Benno, Sye & myself are headed back to Loch Awe for our "final" final trip to this magnificent fishery. If Simon hadn't been so ill. last year, I'd not be going back - I've done everything I could have wished. I have caught my twenty and witnessed Benno and Simon catching their's - so this trip is one last hoorah! We're going back for a social - a "Wraftie" bonding session; any pike will be a bonus, although none of us are kidding ourselves that the fishing doesn't matter. We won't have travelled 600 miles to simply open a can of lager!
In 2016 my focus will be directed towards the task of maximising results, due to the technology we now have at our disposal. My tackle will still cause the "fashionista's" to recoil - it being of a vintage that suits the eccentricity of being Dylan - it will not, however, at any point, put the wellbeing of these magnificent fish in any jeopardy. There are a couple of little tweaks, with my bait presentation, that I am wanting to try out and I also want to use Sardines on one rod, for the whole period. Fresh Cornish Sardines are available from the fresh fish counter in Tesco at £2/kilo. They are just about the perfect shape and size for these, narrow-headed, small mouthed, Scottish pike. I will have a freezer full of dyed and flavoured bait ready for our departure.
My kit will consist of my two thirteen footers - a Bruce & Walker HMC (high modular carbon) 2 .75 lbs t/c fast taper broomstick and a Tri-cast 2.25 lbs t/c compound taper "lesser" broomstick. These will be fitted with my two Maximizer 70 "Big Pits" loaded with Berkley Whiplash Crystal braid - at the distances we'll be fishing, this is the only line for the job! I'm taking the Duncan Kay's just for the short range stuff - I am particularly taken with the idea of close range fishing during the hours of darkness (as suggested by a Scottish guy, "Pike mad", via my comments facility); we'll see what happens? I have three Matt Hayes centre-pins loaded up with braid and three Mitchell 300's with 12 lbs b.s. mono also making the trip but, for the most part, I am planning to fish with just the two thirteen footers. Sardine on one, alternating Bluey and Mackerel on the other.
In an attempt at keeping things a little quirky, I am also taking my Tring tench gear along with a supply of lobworms and prawns. Perch are a favourite prey of the local Ospreys, some of them look quite big, so they will be my target species - although I will have no problems if an eel or wild trout take a fancy to my offerings - just something different to do whilst I await the attentions of a Scottish Esox!
A "WRAFTIE" CHALLENGE ?
As this is definitely (if such things can ever be so?) our last visit, we have decided that there might be mileage in some form of family competition - winner buys breakfast on the way home, sort of thing! Benno is taking his Bruce & Walker Mk IV and I, have to admit, was toying with the idea of taking one of mine but Simon, quite rightly, talked me out of it. It would be folly to misuse such iconic rods! I have three Duncan Kay's, three Mitchell 300's and three Matt Hayes "Limited Edition" centre-pins, the combinations and possibilities, as yet, unexplored. Much conversation on the phones and we're all up for it. We can decide on the rules as we drive up in the van, on Benno's birthday!
The only other target, which we are seeking, is to pass the one hundred Kilchurn Bay "doubles" (since May 2011) mark - we require eleven more! Our best year (2013) saw us land 38 - our worst (2011) tally being just seven! We've come an awful long way in six years and I'd like to think that our experiences will stand us in good stead for this forthcoming venture. Benno has been on Facebook and thinks that Davie Robertson might well be up there - it would be a fitting finale if we could meet up one last time! Massive skies, majestic scenery, good company and hard fighting pike - very close to my definition of angler's paradise. The long range forecast is very promising, although predicting chilly nights, there is no sign of the wind and snow that made our 2015 trip such an ordeal.