The Clyde and it’s sea lochs are where I first became hooked on all things fishing, but even 30 years ago at the age of five, I had missed the haydays of Clyde sea angling by a couple of decades. Days where masses of huge Cod, Coalfish, Haddock and many more could be promised on almost every fishing session. At least that’s what I had been told.
In the years that followed, the Clyde was blighted by commercial nets and fished to the brink of obliteration. However, in recent times, this iconic fishing and shipping waterway has shown the very slightest glimmer of recovery.
In many people’s opinion, the Clyde will never be as it once was and unfortunately I am one of them, but there is hope. The fertile waters of the Clyde estuary, teaming with an abundance of food sources has, in recent years, become a rich nursery ground for many species. Cod, Pollack, Coalfish and even Haddock, although some more than others, are beginning to make a recovery, signaling the possible regeneration of the Clyde.
All of these species and many more are showing signs of a slow comeback and there are a few others showing up for the first time in any real number.
Our fishing over the weekend consisted of two short sessions. One for a species, that until now has continued to thrive in the Clyde and one for a fish that is a relative newcomer to these waters.
Our first session started two hours from low tide with a bucket and Garden fork. We have had previous success with this species on lures and even on the fly but on this occasion we were hoping for some slightly bigger Bass on more traditional beach methods.
An hour and a half later and with a bucket of Rag and Lug we were on our way to our chosen mark. The plan was to fish the tide in and into darkness. However what we had failed to anticipate was the shear speed at which the tide flows over the shallow incline of the sand bar and were hastily pushed up the shore before being forced to call it a night. Although not before we managed some success.
Using two hook ‘Flapper’ rigs with size 2 Sakuma hooks and 6oz grip leads, on 13’ 8” Surf rods and fishing up to 100 meters out into the channel we were quickly into some fish. First cast produced a thumping knock after only a few minutes, which resulted in a Bass of around 2lb. Not the bigger fish we were hoping for but a lovely start all the same.
From then on it was down to a race against the Crabs and the Tide. Regular casts were needed as our baits were being stripped within minutes of being in the water. If there was no interest from a fish within 5-10 minutes it was in with the rods and fresh bait applied. A good bucket of worms doesn’t last long on occasions like this.
Despite the ravenous crustaceans and the relentless flood of the tide, we still managed five fish between us before heading for the respite of drier land. Still no big fish but all Bass between 1.5 and 2lbs and an encouraging sign for the future.
Returning home at around 11.30pm there was little time to rest. The plan for our second session was to hit the last of the ebb of the same tide that was on our heels all night in search of another bar of silver that has continued to do relatively well on the Clyde.
At 6am the following morning we were on our second mark. This was the same area where we had collected bait the evening before where our confidence was bolstered by some big fish hitting the surface. Therefore it was with high hopes that we entered the water in the hunt for some of the Clyde’s Sea Trout.
I have had Sea Trout on lures, on the fly and, by happy accident, with fish baits while targeting other species. On this occasion we thought we would adopt a slightly different method, albeit not the most traditional.
Fresh strips of Mackerel were free-lined in the tide using light spinning rods and mounted on a size 8 single hook with a size 12 treble 4” below which provides a neat and natural presentation.
Initially, conditions were less than perfect with little wind and clear skies but as the morning progressed, conditions improved with a breeze creating a nice ripple. Wading the shoreline it wasn’t until two hours into the session that I felt a rattle on the rod tip. As the excitement grew I opened the bail and waited for the fish to move off. Nothing! A couple of twitches of the bait soon provoked further interest, this time the fish confidently taking and moving of with the bait. A swift sweep of the rod and the fish was on, immediately going airbourne. Several acrobatic leaps later a small but very welcome fish was in the net and after a quick snap was soon on it’s way.
A further hour passed with little to show and it wasn’t until thoughts of heading home, due to both of us ironically suffering from leaky waders, that Gordon got a thump on the rod. There was no hesitation with this fish as it took off with the bait. A quick strike and it too was on. With this one keeping it’s head down there was a feeling that this could very well be a better fish and as the anticipation grew the fish finally came to the net. A beautifully marked, slightly bronzed Sea Trout of around 2.5lbs was the prize and although not the size we firstly thought, it was a stunning fish.
It’s amazing how the early stages of Hypothermia and Trench Foot can be staved off with the appearance of a nice fish. Rather than head home as we were so close to doing, we endured water filled waders for a further hour in search of another. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and grudgingly, we began the long squelchy walk back to the car.
This was a great success for two short sessions of 3-4 hours each and helps instill some confidence that a mildly improved situation could lie ahead for the Clyde. There is no doubt that these are challenging times for the area and the decisions we make could make or break this delicate ecosystem.