A large turnout of anglers checked in on Saturday morning at the Tingwall boat shed for the annual Shetland Anglers’ Association Shetland Times trophy.
This is a fly or spin competition, but a quick check down the names engraved on the trophy will show that the vast majority of past winners were stalwarts of the gentle art of fly fishing. Indeed one would have to go back a good few years to find the last winner who was a spinner.
The 10am start saw anglers head off in all directions although tellingly perhaps a good percentage of the fly fishers headed towards the deep south. Word was that, with the previous week of mild weather and calm easterly winds, the Spiggie Loch water colour had cleared slightly and a few fish had been coming out.
The decision proved to be correct when at the 6pm weigh-in fly fisher extraordinaire Bobby Irvine had an excellent Spiggie basket of 12 fish for 6lb 6¾oz. Bobby had covered a great deal of ground while hardly getting his boots wet – finding most trout lying in the shallow water. A worthy winner of the trophy, his successful flies were old traditionals, hardly seen nowadays, the “Peter Ross” and “Gold Butcher”.
Peter Laurenson shared second spot with Kevin Robertson. They had baskets of 10 and nine fish respectively for 6lb 1¾oz. Another trout for either of them would have won the competition. Peter must be feeling particularly hard done by as this was the second time in three years he had finished runner-up with a superb basket of fish.
Peter had spent his whole day in Spiggie where his best fly was the new and top secret “Connector Fly”. Kevin had initially struggled in Spiggie before making the astute tactical decision to move to Tingwall where he had come across something very rare on this loch – a shoal of rising fish!
There were some other good baskets on the day including Jeemie Sandison with eight, Billy Reid with seven, Barry Robertson with six and top spinner Steven Johnston with six.
A couple of incidents were to stand out on the day. In retrospect they seem quite unbelievable but when one considers that there are several excited anglers involved, it is perhaps hardly surprising.
The first incident occurred when the deadly duo of Dave Wright and Derek Tithridge rolled up at Spiggie at 11am, wondering why everyone else had started without them. Their indignation quickly evaporated when they realised their mistake; they thought that it was the following Saturday (when indeed there is a competition that begins at Spiggie at 11am). Dave does have a record of questionable time-keeping but this is the first time that he has been out by a whole week.
The second incident of a similar nature occurred at the end of the competition when the Whalsay boys, organised by the redoubtable Barry Robertson, turned up at the Tingwall boat shed an hour early to weigh in at 5pm rather than the scheduled time of 6pm. Not only that, but the 5.50pm ferry had also been booked back to the Bonnie Isle which meant that the boys couldn’t spend the last hour fishing Tingwall or Asta.
Top marks must go to the efficient Kevin Robertson who quickly located an official competition sheet and got everyone back on the straight and narrow. Needless to say there were a few sheepish looks and recriminations among the Bonnie Isle brigade while blame was apportioned.
In Barry’s defence it does seem very strange that none of the other Whalsay men present had bothered to check the competition sheet.
Competition secretary Billy Reid pointed out: “There really is no excuse for these kinds of mistakes. The competition sheet is published a good two months in advance of the season opening and it is each competitor’s responsibility to get the times correct. If anglers can’t be bothered to consult the sheet then we might as well make it up as we go along.”
Reid also reminded anglers that competition times would be strictly adhered to and went on to suggest that he may have to consider imposing penalties “if there were to be a repeat of these types of shenanigans in the future”.
The next SAA competition is round two of the bank fly league with an 11am check in tomorrow at the Spiggie boat shed. All of the above please take note.