Surge in young people taking up coarse angling - now the aim is retain them
Membership of the Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling (SFCA) has increased by 30 per cent during the pandemic and a third of the new members are juniors who join free up to the age of 18.
The focus, this year, will be on attracting more juniors, women and girls into the sport and to host activities to retain the new members and to hold anglers who have returned to the sport during lockdown.
Gus Brindle, the SFCA chairman, told the virtual annual general meeting, that the numbers were encouraging and he revealed that the majority of the new blood had come from the Central Belt, mainly from Glasgow, Falkirk, West Lothian and Edinburgh, which is along the Union and Forth and Clyde canal corridor.
"It was, therefore, a safe assumption that the canal continued to be a reason to join and, the fact that a lot of these new members with fathers and sons/daughters, meant that there was a need to try to target some development activity to the canals this year to try to retain them," said Brindle.
The federation, he said, remains in a healthy position to meet its commitment and the SFCA has an increase in available funds due to a combination of the rising individual membership and the lack of development activity due to Covid-19. Brindle stressed, there was "catching up" to do and the expectation was that some of the underspend from last year would be used to retain the new members.
Fife-based Brindle surmised that the new members had joined for outdoor exercise during lockdown, and coaching and development was key moving forward.
He added: "It is essential that we actively re-engage with schools and other organisations to get our programmes re-established as soon as the Covid-19 restrictions permit.
"It is intended to run at least two Level 1 courses and one Level 2 courses this year in partnership with Angling Scotland to make up lost ground."
Membership fees for the SFCA remain unchanged for the 2021/22 season and globally, the World Championship is still scheduled to take place in Italy in September, although, he said, given the current situation across Europe this may be cancelled. Scotland plan to field a team but there are currently no plans for a Home International this year. If the World Championships doesn’t go ahead this may be revisited and options are being considered for a Home International event in its place.
Domestically, Brindle said that he had spoken with the SFCA match secretary and agreed that no federation matches will be held until June. This year, he said, the federation will focus on delivering the national championships as the compressed timetable will undoubtedly impact on the availability of venues.
There were, he added, no international fixtures for Scotland's carp anglers in 2021 however the Senior World Championships is scheduled to take place in Ukraine from September 22-24 with a first ever ladies World Championship being hosted by England from September 1-4. Planning, he said, is under way to field team in both if they go ahead and there is also a move to hold a Home International for both men’s and ladies in October.
Brindle added: "The aim is to try to get the (Scotland) squads together, restrictions permitting, in May for coaching and practice sessions."
Finally, the federation, he said, has been approached to field a Scottish lure team in a Home International and the SFCA are looking to establish a squad with a "proper management structure" to take the initiative forward.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Lowe, chairman of Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling Club, confirmed that as travel restrictions within Scotland are lifted, the first match of this year will be at Orchill near Auchterarder on Saturday, May 1.
On to fly fishing and Glencorse will be open from Wednesday, April 28. Owner Bill Taylor is taking bookings for August while at Rosslynlee near Penicuik anglers have been cashing in on the good weather.
Owner Nicola Perfect reported the best day since taking over with 42 on the water and six anglers turned away as they were full.
Connor Newcombe hooked 21 on CDC and egg fly with JK Dyet and G Bunce netting 15 each on the same day, Dyet on pink duck fly and Bunce on dries with sized 16 and 18 hooks. Lachlan Peaston took advantage of the sun-kissed water and the 13-year-old netted nine hard-fighting trout.
Eggs and diawl bach were his successful options. Whisper it, dad Andrew only hooked five. He was fishing the same pattern.
Rab Amos and W Donald also had good sport. Rab, a Rosslynlee regular, with 14 on egg and buzzer patterns and W Donald landing the same number on egg, damsel, FAB and yellow dancer patterns. Kieran Latto cracked it with 13 trout on eggs while had six on the surface on Fly. Keith Walkinshaw had 14 on a stocking bug and G Dea 12 on CDC and buzzers during their sessions while Carly McCormack was chuffed with 11 fish including a 14lb rainbow, all on egg patterns.
Nearby Loganlea has also enjoyed excellent sport with fish being taken in all areas and with a variety of tactics. Damsel (black and white), buzzers, diawl bach and bugs under a bung have been most productive.
At Harlaw Reservoir above Balerno a total of 294 fish have been caught since opening day on April 1 with 197 returned and Robert Ross, company secretary, said that Viva, yellow dancer, hot head dancer plus black buzzers, damsel and egg patterns were also doing well with catches into double-figures being reported. Day permits are not available at the water and must be bought at mallenyangling.com before arriving. There are no other outlets.
In West Lothian, a yellow dancer pattern hooked a 15lb rainbow for Marvin Cameron. Nearby at Bowden Springs, Simon Jones landed a fine 9lb rainbow on a buzzer on the fly pond with Mr Graham hooking eight, with a best of 4lb, on the bait pond for a total of nearly 19lbs. He was using Powerbait.
At Linlithgow Loch a yellow dancer pattern fished on a fast glass line worked for Jim Russel who returned eight and Andy McAdam fishing snakes in Peel Bay returned ten.
Better still, Mr Johnston returned 13 on black and green lures while loch helpers Gavin Dunn and Jim Russel decided to give the buzzers a swim and returned 22 fish for the boat while Alastair Fyvie returned 14 on silver dancer and tequila blob.
Nigel Muckle was also into fish and returned nine on buzzers while Ian Dobbie and partner returned 29 fish also on buzzers.
A spokesman said that the large head of fish in the water are spread out and all areas of the loch are fishable.
Boats are available for most days for full day or four-hour sessions. Call 01506 671753.