Is this what its come to? Are other areas of the land experiencing the same levels of wanton destruction and ruin of once beautiful and peaceful pike fishing locations? My own favourite water which I have fished for the last 27 years is almost a no go zone now.
Weekend trips to this highland loch for me are now a thing of the past due to the moronic element who now frequent the place. I’d love to say that they are campers or dare I say trouties, but the sad fact is most of them are pike anglers and I use that term very loosely. And by my reckoning 99% of them are my fellow countrymen. They are at most guys who are having a jolly weekend away, cheap tents, lots of booze, inadequate tackle, inadequate experience and as you can see no regards whatsoever for others around them or the land they are on. Recently the chap who posted these photographs on a facebook page (I will have a rant about this later) was contacted by my joint RO of the Glasgow region to offer some assistance to try and curb this behaviour.
The good folk in charge of this loch run a pay on the bank system for permits and we have asked if they would entertain the idea of giving out flyers (which we offered to help write up for them) when collecting permit monies, outlining the rules of the water and what pike tackle is required to fish there, also the idea of placing permanent notices at access points around the loch has been forwarded to them and that we would gladly help out. I can only hope that something can be done as it really can’t continue as is. Now on to the fishing aspect of the water. Sad sights as in the photograph are all too common nowadays, and who is to blame? The pike in the pic is just under 20 lbs and why was it found like this? Was it killed by the fools who reckon that the cheap, buy it now pike set ups that you can buy for pennies are fine to use? Because “Yeh the guy in the shop says thats all I need” Are these shops going the extra step to ask if the folk buying these kits have any of the other essential pieces of tackle needed? Forceps, Side cutters, Nets, unhooking mats etc? And if they are not asking this, why not? Because it must be glaringly apparent that these folk are probably new to pike fishing. I, like many others have seen it all, from the runs that last 10 minutes whilst the guy is lying sleeping in the bivvy to the olde favourite of letting the 2nd run develop to help hook the fish. I had a run in with a group of guys who after netting a nice double proceeded to dump it on the bank and with boot on the pikes head try and rip the trace out. When I got there and unhooked it I asked what they were doing and I got “ I aint putting my hand in there, have you seen the feckin teeth on that” my answer was simple “Then why the feck are you fishing for them?” Now by my thinking it is not solely newcomers causing the troubles cos I’ve lost count of the amount of decent home made traces I’ve had to remove from fish, simply because the hooks are a bit deep. We all know that we shouldnt be deep hooking pike but with the best of intentions it does happen at times, but if any pikers who dont know how to deal with the situation please have a long hard look at your bite indication, go with someone who knows how to do it or simply stay at home.
My joint RO joint recently had 2 fish with traces cut off in them, not stomach hooked, merely at the back of the throat. Did the guys who caught them not have any long forceps? My mate had a 19 lber from the same water with 3, yes 3 traces in her stomach, all with the swivel cut off? Thankfully we were able to remove them and after a nice long recovery swam off strongly. So we now have the camping ban on Lomond, we have a Trossachs water which used to have great fishing on it, and is now more or less ignored by most of the decent pikers that used to fish it all because of the numpties or as they are known up here, Jimmies or Noddies. Where does it stop? When will it stop? Where do we draw the line? And what can we do? We can help by keeping an eye out, note car numbers down, phone and report these folk to bailiffs and police, help keep the waters tidy by cleaning up not only our mess but any others left around, I know we shouldnt have to but any little helps. Which brings me nicely on to a bugbear of mine, Pike Facebook Pages. Now not all of them are bad, some have decent chaps running them and try and stamp out or educate the noddy element. We all know them, beachcaster or spinning rod on one rest , golf ball on a hook hanging from the line as an indicator, putting up photos of nice fish ,standing up over nice sharp rocks with fish held in one hand. I used to leave a polite reply along the lines of “nice fish mate but maybe a good idea to hold the fish low down with both hands, oh and invest in a mat when you can” this usually gets the reply of “who do you think you are? The pikin polis?” Well yes,if that what you want to think then I am, I am a pikin polis as we all should be cos its a battle that needs to be fought every time we encounter it. Finally on to my all time favourite facebook rants. Naming waters, swims, showing photos of exact locations etc. When AGAIN pointing out the downfall of this practise the usual response is “ I dont see the problem ,everybody knows about it anyway” yes of course eveyone knows , but by broadcasting it and putting photos up it just highlights the fact that it is fishing well and lo and behold more Jimmies and Noddies appear to add more unwanted pressure on the fish we all know and cherish, they just don’t seem to grasp this simple fact. I am often asked why the PAC? What do they do for me? My thinking is rather than look for what I get from them is to what I can do for them, and just hope that maybe just one of my rants, fights, swearing at folk on forums might just sink in and make them think. Both PAC and PAAS are fighting the battle to keep our sport and dreams alive, and I for one thank them for it.
Ok, rants over, deeep breath and relax. So is it all doom and gloom up here? I’d say no, there are still plenty of beautiful waters, off the beaten track places, places that may require a long drive but are worthwhile for the sheer majestic unspoiled lochs which Scotland is famous for. There is still good fishing to be had in these places, our region (RA105) although a small membership has done reasonably well since the start of the year with over a dozen 20s caught and 2 members finally getting their 1st 20 after years of trying ,especially Rab Allen . I think he has been after one for 103 years :-) They are out there. So after all this , is it still worthwhile to have a wee jaunt up here? Nope, stay away, no pike left, its a total waste of time.................