Fishing: 38 miles of new water for anglers to explore in West Lothian

West Lothian Angling Association will have an additional 38 miles of water for local fishermen to explore as talks to adopt some of the tributaries on the upper Almond have been successful.

The River Almond at Howden, Livingston looking towards the shopping complex.
The River Almond at Howden, Livingston looking towards the shopping complex.

The tributaries are the Linhouse Water, Murieston Water, Kilandean Burn, including the Harwood Water, and the West Calder Burn plus the Breich Water. That means that fishermen in Breich, Stoneyburn, Blackburn and Whitburn can soon access a water on their doorstep.

The ambitious organisation has also been successful in adding the main stem of the river from Kirkton in Livingston all the way to West Benhar.

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Scot Muir, the association's secretary, said that in previous years anglers had eight miles of the Almond to fish from north of Newbridge to Kirkton. But he added: "Now, in total, it looks like an additional 38 miles of water to explore."

The River Almond at Howden, Livingston. Picture: Nigel Duncan

The tributaries, he said, were accessible, particularly the Breich Water which does have a head of brown trout and he said: "I've been doing some work up there and I have seen them. They vary in size but will produce good sport. The other waters are, in the main, easily accessible and relatively shallow this could be good for youngsters who want to trot a worm or maggot downstream on light tackle. Wading in some parts of the Almond can be tricky."

Nearly 270 permits were sold last year, a record, and anglers enjoyed good sport with encouraging catch returns submitted. Those who tie their own flies should, he said, start preparing black spiders, always a go-to fly for the Almond, plus Griffiths Gnat and wet fly patterns ready for the opening of the season.

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From February 1 anglers can target salmon and sea trout but not above the Iron Bridge in Almondell Country Park near Mid Calder. Muir stressed that only specific salmon flies should be used. The brown trout season opens on March 15 and Muir said: "Last year was a record for us in terms of permit sales with the numbers reaching nearly 270. This was post-lockdown, of course, when people were desperate to get out and about and do something. A number of them were youngsters who came with their dad and we are really keen as an organisation to encourage them into the sport.

"That is why the tributaries could be good as they can be fished with light tackle and worms and maggot. There is no overhead casting of a fly required for that."

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He confirmed that the permit price remains frozen from last year and Muir added: "We are fortunate to have been able to avoid a price increase so will be remaining at £15. Juniors are free on an adult ticket and most of our permits were sold online last year with paper sales down. The process is easy and saves a lot of hassle."

Permits are available online now from Fishing around the Forth and also from Tangles at 5 East Main Street, Broxburn EH52 5EE, West Lothian Angling at unit 10, Naysmith Court, Livingston EH54 5EG, Linwater Caravan Park, Clifton Road, Newbridge EH53 0HT, and Edinburgh Angling Centre at Unit E, Granton Retail Park, 65 West Harbour Road, Granton, Edinburgh EH5 1PW.

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Anglers who are members of Cramond Angling Club receive a £10 discount so they can fish the West Lothian Angling Association's stretch for £5. That, said Muir, was a bargain not to be missed.

The club, pre-pandemic, held highly-popular fly tying nights in Mid Calder Community Centre and Muir said they hope to re-start them soon when restrictions allow. Bruce Hope continues as chairman but Muir said volunteers for committee positions are always welcomed to help organise the fly tying and for other business which could include competitions.

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Muir said that a number of trophies had been handed into Tangles in Broxburn and the intention was to have an event for young anglers, a best newcomer award and possibly and outing for members.He said: "That is, of course, in the future and a dream but we are confident that we can provide value for money fishing on a river with tributaries which suit all anglers."

On to coarse fishing and tomorrow sees the last round of the Del's Fresh Produce float only silver series on the main loch at Magiscroft near Cumbernauld.

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Sadly, Covid-19 has forced a couple of call-offs but reserves have been drafted in to fish. Organiser Derek Brady said: "If we're honest, the fishing has been pretty inconsistent this year but we have been really unfortunate with the conditions we've faced as well as a disaster with the bait delivery for one of the rounds.

"The forecast sees a run of a few days with settled temperatures on the build-up to the match so hopefully we'll have a right good match to end the series on a high."

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He added: "As hard as it has been, we have an exciting finale to the series with four anglers still in contention to win the series and the £300 top prize.

"They are previous Scotland manager Chris Paton from Cambuslang, current Scotland manager, Gus Brindle from Dunfermline, Guru sponsored and Scottish international Dave McAuley from Wishaw and the current leader and favourite for the series, James 'Woody' Woodrow from Glasgow who is also a Scottish international. One of them will be out of the money with second place and third place picking up £200 and £100 respectively."

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Sea fishing now and Sagittarius, run by Aquamarine Charters, was out off Eyemouth last Saturday with poor results. It was the first time the boat had slipped anchor for two weeks. Skipper Derek Anderson said the Sunday sailing was a little better as the conditions started to improve and the water cleared. He has spaces today and tomorrow leaving port at 8.30am.

Three matches remain in Mike and Chris's Winter Heaviest Cod League and one is today with fishing from 4pm to 9pm. Registration is at the Victoria Park car park in Arbroath between 2.30 and 3pm and all depart at 3pm. Organiser Chris Horn asked that anglers bring the correct money which is £15.

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Low water is at 18.33 which is, he said, a perfect tide to get into the kelp and the boundaries are Carnoustie to Ferryden Lighthouse.

The matches are in the dark to give everybody the best chance for a few fish and he stressed that anglers can fish each match individually without entering the league.

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It is £10 to enter the league and there are three matches remaining, Saturday, January 15, plus Saturday, February 22 and Saturday, February 5.

There is £200 in the pot and the heaviest cod landed so far has been 6lb 14oz. Contact Chris on 07872 944807 and the weigh-in is back at the Victoria Park and the scales close one hour after the match is finished. Scottish Federation of Sea Anglers (SFSA) rules apply including minimum landing size limits, a five yard rule, one rod and three hooks maximum.

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A reminder that the Amble Open is on Sunday, January 23 with fishing from 10am to 2pm and a number of Lothians anglers are due to compete in the field which is expected to top 400 anglers.

Registration is at the Radcliffe Club (SAT NAV: NE65 0RA) from 8am and entry is £12 for all classes. There is a £6,000 prize fund.

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Finally, Chris Empson (Dunbar) won the tenth round of the Bass Rock Shore Angling League's Winter League with Jamie McHale taking the biggest bag prize. Barry McEwan (Port Seton) was third with Steve Biskup (North Berwick) fourth in windy conditions, gusting to over 30mph.