Nigel Duncan on fishing: Allandale Tarn winter closure period confirmed

One of the most popular fisheries in the Lothians, Allandale Tarn near West Calder, has confirmed it will be closed for three months over the winter.

Iona Allan, who owns the fly and bait pond next to the Five Sisters Zoo, will shut on Monday, December 19 and re-open on Saturday, March 11. During the break she will work on maintenance around the spring-fed lakes which are stocked with quality rainbow, tiger, blue and brown trout and are bulk stocked with Arctic char.

Water quality is excellent at the Tarn which used to be called The Victoria, after the ruling Monarch of the day. It was originally used as a holding pool to refill passing steam trains engaged in the shale mining industry and the water is well over 170 years old, hence the biology surrounding Allandale has had ample time to develop.

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She has been re-stocking with quality fish, including some double-figure tigers and rainbows and also golden trout. Current weights range from 1.8lb to 18lb-plus and the fishery offers fly and bait sport six days a week, currently from 9am to 4.30pm, but is closed on a Tuesday.

Iona Allan tying flies at her desk overlooking Allandale Tarn. Picture: Nigel Duncan

Anglers are still catching despite the variable weather with Andy Hoy tempting a 12lb-er, the best of the week. Sink tip of intermediate lines have been favoured this week, that is unusual for the fishery where floating lines are usually recommended, as fish are going deeper.

Allan said that variable atmospheric pressure and the flat calm had affected fish along with the cold snap but apps plus red buzzers have been working at various depths, sometimes with a slow retrieve and on other occasions fished static.Of course, everything is weather dependent, but Allan stressed that the sheltered Tarn is unlike other fisheries in the area. She said: "The old phrase goes west is best, but not here. We see anglers catching on an east or north-east wind as we are so sheltered, so the winds don't have the same bite. Floating lines are normally recommended for here, but sinking lines have been preferred recently. Dry flies can work, even in the winter, with yellow owl, spiders and other dry flies worth trying as we have fly life here thanks to the abundance of vegetation growing around the ponds in our enclosed environment."

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Clients come from all over Central Scotland and not just for the fishing. She doubles as The Scottish Fly Lady, selling her own flies and fly tying materials, prepped and dyed by Iona, who has an extensive stock for the DIY tyers out there, including hooks from size 22 down to six.

That part of the business will be open on special days throughout the winter closure period so anglers can stock up and she will advertise opening times on her Facebook page called, not surprisingly, The Scottish Fly Lady. Allan added: "We'll be working on platforms during the closure period and, hopefully, installing a non-slip surface, and I will also be catching up on fly tying to prepare for the spring which is always a busy time for us."

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Darrin Ferguson with his bag of fish in winning the first leg of the Del's Fresh Produce silver series at Magiscroft. Picture: Derek Brady

Meanwhile, Cramond Angling Club host their annual general meeting on Wednesday, December 7 at Cramond Boat Club (7pm for 7.30pm start). Secretary Joe Arndt said that any member wishing to petition a motion for the meeting should communicate in writing to him either by post or email ([email protected]). Petitions for motions should have a proposer and seconded and must be lodged no later than November 30.

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He added that nominations for the committee should also be made to the club secretary and he added: "If you would like to get involved and help in any way then it would be great to hear from you."

He stressed that it is a condition of their lease and of club membership that anglers submit a proper catch return. Failure to do so may prejudice membership and permit issue for next season.

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If you have not done so already, then please submit your return now using the club forms. and that plea also goes for members of Malleny Angling who look after Harlaw Reservoir and bank fishing on part of Threipmuir above Balerno.

'Spud' Murphy with an 8lb trout from Linlithgow Loch courtesy of Forth Area Federation of Anglers
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Fisheries which are still open include Tweeddale Millennium in East Lothian and owner John Jackson reports that an 18.5lb brown trout was landed this week, the biggest brownie so far this season. A 24lb rainbow is the biggest fish to have been tempted at the fishery near Gifford so far this season. That was in July. Pink snakes and black mamba patterns have been working well.

Linlithgow Loch remains open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and secretary Tom Lambert reports some great catches so far this month, among them Jimmy Russell who netted seven. Alistair Golding with his boat partner 'Spud' Murphy netted five with some heavy fish to the boat. Most of the rainbows were caught using small fry patterns.

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Nearby, anglers are still hooking into fish at Bowden Springs with Connor Robertson tempting five fish and a biggest of 7lb on damsel and bloodworm while Dylan Johnston had three, best 4lb, on wotsit. Drumtassie boss Leeanne Aitchison said eggstasy patterns along with squirmy wormy have been producing fish there.

On to sea fishing and Steve Potts from Newcastle won the two-day Iain Reid Memorial match last weekend with 26 fish. Gareth Gardiner from Sunderland was second with 18 fish and Edinburgh angler David Cooper third with 13 fish.Adam Johnson had the longest flatfish of 38cm and 49 anglers fished both days and organiser David Dobbie said conditions were very tough and there was lots of weed.

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A reminder that Stewart and Mike's Winter Open is at Elliot Beach near Arbroath on Saturday, November 26 with fishing from 2pm to 7pm with registration from 12.30 to 1pm at the back of Bally's. This is a pegged event and is strictly pre-book only. Entry is £15 and there is a size limit of 18cm for the competition which is on a catch and release basis. Call Stewart on 07759 379978 or Chris on 07872 944807.

Meanwhile, anglers from the Lothians are heading for The Northumbrian Open on Sunday, November 27. Fishing is from 9am to 1pm with a weigh-in between 1.45pm and 2.30pm at Bank House Club in Newbiggin NE64 6NU. Newbiggin is near Ashington and south of Amble.

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The heaviest bag prize is £400, heaviest fish first and second prizes will be confirmed on the day and there are prizes for juniors with the 40th prize in the raffle being a Sonik rod.

Boundaries are between Tynemouth Pier and Seahouses Breakwater and all estuaries and piers are excluded. Entry is £12 adults and juniors are free with an adult and tickets are available in all local tackle shops and the competition HQ between 7am and 8am. Contact Steve on 07888 674873 for full details.

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On to coarse fishing now and 19 anglers took past in round one of Del's Fresh Produce silverfish series at Magiscroft near Cumbernauld and it was a slow start after the heavy rain in midweek. After the first hour sport picked up and, eventually, Darrin Ferguson, this year's champion at the Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling Club. He topped the list at the end of fishing with 12lb 10oz, including a good head of roach. David McAuley came second with 11lb 6oz and Gus Brindle third with 9lb 8oz. David and Gus are members of the Scottish coarse fishing team and Gus is chairman of the Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling.

Scottish international James Dornom from Currie, Midlothian, was ninth with 5lb 8oz and James Woodrow, another international angler, finished in 11th position with 5lb. The next round is on Sunday, December 4 with the draw at 8.30am and the match from 10am to 3pm.