Nigel Duncan on angling: More talent needed to improve Scotland's standing in world fly fishing
Scotland's new fly fishing champion, Steven Corsar, will lead Team Scotland in the World Championships in Slovakia next year, but bosses are keen to attract more talent in a bid to heighten domestic competition and to improve Scotland's standing in world fly fishing.
Corsar won the Premier League in the Scottish National Fly Fishing League (SNFFL) after a hard season over three disciplines, stillwater, loch style and rivers, and the next four anglers in the rankings will accompany him to Liptov. The next five in the 18-strong Premier League will carry Scotland's hopes in the European Championships next year and the four newly-promoted anglers from the First Division will take part in the Five Nations which normally features England, Ireland, France, Norway, Scotland and sometimes Belgium.
Corsar, aged 46, will prepare for the world event by defending his title in the Premier League next year and, looking at the world event, the father-of-three said the squad selected get on extremely well and will be thoroughly prepared. The self-employed tradesman who runs Garioch Jonery in Inverurie near Aberdeen said: "We fish rivers and lakes here in Scotland and all the guys who have qualified are experienced anglers and fly tyers, so we should be OK. "What patterns we use will depend on conditions and that is why we take our fly tying equipment with us to fine tune during the event."
The squad are likely to fly to Poland and then drive over the Tatra Mountains, which form a natural border between Poland and Slovakia, and Corsar added: "We take our 20k baggage allowance, 10k in the aircraft and also around 20k in sports baggage and the gear includes waders, boots and the rest, including nets and fly tying gear."
The Scottish Anglers National Association (SANA), who administer the SNFFL league, have a waiting list for the First Division and Archie Ferguson, who is in charge of media for the leagues, said bosses are keen to encourage more anglers to compete. He added: "Steven (Corsar) is, in my opinion, one of the finest anglers I have seen, but we need more like Steven and so the league system is in place to encourage domestic competition. We have 18 in the Premier League and the same number in the First Division, but we would love to form a Third Division and so we ask any anglers out there who have ever dreamed about angling for Scotland to come forward."
Ferguson admitted that it was difficult trying to raise Scotland's status in world fishing due to a number of issues. One of them is climate. Domestic league matches include loch, small stillwater and river fishing in waters including the Don, the Urie, a tributary which meets the Don at the south edge of Inverurie, and the Tummel or Tweed. However, conditions can be so different from Europe, said Ferguson, who explained: "Our guys can drive into a car park at the Tummel and pick out the tackle and patterns they need. Going into the world and European scene is completely different.
"Technical skill is not an issue as our guys carry all the requisite skills, and they can cast, but you could be faced with a 30c heat, you could have to crawl to find the best eddy to fish in and you could be facing low river levels. There are all sorts of things you need to be aware of in fishing abroad."
SANA, he added, would love to send somebody over to recce venues abroad, but that raises another issue, finance. Money is in short-supply and Ferguson said: "Most of the angling has to be self-financed by the anglers. Of course. we desperately want to be a bigger force in the world, we want to make a mark in Europe, and we want to compete strongly in the Five Nations, so we have to have a strong Scottish league. However, we also want to develop a pathway so that if an angler sitting at home, even if they are a beginner, can look at the progression and say: 'I want to give that a go.' We would be delighted to hear from them."
Last year's Premier League included anglers from: Aberdeenshire: Steve Corsar, Mike Cordiner, Kenny Riddell; Fife/Central, David Chalmers, Fred McDonald, Steven Livingstone, Robert Maxwell, Archie Ferguson; Borders: Cuillin Rae, Keith Renton, Derick Logan, Jake Harvey; Glasgow/West: Jim Kyle, Greg Forrest, Michael Ward, Craig Brown: Tayside/North East: Ian Runcie, Kathleen Shepherd. The 2023 program for the Premier and First Division is over ten sessions and five dates: March 11: Loch style, Harelaw; March 25: small stillwater, Ledyatt; June 11: River, Don/Urie ; August 13: River Tweed; September 3: River Tweed.
Elsewhere, Allandale Tarn near West Calder will now remain open until December 24 due to popular demand. Owner Iona Allan said: "We were originally going to close a week before Christmas, but I've had a lot of people asking why. We are now going to squeeze in a few more stockings before Christmas so it makes sense to open until December 24 then we close to March."
She added: "We have been getting a big influx of new faces from far afield and obviously word is getting out about our big Tiger and bows and gold trout that we have been stocking in the last couple of months. Business has picked up enough to warrant staying open for another week."
Recent fishing has been variable, like the weather, after a frosty start means the fish have been pushed down and Iona has been recommending a sinking line. Anglers have been tempting fish at about 6ft and lures have been chased. On days when it has been significantly milder, trout have come for dry flies and she said: "Last Saturday, for example, people were catching on bung methods and, higher in the water, with Griffith's gnat and spiders. Sunday and the temperature plummeted and the fish stayed down with lures proving the most successful method. Tigers are performing every day, regardless, and they particularly like chasing lures like Ally McCoist. For rainbows, the pattern has depended on the day. Damsel variants have worked along with pink apps with yellow owl and spider patterns on mild days."
Meanwhile, in coarse angling, James Dornom from Currie, Midlothian, won the second round of the Del's Fresh Produce silverfish winter series at Magiscroft near Cumbernauld. He weighed-in with 7lb 9oz after a difficult day of fishing with his Scottish international team-mates, Dave McAuley second with 6lb 12oz and James Woodrow third with 6lb 1oz. Another international angler, Colin Hart, was fourth with 5lb 2oz with Gus Brindle, the chairman of the Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling, 12th equal on 2lb 11oz.
Derek Brady, the organiser, was seventh with 3lb 2oz and he said that heavy overnight frost followed by sleet and then cold rain on and off throughout the day made for a slow start and a difficult day for most. He added: "Most of the anglers at the top end of the loch on both banks were still waiting for their first bite three hours in. A few fish did, however, finally make an appearance including a few unwelcome carp/F1 which don't count."
McAuley won section B ahead of Woodrow and Dornom won A Section. The next round is on Sunday, December 18 with the draw at 8.30am and the match from 10.15am to 15.15. McAuley leads the title chase with 18lb 2oz with Brindle second on 12lb 3oz and Darrin Ferguson, reigning champion at the Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling Club, third on 15lb 2oz. He totalled 2lb 8oz for 15th place last Sunday.
Onto sea fishing and Pete Bauld hooked into eight fish for 21lb 10oz to win the first of the winter cod league matches in the East Coast. Kevin Lewis (Broughty Ferry), manager of the Scottish Ladies Sea Fishing team. was second with nine fish for 21lb 6oz and Alan Combe (Kirkcaldy) third with 12 fish for 21lb 5.5oz. The heaviest fish was caught by Tony Cook, a 6lb 4oz cod and 28 anglers fished and Cook's fish leads the way.