August 29, 2008
Angling: WE’LL WING IT
By SILVER WILKIE
THERE are some reasons why the swallows and their cousins, martins, are my favourite birds.
I marvel at the courage of these tiny bundles that fly thousands of miles from southern Africa to spend the summer in the UK.
The birds Nelson Mandela sees in his garden in the South African autumn sun could be the same ones I see swooping over the river and lochs that I fish months later.
These wonderful birds navigate up through Africa, across the Sahara then over the Med into Europe to reach the same spot where they nested or hatched the year before.
Wearing my fishing hat, there is another reason why I just love these beautiful little birds.
Their arrival every spring to nest in my log shed or to perch on my balcony railings cheeping away like budgies, heralds the start of trout fishing.
It is no coincidence they arrive as the first hatches of flies appear because that's what they feed on.
They need thousands of them a day to nourish themselves and their broods. And, of course, that's what trout feed on, too.
Locating feeding fish on a large expanse of water can be a quite difficult task because unless you see them rising, you don't know where they are.
That's when swallows become the angler's best friend because if you watch what they are doing they can lead you to fish.
Many's the time I fish over apparently fishless water on a loch such as Leven when a good few hundred yards away we have seen swallows dipping over the water.
It's a sign there is a localised hatch of flies and a rise will be on.
We've motored to the spot and found ourselves in the middle of a hatch of olives with trout all over.
In a few weeks the swallows will be preparing themselves for their mammoth journey back to South Africa to escape our winter.
In their absence, watch out for flocks of seagulls swooping over the water because they can also lead you to areas where flies are hatching.
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