Fly fishers gathered at Bixter on Saturday morning for Shetland Angling Association’s final Bank League competition of the season.
This has been the tightest run-in to the league for years with four anglers still in with a chance of the championship. A win for Peter Laurenson, Frank Watt or Mark Sandison would ensure that the title would be theirs, while a win for Billy Reid combined with other results going his way would mean that he would be champ.
Furthermore there was the added spice that the top six places, which would mean qualification for next year’s bank team, were still far from settled. At least half a dozen anglers would be chasing a couple of remaining places.
It was no surprise then that competitors at the 10am check-in were giving very little away with regard to either tactics or venues. Anglers had a wide range of lochs on the West Side to choose from and making the correct decision would be crucial. Some competitors had done their homework and knew exactly where they were going, whereas others were still in a quandary and desperate for any information which would help them make up their minds.
No matter where anglers had decided to start, however, they were all delighted to see the beginnings of a gentle south-westerly breeze which would remain all day. Anything would be better than the flat calm conditions which had threatened in the morning.
Leslie Barclay had come prepared for all eventualities with his very own patented midge net in the form of a set of lace curtains hanging from his hat. Indeed he made for quite a fearsome-looking sight as he stended across the car park to check in. Not to be outdone Dave Wright produced his own professional midge net but it was unanimously agreed not to let Dave wear this accessory as he looked more like a bank robber than a serious fly fisher.
Fifteen anglers were soon shooting off to various locations with perhaps the mighty Vaara, Clings Water and Lunga Water getting most of the early attention. The day had now developed into a perfect “trooty day” with overcast conditions and a gentle south-westerly breeze and this was reflected at the weigh-in.
In first place was an on-form angler who had certainly done his homework. “Young gun” Kevin Robertson spent the day in the often overlooked Kirkhouse and Collaster to assemble a great basket of 11 trout for 8lb 5½oz – an excellent average by any standard.
Second place went to another up-and-coming young angler who is taking the competition scene by storm. Darren Laurenson, under the careful tutelage of dad Peter, had a basket of 10 fish from Clings Water and Stump for 5lb 8oz. The fantastic result has put Darren on the brink of the bank team for next year.
Third place went to experienced veteran Alan Smith with eight trout from Clings Water and Clousta for 5lb 5½oz and in fourth place was Peter Laurenson with eight fish from Clings Water and Stump for 4lb 7½oz. Others weighing in were Mark Sandison, Billy Reid, Leslie Barclay, Barry Robertson, Magnus Reid, Bobby Irvine, Derek Tithridge, Alastair Jamieson, Jeemie Sandison and Dave Wright.
Frank Watt also returned to the weigh-in with a superb basket of fish. However, competition secretary Billy Reid was left with no option but to disqualify Frank after it transpired that he had spent the final part of the competition in Northouse which wasn’t a named loch on the day.
Frank is not the first and probably won’t be the last angler to fall foul of this ruling and competitors are reminded to double check the competition sheet for the list of eligible lochs before the start of each competition.
The results of the day meant that Peter Laurenson was crowned SAA Bank League champion for the second time in three years. This is a fantastic achievement and bears testimony to Peter’s high level of consistency over the season.
This has been the closest Bank League since getting a facelift 12 years ago. Its popularity continues to grow with anglers keen to claim a top six place in order to represent Shetland in the bank team against the Dounreay Fly Fishing Association.
This is born out by the fact that three anglers have tied for seventh place and could only be separated by employing a countback rule. Also spare a thought for Leslie Barclay who has weighed in at every competition this year, a great achievement in itself, yet failed to amass enough points to make the team. Better luck next year Leslie.
Final league table:
Peter Laurenson 121
Mark Sandison 117
Frank Watt 114
Billy Reid 108
Kevin Robertson 103
Bobby Irvine 98
Darren Laurenson 93
Magnus Reid 93
Alan Smith 93
Barry Robertson 74
Dave Wright 74
Alastair Jamieson 73
Leslie Barclay 70
Jeemie Sandison 56
Derek Tithridge 55
Harry Sandison 33
Craig Smith 12
Jack Stranding 5
The final bank fly event of the season takes place in two weeks time on Saturday 4th September. This is the ever popular “pairs” trophy with a 10am check in at the Tingwall boat shed. Anglers are reminded to be there in plenty of time.