We arrived at Loch Etive at 8 am on a freezing cold January morning. The loch was enveloped in fog and it was touch and go whether we would even be allowed to take the hire boat out. Visibility on the loch was around 5 meters, and as the boats had no lights the owner wasn’t keen to let us go out. Luckily as we were discussing the pros and cons of going out, the fog lifted slightly and with a promise that we would be very careful we were given the green light to go. As we moved out into the loch, the fog started to close in again giving us a very quiet eerie journey to the first area we wanted to try and after a bit of very careful maneuvering Jamie guided us to the mooring buoy we were going hitch up to.
Nick with a decent Spurdog
This was a fairly shallow area for loch etive, but we still expected to find some Spurdogs or Thornbacks. The tackle I used was the Penn Evo Waveblaster 8-12lb class rod with an Abu 7000 reel, loaded with Berkley Whiplash. The rig was a Mustad 3 hook Hokkai rig baited with mackerel strips, with a flowing trace at the bottom, again baited with mackerel strip. After about 20 minutes it was still very quiet and our minds began to wander to the thought of bacon rolls. Then the bites started coming. We had a lot of action from some very small spurs and Stuart took a Thornback of a couple of pounds. Jamie, was still waiting for his first fish so decided to get the food on the go, and sure enough as soon as he started trying to cook breakfast the fish started coming!
Returned to fight another day!
After a couple of hours we decided to move to much deeper water to try and connect with some better quality fish. So with another cautious journey through the fog we eventually arrived at the mark we wanted to try. As soon as we dropped down we were into fish, mainly spurs and dogfish in the 1lb - 2lb bracket then we started hitting some better quality fish including cod in the 3lb – 5lb range and Spurdogs in the 2lb-4lb range, Jamie had a big Thornback drop off just as it came to the surface which we estimated to be a double figure fish. The fish were coming thick and fast then I had a really positive take, and as I bent into the fish I knew it was better than anything I had connected with so far. When the fish finally broke the surface it was a big Spur, and a personal best for me by a mile. I held the fish for a quick photograph and then got it straight back into the water. After holding it in the water for about 30 seconds it pulled away from me and swam back down to the depths, it was around 10lb and was in pristine condition. The fish kept coming, with more quality Spurdogs in the 2lb-4lb bracket and more decent cod, topped with the 10lb Spur and left wondering at the size of the Thornback that dropped off Jamies line, just as he was about to land it. This was a great start to the year and after weeks of not being able to plan a trip because of the unpredictable weather, it just makes us want to go back for more.