Dollag's Cottage @ 7 South Shawbost

July 2016 fishing around Dollag's Cottage.
In July 2016 I managed to secure a fishing pass from my girlfriend for a few days out and about at trout, salmon and sea trout. Unfortunately my fishing pass covered a time early in the month and before the main runs of salmon and sea trout had come into the systems, the main runs arrived literally 2 days later, however I managed to catch trout, sea trout and salmon for my efforts. On the first morning I headed out for some sea trout fishing and took a look at an area of local river that is tidal. If you time it right you can often bump into a sea trout or two down here:

The river also has some excellent water, and very nice pools, further up but as yet the fish were just nosing in from the salt water and were not actually running right up the river. This didn't stop me having a wander up the river and taking a look, just to be sure there wasn't a nice fish lying up there somewhere waiting for me:

Having had a sea trout I decided that it might be fun to take my tent out onto the moorland and spend an evening at some remote trout lochs having a few casts and enjoying an evening on the moor. When I got out onto the moor I wasn't the only one with the same idea:

As there weren't many fish in the river, they ran in a few days later, so getting a fish was a little difficult. Often the sea trout can be found in little groups and, once you find them, sport can be fast and furious but on this occasion I was seeking out the occasional fish hiding here and there in the river. As it was I managed to connect with a nice, but small, fish which gave me great sport on a 6 weight rod built by excellent American rod builder the late Dave Lewis:

The particular lochs I was visiting are not known for holding big trout but I had lots of sport with the relatively small brown trout and probably had well in excess of 20 fish for my evening. The great thing about Lewis fishing is that on many parts of the moor there are trout lochs every few hundred yards so it is possible to fish a lot of lochs for an evening out. I was packing my camping gear, my fishing rod and a walking stick:

Finally this is an image of the village of South Shawbost including Dollag's Cottage:

Isle of Lewis sea trout fishing
Isle of Lewis sea trout
Isle of Lewis sea trout fishing
Red deer on the Isle of Lewis
Brown trout fishing on the Isle of Lewis
At this time of year there are lots of interesting plants to be seen on the loch side and while most tend to be relatively common and unremarkable it is nice to spot them as I go along:

Loch side plant life
Asphodel on the Lewis moorland
Juniper plant on the Lewis moorland
My destination was a shieling, an old stone building once occupied by the crofters when their cattle were on summer pastures, which I knew to lie beside one of the larger lochs on this part of the moor. The shieling had long since fallen into disrepair and it has probably been a very long time indeed since someone has slept out here:

Disused shieling on the Lewis moor
On reaching the shieling the first priority was to get the dinner on as walking the moor and fishing as you go along is hungry work and the old stonework made a nice shelter for my stove:

Making dinner in a shieling while fishing
Once the dinner was on then the tent went up as well, with frequent interuptions to cast over a rising fish of course:

Camping and fishing on the Lewis moorland
It was a night of strange light, big clouds, and the occasional downpour and although the sunset wasn't great at one point the loch went pink and the rest of the world went what I can only describe as "a weird colour":

Having got the crazyness of a Lewis sunset over and done with it was time to settle in for the night, though not before another cast or two and a few trout came to hand. The following morning it was the heat of the sun on my tent that wakened me at nearly 8 o'clock and it wasn't long before I was up and making breakfast in the shieling. Once breakfast was over I decided to wander slowly back towards my parking spot fishing a little on the way and, once more, I did really well with the little brown trout despite the lack of wind and bright sun. This photo was taken when I stopped to change a fly and the photo below was taken the night before on my walk out to my camping spot:

changing the fly on a Lewis loch
Lewis lochs and the hills of Uig
After the fun with the brownies it seemed like a good idea to organise a day out to one of the more spectacular fishing locations that the island has to offer. Lewis, and the attached Harris, are not short of fishing locations and they all have their own points of interest and character but I think that this one is maybe one of the most interesting and exciting fishing spots in the UK. It is also among the most remote places to fish in the UK and requires a walk of about 4 miles just to get to the loch. The loch holds salmon and sea trout and although I was a little early there were a good number of sea trout and a few salmon in residence:

Boat fishing on a Hebridean salmon and sea trout loch
It is very rare indeed to share a loch but on this occasion two other anglers and their ghillie were going to go afloat on the loch for a little while, they were hiking into an even more remote fishing location but were passing "my" loch on the way, and it was most enjoyable to have company at lunchtime and to sit on the bank and watch the other anglers fishing:

Fishing for salmon and sea trout in the Hebrides
I'm not keen on boat fishing and so always fish from the bank and on this particular day that put me at a little bit of a disadvantage with the sea trout as they were all lying a little further off the shore than I could cast, though the boat did pick up a couple. However with a bit of messing about with flies I was lucky enough to catch, and return, this small grilse from a well known lie on the loch:

A small Hebridean grilse
It is always difficult to walk back out from such a fantastic location:

Hebridean salmon and sea trout loch
However, the locals seemed pleased to see me go and were happy to have the glen to themselves once more:

Hebridean red deer
On the final day I would have the chance to fish I found myself up the river with a local angler trying for another salmon. It wasn't long before the local angler was into some action and although small this grilse put up a fantastic fight and, as you can see in the photo, it was keen to take to the air. As Lewis rivers tend to be small so most salmon fishing is carried out with a single handed rod with rods of about 11 feet in length for a 7 weight line being commonly used:

Isle of Lewis angler fighting a salmon
The fish was soon returned to the river to continue on its way:

Returning a salmon on the Isle of Lewis
During the day I also managed to land two grilse, as well as missing a few others, and it was handy having someone else on hand to capture a few photos of the fish before they were released back into the river:

An Isle of Lewis grilse
A nice Isle of Lewis grilse
Those two salmon saw the end of my "fishing pass" from my girlfriend and even though all of the fishing in this report was done before the main runs of fish came into the rivers it was great to get some action with the salmon and sea trout and, of course, it is always great to get a few days out on the moor chasing after the wild brown trout that lurk in the many hundreds of Lewis lochs.