Anglers flocking to find out more about Fly Lady's yellow owl pattern

Iona Allan, nicknamed The Fly Lady, has been chained to her desk overlooking popular Allandale Tarn as interest has surged in her yellow owl pattern. Worth-of-mouth recommendation has reached anglers who have come from as far afield as Ayrshire to collect boxes of the fly which has proved a real winner at her and other Scottish fisheries.

By Nigel Duncan
Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 6:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 6:11 pm

Iona said: "Yellow owl patterns have always been really popular at our 2.5acre fishery, but more and more anglers are now buying them to fish elsewhere."Among them are those who fish the Lake of Menteith, one of Scotland's premier venues, and Iona added: "It is a pattern that seems to work particularly well with trout in rivers and in stillwaters and we do such a huge selection of them these days, straight hooks and curved hooks and we also change the colour of the CDC.

"We sometimes make a dark top and we change that to a white top or a yellow and the fish seem to love them. In fact, a man came through from Ayrshire. His nickname is The Viking and he wanted a few dozen for himself and other anglers who had heard that they work and were keen to try them."Also incredibly popular is Iona's Big Scruffy. She said: "The Big Scruffy was a variation on another fly from another fishery I saw many moons ago. The one we produce is what I think they looked like."

Iona admitted: "I spend too many hours at my vise. Whatever free time I have from running the fishery I spend tying. Unfortunately, we do run out of popular patterns despite the fact that I've spent the last three weeks at my desk."

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Iona Allan with two of her popular flies. Picture by Nigel Duncan

She is now waiting for hooks, size 18 and 20 in particular, from major manufacturers however, the shop, which is in The Bothy, which also houses her fly tying vise, is well stocked with tying materials.

She added: "In the Central Belt, I would think we probably have the biggest selection of materials including around 30 shades of CDC, and we have all the popular brands available."

Meanwhile, the Tarn has been fishing really well, even in the topsy, turvey recent weather and Iona said: "I have never seen so many hawthorn hatches as we have witnessed in the last few weeks. Damsels have also produced and so have tiny, black beetles."

Top-of-the-water fishing has been best on the tarn and on on a windy day something big and bushy, basically a pattern you can bounce along the surface.

Big Dorris (over 26lb) with the man who hooked her, David Hamilton. Contributed by Leeanne Aitchison

However, a major benefit of low-lying Allandale, is that you can fish it in most weathers because it is sheltered by trees and Iona said: "There is always somewhere you can fish."

On the day I visited, despite the strong wind, there was a fishermen from America who comes twice a year but, generally, they visit from Fife, Ayrshire, Stirling and all over Central Scotland.

Midlothian and East Lothian fishermen, and many from the city of Edinburgh, are also regulars and Iona added: "Some fisheries have closed their doors in recent years, but we must be doing something right as we are still here and doing well."

Tarn, by the way, is a term derived from an old Norse word meaning pond and her water was man-made. She explained: "You can still see the bricks in some areas as the water is so clear."

Liz McLellan from Armadale (right) presents the Scotland top rod trophy to Jane Wright after the Home International. Picture contributed by Liz McLellan

And the water at Allandale was used to cooling steam trains using James, nicknamed, Paraffin Young's main depot sited near West Calder. He was a Scottish chemist known for his method of distilling kerosene from coal and oil shale.Nearby, Dorris the biggest carp at Drumtassie near Blackridge, has been landed. It weighs 26lb 12oz and it was Lanarkarshire-based David Hamilton who did the business in the special carp pond on his fifth visit to the new fishery. Hamilton is a member and he was on a day ticket.

Ironically, it was 6.20pm with closing time for the fishery at 7pm and he was just packing up preparing to go home when the big fish struck. It took about 25 minutes to land the common carp and it is the first time the recently-introduced fish has been hooked.

Other fish in the carp pond range from between 5lb and 20lb and recent catches have included fish of 10lb, 15lb and 17lb, all common carp.

Leeanne Aitchison, fishery manager, said that the new facility, which has two other ponds, is fishing well and she added: "David was using a Northern Special, 14mm yellow wafter over a of bed pineapple boilies."

Incidentally, Dorris is named after the nickname regular Sunday trout anglers have given Leeanne.

Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling Club host the fifth leg of there Summer League at Orchill, near Auchterarder, on Saturday and more than 20 anglers are scheduled to take part.

Sea fishing now and Gifford-based Jamie McHale won round three of the Bass Rock Shore Angling League's Summer series after a four-hour, pegged match on Seacliffe Beach near North Berwick in which the eight anglers who took part found fish difficult to find.

Six returned cards after the match fished in gusty conditions with a strong west wind. Thankfully, there was not much weed around and the swell was manageable.

McHale had for fish for 86cm and Edinburgh-based Robert Macness was second with three fish for 72cm. He won the prize for the biggest fish.

Scottish international Chris Empson (Dunbar) came third with two fish for 42cm and Neil Anderson (North Berwick) was fourth with a 23cm fish.

William Stafford from Edinburgh was fifth with a 21cm fish and James Ogilvie (Haddington) sixth with one fish for 20cm. Mackerel and other fish baits were favoured on the night.

The fourth round is on June 8 at a venue to be decided. Watch the club's Facebook page for details.

The next Scottish Federation of Sea Anglers open matches is at Riverside Drive in Dundee on Sunday, June 12 has attracted a number of Lothians-based anglers. The pegged match - capacity 60- has the usual rules, two hooks, 18cm catch, measure and release and no sea trout.

Billy Buckley, the manager of Scotland's youth team, and Michael McLoughlin represent Scotland in the World Shore Pairs in France stating on Monday and Neil Cutler won the recent Scottish Shore Angling Match Group event at Lunan Bay near Montrose with 15 fish.

Fly fishing now and Jane Wright from Helensburgh was Scotland's top rod in the Home International at the Lake of Menteith last week with five fish for a total of 248cms but Ayrshire-based Jean Ferguson also had five fish totalling 237cms. Scotland came a disappointing fourth with England winning by a few centimetres.

On to local fisheries and hats off to Mick Ogilvie who recorded 27 fish during his day session this week. Nicky Capavanni was the toast of Bowden Springs this week with a superb 15lb rainbow trout while another regular, Paul Dancer, posting the best bag of 13 trout.

The Black Loch reports that the improvement in the weather has brought anglers out and the water clarity remains excellent.

More than 40 rods were out 72 fish kept and 112 fish were returned with buzzers, damsels, CDC, yellow owl catching. Dry flies were also tempting fish with floating lines, midge tip and Di3 lines producing.

Reedy bay and the South Bank remain popular and Broxburn Angling Club were among the visiting clubs.Bosses are also seeing an increase in bank fishers and a spokesman said: "We would welcome more anglers to come along and enjoy the experience."

Night fishing will start in June and anglers are urged to book your evening fishing.

Clubbiedean above Colinton has been fishing well with fish of up to 10lb landed. Owner Steven Johnston said that olive CDC, hawthorn, diawl bach, black buzzers and black hoppers have been popular and he now has all seven of his boats in the water.

Hawthorn patterns have also dominated at Harlaw which is fishing well with fish up to 2kg being caught. Robert Ross, company secretary of Malleny Angling, said fish are being caught on olive nymphs and dries, Mayfly nymphs and dry Mayfly, yellow dances and black buzzer and there are prolific hatches of Mayfly from mid-morning till evening.

Many anglers are catching bag and double bag limits with few blanks being recorded.

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