Fishing: Alex Stewart from Linlithgow named in Scotland youth squad

Alex Stewart from Linlithgow has been confirmed in the Scotland squad for the only youth international next year and the talented young angler will be joined by six newcomers who recently qualified at the Lake of Menteith near Stirling.

By Nigel Duncan
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 9:45 am
Updated Friday, 3rd December 2021, 9:47 am
Some of the youngsters who took part in the recent trial at Lake of Menteith.
Some of the youngsters who took part in the recent trial at Lake of Menteith.

James Litster, the team manager, was greatly encouraged by the performance of the 20 youngsters who came from all over Scotland in a bid to qualify and will now go through an intense training programme before they travel to Lough Lene in the Republic of Ireland.

Litster believes the future for Scotland's fly fishing youth team looks good and confirmed that conditions on the day of the qualifier were testing with a flat calm and light drizzle throughout.

Even experienced adult anglers with a knowledge of the water found the going tough.

Many of the boys had also rarely ever fished a water as big as the Lake of Menteith and most had little or no boat experience, but they we're all supplied with a boatman.

A total of 37 fish for 88lbs was landed with the biggest fish was a 4lb 11oz trout tempted by Cammy Craik.

Litster, who is also head of youth training, confirmed that the majority of the team had been selected ahead of the world-wide pandemic but some to drop out because of work and other commitments hence the need for the qualifiers.

The top rod on the day was Ryan Taylor from Aberdeen who fished mostly at The Cages with a sinking line and a booby on the tail of his cast.

Ryan was awarded the Best Newcomer Shield and also the David Bell Memorial Shield, the first year that the trophy has been awarded. David Bell, incidentally, was a great angler and mentor to many instructors including Litster.

Other qualifiers were Jake Humes (Cumbernauld), Sam Harrison (Dunfermline), Cammy Craik (Errol), Kian Riley (Aberdeen) and Cameron Kelly (Barrhead).

Already selected were captain David Cruikshank (Lochwinnoch), Evan McTaggart (Ayr), Mark Kelman (Coatbridge), Rory Stewart (Kilmacolm), Andrew Adam (Falkirk), Joshua Brown (Beith), Angus Robertson (Falkirk), Connor Wales (Dundee), Jake Gilchrist (Dundee), Owen Smith (Glasgow) Thomas McNaughton (Neilston) and Stewart from West Lothian.

Litster said: "The training programme the boys go through includes technical seminars, outings to lakes like Menteith, Carron Valley and Harelaw Fishery, and we also build-in group and one-to-one tuition and the aim is to have the youngsters in the best possible position ahead of the international.

"We also take two extra reserves with us so they can experience exactly what it is like to be involved in a major international competition."

Looking back at the qualifier, he added: "We were very impressed with the talent which came to the Lake of Menteith, some of them were only 13 or 14 years old."

However, everything costs money and that is where sponsorship and fund-raising comes in and Litster said that the young people and their parents are involved in that.

So is a Glasgow-based angling enthusiast, Brian Quinn. He does not have any children involved in the youth angling scene but has been organising a series of fund-raising competitions around Scotland, including one at Allandale Tarn near West Calder.

The team manager said: "Brian travels all over organising these events and he plans to have up to ten next year to raise even more money for us.

"We really appreciate his efforts on our behalf but the boys and their parents are also involved as it costs a great deal of money to send teams to events."

Scotland have an extremely good record in the event, he said, and the youth committee are determined to do all they can to maintain that.

Onto coarse fishing now and former Scotland team manager, Chris Paton, goes into the second round of the five-match Del's Fresh Produce Silverfish Series on the Main Loch at Magiscroft near Cumbernauld tomorrow (Sunday, December 5) hoping to emulate his performance in the opening round.

He shocked the other competitors by landing the biggest bag in his comeback after nearly ten years out of the competitive circuit.

The highly-respected Glasgow angler used his past knowledge of the Magiscroft facility to land 10lb 2oz only yards from the current Scotland manager, Fife-based Gus Brindle who weighed-in 4lb 2oz to be sixth.

Brindle, who was on the adjacent peg, could only watch as Paton continued to unhook fish during the match fished in difficult conditions.

The temperature had hovered around 10c in the build-up to the event which features some of Scotland's leading coarse fishermen.

However, the thermometer plummeted to minus 2c on the night before the match and organiser Derek Brady said that this had a dramatic effect on the fish.

He said: "Fish are like human beings, they don't like the cold and it certainly stopped them feeding."

Brady added: "When he was Scotland manager Chris gave up competitive fishing to concentrate on watching anglers and assessing their performance.

"He surprised the field with his performance, including several of the current Scotland team members.

"Chris was drawn in the next peg to Gus, the current manager, and there was plenty of banter between them and other guys like Scotland anglers James Woodrow and Dave McAuley, another member of the current Scotland team, who was third on the day."

Paton said: "Not sure how long the luck will last but let's see."

At sea, Derek Anderson, skipper of Eyemouth-based Aquamarine Charters, said Sagittarius had two good days recently with winter cod in abundance and half the catch was returned.

The best anglers had up to eight keepers with sea conditions fair to good and the company run charters most weekends from 8am to 2pm, weather permitting.

Anderson added: "Sadly, due to high fuel prices, our 2022 prices will be increasing £5 per person."

The first round of Mike and Chris' Winter Cod League proved challenging according to organiser Mike Horn. He added: "It was a case of finding a spot that gave you protection from the waves and weather and hopefully threw up a few fish."

Billy Buckley from Glasgow hooked nine cod for 22lb 5oz with Sanny Wason (Ayr) second with seven cod for 20lb 6oz. Sanny is from Ayr.

Dale McCallum from Prestonpans with seven cod for 18lb 5oz. was third and the best bait was peeler crab, blues and mackerel. The second round is today (4 December), fishing 15.30 to 20.30 and registration 14.00 to 14.30 at the Victoria Park car park, Arbroath DD11 5BL.