Angling: Allandale Tarn proving its worth to all its visitors

Two rods were bending with hard-fighting fish as I drove into Allandale Tarn on a sunny, Autumnal morning, a good sign.
Allandale TarnAllandale Tarn
Allandale Tarn

And, I was only on-site for around 30 minutes and several more rods were being tested.

Fish were seen rising in all parts of the sheltered, spring-fed lakes next to the popular Five Sisters Zoo.

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It was a Monday morning, before 11am, and Allandale was buzzing.

And Monday is not the busiest day. That’s normally a Wednesday. Anglers from all over Edinburgh and Central Scotland are regulars at the water where pensioner tickets are discounted Monday to Friday.

Iona Allan, the owner, also has a great stock of accessories, including fly tying materials, the reason for my visit.

She is an excellent patterns tier herself and is ideal for guiding beginners on what to buy.

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Having phoned ahead, Iona had a number of hooks laid out awaiting my arrival.

The shop also has a great stock of pheasant tail and other feathers as well as dubbing material.

She also stocks tippet material and a range of snacks. Two anglers walked in and were immediately offered a warming cuppa.

Iona then explained the best method and flies for the day and suggested areas of the compact lake where she believed fish would be. One of them is at the top near the rushes in the lakes which have been on site for over 100 years.

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Allandale Tarn was originally used as a holding pool to refill passing steam trains so the biology has had a long time to develop.

That is one of the secrets to the incredible feeding in the Tarn which enjoys excellent water quality ensuring a great range of fly life all year round.

Iona knows every inch of the lakes and also keeps a detailed record in her head of recent catches which have included two fine rainbow trout in excess of 9lbs.

Other species in the water are blue and brown trout plus Arctic Char and weights ranges from just under 2lbs to 18lb-plus.

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Currently, lures are attracting the attention of the resident Tiger trout, patterns including cat’s whisker are favoured, and rainbows are being enticed with pink APT patterns. Iona has stock in the shop.

Traditional black and brown buzzer patterns are also luring fish and the best area is the first 12in of water.

A number of anglers have tried intermediate lines but floating lines are proving best meantime.

And what about retrieve? One day it is static and the next furious retrieve. It is trial and error.

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Iona added: “Morning is fishing well but so is the evening spell as darkness descends.”

Closing time currently is 6pm and you can’t miss it as Iona rings a prominently placed bell to alert anglers.

Opening time is 9am, by the way, and there is a separate bait pond for those who wish to try a different method.

For those interested in having a go without splashing out on tackle it can be hired from the fishing lodge which always has a wonderful log fire on the go.

With my fly tying materials tucked safely in my pocket I bade farewell and, as I drove out, more rods were being bent. Fishermen were enjoying their day out.