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Surprisingly, travelling to the Isle of Bute in February brought a taste of spring, double figure temperatures greeted us, with no wind and no rain. The visit was more to meet extended family but I did manage to post two old fibreglass carp rods up to Bute on the previous week. They would now stay in the house near Port Bannatyne for future pike and sea exploits.

Monday morning saw me picking the rods up from the Post Office in Rothesay, the main town on Bute.  I then ventured down to Bute Angling Centre for a ticket to fish Loch Ascog and get some sound local advice. The town of Rothesay has a sense of past grandeur that still remains in its heavy stone granite architecture and gothic detailing, but in more recent times, Rothesay has taken on a run down charm, left over from the ice cream parlours of the 1950’s.

Loaded with some local knowledge, a landing net and a few frozen smelts, lunch was next on the agenda, so a ten minute drive took us to Ettrick  Bay on the west coast of Bute, where after a game of football on the beach we ventured into the lowly and isolated beach-side cafe. For such a remote cafe on a Monday lunchtime this place was busy and for good reason, the menu was quite extensive, and the food was well made. I soon understood why it was so popular, my prawn cocktail salad was almost as big as the views that were framed at each table setting.

After a fine lunch I managed to persuade two from the eleven to venture forth to Loch Ascog in search of a Argyll pike, just a short drive away from Ettrick Bay.

The loch lay in a soft valley with some managed forest and fenced fields of winter crops, the banks gently sloping into to the peaty, dark waters. With one of my fellow piscators being ten years old I knew our time was limited, spinning with Toby’s and dead-baiting brought us no rewards, our first attempt for a pike here on Bute was a little half-hearted and unsuccessful, but we shall return with a little more knowledge, hopefully more time and bucket loads of enthusiasm!

The next two days were spent eating, drinking, sleeping while the rooks engaged in their gothic squawks and dog walking on the beaches.