Heather Beetles and Trout

Heather beetle and its fishing fly look-alike
Heather beetle and its fishing fly look-alike

Interesting to note that the most effective fly of all during a fishing trip to North Uist was one that looks very much like a heather beetle. There were one or two beetles to be found in the heather above lochs Fada and Sgadabhagh, and some evidence of beetle damage in previous years, but it is still too soon to be seeing much in the way of heather beetle damage in 2015. Adult beetles should have mated and laid their eggs by now, and it won’t be long before they turn up their toes and pass on the gauntlet to the next generation of grubs, many of which may soon be hatching. The cold weather will have had a depressing effect on the population, but the Heather Trust’s beetle survey recorded one or two major sightings earlier in the spring.

As it was, the cold weather on Uist made the fishing hard work and the trout needed to fished quite deep with a sinking line. I did gut the fish I caught to see what they had been eating, but it seemed to be mainly small snails. There were one or two beetle wing casings, but their origins were pretty ambiguous and I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess as to their identity.

The Heather Trust has records of huge numbers of beetles being eaten by trout on Pitcarmick Estate in Strathardle during a major outbreak a few years ago, and given that beetles seem to be very much “on the menu” for hill brownies, I will make some more of these flies, with the fine-tuned addition of a black throat to complete the heather beetle look.

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