View Full Version : Western Isles, Scotland

05-05-2010, 10:16 AM
Well since joining the forum I've not had a lot to say, mainly because I've not done a great deal of fishing!
However I've just returned from two weeks of loch fishing on Benbecula (one of the Western Isles) so here be my ramblings, hope you enjoy.

Benbecula (and a little bit of South Uist) April 18th - April 30th

Benbecula and North Uist from the summit of Ruabhal


We (the girlfriend, two dugs and myself) broke the long trek north from Somerset in Fort Bill where, as usual, it rained. Sunday looked more promising and when we arrived at Uig we found the ferry waiting for us under blue skies. Out beyond the bay the islands from North Uist to Lewis shimmered on the horizon. On the quay there was a sight to gladden the heart of any visitor to the Western Isles - a lorry load of scrap cars, it makes a change from seeing them abandonded all over the islands. The only downside was the biting north westerly.



It was too cold to bother with the fishing on the Sunday evening so we wandered about on one of the excellent beaches on the island.


Monday was a day of squally showers so we went sight seeing. In the evening I ventured out with the rod but a sudden chilly downpour beat me back after 10 minutes.

Tuesday dawned with snow storms. No fishing!

Wednesday and a fish at last! I got a couple of hours in on two lochs, the first gave up a rather kelty thing that would have gone well over the pound with a few more meals inside it and two well conditioned fish of around 12oz. The second loch can produce good numbers of smallish fish but today appeared lifeless.


The next day we walked out onto the moors on the east side of the island to try some lochs I'd not been to before. The wind was a bit on the light side and couldn't make up it's mind which way it wanted to blow. Wirey heather and steep rocky banks made for slow progress around the loch I ended up fishing. A sprinkling of pale olives were hatching from the shallows but the fish were happy to take a size 10 claret bumble! Nothing of any size was encountered, just seven or eight fish around half a pound.



We were a bit surprised at how well the island daffs stand up to the rough weather, Somerset ones fall over as soon as it rains!


Friday was another washout.

Saturday was one of the highlights of the trip. We have our own names for many of the lochs, mostly because we can't pronounce the Gaelic names. The first loch of the day, the Loch of the Shrunken Heads...


... was blank as it always is for me. 15 minutes over the hill comes the Loch of the Lost Sunglasses (I lost my sunglasses here three years ago - if you find them...).


As we made our way down to the loch a golden eagle came off the hill to the south and went directly overhead with two ravens giving it hell all the way, this carried on for the next hour or so until a second eagle turned up.
Only one half of the loch ever seems to have fish in it but they are good ones averaging about a pound. I got three before heading off up a little burn to try two more small lochs. In the first a tiddler and another pounder came along but the second loch was blank.


It wasn't just the trout that were waking up with the warmer brighter weather.




Sunday 25th
Back to grey and chilly weather so I made do with an hour or so on a very shallow loch on the west side of the island, the White Hut Loch (anyone who has ever been to Benbecula with a rod should know the one I mean). After fishing down 300 yards of bank without a sniff I got two in two casts from beside a fence post!



Monday was mostly given over to sightseeing.
An brief visit to the White Hut Loch gave up just one fish, taken from the same spot as Sunday's two fish.

Me trying to work out why the rod is bent...

... reason revealed!

Tuesday and Wednesday.
Western Isles weather at it's worst. 48 hours of lashing rain, drizzle and wind. We drove around the island looking at roadside lochs while waiting for the lull that never came.


Better weather so we headed out the east side again to stumble around on the rocks. One of the party has no trouble with the boulders, he thinks he's a goat.


I on the other hand am just to lazy to scramble down to the waters edge and this lost me a fair few fish on this day. Fishing from high up I was seeing the fish come up and striking too soon. I pulled the fly out of a 2lb'er first cast! All the smaller fish stayed on. Final score for the morning was ten.


On the edge of the pale stones in the picture above I spooked a fish but made amends with a triple hook up of half pounders on the next cast!

More flowers.


After lunch we took a walk up Benbecula's only hill, Ruabhal, to take in the views. On a good day there is no better view point for a loch fisher (see first picture in opening post).

In the evening I tried another shallow west side loch, I think you could wade nearly all of it in thigh waders.

I might call it the Crocodile Loch

Two fish landed and a few more missed.


The final Friday.
A day of winding down ready for the journey home. We went back to White Hut Loch where my bungling continued! Again I pulled the fly away from a very nice fish as it slowly head and tailed over the bob fly, but I did get a couple of good 1lb fish.



So all in all an enjoyable two weeks. The numbers caught were nothing to write home about but the average size was good (and had I not thrown away chances would have been higher). Fly of the week was a size 10 claret bumble accounting for nearly every fish.
Birds of prey (eagles, owls and harriers) are seen most days (when it's not raining!) and we had an otter outside the cottage on the last morning.
The locals are always welcoming, now we have been back five times they have started to ask when we are moving up!



05-05-2010, 08:06 PM
Very enjoyable post.Thanks for sharing it with us :clap:

05-05-2010, 08:44 PM
Way cool, I got to travel today, love it.

05-06-2010, 09:38 AM
Very, very cool. Great trip report! Thanks for sharing. :)

05-07-2010, 09:29 AM
Super report. Nice job.

05-11-2010, 08:54 AM
Great trip report. Your photos give a great feel of the place and the fishing.
We have a Uigg in Prince Edward Island. Still some Gaelic spoken there, but not for long I'm afraid.

05-11-2010, 06:20 PM
Andy; I keep coming back to this post to relish the Stark nature of the surrounding landscape.

It reminds me of a couple of trips I took to Marion Island a then South African Weather Station in the early 50's way south of the southern tip of South Africa.

A place where you could shout into the wind and know with certainty that No-one would hear. You are alone But; have a feeling of the joy at being Vital and Alive.

Your Lochs on the Island are a place to be treasured. Thankyou for sharing. Jax

Danny S
05-12-2010, 03:03 PM
Good stuff Andy! Enjoyed reading the story and the pictures. Couldn't help but notice that the Loch of the Lost Sunglasses somewhat resemble a pair of glasses, given the angle of the photo. I laughed when i got to the "trying to work out why the rod is bent" part. Needed a laugh--just had a heating/cooling repairman leave the house.

05-13-2010, 09:03 AM
Beautiful place but I bet the storms can be horrific.


05-13-2010, 09:44 AM
I gotta say that stories like this are what really make me love this place. We all have "local" forums it seems, but smallstreams is global... and it's so cool to see things like this. Makes me wish I still had team members in Scotland, too...

05-13-2010, 05:40 PM
Hear! Hear! and Well Said! gstrand. Smallstreams is Special. One thing I really like is there don't appear to be many Drum Bangers on board, just ordinary everyday Fishers. Pax Rules. Jax

05-18-2010, 08:45 AM
Superb pictures of Benbecula,Somewhere I must get too again !
Good time of year too go as the midgies should not be around??

05-18-2010, 11:12 AM
Thanks guys, glad you liked it :D

Doctor, I've never had trouble with the midgies as it is always too windy :D

05-19-2010, 04:50 AM

Hope some of you can watch this , I think the BBC does,nt allow these to be veiwed outside the UK
Some stunning filming in similar places!

05-21-2010, 02:08 AM
Hi Andy; Unfortunately New Zealand is one of the countries the BBC thinks don't deserve to see their Videos. Thats Life. :thumbdown: :evil: Jax

05-29-2010, 05:53 AM
Loved that Andy - thanks. Would definitely go for the name Crocodile Loch! ;)

BTW what tackle do you use for that sort of fishing?


05-31-2010, 01:23 PM
Hi Ben.

Fairly standard loch fishing outfit really. 11 foot rod, a DT6 floater (occasionally a DT4 but it is ussually too windy for that out on the islands!) and twenty foot leader with three flies. Fly size was something it took a while to get my head around out there, even in light winds they want a mouthful. Sizes 10 to 6 seem to work best and good bushy flies too.


06-04-2010, 05:48 AM
I don't come to the "Lake" section often, and I have missed this wonderful post!
All pics are surprisingly beautiful; scenery, flowers, and trout with the very unique color pattern.
The place is very beautiful, and looks almost like a different planet to me.
Thank you for sharing your experience.

By the way, Could you tell me what the "claret bumble" is?
Is it a wet fly?


06-04-2010, 07:26 AM
Satoshi many thanks.
Yes the claret bumble is a wet fly. Standard practice is to fish three flies on the leader and the on the top dropper is usually something fairly bushy (like a bumble) to cause a wake as it is pulled along in the surface through the waves. A long rod is used and held high to keep the top dropper up on the surface.

The Claret Bumble.


06-04-2010, 07:21 PM
Yes the claret bumble is a wet fly. Standard practice is to fish three flies on the leader and the on the top dropper is usually something fairly bushy (like a bumble) to cause a wake as it is pulled along in the surface through the waves. A long rod is used and held high to keep the top dropper up on the surface.

Oh! It's a beautiful fly. Thank you, Andy.
And that's how you fished those lochs!
Does this mean you caught most of the fish on the top fly in this trip?


06-16-2010, 10:17 AM
Oh! It's a beautiful fly. Thank you, Andy.
And that's how you fished those lochs!
Does this mean you caught most of the fish on the top fly in this trip?


Sorry for the late reply but yes nearly all the fish came to the top fly (usually refered to as the "bob fly") on the leader.
What exactly the fish find so exciting about a dark purple (claret) and blue fly I have no idea, there is no natural fly that looks anything like it, but they love it :)


06-17-2010, 02:54 AM
another pattern I would not be with out is the golden Olive Bumble .
Last time i was on one of the Roag system lochs had a wonderful afternoon with seatrout ,fishing the GOB as a dry.
For some reason they were hitting it with almost violence!

05-06-2011, 12:04 AM
Many thanks for reigniting happy memories of 50 years ago when I frequently visited Loch Carnon on S Uist not too far from South Ford. I stopped with Angus Mcrurie and fished many of the lochans on S Uist and Benbecula. Never did I catch a trout better than 8 inches. Favourite flies were if memory serves me Peter Ross, Grouse & Claret and Zulu. I especially enjoyed the Photos.

06-01-2011, 04:49 PM
very cool post so fun to see different parts of the fishing world

06-07-2011, 09:45 AM
Wow... so beautiful over there... would love to go there sometime.. thanks for sharing!