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A strange end to the wild trout season

Alan Liddle's wild brown trout closes with unusual hatches and sightings

Allan's dogs enjoy the Indian summer in a good trout lie.
Allan's dogs enjoy the Indian summer in a good trout lie.

As ‘back end’ seasons go, this one was far from the ordinary. The weather, and as a result the fish, didn’t respond in quite the usual, expected manner.

First up was the fact that everything had begun to ‘turn’ very early, in fact I’d noted that the fish were donning late-season coats and the trees were beginning to lose colour as early as mid July up here in the north.

Then along came the long settled period of ‘Indian summer’ weather that led to the welcome – but certainly unseasonable – long, mild period that pushed everything in the opposite direction: fly cycles seemed to be put off  (I encountered green drakes on a Caithness loch in early September, fully a month later than they should have been), with the sedge hatches not becoming as predominant as they can be, until at least a fortnight beyond the norm.

That said, as you’d expect finsuch conditions, low, very warm water undoubtedly played havoc: weed growth was prolific; sadly, some waters experienced late-season algal blooms, and river beds became more than a tad slippery, due to a lack of a freshwater flush-out.

However, we anglers have take it as it is, and although unusual, it certainly wasn’t all bad, at least not for our wild browns. Upland lochs fished very well, although you had to often hit them a bit later than you would do normally. The terrestrial falls were sometimes spectacular and this was a good heather fly year in many of the parts I visited.

If nothing else, the colours and abundance of wildlife made for a welcome distraction in the times the trout were playing hard ball. I’ve never seen so many kingfishers as I did in the second half of this season, the otters were happily feeding away, and often became less than shy. On the downside, the midges were a nightmare!

At least my two mad dogs loved it, happy to be out as often as they could, and happy to swim through my water whenever they liked (as if it wasn’t sometimes difficult enough!) and the walking out to distant hill lochs less troublesome with hard dry heather underfoot instead of the usual black sludge trudge.

Yup, slightly different it might have been, but still rewarding and very enjoyable nonetheless.

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