Despite the biting cold northerly wind 16 fly fishers gathered at the Spiggie boat shed on Saturday for round two of the Shetland Anglers Association bank fly league.
It was particularly pleasing to see veteran Jack Standring putting in an appearance after what seems like a long time away from the competition scene.
With news of several good baskets of trout coming from the loch in recent weeks there was a definite air of optimism at the morning check in. The Baltic conditions certainly weren’t putting anyone off and most competitors had come well equipped with all the modern technical apparel – thick woolly socks, base layers, long johns and neoprene waders.
There were a few exceptions however, most notably Bonnie Isle stalwart Magnus Reid. This was put down to a bit of machismo on Magnus’s part or, as one wag suggested, “more like masochism”. Anyway, as a famous fly fisher once pointed out: “Any fool can get cold and wet, but it takes brains to stay warm and dry!”
The 11am kick off saw a stampede of anglers racing for the traditional “hot spots” in the loch and for a short while there was a certain amount of jockeying for position. However, it soon became apparent that the large shoals of fish – a feature of the loch in recent weeks – had dispersed and as a result were much more difficult to come by. This meant that anglers were soon strung out across the “deeps” and down either side of the loch.
Two anglers getting off to an excellent start were Frank Watt and Bobby Irvine who both found early spots of fish in the deeps. Both of these experienced campaigners had eight fish in their baskets by midday and never looked back.
Frank ran out an easy winner with a superb basket of 23 trout for 13lb 12oz. Frank claimed that his top fly was the old traditional “Black Pennel” although the aforementioned wag suggested that it must be many years since a Black Pennel had last been seen in Frank’s fly box.
Bobby Irvine, on the other hand, had struggled to hold on to many more fish in Spiggie. He then called on all his experience to move to Vatster where he had added six more fish to his basket to give him a grand total of 17 trout for 8lb 14oz and an easy third place for his day’s work.
Master tactician on the day was Billy Reid who had avoided the crowd and headed to the south end of Spiggie. He assembled a basket of 13 better quality trout over the course of the day for 9lb 1½oz which just pipped Bobby for second place.
Fourth place went to the ever-consistent Alan Smith who had stuck it out in the deeps to put 11 fish in his bag for 5lb 2½oz.
Other anglers weighing in were Jeemie Sandison, who had also benefitted from an “injury time” visit to the often overlooked Vatster, Mark Sandison, Peter Laurenson with the heaviest fish at 1lb 11oz which fell to an “Orkney Red Palmer”, Alastair Jamieson, Kevin Robertson, Darren Laurenson, Dave Wright who had taken a couple of fish out of the unfashionable Clumlie, Barry Robertson, Derek Tithridge, Leslie Barclay and Jack Standring.
This meant that every angler in the competition had weighed in apart from Magnus Reid who had had to retire early because of the cold. Should have worn de long johns Magnie!
Various flies were mentioned in despatches including Frank’s “Black Pennel”. Alan Smith’s top fly was a “White Snatcher” which Alastair Jamieson claimed had been filched from his fly box. Many anglers had done well with flies in various shades of orange and red with bright tails.
With two of the league competitions now having been fished the table is as follows: Frank Watt 46; Mark Sandison 39; Alastair Jamieson 30; Bobby Irvine 29; Peter Laurenson 28; Kevin Robertson 25; Dave Wright 22; Barry Robertson 21; Billy Reid 21; Magnus Reid 16; Leslie Barclay 16; Alan Smith 16; Jeemie Sandison 15; Darren Laurenson 10; Derek Tithridge 7; Jack Stranding 5.
Next week sees the annual trout festival take place from Wednesday 12th to Saturday 15th May. This event will be as popular as ever with NorthLink sponsoring the main prize of a trip for two to Aberdeen. Full details are available on the SAA website at www.shetlandtrout.co.uk and are also available from the Rod & Line or LHD tackle shops.
Some SAA members who were not at Spiggie embarked on phase one of the 2010 re-stocking programme with 100,000 “first feed” sea trout fry stocked in the Laxo, Stromfirth and Sullom Voe catchment areas. Thanks are due to those who gave up their time to undertake this work.
The next bank fly league competition takes place on Thursday 20th May with a 6.15pm check in at the Bixter Graveyard. Competitors will have a selection of lochs to choose from on the West Side.