Nigel Duncan on fishing: Arms raised in triumph on angling introduction course

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The delight on the faces of novice anglers was there for all to see, and the relief. Arms were raised in triumph once a trout was safely in the net. Close by, an angler hooked into another trout and the fish put up a great fight. A quick picture and then the fish was returned to the water to fight another day.

These were two scenes from chilly Pottishaw near Whitburn on night two of the introduction to fishing course being run by West Lothian Angling Association (WLAA). Around 20 anglers were there, from a youngster accompanied by his mum, to teenagers with experienced fishing grandads in tow, to those who regularly fish The Almond with mixed result but who wanted to extend their knowledge and their skill.

The first session concentrated on fly tying and the various patterns to use plus how to match the hatch. It also featured watercraft plus discipline, including what not to do with used casts. Ask any fishery and they will tell you that nylon lying around is a pest to them and a danger to wildlife.

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The middle session at Pottishaw near Whitburn majored on casting and fishing a still water. Casting proved difficult for some. For others they clicked into gear quickly, but beginner anglers were advised to persevere and practice, even going into the back garden with rod, reel and line with a piece of wool attached to the leader.

Instruction under way at Pottishaw in the coarse run by West Lothian Angling Association.Instruction under way at Pottishaw in the coarse run by West Lothian Angling Association.
Instruction under way at Pottishaw in the coarse run by West Lothian Angling Association.

The third session earlier this week headlined river fishing at Almondell Country Park near Livingston, where to cast, how to cast in a confined space, and avoid low, hanging trees and how to wade safely. Anglers were advised to always carry a wading stick and to wear a lifejacket just in case as some rivers may look shallow but they have deep pools. A special class exclusively for ladies follows along with one for youngsters and the initiative by (WLAA) was appreciated by those present, so was the spread.

Several varieties of wraps, sweet and sour sandwiches, olives, pickled onions and sausages, chicken legs and a number of mouth-watering cakes including Orkney Fudge Cake, an absolutely delicious almond and lemon drizzle cake, suitable for gluten free. All part of the package. Delegates came not just from the local area. One braved the Sheriffhall Roundabout to attend from Dunbar, another hit heavy traffic on his way from Edinburgh, and the host was Fraser Thomson, owner of Pottishaw.

Thankfully, the trees provided shelter from a strong west wind. Initially, it was difficult for the beginners with one angler out in a boat was regularly spotted with a bent rod. However, as darkness descended, the fish woke up and appetites for further forays were whetted. The course costs £60 for adults and £30 for children but includes a fee permit for the stretch of The Almond run by WLAA.

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It also allows a participant to return to Pottishaw for another session later in the season. Thomson, vice-chairman of West Lothian Angling Association, is desperate to encourage people into the sport, and to fish The Almond, once one of the most polluted rivers in Scotland, a situation caused by local industry.

Some of the trolleys lifted from the River Almond by West Lothian Angling AssociationSome of the trolleys lifted from the River Almond by West Lothian Angling Association
Some of the trolleys lifted from the River Almond by West Lothian Angling Association

Things have changed and salmon are now back in the river which has a good head of brown trout, a native species, who provide good sport for those keen to test their skill and knowledge. Yes, you can still hook into items like shopping trolleys, and WLAA members pulled over 50 from the river in a clean-up recently, plus scooters, plastic bottles, fencing and other items while, bankside, West Lothian Litter Pickers, who also took part, collected ten bags of rubbish. Anglers can't fathom why people chuck trolleys and together debris in a river which is a feature in West Lothian and which gives so much pleasure to some. That aside, places are still available on the courses, I understand.

Scientific anglers

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Angling Centre will host a weekend with scientific anglers next month after the success of their recent Tronix/HTO mini open weekend which featured demonstrations of lures and rigs and well-known anglers including Jake Schogler plus Scottish international Billy Buckley.

Kailzie Trout and Salmon Fishery near Peebles host their first fly fishing competition. It is £45 to enter and the winner takes home £100, runner-up £50 and third prize is two, eight hour catch and release sessions at the fishery.

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The heaviest fish caught receives a £20 voucher and the competition runs from 9am to 6pm with a break of an hour for lunch which is included in the price. Bookings now being taken.

At the Lake of Menteith near Stirling, Keith Logan (Heriot AC) won the final Scottish Anglers National Association competition section (SANACC) national heat and was one of 14 qualifiers along with his boat partner, Tony Li ((GFFC) second and Stuart Lindsay (Select FF) third. High temperatures made it tough for the anglers and the first semi-final starts in two weeks.

Millhall near Polmont report that the warmer weather resulted in a surge of fly life with midges, pond olives and hawthorn flies plus daddy long legs,damsels and dragonflies showing.The fish switched on when there was cloud cover. Floating lines dominated with J Kidd tempting 12 fish, mostly on damsels, M Haddow returning 14 fish, all on buzzers, J Burns had 11 fish on a combination of damsels and snakes, P Wilson had a total of 18 fish on CDC dries and suspender buzzers and W Nelson returned 12 fish on buzzers and bloodworms. He lost an estimated double-figure fish when his leader parted at the net.

At Linlithgow Loch successful lines were floating, midge and sink tip with buzzers, muskins, crunchers, black and green lures, damsels and FABS the most successful patterns. The loch water continues to be clear and the change in the weather and atmospheric pressure boosted catches and Jimmy Russell returned 15 on one session and ten on another. Bosses continue to stock regularly and boats are available on most days for a full day or four-hour sessions.

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At nearby Bowden Springs, Paul Dancer hooked into a 10lb rainbow while Allandale Tarn bosses confirm that their opening hours from this weekend are to 10.30pm and specimen fish ere introduced in this week's stocking. Nearby, Morton Fishings confirm that the 21st tank of fish has been added since they opened in March. This time it was 4.2 tonnes and opening hours are extended to 10pm for bank anglers. Boats must be back in harbour by 9pm.

Harlaw continues to fish well with Willy Kelly tempting six on mayfly nymph and Bob Armstrong seven on the same pattern on the South Shore and, over the Pentland Hills at Loganlea, Wednesday evening sessions from 5pm to 9pm are now operating. They must be booked.

Glencorse plan to open in the evening this month with June 7, 13, 20, 22, 27 and 30 pencilled in and down in East Lothian anglers report that Tweeddale Millennium is "bubbling" with fish on occasions.

Sea fishing

Scottish international Chris Empson (Dunbar) won the third leg of the Bass Rock Shore Angling League's summer series with six fish for 166cm with William Stafford (Edinburgh) second with thee fish for 108cm and Barry McEwan (Port Seton) third with two fish for 52cm, one centimetre ahead of Shaun Gardner (North Berwick) who also landed two fish.Newcomer Zak Coxhead (North Berwick) was fifth with a 32cm fish while Stafford won the longest fish price with one of 43cm. Codling, coley and slug were caught off Dunbar sea wall in this pegged match. The next leg is on Wednesday and see their Facebook site for details probably on Monday.

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Around 50 anglers are involved, including Scottish internationals and several from the Lothians including McEwan and James Ogilvie plus Stuart Fairbairn (both Haddington) and Edinburgh-based Buffy McAvoy, a member of the Scottish Ladies sea angling team, in the Scottish Federation of Sea Anglers (SFSA) match at Riverside Drive in Dundee on Sunday with the first prize of £120 and longest fish award £50.

Basic rules are one rod two hooks. There are no bait restrictions and fishing is from 11.15am to 16.15pm with registration from 9,30am to 10am at the football pitches along from the Bridge View Cafe.

Meanwhile, Sandy McKay continues to hold onto his lead, but only just, in the summer series organised by Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling League. He has 121 points despite being last in matchday five with two perch for 5oz. Tommy Lauriston is three points back with Martin Pearson moving up to third with 115 points.

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