Big turnout as anglers reach nitty gritty stage

With only three competitions left in this year’s fly bank league we’re down to the nitty gritty now as far as gaining points for next year’s Bank Team is concerned.

This was evidenced by the large turnout of 17 anglers who congrega­ted at the West Burrafirth junction last Thursday evening for the seventh competition of the year.

Two anglers in fact, Harry Sandi­son and Barry Robertson, were so desperate for points that they had resorted to practicing in the Hulma Lees the day before. While not ex­act­ly against the rules, such exercises are viewed as not really being cricket. Robertson can perhaps be excused as he was operating a catch and release policy. Sandison on the other hand was seen to put at least one trout in his bag “for the pot”. He did have the decency to look a little sheepish at the 6.15pm check in.

Among the assembled throng of anglers it was good to see David John Anderson turning out for his first Fly Bank League competition. Hopefully we will see much more of this talented young angler in the future. It was also good to see the not quite so young Stephen Brevik making his annual outing in the league. Stephen has learned from bitter experience that fishing in the league is a much tougher proposition than bobbing about in the relative comfort of a boat in Tingwall in the boat league. As a result he had come equipped with half a dozen rolls to “keep me going”, as he said. However he was unwilling to divulge the contents of said rolls. Like many of his specialised fly patterns it was “top secret”!

Anglers had the option of a sel­ection of lochs in the West Burrafirth and West Side areas. However with cyclonic winds and flat calms, fly fishing was always going to be extremely difficult.

One angler who did get off to a flying start however was the indomitable Leslie Barclay who had made the effort to hike to the back side of the Hulma Lees. Leslie had two keepers in his basket inside the first hour. Disaster then struck when he lost a fish of “nearly two pounds” at the net. On such a fine night his frustrations could be heard and indeed witnessed all over the loch and surrounding area. There was nothing left for Leslie to do but sit back, relax in the heather and enjoy a “condor moment”. Better luck next time Leslie. We all know the feeling!

Another angler making an excel­lent start was the aforementioned Stephen Brevik who, accompanied by guide and ghillie Billy Reid, was fishing Grass Water for the first time. Billy did the decent thing and left his favourite stretch of the bank to Stephen who soon put three trout in his bag on an “orange hedgehog hopper”. (Although it should be pointed out that one of these fish had mysteriously shrunk by half an inch before the weigh in!) This prompted Leslie Barclay to enquire just what exactly was the filling in Stephen’s rolls, suggesting that it must have been peanut butter. At this point Stephen conceded that the filling involved his own special ham recipe.

At the weigh in, the fact that eight anglers out of 17 starters were blank provided an indication of just how difficult the evening’s angling had been. And of those who did manage to weigh in the majority had come back with only one or two trout.

In first place was the ever consistent and resourceful Bobby Irvine who had started his evening in Sulma Water. Having not come on here he made the astute tactical switch to Grass Water where he had four fish for 2lb, 4½ oz. Bobby’s best fly was a “peach muddler”.

In second place and sticking it out in Sulma Water was Magnus Reid, also with four fish for 2lb, 2.5oz. Despite repeated attempts to contact Reid after the competition to ascertain his “killing flies” he remained “unavailable” at the time of going to press. Third place went to the on form Kevin Robertson with three trout from the Hulma Lees for 1lb, 12oz.

Other anglers gaining points were Mark Sandison, Leslie Barclay, Stephen Brevik, Barry Robertson, Peter Laurenson and Frank Watt.

The league has now set itself up very nicely for a close run in, not only for the top spot where Bobby Irvine has edged in front of Frank Watt but for the all important top six places.

The penultimate Fly Bank League competition takes place tomorrow with a 10am check in at Mavis Grind. Bring your own rolls!


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