You have seen the best, now see one of the rest!
The story starts, with me, staying in 'Mansefield Place'. No 4, two up left, and having just turned into a teenager, being a bit fed up with playing corner games .like 'kick the Can',tig, etc, yet not old enough to want to play 'postmans knock', or 'truth dare command or promise' with the lassies.
Tried taking up golf for a short while, but it was not my cup of 'tee'.
I fancied taking up fishing, (which I covered in my articles, 'A Walk Round Loch Fad', and 'Loch Fad Revisited')
Because of where I was staying, Loch Fad was the preferred place to fish, as it was easy walking to get there, and once there, it was still relatively easy going to get to the south end of the loch, but soon I was developing an interest to get a permit for Loch Ascog, which ,as for loch Fad was two shillings and sixpence. (twelve and a half pence) and was the same for Loch Ascog, but there was a long climb up Ministers Brae and Roslin Road , then along Loch Ascog Road, and down to the loch. With all my fishing gear it was a lot harder walking than Loch Fad, but, here we go, nothing ventured nothing gained.
First impressions were, not a lot of cover, except at the South end where there were woods, with a line of trees coming down from Windy Hall farm at the right hand west side, and whins at the East side. I had waterproofs in the shape of a cycling cape and a sou-wester hat, a pair of leggings. Not for us in those days having different waterproofs for different sports, no, you used what you had. the trees, if you were near them would give you more cover, (in the summertime only).
Fuel for your fire? Well what was there was very little in the form of firewood, due to the shortage of the aforesaid trees, but we had to make do with what we could find, but it did not take much to make a brew up.
Where to start? Well as it was my first time here ,and I prefer spinning, I started at the sluice end.and worked my way around the loch, taking my time and looking for underwater obstacles that would snare my spinners. I got to the section that we called the “ Lagoons”, as they were wee bits of sticking out into the loch, an ideal place for fish to shelter, or so I thought, but not a sign of any. I liked this spot though, as when you cast your line well out into the loch, it took ages to hit the bottom as it was that deep, but still no bites, so further up I went. Midway up the loch was my break, I caught a Perch which was about a half a pound, quickly followed by a few more of the same size, which was a good average size compared to Loch Fad, which were only a few ounces.
Carried on up to the top end, or should I say the “South” end. Some people call the south end the bottom end, but I call it the top end, as the water moves downwards towards the sluice,as akin to a river, it starts higher up (top) and falls to the sea (bottom). I will stick to the compass points!
Round the South end, and thoroughly enjoying myself, catching perch as I move slowly round. I liked the South end. Plenty of plants about in the water, a safe haven for perch, with their predators, the Pike perhaps close by.
Snagged my favourite spinner, which was french one called the “Voblex”, a lure with a rubber head like a fish on it, and it worked a treat. As it was warm , and I did not have waders, I peeled of my trousers and waded in. It had snagged on the stump of a tree, of which there were many.. It must have been when they were raising the height of the loch, and the trees were in the way, they were cut down, leaving the stump, which was ok once you knew where they were, and could avoid them, and if visitors to the loch got snagged on them, and lost their spinners, tough! all the more for me to wade out and get them.
Lunch time. Out with my billy can, gather firewood. Light my fire, fill my can from the waterfall, or from the loch, and set it in the middle of the fire, and wait. If I had sarnies, that was ok, but if not pork links with a long stick sharpened and pushed through them at end to end and held over the fire till they were cooked, with the fat from them hissing and spitting and being set alight by the flames. The aroma, I can still smell as I write this, and already I am hungry, visualising this meal of perhaps four to six of the “Maypoles” best pokers. Dream On!
Lunch over, back to fishing. Wander round to where there was a spot that had a break in the water plants , giving a path about three feet in which to cast you spinner without getting snagged , no mean feat for a learner, best leave until getting good at casting.
Now we are at the South West section of the loch, which have embankments which are between three feet, to over eight feet in places, placing you in a bad position, above the loch, in full view of any nearby fish. If the water level is low then you can step down on the shores, or by a pair of waders, but at that time it was out of the question, with message boys wages not in the highest league. £2.10 shillings, or in todays money.£2.50 .
I was still enjoying my days outing to a new loch for me. I was catching fish, but the ones that I was now looking for after catching perch was the 'Pike'. As the water was high, and having no waders, my ideal spots were few and far between on this side, but there was enough to suffice. I tried all of my spinners with no luck, and was soon back near the starting point, promising myself to come back up very soon to chase the pike.
In the 50's most fishing stories ended up with a happy ending, but not for me this time.
Very soon. Loch Ascog Re-Visited.
First published in the Buteman. 2008
I have changed my mind about re-visiting it , as it has not changed much since I was a teenager, so I will give you all my modern images.