Round three of Shetland Anglers Association’s fly bank league took place on Thursday in the Central Mainland.
It was the first evening competition of the year and anglers were greeted with a chilly north-east wind at the check-in with temperatures struggling to get above seven degrees. As a result there was a certain amount of concern regarding some of the “older boys” present.
However, once it was established that Jeemie Sandison had his new scarf on, Derek Tithridge had worn his neoprene waders and Dave Wright, Barry Robertson and Magnus Reid had all dug out their long johns, competition secretary Billy Reid deemed it safe that the competition could proceed.
There’s an old saying in angling circles: “Don’t hang up your neoprene waders till May is oot.” And these wise old words were certainly apt on this occasion.
Competitors had a choice of lochs on the night ranging from the usually dour Benston and Girlsta to what should be the more prolific Sandwater and Freester. No-one was getting carried away, however, as this competition is traditionally very difficult and in the past has been won with as little as two fish. It has also thrown up some surprises though and there is always the chance of that “trophy” fish from either Benston or Girlsta.
Anglers are understandably a bit trigger happy at the check-in and keen to get going. There were a few raised eyebrows, however, as Leslie Barclay raced into the Nesting junction car park split seconds before the 6.15pm starting gun, gave everyone a cheery wave with the car still rolling and sped off in the direction of South Nesting without stopping, just as Billy Reid gave the signal to start. Precision timing such as this doesn’t just happen and Leslie has taken years to perfect this art.
One angler who wasn’t speeding anywhere was Frank Watt. Spending a leisurely, if unproductive, half an hour in Girlsta he then made the bold move to the difficult Benston. Frank is an angler at the top of his game however and in his first five minutes in Benston had hooked and landed a specimen trout of 4lb ½oz.
This monster alone was enough to win the competition but Frank went on to add another two trout to his basket to give him a total weight of 5lb 9½oz and an easy and deserved first place on the night. The fish must have known that it was his birthday. Frank’s killer fly was the “Claret Blob” – a rainbow lure which has made an effective transition to Brownies.
Second place went to Darren Laurenson who had spent his evening in the often overlooked Petta Water where he had three better quality fish for 2lb 15½oz. His successful fly, like the loch, went out of fashion decades ago, the “Blue Zulu”. As Darren pointed out though, it’s whether the fly is in fashion with the trout that’s the important thing.
Third place went to Bobby Irvine who managed to coax half a dozen stockies out of Houlland for 2lb 14½oz, much to the chagrin of the other four anglers there who could only watch, wonder and learn. Bobby’s top fly was an “Orange Sparkler”.
Fourth place went to an angler who is beginning to move up through the gears – Barry Robertson had five trout from Sand Water for 2lb 4oz.
Other successful anglers were Peter Laurenson, Mark Sandison, Magnus Reid, Craig Smith, Dave Wright, Derek Tithridge, Billy Reid, Leslie Barclay and Jeemie Sandison.
With a third of this year’s fly bank competitions now having been fished the league table looks like this: Frank Watt 71; Mark Sandison 53; Bobby Irvine 47; Peter Laurenson 43; Barry Robertson 37; Dave Wright 33; Darren Laurenson 31; Alastair Jamieson 30; Billy Reid 30; Magnus Reid 29; Kevin Robertson 25; Leslie Barclay 24; Jeemie Sandison 22; Derek Tithridge 17; Alan Smith 16; Craig Smith 12; Jack Stranding 5.
Competition will inevitably hot up now as we move in to late spring and the summer months with anglers vying for that all important top six finish.
The next fly bank league competition is on Thursday 20th of May with a 6.15pm check-in at the Bixter grave yard.