(For a few pictures click here)

Achiltibuie is on the NW coast of Scotland between Ullapool and Lochinver and the lochs I fished are permitted by the Summer Isles Hotel and guests have priority. I camped at the campsite at Achnahaird, no hot water, no showers but there are toilets and sinks with running water. (Campsite closed 2008)

There is a new campsite at Altandhu with full facilities.

Day 1) May 20th

Air temp. 12C cloudy strong breeze.

Climbed the hill behind the Summer Isle Hotel. 1 hour hike, nine years on, will it be worth it :) Came over the hill and saw the tip of :-

Loch Fada

Flat calm, but fish rising, looking good. Rod already up, Daiwa WF98 10ft 3 piece, WF7F Aircel, braided leader, 10ft 5lb BS 3 fly tippet, tail fly nymph 12, dropper Iron Blue Dun 12, top floating nymph LS14. First cast of the season; made it along the shore to see how things looked, ok, cast into area of rising fish. Would like to say caught one first cast but it wasn't to be, moved along the bank hundreds of claret duns hatching, then the water exploded under the floating nymph, too slow, missed it, and another, then one to the wet fly. Frustration setting in then at last one on the nymph on the tail, 6oz returned it moved on then another on the floating nymph 8oz. After lunch moved along the bank spraying casts around a half circle had another two 8oz on the floating and the nymph and missed one on the floating. At the end of the loch I walked through the gap and down to :-

Loch Ballach

A small shallow weedy loch difficult to fish but worth a few casts. Fishing with the wind behind me I cast into the weed, fish taking claret dun subsurface, by the time I reached the end of the loch 3 fish returned 6-8oz floating nymph and nymph. Walked up through the gap to reach ;-

Loch Leacach

A larger loch than the other two running east to west like Fada, with the wind from the west I dropped down to the South shore. Fish were rising sporadically all over, claret duns, yellow sally stoneflies, crane fly and black buzzer in the air and on the bank side vegetation. Cast to a rising fish started to draw the flies towards me could see the vee of the floating nymph in the ripple drew it right to the edge, cast again, same technique, the floating nymph disappeared in a shower of spray, the line tightened and I lifted into a nice fish of 8oz. Continued down the bank missed four and had two more at 8oz on the nymph before tea. Late afternoon and the cloud has thinned and it is getting brighter olive duns are now hatching continued down the rest of the loch another two on the dry nymph 12oz each and one on the tailfly nymph 8oz. Time to head back down now but on the way tried the next loch :-

Loch Sgeireach

Much bigger than the others with a more rocky bottom, no fish rising here so fished blind but still managed to get one 8oz on the dry nymph and two 6oz on the wet nymph. It's eight o'clock and the sun is going down and I still have a 45 minute walk to the car in the hotel car park, not to worry still four days fishing left.

Day 2) 21st May

Woke to another cloudy day strong wind from the West Air temp 16C, although the view from the tent door made up for it, smooth Machar running down to sand dunes, a sandy beach (with a nice salmon and sea trout, river at the right time, running through it ), and the mountains of Canisp, Cul Mor, Stac Pollaidh and Coigach, their tops covered in cloud, as a backdrop. The legs felt good so decided to try for the lochs further up in the corrie of Coigach, this would take me up and past the lochs previously fished, it would be a long walk, but I hadn't fished them on my last trip here so it would be new water for me. Two hours into the walk I was beginning to wish I hadn't started, the terrain is terrible for walking, even though you have to stick to the 200M contour, but the views made up for it, and to see lochs Bada'Ghaill and Lurgainn lying in the glen below spurred me on. At last I collapsed in a heap at the side of the first loch in the chain :-

Loch Dhearg

Small round loch, sandy beaches at various points round it and towering mountains all round and very little breeze, but fish rising all down the bank I was on. After a quick lunch, it was 1 o'clock by this time, I decided to give it 3 or 4 hours then head back. I always keep the rod set up so everything was the same as yesterday, peeled line off the reel, cast along the bank to load the rod, and cast to a rising fish some 15/20 yards out. Immediately the floating nymph was hit by a small fish but didn't connect, I left the flies in the water and continued to retrieve, the line tightened and I was playing my first fish a 6oz brown trout on the Iron Blue Dun. For the next 3 hours I fished only a quarter of the loch but had another 6 fish at 4oz on all three flies and another of 6oz on the nymph on the tail. Deciding not to fish the other loch I turned for home knowing I had the same trek back as I had coming in, not a pleasant thought :) As i passed loch Leacach the fish were rising, the sun had come out and the W breeze had shifted to the NW which meant I could fish the opposite side of the loch than I had done. I lengthened line along the bank and cast to cover my first fish, all activity stopped in my immediate area, I moved along the bank casting here and there, then the wind dropped, flat calm, only the rings of hatching flies and rising fish disturbing the surface, in this situation i usually cast and leave the flies sitting in the water and watch the floating fly for movement, but tiredness slows the senses and I missed three fish on the wet flies and two on the dry. Reaching the end of the loch with nothing to show for it I headed down to the car, but this way brings you out above Loch Sgeiriach, the breeze had picked up again and was blowing off the bank I hadn't fished, my preferred bank, tired as I was I decided to go right instead of left and try a few casts. I worked my way along the bank, no fish rising , the dry fly disappeared in a spray of water and I lifted into a nice marked fish of 6oz. Continued like this for a while as the sun dipped closer to the horizon, at this time I find my concentration begins to go, I watch buzzards soaring in the thermals, watch ducks and their young in the shallows, then the line tightens you feel the knock and sometimes if I'm lucky the fish is on when I lift into it, this time I was, 4oz of brown trout on the Iron Blue Dun. Returned it, hooked up the line and started the long trudge down the hill to the car and back to the tent for dinner, absolutely whacked :)

Day 3) 22nd May

It never really gets dark here in the summer and when I went to bed last night it was still quite light, I woke at 3am and thought it was time to get up it was so bright, but didn't, at 7am I woke to the sun streaming in the front and the inside of the tent like a sauna :) The wind had gone round into the SW light breeze and Air temp 18C. The hike yesterday had taken too much out of me, at 50 with Angina you get to know these things, so decided to fish one of the roadside lochs. The two I had the choice of also have the odd salmon and sea trout in them but at this time of the year I didn't expect to encounter any, I eventually decided on :-

Loch Vatachan

(no jokes about the POPE please :)) This is a big loch by the road to Achiltibuie and I parked in a small parking place near the North end. As I put the rod together and got the rucksack on I could here the splash of rising fish so it looked promising. Never having fished the loch the main decision was which way to go round the loch I decided to go clockwise as this put the breeze, light as it was, over my left shoulder making it easier to cast. It was obvious from the start that because the loch was so close to the road that most fishers wore waders to fish it as every rising fish seemed to be wading distance plus casting distance from the road, personally I don't wear waders on hill lochs and would see them banned if I could, and I was casting most of the WF line, 25yds?, just to cover fish. I find at these distances it becomes more difficult to set the hook and so missed quite a few fish on dry and wet fly although they were rising all down the bank. By the time I reached the other side of the loch the sun had burned off most of the high cloud and the suntan was coming on nicely, but I still hadn't caught any fish so decided to stop for lunch. Laying back in the heather, the only person on the loch, I watched a herd of 20 red deer walk across the hill on the far side above the road, watched cars and lorries going back and forward to the village, and listened to black caps, larks and meadow pipits whistling all round, oh! and the cuckoo always present in the highlands at this time of year. Ideal as this all was it was the fish I was here for so dragged myself up and continued to fish down this side. It wasn't till near the end of the loch that the dry nymph just disappeared in the centre of a ring, I lifted the rod and thought I had hit weed or the bottom, that was until the fish cartwheeled across the surface 2 or 3 times, it was a brown trout of 12oz but even on the 10ft rod took some time to come to hand and as I returned it I didn't think it would make it but it eventually swam away into the depths of the loch. Now I was getting near the end of the loch, if I had come the other way this morning I would have been her first, and I felt the knock and pull of a fish, strike! and this time the fish fought deep and harder than the first eventually coming to hand and weighing 14oz, this one swam away strong and fast for the depths. That was it for the day eventually returned to the car at 7pm and back to the tent for dinner, not so tired as yesterday but just as happy.

Day 4) 23rd May

It was raining last night when I settled down but this morning the sun is shining in a clear sky and the place is bone dry. Air temp 18C light easterly breeze. Decided to go back up to the hill lochs today after my rest yesterday. It was warm so I stopped more than a few times as much to admire the view as for a rest. It might only be 200meteres above sea level but when you are looking down to the sea it looks a lot higher. To my left I could see the bulk of An Teallach in a blue haze, in front of me Tannera Mor , largest of the Summer Isles, to its left the ferry from Ullapool was threading its way through a calm blue sea, and in the distance to my right its destination, the Island of Harris, rising like a deep blue cloud on the horizon. Bellow me to my right the sandy beach at the campsite glinted in the sun and further to my right the mountains of Quinag. Suilven, Canisp, Cul Mor and Stac Pollaidh rose like sailing ships on a green sea. Yep there is more to fishing than fishing. I was hot and damp by the time I reached Loch Fada but the fish were rising so only time for a drink and then my first cast of the day. The rod was already set up, I only break the rod down before putting it in the car that way it is always ready for fishing and it is just a matter of putting the three parts back together again, saves a lot of fishing time, no need to rethread the line or tie on the flies. The air and bank side vegetation were alive with fly life, Pond Olives, Claret Duns, Blue and Green Damsel flies, big green Dragonflies, Yellow Sally stoneflies and Alder flies, how do you pick a fly to cover that lot? I didn't, the same flies that have been on all week will do, Floating nymph LS14 top dropper, Iron Blue dun 12 middle dropper and Hill Loch Nymph 12 tail fly. I used my usual method of fishing, cast along the bank, then in an arc out in front of me then back, retrieving the flies in a slow 2 foot pull, pause 2 foot pull, pause and so on till the flies are in the shallows then recast, I know when I have it right if I can just see the vee of the floating fly in the ripple or the flat calm as it was today. Continuing this way along the bank I cover a lot of water and rising fish but have no luck connecting with any as they seem to be rising short to the fly. Half way down the loch I stop for lunch and as I am sitting I see a flotilla of small sailing ships, up wing duns, go drifting by with the odd fish on the far bank rising to take them. Casting at this point can be a problem, in front is a cliff face on the other bank, and the hill is rising behind you, it is also a 20-25 yard cast I can get 3 out of 4 casts into the area but of these half of them have the leader blown back by the back draft of the cliff face. I knew it could be worth it because the last time I was here I managed to get a 1lb 8oz brown, but not this time the fish that took the dry nymph weighed in at 6oz, and that was after a lot of hard work and cursing :) I fished on down the loch and picked up a 4oz brown on the dry nymph just off a weed bed near the end of the loch. I went directly over the hill this time to :-

Loch Leacach

The fish were rising everywhere and the air, loch and bank side were alive with brown caddis flies, I hate it when it is like this, you know the scenario, fished the whole of that side of the loch and never caught one fish, rose some and felt them hit the dry fly but not one hung on long enough to set the hook. At 8 o'clock I decided to call it a day, much more tanned than I was when I started off. By the time I got back to the tent the wind had increased and was blowing right in the tent door and the flysheet sounded like a sail in the wind. If it had been coming in the other direction it would have made it easier to cook dinner, it has stood up to stronger winds, near gale force, so I wasn't too worried about it but had visions of the flysheet taking off like a kite and not stopping till it reached America :)

Day 5) 24th May

2 AM and the silence woke me, good no wind and the tent is still here, wonder what the morning will bring. Woke at 8 AM and the sun is streaming in the door of the tent, pulling up the zip on the door reveals another cloudless sky and light breeze Air Temp 20C wind from the East. Decided if it is going to be this hot I will just fish :-

Loch Vatachan

Started fishing from the same spot as the other day but this time went right instead of left round the loch. The fish were rising at intervals down the bank but again they were at the extreme length of my cast, 20-25 yards with the wind behind me. It is difficult to set the hook at this distance because of the stretch in the line and the drag of the water and I missed one fish to the dry nymph and lost one on the wet nymph, although the small fish in the shallows, some all of 3 inches, had no problems :) As the sun went overhead the wind started to change direction till it was coming towards the bank I was on so decided to move to the other side where I had caught the fish the other day. After having lunch I continued fishing down the bank, casting and moving on every 15 mins or so and managed to loose one fish on the dry nymph and one on the wet and had the same problem with small 3 inch fish as I had on the other side. Moved back round beside the car and as the temperature had risen to 24C decided to have a lie down and do a bit of sunbathing till it got a bit cooler. It was 8 pm before the air cooled and the breeze increased enough to make it feel cooler so I left the rucksack and fished down the bank fishing the same part I had fished earlier this time I was more successful a fish of 12oz decided to take the dry nymph. After returning it to the water I picked up the rucksack went back to the car and put everything away for the last time on this trip. Back at the tent, as I made dinner, I read my diary for the last time I was here, it was 1992 and the fishing hasn't changed much, there were two of us here at that time and we had 63 fish, 6oz to 24oz average weight 8oz all on dry fly and nymph, 9 years on the walking was harder but the fishing was just as good.

Cost of the trip :- Permit 15/$25us? for 4 days

Campsite 24/$35 for 6 nights car/tent and one person 6 per night for two people sharing. Diesel/Derv approx. 30/$45?

Food from the house approx. 20/$25?

Total 89/$130 enjoyment priceless :))