I had a phone call from John Collister telling me how much he enjoyed reading my blogs at tenkara.im. He went on to tell me about He went on to tell me about a couple of old books and where he used to fish as a lad. A few of the places I've not yet visited.
I checked out the maps and satellite imagery for the areas. Looking at Whitestrand Bay, just south of Niarbyl, where the River Lagg joins the beach it says "waterfalls". The satellite images maybe show a series of pools, but they can be deceptive. Sometimes they are just shadows of bushes.
Off I went, parked up at the cottages at the bottom of the hill and put my kit on. It was a blisteringly hot day and I knew I had a little way to walk. The walk up the coastal path from the bottom is a little brutal. Steep and rough, you'll be breathing a little heavy at the top if you're not particularly fit. That would be me. The first view of the bay:
You can see the steps at the bottom of the picture. Do you ever think "If I go down there I've got to climb back out?" It was one of those moments. I could just see the water on the beach from the Lagg. I could also see the steep cliffs all around the bay. The satellite images didn't look this steep. Down I go.
The river doesn't come round the headland, as I thought. It comes straight through the middle in a series of waterfalls. Beautiful waterfalls with plunge pools. John's words came back to me. "Not for the feint hearted". That first fall must have been 10 foot and no easy way in except up the stone slab.
I wouldn't recommend the climb if it's wet. Even though there have been some foot holds cut, they are not close together. It was a strain to get myself above the first fall. Some would say "stupid" but hey, I was there and I was going fishing!
Three more waterfalls above the first one. The first pool was about two foot deep. I set up with some new dry flies I'd tied before coming out on the trip.
These are simple dry flies with a clipped under hackle which have done well for me over the years. Nothing came for them. John had wondered if there were any fish left. He feared that in the hot summers we've had the Lagg might have dried up and put an end to the fish. I hoped he was wrong, so it was time to try the next pool.
Much bigger than the other pool and much deeper. I couldn't see this pool ever drying up given that it was also partially shaded. I couldn't see any fish in the crystal clear water, but that's not unusual. Out went the fly to drift a few lines. It was drifting on the left of the picture under the grass when the water swirled. Fish on!
Not a bad sized fish for the Island. The dry was tight in the scissors and not coming out. Back it went unharmed. I wasn't expecting another fish but a couple of casts later a smaller trout was in the net.
Lively little thing. Back it went and I climbed round a narrow ledge and up to the next pool. This one was only a few inches deep and I looked for a way to climb on.
This fall had cut a very narrow slit in the rock but it was twice as high as the first fall. I seriously didn't fancy the climb up the vegetation at the side. In my youth I might have done, but I'm not that spritely any more.
I climbed back out to the beach and looked up the side. Nope. Too steep and marked "Private Property, No Access". There was a path the other side winding up and away from the river. I didn't fancy that either as time was short and I needed to get back for poker night with the lads.
When I got home I checked the maps and the satellite again. The path to the right might let me in. The pools above looked tempting and so I decided to have a second attempt at the Lagg.
A couple of days later I drove the car towards Kerroodhoo plantation and found I couldn't get down to the footpath that would put me closer to the beach. I crossed the bridge to the entrance to the plantation and the Lagg looked very thin. It didn't inspire enough confidence to park up and have a go.
Back to Niarbyl to take the walk over the path again. This time I went past the waterfall and climbed the path. I stopped at the welcome bench to catch my breath.
A stunning view from the other side. Unfortunately the Lagg was far too overgrown to get a line into and I took the long walk back to the car without casting a single line. On the way I disturbed many Hawthorn flies.
These big black flies are loved by the trout. My days fishing wasn't over. I had a secondary target for the day courtesy of John Collister. I was going to take a return trip to Colby and fish above the Glen. More new water to play with and a new report to write up.
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