Fishing: Rab Gallacher fulfils big ambition by landing St Serfs Xmas Open prize

Rab Gallacher achieved an ambition by winning the heaviest fish prize in the St Serfs Xmas Open after being second and third in previous events. He collected a record £1,250 then split the cash with two of his mates.

The well-known competition angler, who was a member of the Scottish international team which won gold in the world championships on the Baltic in Denmark in November 1998, tempted a 6lb 8oz cod with his last cast.

And the fish came after Gallacher and a friend had moved from their first mark at Craig Golf Club to another at Roombe Bay, also near Crail, as darkness fell. The pair only got to the second mark as an angler had quit the six-hour event because of a migraine and Gallacher believes his big cod swam under Kenny's bait and nailed his, a cocktail of cart (innards of a crab), plus a whole mackerel fillet and mussels.

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The cheque was split with Glasgow-based Kenny and another friend Pete who makes Gallacher's weights.

Rab Gallagher

And the 52-year-old Fifer needed every ounce during the event which attracted over 130 competitors on a wild, bitterly cold day with heavy seas on the Fife Coastline between St Monans and St Andrews. Only 20 weighed-in including the best junior, Blake Ferguson, a 12-year-old boy from Stirling, who bagged a 2lb 2oz cod.

Gallacher had an 8oz weight on to hold his bait steady in the surf and he described the conditions as some of the toughest in the 24-year history of the event.

Anglers from as far south as Whitby and Scarborough, Cumbria and Northumberland, as well as all over Scotland, contested Sunday's match along with two former winners, Chris France and Paul Buddles, and several club champions from Kirkcaldy-based St Serfs whoorganise the Xmas Open. Some failed to get to their preferred marks because of the rough conditions which prevailed during the match which is traditionally fished over low water.

Many lost a great deal of tackle in the heavy kelp which was churned up. Casting to precise locations was required.

Early in the day the water was flat calm, but conditions changed rapidly and the fish disappeared from the clear water, close in, and only ventured back later in the day once the water became more coloured.

Gallacher, who knows this part of the coastline like the back of his hand, said: "I'd checkedthe forecast and it indicated that the wind would be about 40mph at Crail Golf Club at 2pm and backing-off to 30mph later in the day.

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"On my first cast I noticed a seal in the area. My bait had left an oily film on the surface of the water and the seal dived nearby and came up with a 3lb cod or wrasse. He sat there and ate it while we watched.

"It did not look too good where we were and we'd not had a bite, so we moved at around 3.30pm when it got dark. I thought we would struggle to get to the mark, but a guy who had been fishing there went home because he had migraine.

"Kenny and I cast out using 8oz leads and big baits and I've caught lots of cod over 10lb on the coastline, but conditions were really tough."

Gallacher from Glenrothes, who has third in the heaviest bag in the Sonik-sponsored event, said: "I'm not in this for the money. My focus is on winning trophies and this is an event I've always wanted to win.

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"I've come close over the last 20 years, and caught bigger fish than I did on Sunday, but winning this was starting to become a bit of a bugbear for me.

"I've come second and third and won the heaviest bag, but now I've won it and I'm happy with that."

Incidentally, Gallacher and his mate Kenny travelled to Inverbervie for recreational fishing on Monday and bagged 20 fish between them, but conditions were a lot easier.

Edinburgh angler David Cooper won the heaviest bag prize with 8lb 2oz from two fish and he tempted a 6lb cod within ten minutes of the start of the match. The £200 prize continues his good recent run as he has enjoyed recent successes in the inaugural Edinburgh Winter Shore Angling League.

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Spare a thought for an older gentleman who hooked into a fish estimated to be around 10lbs in the last hour of the match.

Other anglers saw the fish squirm off the hook as he reeled it up the harbour wall at Anstruther. The man immediately packed up and went home.

Other placings were: 2, Stuart Ballantyne, 7lb 2oz (Ardrossan); 3, Rab Gallacher, 6lb 8oz (Glenrothes); 4, Thomas Slow 6lb 6oz (Edinburgh); 5, Mike Horn 6lb.6oz (Kirkcaldy); 6, Keith Bathgate 5lb 11oz (Edinburgh); 7, Barry Duffy (Alva) 5lb 9oz; 8, Chris Cooper 5lb 6oz (Musselburgh), 9, Kevin Lewis 5lb (Dundee), 10, Michael Thomson 4lb 12oz (North Berwick).

The heaviest cod placings were: 1, R Gallacher 6lb 8oz; 2, D Cooper 6lb; 3, S Ballantyne 5lb 4oz; 4, T Slow 4lb 4oz. They all won Sonik rods. George Harris, secretary of the St Serfs Club, said the conditions were "quite brutal" at times and he praised the men who took part.

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Meanwhile, the sixth leg of the Edinburgh Winter Shore Angling League is at Marine Esplanade, Seafield, on Friday. Full details on the Scottish Shore Angling Match Group portal on Facebook.

On to fly fishing, and Jason Rennie is the new chairman of West Lothian Angling Association with Fraser Thomson, owner of Pottishaw Fishery, the vice-chair. Scot Muir continues as secretary and Alison Baker remains treasurer. John Dingwall and Neil Irvine are members representatives. The club's season ticket remains at £15 and members get a £10 discount if they wish to fish the part of the river below Newbridge controlled by Cramond Angling Association. For 2023, West Lothian members can claim a four-hour catch and release slot at Pottishaw by arrangement.

Cramond Angling club report that membership is slightly down on last season but office bearers are Adam Cross, Richy Melrose, Steve Jones and Joe Arndt. There are five club bailiffs who will be patrolling the river next season.