On Saturday, Brechin Angling Club members will cast the first lines of the season on Loch Lee.
This traditional competition is unique in the fact that it is fished from the bank rather than from a boat which is the norm on the loch. This real wild trout fishery is one of Scotland’s gems. It has never been stocked and certainly there is no need to.
The trout are not big, averaging three quarters of a pound, but boy can they fight. They are very dark in colour due to the water being very peaty, but there are silver and red fish in the loch, they are Artic Char, a legacy of the last ice age.
Some years ago a party from the University of Tayside found two separate populations of Char, one which were to be found at over thirty feet down in the mid loch and another frequenting the shallower water at the top end of the loch.
Loch Lee has been managed so well over the years, never allowing over fishing with a maximum of three boats and not allowing fishing until the beginning of May.
Way back in the past I did win this competition to join a list of good local anglers, many now gone but not forgotten and now being contested by a new, younger group and they carry my best wishes and hope they enjoy a day to be remembered.
The loch is a chance to try the small traditional flies, for example the Grey Monkey and the Grouse and Claret, two flies recommended to me by Hugh Ferrier - the head keeper too many years ago than I care to remember.
He was indeed one of the best anglers to cast a line on the loch and even in his retirement he continued to fish the North Esk further down the glen and I have many happy memories of the chats we had on the subject of fly fishing for trout.
The two Esks are fishing poorly due to the very low water conditions and the South Esk in particular is very short of spring salmon.
This situation is something I have been predicting for many years and with the coastal nets covering the entry to the river I see no hope for the future.
I predict that if we do not control coastal netting at the mouth of the South Esk we will see the day when the population of salmon goes critical if it is not already there.
Tight Lines, Bill Balfour.