The story starts back in 1990 and according to my fishing diary I was fishing Airigh Na Beinne as my Scourie Hotel beat that day. I was 30 years old fit from a full rugby season and some sevens and ready to storm up the Nan Uidh track, pass Finlaysons and Buxtons and visit a new secret loch known as Submarine which was east of my beat.
I passed the legendry Fishing aficionado Rosanne Leigh who was taking a friend up to Nan Uidh for some monster fish hunting on some mystery lochs within the beat. I overtook them on the crest of the hill and wished them good fortune and hurried on as I had still an hour to go before reaching my destination.
The day passed by with some stocking of fish into Submarine and then after a fruitless few hours I returned to my stocking area for some light entertainment with fish of around 10oz. I had four nice fish in the collapsible bucket
I managed to cross the stream below Clar Loch More and headed up to 3 lochs which were on my way home but north of the main Nan Uidh lochs. I thought that if they looked deep enough it would be opportune to drop a few in each. As I approached the lochs I luckily spotted Rosanne and kept low in the heather and skirted around to a vantage point where I could watch her fish and slip two of the trout into the mystery loch. Her technique was unusual as although using a dry fly she skidded the fly across the water at different speeds and rarely seemed to leave it stationary for long, something her Grandfather might appreciate possibly. (This fabulous fish in the cocktail bar can confirm that!)
I didn’t dwell long and moved West as the other two lochs looked very shallow and the winter cold would be too much for these trout. After 20 minutes walk I came across a loch at the end of Nan Uidh, it had weed on one side with a deep section that funnelled into a canal which led to a stream into the main loch. The trout would be happy here I thought and made a few casts to see if there were any fish in here already. I left without a rise and according to my diary had a nightmare climbing down the waterfalls back to the road.
It was nine years later that Peter my brother and I managed to get the Mid Chain beat from the Board Master and I told him the story of Rosanne raising her eyebrow when I mentioned I had stocked this small loch. The new way to mid chain was up the Nan Uidh track cross the river at the lower reaches of the loch and head north where you would pass my new secret loch. We walked with fellow anglers from the hotel that had the Nan Uidh beat and asked if they would be fishing the north side lochs and if we could possibly make a few casts in this small loch on the north west side. They were happy to let us adventure to the northside lochs as they were not even taking the boat out on the main loch and mainly bank fishing and then concentrating on Buxtons.
It was nearly 10am when we reached the small lochan and tackled up, it is ridiculously small and not bigger than a tennis court. We chose sides with Pete on the north shore and I on the south west area which had a lot of weeds for the first 10 yards. I was dry fly drifting with a small deer hair sedge and covering the water by twitching it in Miss Leigh style. As Peter recounts I announced after 15 minutes “there’s no fish in here” and barely as I finished the sentence a huge head rose out of the water and sunk back down with my fly. I was alert at this time of day and struck well into the fish who then exploded into life and I started to panic at the small size of loch and where he would take me in the oncoming fight. It was ten minutes of furious activity with the gillie of the day Peter sprinting around to support the capture. The fish was not keen to leave the deep water to my relief so he kept away from the weeds and I moved him further east where the bank is steeper and more difficult for netting.
Anyway, after excellent netting technique we had 4lb 14oz of beautiful brown trout on the bank and it was only 10.30am. I took many photos for the glass case man and wrapped the fish in a wet T shirt as it would be another 6 hours before it was back in the hotel tray and then in the freezer. It was a great days fishing and with my largest brown trout in the bag I had a smile on my face all day.
It happened to be Hawaiian night for our group at the hotel that evening and I was astonished to be cheered in and applauded on my entrance to the dining room. Was it my outstanding Hawaiian shirt? No nearly all the guests had become friends over the last ten years of visits and were chuffed that their week would be once again represented in the cocktail bar glass cases from the following year.
I was very honoured to have the loch named after me by Patrick on the giant map as he was keen to have one of his guest’s names on the map. Four Williams brothers had been visiting the hotel since 1985 and the number of days they have collectively fished the Scourie waters must be astronomical. Two glass cases were ordered and as my Beat that day was Mid Chain it should have that within the capture description. So naturally it creates confusion that a Loch Williams caught fish is on Mid Chain and not Nan Uidhe, something for the Boardmaster to tackle each week I guess!!
My glass case is on the wall in our dining room and is in full view from the kitchen which keeps a smile on my face in these dark days of lockdown. I just redecorated the room and brought down the case while painting and this inspired the story. The other case is in the Scourie Hotel cocktail bar, the new bar iis a great improvement and my fish sits low down on the short wall. It had its pride of place directly above the bar for 15 years, I just wished it was open in July as we passed as the grand range of cased fish here is very inspiring and we were thirsty.
· 9 years too long to be the fish I had stocked? a nice thought though
· Why did it take me 9 years to return? My diary shows I was too busy fishing other beats
· Was it a known big fish loch previously? Rosanne knew about the possibility of it but I had not heard any other rumours. Fish over 5lb have been lost in here since!
· Size of the loch! Amazing how a fish can grow so big in such a space
· Applauding a big fish became customary in our Hotel week after this surprising occasion and I miss the camaraderie we had in the 90’s and 00’s
· The Board Master knows nothing! But I’m happy with that fact 😁