Nigel Duncan on fishing: Scottish National Stillwater Bank Championship comes to to Allandale Tarn
Brian Quinn brings the Scottish National Stillwater Bank Championship to Allandale Tarn near West Calder on Sunday (March 19) and it is the third round of the popular event which culminates in the final in May.
The first two rounds at Wormit near Dundee in mid-February and Drumtassie at Blackridge earlier this month were fished in flat calm conditions. Another, scheduled for Loch Insch near Aberdeen, was cancelled last weekend due to bad weather and it has been re-scheduled for April 2. Lee Anderson from Invergowrie won at Wormit with Ian Scott from Kilmarnock second and Scott Mudie (Kirkcaldy) third. Greg Hogan, last year's winner, won at Drumtassie and the Stirling-based angler hooked into 26 fish during the day. Second was J Reynolds also from Stirling and third David Harrison (Edinburgh).
Quinn, the organiser, said that conditions were good for the time of year at Wormit and Drumtassie and he added: "They caught 80 fish at Wormit which was less than I expected but at Drumtassie 350 fish were caught, that is an average of over ten per rod. It was a great start to the event for Greg (Hogan) and I am delighted with the up-take this year. There are some new faces entered and that is great. One chap entered who had never been in a competition before and everybody has gone to start somewhere, but members of last year's international team are also in the field.
Looking ahead to Sunday (registration 8am, briefing 8.45am, fishing 9am) Allandale Tarn owner Iona Allan, who re-opened last weekend for the season, said conditions had varied from day to day, but anglers were into over 20 fish during their four hour sessions.
Last Saturday, fish were at 8ft with FAB, buzzer, snakes, olive damsel and black rabbit doing the damage along with lures. The water was flat calm. On Sunday, the fish were at 2ft with yellow diawl bach, damsel, FAB and blob working. Some tried dry flies but the fish just rolled them and did not bite. There are three rounds after Allandale, at Insch, Burnhouse near Cumbernauld on March 26 and Waterfront near Ayr on Sunday, April 2 before two semi-finals at Kingennie near Broughty Ferry on Saturday, April 22 and Kinross on Saturday, 29 April with the final at New Haylie, near Largs, in May. From there, six anglers and a reserve are picked for the International against England, Ireland and Wales which is also at New Haylie on October 25.
Elsewhere, The Lake of Menteith opens for trout fishing on Saturday, March 18, as does Glencorse RSV near Penicuik. Here. there is a policy change worth noting. Previously, it was bookings only at Glencorse but now, from Tuesday to Friday, not weekends, anglers can turn up and fish. There is a caveat, however. Bill Taylor, the owner, explained that it is not economic to open if there are less than three boats booked, but he has a fleet of 12 and the remaining nine will be available to walk-ups if he is open. There may not be engines as Glencorse does not have mains electricity and he can't charge engines there, but he has oars and, of course, anglers can bring their own engines.
Over the hill at Clubbiedean, owner Steven Johnston has re-opened after the cold snap and like other owners, including Karen Jack at nearby Loganlea, they are hoping for an improvement in the weather. Bangour Fishery are also open from March `18 and they will close in July and August for a "mid-summer hot water closure" and re-open in September and October. Then they close for the winter.
Anglers who have braved the recent cold snap include those at Liinlithgow Loch where fish have been tempted by blobs, cormorant and various lure patterns. Stuart Kelly was one of the successful anglers returning three trout and two pike and at nearby Bowden Springs West of Scotland-based Mr McHoan had a good day on lures with seven to the net including a 12lb rainbow trout. Robert Thompson also had seven and a best of 7lb which was a brown trout on buzzer and cormorant.
Near Whitburn, Pottishaw owner Fraser Thomson said lures on an intermediate line were working on some days and buzzers on another and he added: "Tactics and fishing are as unpredictable as the weather."
Catch returns, however, continue to impress from Morton Fishings, near Livingston, which recently re-opened after being closed for nearly three years. James Harrison had ten to the net in a four hour session and he said that he lost countless fish. Egg patterns on an intermediate line worked for him but he stripped the line fast from the bank.
And John Connor wrote on social media that he managed 21 to the net and dropped/missed 25 fish as well on a slow sinking line with cheese egg and squirmy wormy patterns. His heaviest was around 13lb and a second close to 11lb. It was his first trip to Morton and Scott Russell said he had "17 hard-fighting fish to the net" and also missed "loads".
The latest from Rosebury Fishery near Temple is that they will open on April 1. Dougie Grant, the fishery manager, said bushes had been cut back and paths improved and they would be re-stocking before opening day. Bookings are now being taken by phone or email and the car parking arrangement is the same as last year where anglers parked on the road leading to the popular water and walked down to the reservoir.
Brown trout fishing is now under way on the Almond and anglers have been warned to be aware of underfoot conditions as the rocks are very slippy with the frost. Out of the cold, there was a great turnout for West Lothian Angling Association's monthly fly tying night in Mid Calder Community Centre last Monday with a good number of former members of the new defunct Edinburgh Fly Dressers travelling to join in.
Organisers are looking for a new venue as the current one is too small for the current numbers. They are also thinking of making the events every 14 days and a date for the next one will be confirmed shortly. The sessions are free and for all categories of dressers and the club also have some equipment for beginners to use.
Meanwhile, Derek Anderson has invested in a new boat, taking his Eyemouth-based fleet to three and they are now docked ready for a break in the weather. The new vessel, called Famous, can take 12 anglers and two crew and can go up to 60 miles. It has been brought up from Dover after spending the first part of its life in Hartlepool and finishing touches are being made to the boat before the first charters.
Incidentally, the Berwickshire and Northumberland coastline offers good fishing for species like coalfish, ling and pollock and, in the summer, mackerel and bass are targeted. In the winter the main focus is on cod. Anderson hopes to set sail again on the weekend of March 25/26 as bad weather is forecast for this weekend. He is taking bookings and the cost is now £47 per person for his trips. He recommends squad bait.