the fish they catch can never be caught or breed again. My friend and I used to fish a loch near Rannoch and had fish up to 6.5lbs If you got three fish in a day you were doing extremely well. An article written by a well-meaning but misguided fishing journalist appeared in T&S. A year and a bit later, the trout had all but gone – although you could still get the odd perch to make your happiness complete. …..and as for the Durness limestone lochs….Grrr

    If you’re in the Scourie area, check out the guide to fishing the hotel lochs. The hotel sells it. Think it’s about a fiver and tells you all you need to know without telling you to “stand here and cast there”.

    1. Bob Post author

      Hi Sandy

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog. It really is difficult finding the balance between sharing the beauty of Assynt with fellow anglers and walkers and not contributing to it being spoilt. I’m not sure where I am in regards to that line but I certainly don’t go round killing big wild brownies! We do occasionally chap a couple of half pounders for the BBQ when we’re up there but it’s very rare.

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