There was a strangely subdued atmosphere at Mavis Grind on Saturday morning as fly fishers met for the penultimate competition in this year’s Shetland Anglers Asso-ciation fly bank league.
Perhaps it was the tension coming to the fore as anglers were aware of just how close the league is with regard to a top six place. Successful competitive fly fishing comes down to the tiniest of details and any piece of seemingly throwaway information regarding flies, tactics or locations, no matter how trivial, can be instantly seized upon by a competitor and used to their advantage.
It’s a cut throat sport at this level, especially when old sea dogs such as Magnus Reid and Jeemie and Harry Sandison are involved. Even the normally vocal Barry Robertson was quite quiet as he contemplated which line to put on to deal with the very blustery conditions.
Despite the strong south-easterly wind and the forecast of rain, however, as the experienced Alan Smith pointed out, it was probably the “fishiest day it had been for a while”. The question was would the trout see it in quite the same light?
Anglers had a choice of the top lochs of the North Mainland such as Punds Water, Eela Water, Burraland, Lunnister, Kilka Water, etc for the eight-hour competition and over the course of the day most of them would see some attention. The day would be all about making the right choices and taking your chances.
At the 6pm weigh-in it was Billy Reid who had done exactly that as he weighed in eight trout from Gluss for 5lb 7oz. His top flies were the “Clan Chief Hedgehog” and the “Porteous Hedgehog” which he had got to work well in the big wave.
In second place, despite catching one more fish than Billy, was Bobby Irvine with a bag of nine trout for 4lb 14½oz. He had divided his time between Housetter and Burraland where he had had success with a variety of “Muddler” patterns among the free rising brownies.
Third was Mark Sandison who had cadged a lift with Billy and ended up with six trout for 3lb 5½oz. Mark had also scored with “Hedgehogs” of a darker hue.
In fourth spot was the evergreen Alan Smith who had five fish from Eela Water and Punds Water for 3lb ½oz, mainly to a “Peach Muddler”. One wonders what Alan would be capable of if he could make it to more bank competitions.
Others weighing in in what ultimately proved to be a very difficult day due to the deteriorating weather were Frank Watt, Magnus Reid, Barry Robertson, Derek Tithridge, Peter Laurenson, Leslie Barclay and Jeemie Sandison. The heaviest fish at 15½oz went to Derek Tithridge and fell to a “Raymond Bumble”.
If anything Saturday’s results have made the bank league even more complicated and very little has been resolved. At the top of the league only five points separate Bobby Irvine from Frank Watt for the champions spot.
Peter Laurenson, Billy Reid and Mark Sandison will all be fairly confident of a place in next year’s bank team having made it over the magical 100 points mark. After that however it is still anybody’s guess for the remaining top six place.
With Kevin Robertson having to retire early due to illness and Leslie Barclay having one of his poorer results (although he did have to contend with a tirrick that took a fancy to either him or his flies for a piece of the day), it has opened the door for the likes of Magnus Reid and Barry Robertson.
And that’s before the added complication is factored in as to whether or not Frank Watt and Peter Laurenson choose to fish in the boat or bank team next year as both are obviously in a very strong position in both.
Bank League position: Bobby Irvine 131; Frank Watt 126; Peter Laurenson 103; Billy Reid 103; Mark Sandison 103; Leslie Barclay 88; Magnus Reid 82; Barry Robertson 81; Kevin Robertson 75; Jeemie Sandison 61; Alastair Jamieson 59; Harry Sandison 52; Alan Smith 41; Dave Wright 22; Derek Tithridge 20; Craig Smith 18; Steven Breivik 14.
The final bank league competition takes place on Saturday, 15th August with a 10am check-in at the Bixter Graveyard.