Whinney Loch is one of those places where you arrive and feel good right away, it looks good, it feels good and it does you good. Stocked with rainbows, brown trout and blues raised in their own hatchery by Ted and Tina Wise and Tina's sister Margaret Nicholl, who does much of the hard graft around the fishery to maintain the excellent standards. With the fish reared on site you know you will be fishing for quality trout. Whinney is next door to Coldingham Loch which the Wise family used to own, Whinney Loch then being the stock rearing facility for Coldingham loch. They have since converted Whinney Loch from a rearing facility into this most pleasing fishery.
It was a cloudy, slightly misty day when I arrived for my visit, warm enough to keep a steady stream of flies hatching and the trout were responding in a most positive way with fish showing all over the the 3 acre loch. I was met at the door of the house where you call in to collect your permit by a smiling Tina Wise who was most welcoming and helpful. I elected to take a 4 hour catch and release ticket which cost £9. She informed me that dogs were welcome, which is something I do like to hear almost as much as my dog does
The loch is man made but old and mature with good access all round. The bank onthe side opposite from the car park is steep. There is no room for a back cast along a major part of this bank but the fish were rising right up to the very edge of the shore so even if you can't roll cast you could dibble a fly over the reeds and catch fish! I could see fish cruising around in a leisurely way as I tackled up. The house rules are floating
With so many fish rising I decided to try my luck on the top with a Klinkhammer and proceeded to rise 5 fish in about 30 minutes, frustratingly none of the fish actually took the fly, shying away at the last microsecond, leaving the fly bobbing on the surface. A change of tactic was required. I noticed that some cow dung flies were landing on the water and the trout were into then sochanging to an emerging sedge pattern that had the right shape and colour, I gave it a try. A couple of half hearted tweaks convinced me to change again, on went a size 12 gold head damsel. There was little response at first so I experimented with differing speeds of retrieve. Casting out and letting the gold head sink for a bit, trout often take them on the drop, I saw my line straighten once then twice but my mind had wandered and before I could respond the fish was gone. I slapped a mental post it sticker to my addled brain cell which had the legend 'stay focused when the fly is on the drop' inscribed on it
Using a fast figure of eight retrieve turned out to be the answer. A quick cast into the midst of a feeding group of fish and I had barely started the retrieve when a fish took and I caught and released my first fin perfect Whinney Loch rainbow. A fit, brightly coloured fish of about 1.75lbs in excellent condition. Half a dozen missed takes later I was getting miffed with myself, when I at last tightened into another fish of about two pounds which slipped the hook just as I was about to photograph it.
Fish were rising all over the place and I decided I did wanted to take a fish on the dry fly. I noticed that some jet black flies about the size of house flies, in fact just like small hawthorns, were attracting attention, as it happened I had some hawthorn patterns in my fly box so on it went. Moving up to the top end of the loch near the stew ponds I started casting to rising fish cruising around the bubbles from the aerator pumps. This touch with the aerators underlines the fishery's approach to maintaining a healthy stock of fish in the loch and after the rigours of the 2006 it proves the wisdom of having this contingency in any fishery. Almost immediately a fish slashed at the fly missing it completely. Shortly after an other fish grabbed the fly but I had lost it in the haze of bubbles and struck too late. Then at last a good clean take and a fish was on, a brown trout of about 1.25 pounds, absolutely beautiful.
My last fish of the day was spotted taking flies along the very edge of the loch almost under the reeds. I cast to it and just as I was about to lift and try again the fly disappeared in a swirl and the fight was on. What a cracker, maybe a few ounces short of 2lbs but even more beautiful than the brownie I took earlier.
Two rainbows and two brownies and a good dozen or more takes, not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Other anglers were meeting with similar success with one lad taking a stonking 5 pound fish that put a heck of a bend on his rod.
I wandered back to the fishing lodge enviously watching a family settle down to a rather fine smelling barbeque meal while other anglers arrived for the evening season. Its fair to say I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon and I know I will be back, this time with a view to taking a couple of fish because they are in such fine condition I recon they would, as Gary Rhodes would say, eat well.
At the start of the day as I drove down to the fishing lodge I could see that the fishery was very carefully managed. The lodge is a little cracker, clean, comfortable with a TV, microwave, complimentary tea and coffee, fishing magazines by the dozen and a cosy coal effect electric fire, quite a change from the portacabins on many fisheries. Outside there were picnic benches and a barbeque, everything was thought out to make Whinney Loch welcoming with mowed grass and well maintained paths. The fishery is largely unsuitable for disabled anglers however there is a very nice spot at the dam wall were you could take a car and fish the area from a wheelchair.
Recommended flies, epoxy buzzers fished slow or static, emergers, CDC, damsels. For dry fly enthusiasts the Whinney fish are free rising making it a great match the hatch fishery with its excellent fly life. After my successful visit I knew for sure that the loch was well stocked with quality fish and that there were fish of a good size present. Pity I didn't hook into a blue, they are great fighting fish, maybe next time.
Whinney Loch run by Ted and Tina Wise is at Whinney Farm, West Loch Road, Coldingham, Berwickshire, TD14 5QE. E-mail wise.westloch@btinternet*.com (please note that the email address is disabled to avoid spamming, just delete the *) or call 01890 771838.
There are catch and release and catch and keep permits which vary from £5 for 2 hour catch and release (4 fish), £9 for 4 hours (8 fish), £13 for 6 hours (12 fish) and £9 to keep 1 fish and release 4, £15 for 2 fish then release 6, and £21 for 3 fish then release 9. Any fish killed over the limit or when fishing catch and release are charged for at £2 per pound up to £6 maximum and all brown trout are to be returned. To avoid cross contamination from other fisheries Whinney provides landing nets.