A sure sign that spring had arrived occurred on Saturday when 14 anglers reported for duty at the Tingwall boat shed for the first Shetland Anglers Association fly bank league competition of the year.
All the usual suspects were in attendance and spirits were understandably high as everyone was keen to get going.
The first get together of the season also affords anglers an opportunity to show off and compare new tackle and equipment acquired over the winter. Angling, and fly fishing in particular, is a state of the art sport where the latest advances in technology can provide competitors with the necessary edge for competitive fishing.
New lines, rods and waders were discussed but there was little doubt that the award for best new piece of equipment went to Mark Sandison. His new technical, purple Fair Isle pattern, Shetland wirsit socks would ensure that his feet would stay warm in the chilly April waters.
The socks had been specially commissioned from top Burra knitter Jessie Jean Pottinger. As accessory experts and pundits Barry Robertson and Harry Sandison pointed out, equipment of this quality simply cannot be bought and indeed it is a long time since socks such as these were seen in Whalsay.
All the anglers would need their winter woollies before the day was out, however, as the gentle southern breeze disguised a definite nip in the air. Competitors had a selection of lochs to choose from in the central Mainland area. Initially most efforts were concentrated on Tingwall loch itself as reports indicated that several fish had come out of it already this season.
This optimism proved to be misplaced, however, as anglers struggled to put that all important first trout in their baskets. The exception to this was Tingwall master Frank Watt who showed everyone the way by taking five fish during the first two hours of the competition.
Frank added three more trout to his bag before the weigh in to give him a superb basket of eight fish for 7lb 10½oz and first place in the competition by a country mile. Frank’s secret weapon was a “Black Cat” variant of his own design and fresh from the tying vice that morning.
Second spot went to Mark Sandison who had initially struggled in Tingwall for one trout. He spent the last hour and a half in Asta where his warm socks had enabled him to wade deep for a further two fish. This gave him a total basket weight of 3lb 6½oz.
Third place went to Peter Laurenson who had also struggled in Tingwall for one fish. Peter opted for Griesta as his second choice where he added another fish to his bag for a total of 1lb 13½oz.
In fourth spot was Kevin Robertson with one fish out of Vatsetter for 1lb 8½oz. This was also the heaviest fish of the day and fell to a “Green Tailed Sedgehog”.
Other anglers gaining points on a difficult day were Billy Reid, Harry Sandison, Dave Wright, Alastair Jamieson and Jeemie Sandison.
The next bank competition on the SAA calendar is The Shetland Times trophy which is fly or spin and takes place on Saturday 18th April with a 10am check-in at the Tingwall boat shed.
The next fly bank league competition is on Saturday 25th April with an 11am check in at the Spiggie boat shed.