South Uist Fishing Reports - from The Anglers' Retreat
March/ April 23
There was very little fishing activity at the start of the season across the island mainly due to very windy/ wet weather. I had 6 trout from the bank on Frasers in late March and 3 from a short session on N Olaphat. No guests in April.
My first guests of the season were Richard and Ben Allison, both relatively new to South Uist and fly fishing in general. We had great fun on E Bee moving 6,landing 2 on a cold day before going to the road hole' for a last roll of the dice. Richard landed a 2lb Brownie, moved another and lost a bigger seatrout at the net all in the space of 15 min. U Kildonan yielded 10 in tough conditions. ,Blown off Mid Ollay the following day, we moved to Bayhead and caught 10 drifting off the north shore. Their final day on Stilligary was a day of two halves, we stopped at Bee road hole again first thing and Richard had another lovely 2lb fish but Ben hooked a v large fish which snapped his 6lb line like cotton onto Stilligary they had 12 in the colder overcast morning and nothing in the afternoon in near perfect conditions.
Ian Durband and Gordon Birch enjoyed their first trip here and despite cold and v windy conditions they did really well with 10 on U. Kildonan, 16 on Druidibeg, 21 on N. Olaphat, 6 on Clachen (lost 2 huge fish but had 4x 2lb+) and 8 from Stilligary including a 2.5lb. Bornish was a wash out with Sea Harr.
Regulars Simon Barnes and David Ogg took 40 and missed just as many on N Olaphat on their first day. The rest of the week was struggle due to a chilly NW wind which effected everyone. They managed 8 on Hallan, 8 on Mid Ollay, 5 on Bornish, 6 on Grogarry and 8 on Upper Kildonan. Their final day on West Ollay was going to end in defeat until the last 20 min when David landed a 2.5lber and on virtually the last cast at the boat station Simon landed a cracking 4ln 14oz beauty.
Tony Connor and Mark Hamilton shared the house with them and managed 12 on Mid Ollay, 16 on Dun a Cille, 19 on Stilligary, 44 on N Olaphat (brilliant loch) and 3 small fish on W Ollay (after raising 7 good fish that refused to take). They also had a productive wading visit to E Bee's road hole with Mark landing a 2lber and losing something much bigger. Tony also had a 2.5lber in Clachen and Mark lost a much bigger fish. By the way E Bee is unfishable from a boat due to very low water. The weather set for warm and sunny next week which will hopefully trigger some hatches and banish this persistant chilly wind.
The bright conditions with a chilly N wind continued all last week and made fishing particularly difficult across the whole estate, machair lochs are particularly challenging at the moment. Duncan Brown and Graham North started well with 25 trout on North Olaphat with me on day one but then struggled as conditions dictated, they managed Mid Ollay (3), Bornish(1), Hallan (3), U Kildonan was a washout but they moved and bank fished Druidibeg for 3. Their final day on DunaCille with me yielded 10, best 1.5lb. It was the same story for Tony Ronan with 2 or 3 fish a day until I took him on East and West Olaphat where we managed 16. The following day I went back on West Olaphat with my niece and managed 10, the best of 2.25lb on the dap!
Another difficult week with hot, sunny and calm weather and very low lochs. The fish are pretty inactive especially on the machair lochs. Regulars Colin West and Martin Bamforth had a sparse week with Colin McKenzie by their standards with Clachen (1), Bornish (6), Mid Ollay (8 to 2lb), E Olaphat (9 good fish), U. Kildonan (6 small) and Dun a Cille (9 nice fish). New guests David Pugh and Gary Livingston fared slightly better with me with Druidibeg (12), Grogarry (3 to 2lb), E&W Olaphat (16) and N Olaphat (26 with double that lost/ missed). Staying off the machair lochs was key. Guy Wardle had just 2 days fishing, a dismal day on Upper Kildonan (2) and a fun day with me on N Olaphat (26 with many most lost/ missed). North and West Olaphat are probably the most consistent lochs at the moment and all lochs are fishing better in the deeper/ weedy water, hardly anything from the shorelines. Weather due to continue in the same vein this coming week but with slightly more cloud so fingers crossed.
Please note E Bee is now unfishable and will be virtually drained unless the estate take action to reduce outflow at low tide. Two guests got stuck just past the bridge last week and had to call the coastguard for rescue but were forced to walk out, as a result the club has withdrawn the boat for hire.
Mark James, Ted Edger and Reuben Girling endured some very difficult, sunny and calm conditions last week. Despite this they all caught fish and had good days, particularly on the club lochs. Druidibeg Est N(27), Druidibeg Est N (37), N Olaphat (23), U Kildonan (8 to 1.25lb), Mid Ollay (4). The weather finally broke and on West Ollay; Mark and Ted enjoyed one of the best days I have ever had on there when they moved approx 20 good fish, landed 2 x 2lb and 1 x 3.25lb but they lost 3 large fish (one broke 8lb maxima with a smash take) most were big bow waves on the surface right behind the muddler but not taking. Exciting stuff.
Reuben Girling fished with me for 3 days this week and managed 17 on North Olaphat and 20 on the club boat on Druidibeg but his most memorable day was on West Ollay when he had a superb 4lb 9oz brownie, his best ever, and others of 2.25 and 1.75lb. Weather definately back to normal wet and V windy scheduled for next week so machair lochs will be a challenge.
The final week of June brought strong winds and intermittant heavy rain (but not enough to impact the lochs) and new to Uist guests Callum and George Thompson had a surprisingly good week with me given the tough conditions. It started poorly with a very off colour Druidibeg Est N with only 5 but they enjoyed N Olaphat in 40mph winds and had 11 with many more raised, 8 on Mid Ollay (very weedy) and 13 on Grogarry with another 20 raised on their final day. Best fish 2.25lb on Grogarry. Fellow guests Tony Caton and Pat Burton had a rather tougher time with 2 on Stilligary (only 20% fishable), 2 on Chlachen, 8 on N Olaphat, 28 on Druidibeg Est N and 1 on Grogarry.
There is no doubt that the fishing is in the doldrums at the moment, low water levels, high weed and crazy weather are all contributary factors. Club lochs are fishing better. Having said that we are probably having a better time of it than those on the mainland.
Another tough week weatherwise with 3 days of very high winds but Graham Gow and Kenny Irwing, on his first trip to the Uists, battled on. It was slim pickings until their second day on Roag when Kenny had a 3lb Seatrout closely followed by another 'seatrout of a lifetime' of 7.25lb (background picture) ghillied by Colin McKenzie it was by all accounts a mamouth battle to get it in.
Peter Sugden and Chris Farrow joined us for 3 days on route to a few more days at Soval Estate on Lewis. We had a a poor day on Bornish with just 2 (but a few missed), a good day on Bharp with a 2.25lb seatrout falling to Chris and a 1lb Finnock to Peter plus many browns. Their last day was on my favourite loch, North Olaphat, in very windy conditions. It didnt disappoint with 20 to the boat and about another 30 missed/ lost.
Some rain earlier in the week has risen water levels slightly and migatory fish are definately in the system but Brownies are starting to go off as they normally do in July.
Whilst we were on holiday fishing continuedalong the usual lines: trout were in the doldrums but Salmon and Seatrout started to pick up. Ian Kennady had 4 Salmon last week of july and Billy McPhee had a 8lb Seatrout. There were a number of quality seatrout over 3lb also caught.
Whilst we were away on holiday the last 3 weeks of July went according to routine: the Brown trout were in the doldrums hardly doing anythng but the Salmon and Seatrout started coming in with increased rain. Ghillie's Ian Kennady and Billy McPhee managed 4 salmon and a fantastic 8lb seatrout respectively. Many other seatrout over 2.5lb were also caught. John Grey had a 6lb Brownin on West Ollay.
Jim & Catherine Gray, John Archibald and Bob Laws had 5 challenging days fishing with the Browns just not interested despite their best efforts. It was poor on U Kildonan and Bornish which together produced 6 fish, they raised 6 or so big fish on Roag but nothing took hold properly. Their saving grace was Grogarry which produced 8 to 2lb and a few big ones that came short. Their final day n Druidibeg produced 23 despite a slow start.
Simon Barnes and pals Rick, Alan and Iain had a reasonable week with some notable hightlights, chief among them was Alan catching a 5lb Salmon on Fada. Rick and Iain had 2x identical 3lb trout on West Ollay and Alan and Iain did exactly the same with Seatrout on Roag. As usual North Olaphat produced when other lochs struggled with 21 (Simon and Rick) and 13 in bright sunny calm conditions. Grogarry fished well with 9 fish to 2lb and Ukildonan yielded 13 to Bornish's 8 best 1.5lb in flat calm sunny conditions. Druidibeg Est North also fished well as usual with 12.
Last week started with a howling gale but Tony Connor and Scott Clydesdale still managed to get out and catch a 4.5lb seatrout on Roag. They followed this with a 2.5lb seatrout on Fada and then a superb day on West Ollay with 16 to 3.25lb. Their week was made however when Scott managed to land a superb 8.4lb seatrout from the club boat on Druidibeg (background photo) along with 40 trout. They went back again later in the week and managed another 35 trout and a Finnock. Grogarry was less productive on a cold windy day with just 2 trout. They were joined for their week by Richard and Tom Stubber on their first trip here. Their highlights were 5 Finnock and 12 trout on Schoolhouse/ Castle. 28 trout on the always reliable N Olaphat and 5 on Grogarry although they raised many more that just didnt take hold.
Erratic weather has hampered fishing, but any time the sun comes out the trout are very active. Without any significant rain this coming week the salmon and seatrout numbers should start building up again in the lochs.
Sep 23 as at 25 Sep
Since 28 Aug the fishing across the Uists has been challenging with lots of bright, sunny and calm weather. Even with very large tides the migatory lochs have few fish in them and catches of larger fish have been sporadic. However, yesterday it was reported that there were lots of fish jumping in Roag and Fada so that may be about to change.
Nigel Swann on his first visit to the Uists had 2 finnock on his first day on Fada but Castle the following day was a different story. On the first drift he hooked a large fish, possibly a Salmon from the way it was fighting, before it came off after 2 mins. Hugely disappointed his spirits were lifted in the afternoon when he landed a lovely 4.5lb Seatrout after a great aerial battle. The day was topped off with 12 brownies to 1.5lb. Roag was poor and we moved to Druidibeg for the afternoon and caught 13 to 1.25lb. On Mill he doubled up with Andy Ellis and between them they had 9 brownies to 1.5lb and saw may good seatrout.On his last day we went to Druidibeg Club on a flat calm day and had great fun fishing dry with foam body daddies and managed 15.
Clive Lunn and Iain Whitehorn enjoy migratory lochs but had a tough time of it only managing 7 finnock and 3 seatrout across all lochs in 9 days. They were entertained by some browns on Fada (29), Kildonans (10), Druidibeg (22), Bayhead (7) and West Ollay (4) best 1lb. Weather played a big part in their trip.
Weather!...Yet again a party had to endure 3 days hot, bright and flat calm, 3 days of gales and a day of torrential rain. Julian Williams, Gareth Williams, Mark Matheson and Bob Aves fought hard in such conditions and had some sucess. Highlights were 2 good days on N Olaphat (19/22), a 3.5lb seatrout for Bob on Roag, 12 on E/W Olaphat, 7 on Bayhead and 10 on Dun a Cille. Julian and Gareth could have had a excellent day on Grogarry had they managed to hook all the large fish that came short, Gareth lost a 3lber after it went aerial. Castle and Schoolhouse had fish in them but not taking despite plenty of water in the system and high tides.
John Watson and Colin Poton suffered 3 days of gales, 3 sunny and flat calm and 1 torrential rain during their stay but still managed 9 on E/W Olaphat (all 1-1.75lb) and 22 on Druidibeg Club and a lovely 2.5lb seatrout on Castle after we moved there because Roag was exceptionally high. They had a day washed out and managed 22 on N Olaphat for their last day.
They were my last fisherman of the season and I'd like to thank everyone who came across to share our hospitality and the world class fishing; albeit this season was blighted by unusual spring and autumn weather. Don't be put off by this especially as the rest of the UK suffered the same fate.
Best catches to Date
4lb 14oz Brownie - West Ollay - Simon Barnes
5lb Salmon - Fada - Alan Craig
8lb 4oz Seatrout - Druidibeg Club - Scott Clydesdale (Background Photo)
44 trout - North Olaphat -Tony Connor/ Mark Hamilton