Fishing: Cramond Angling Club hoping new season is as good as the last
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Brown trout up to 4lb were tempted by members last year and some brought their rods hoping to hook into salmon or sea trout during the official opening at School Brae. The trout fishing season does not start until March 15 but Cross confirmed that permit prices had been pegged at last year's level to encourage a healthy membership in line with the club's aim to promote fishing on the river at an affordable price.
Over 200 anglers secured season permits for CAC's eight miles stretch, which includes four beats, 12 months ago, and many more bought day tickets for the popular water which is accessible by public transport. Service 41, operated by Lothian Buses, for example, runs from South-West Edinburgh via the city centre to Cramond.
Water quality has improved greatly since the dark days in the 1880's when fishing stopped completely. The river was said to flow "nearly black at times" with oil and col dust evident. The club was formed in September 1963 and landscape gardening consultant Cross, who has been in the chair for around a decade, said CAC was still going strong. He added: "Last year membership was really good and there are still a good number of members. The fishing was really good and anglers were catching nice, big brown trout, and there were good quality fish coming out."
He pin-pointed the back of Edinburgh Airport as one of the best sports to fish last year and said: "It is quiet up there, there are not usually a lot of people about, and, if you sat there for any length of time last season, you saw fish taking bugs out of the water."Rules and regulations for fishing are posted on the club's website at www.fishamlond.co.uk but Cross stressed that hooks must be debarbed and indicated that the Almond is a catch and release river for all species. The water is fairly easy to access and the chairman added: "You don't need a two-handed salmon rod and the majority of fish taken on the Almond have been taken on a spinner."
Cross said permits are available online on the CAC website or at the Edinburgh Angling Centre, Unit E, Granton Retail Park, 65 West Harbour Road, EH5 1PEW or Barnton Post Office, 199 Whitehouse Road, Edinburgh, EH4 6BU. The club's fishing area is from the estuary at Cramond to north of Kirkliston and the price is £38 for the season, £10 a day with concessions for senior citizens and full-time students with a child ticket (16 and under) £5. Children can fish free with a paying adult.
Members can also fish water administered by the West Lothian Angling Association for a reduced price and their secretary, Scot Muir (cor) was there to alert anglers to the special offer which, in total, covers over 50 miles of water.
Cross said: "A permit is great value compared to going to a fishery for a day. You get the whole season for £38 and the river is on major bus routes. You don't have to be an expert caster to fish the river, particularly at the bottom end. There are plenty of open spaces to cast from and spinning is a lot easier. It can be snaggy if you are spinning, but there are plenty of places to fish on this river."
He stressed that anglers are not allowed to fish in front of the weir at School Brae and he added: "Wading can be a bit rocky, particularly downstream after the weir. If you are going to wade, have a wading stick with you and wear a lifejacket for your own safety."
Incidentally, West Lothian Angling Association host the next of their popular monthly, fly tying sessions in Mid Calder Community Centre on Monday, February 13 (7pm). It's free and all are welcome for chat and a wee bit of help with the art. On to coarse fishing and Darrin Ferguson, club champion at the Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling Club, has been named as Scottish Match Angler of the Year by the Scottish Federation or Coarse Angling.
Other title winners have also been confirmed. They are Jerry Blythe for becoming the Scottish National Champion, Mark Lyons and Barry Lindsay for winning the Scottish Pairs Champions, Steve Wood for his victory in the Scottish Feeder Championship, Gus Brindle, who was crowned Scottish Canal Champion, and Davie Matthew for winning the Harvey Maule Memorial.
Meanwhile, Scotland plan to field teams in several major events at home and abroad this year. They are the Sensas Challenge on the Gloucester Canal in March, the invitational Walterland Masters, in Szeged, Hungary, in June, which attracts the best anglers in Europe, and either the European Championships in Hungary in July or the World Championship in Spain in September.
Looking back at last year, Scotland fielded two teams in the Sensas Challenge. The first team, including James Dornom from Currie, Midlothian, plus James Woodrow, David McAuley, Colin Hart and Gus Brindle, won bronze with Woodrow taking individual silver and McAuley coming fourth. Scotland have recently been contacted to see it they can field a team in a new Six Nations Feeder Championship being planned by the Angling Trust at Barston Fisheries in October. This would be a first for Scotland, and Brindle, chairman of the Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling, said there are a good number of competent feeder anglers, and he is hopeful of fielding a highly-competitive team.
The men’s Carp Team had a disappointing World Championships on Lake Deseda in Hungary in late September, finishing 21st on a challenging venue. Brindle said the result was not however a true reflection of the team’s performance as things were a lot tighter than the result suggests.
One fish in each section would have propelled the team into a top ten finish and he added: "Lots on good lessons were learned and have already been built into practice session before the next event in France."
The team have secured Castle Loch as a training venue allowing them to work on various tactics and skills. Team Manager, Kevin McConnell is talking to the other managers from the Home Nations trying to organise the Home International event for May.
Matches are being organised for June against the Army and July against the Tri Services and Wales and they will be used to prepare the squad for the World Championships in late September which will be held on Lac De Panneciere in the Burgogne region of France.
Joanne Barlow has been appointed manager of the Scottish Ladies Carp Team who are training at Wyreside Lakes, near Lancaster, for their first match against Wales and England in March. This will hopefully be a precursor to Scotland fielding its first ever ladies team at a World Championships in France in September.
Brindle said the formation of a Scottish Lure Team has been put on the back burner for a number of years now and he is determined that plans will come to fruition in 2023. A series of events will be held along with a Scottish Lure Championship and the hope is to field a team in a Home International in 2023.
Elsewhere, Edinburgh-based David Corcoran won the section and match with 74lbs-plus of fish in the first round of the Preston Innovations-backed Winter League at Broom near Annan in Dumfries. Scottish international, James Woodrow, won his section and so did another international, Derek Brady, who netted 36lb of fish. Colin Hart, also a member of the Scotland squad, finished second his section behind Corcoran.
Sea fishing now and Chris Empson won Round Nine of the Bass Rock Winter League which was a rover based around Dunbar. Four men weighed-in with codling and rockling and Dunbar-based Empson, a Scottish international, had four fish for 5lb 3oz. Second was Haddington-based James Ogilvie, the organiser, with two fish for 3lb 9oz and third Barry McEwan (Port Seton) with one fish of 11oz. Barry is also a Scottish international and Shaun Gardner (North Berwick) was fourth. Round 10 will be on February 15 at a venue to be decided.