The big day arrived with a bright chilly morning that felt quite pleasant in the shelter of the car park. It was with the prospect of a better than forecast day that encouraged the teams to roar off when the horn blew at 09:00. The fishing was slow at first but nobody was prepared for what was about to come. About 10:00 the skies darkened and a mortuary like chill descended on the loch with an incredibly bitter NE breeze blowing up the loch. Undeterred our heroes battered on but for most teams the fishing was slow with nothing showing on top. I said most teams as word was spreading that Davie Macgregor was steadily catching fish up at the top end of the loch. As the day wore on it felt as if winter had returned with some of the boats coming in early just to get of the wind.
When the weigh in finally arrived it was surprising to see that despite the conditions most of the boys had caught some trout. When all of the counting had been done there was a grand total of 48 trout to an amazing 44.13lb, which to my reckoning is just short of a 1lb average. Top team on the day was SGL with 17 for 11.16lb. Davie MacGregor was top rod with 12 to 7.71lb. The biggest trout, was the only trout that I caught which weighed in just shy of 3lb. As for the qualifiers, Davie Macgregor and Barry Whitford had qualified for Watten and Shin whilst Derek Williamson and myself were off to Skye for the all-nighter. As soon as the boats were secured the squad disappeared in the direction of the cottage bar for a well-deserved dram and buffet. Once everybody had thawed out, the trophies were handed out by our new chairman, Steve Dowds.
Congratulations go out to Davie and his SGL team who in the end were well deserved winners, 4½lb in front of the second placed team. The main winner was of course loch Achonachie A.C. who have the honour of welcoming anglers from all over the highlands to our open event and I hope that they will continue to come in future years. Thanks for all who turned up and an especial thanks to Tracy for putting on a tremendous buffet and her welcome to the cottage bar.
Lewis Ross Competitions Secretary
|Team||Position||Anglers||Number & Weight||Team Total|
|SGL||1st||Davie MacGregor||12 for 7.71lb|
|George Eccleson||4 for 2.64lb|
|Brian Scobie||1 for 0.81lb||17 for 11.16lb|
|Loch Achonachie Tree T's||2nd||Derek Williamson||3 for 3.15lb|
|Neil Drummond||4 for 3.57lb||6 for 6.72lb|
|Beauly (A) A.C.||3rd||Neil MacKenzie||2 for 2.46lb|
|Frank Durdle||3 for 3.50lb||5 for 5.96lb|
|Team||Name||Position||No of Trout||Total Weight|
|Team||Name||Weight of Heaviest Trout|
|Loch Achonachie Bog Trotters||Lewis Ross||2.93lb|
|Venue||Name||No of Trout||Total Weight|
|Watten Charity Competition||Davie MacGregor||12||7.71lb|
|Portree A.A. All-Nighter||Derek Williamson||3||3.15lb|
|Shin Wild Trout Challange||Davie MacGregor||12||7.71lb|
|Barry Whitford||2||3.28lb |
On arrival everything looked good with a gentle NW breeze blowing, but not too cold. It was only when the lads were out on the water did it become obvious that it must have been blowing a howler during the last couple of days. The loch had been badly churned up and was trying to resemble a sea of pea soup. Undeterred Davie and Barrie started near the island and worked down the north shore without as much as a follow. It was then over to the south shore where Davie at least had a pull but nothing stayed on. The boys went back and fro and even tried out in the middle without any interest whatsoever. In desperation the team headed right down to the bottom corner where the burn runs in from loch Scarmclate. At the end of the first drift Davie was into a good trout but hooking is one thing and landing is another. No sooner had the cheer gone up and the fish was off, ###. At the start of the next drift it was Barry’s turn to connect and this was no ordinary trout going by the speed it took off at. When the trout took to the air it was nerve jangle time as this was a corker but with some patience and a fair bit of skill the trout was duly in the net. The scales showed it to be 3¼lb, an absolute brammer and surely nailed on for the biggest trout.
Soon enough four o’clock arrived and the team were back on dry land, Barry looking forward to the weigh in, Davie looking forward to a pint. Heading to the weigh in most agreed that it had been a hard day but some teams had done well. After everything had been counted it was Dounraey fly fishers who had come out on top with 12 trout to just over 14lb which, sadly for Barry included a beauty of 3lb 11oz. All was not lost however, as after the soup and sandwiches it was time for the raffle. Second out of the hat was none other than our own John Cartlidge who won a litre bottle of Bells which was handed over to Davie MacGregor to pass on. To most this was like asking the cat to baby sit the hamster but surprisingly the bottle of whiskey made it safe and sound to John. Finally, I would like to thank the Royal British Legion for their invite and hospitality, all being equal we shall be back next year.
Lewis Ross Competitions Secretary
When we did arrive in Skye the weather was no better and showed little signs of easing off. After a quick pit stop in Broadford it was off to the Storr with all of the team looking to check if they had packed their waterproofs. On arrival it was sight to behold with every burn over flowing and rushing into the lochs. For most, it was a case of finding a sheltered spot rather than sticking to a plan that would see any angler being battered by the weather. Some, including myself, elected to try the smaller of the two lochs. Most of the rest spread out along the big loch road shore where at least there was some shelter from the rain and wind. What was fascinating was the wild whirlpools being whipped up from the surface of the lochs only to collapse when they crashed into the windward bank. Surprisingly there were a few fish about and some did manage to catch a few even though the majority fell short of the 10 inch limit. Tactics ranged from biggish flies on sinking lines to dries, all seemed to work if you were in the right spot. Ali Hunter was the only explorer who went down the far side and into the squall. His reward was there for all to see, 2 fish that were keepers, drenched to the skin, frozen to the core and a smashed rod.
The weigh in came none too soon for everybody and the bus picked up the boys from the roadside who were standing like groups of emperor penguins sheltering from the blast. Back at the club house the weigh in showed 34 trout for 23.9lb. The best fish was a topper of 4.12lb landed by Tony MacCafferty fishing for the rest of the world. Sadly this specimen was not backed up by the others in the team who totaled 5 trout for 6lb 6oz compared to Loch Achonachie’s 29 trout for 17lb 8oz. A quick mention should go to new member, Jim Fisher from Culbokie who had 5 to 3.06oz and was our 2nd best rod. I finished top Loch Achonachie top rod, after finding a few keepers just before the whistle, leaving me with 7 for 3.85lb. Barry Whitford seems to be in the bigger trout zone this spring and weighed in the best Achonachie trout at just over a pound.
The overall results were:-Winning Team: Loch Achonachie A.C. and Danfoss winners 2015
Heaviest LAAC Trout: Barry Whitford 1.05lb and holder of the Danfoss shield.
Top Loch Achonachie Rod: Lewis Ross 7 trout for 3.85lb, winner of the Achonachie Quaich.
We were warmly greeted by the local club members, allocated a boat and were soon out on the water in what looked like ideal conditions. Our first drift proved fruitful with three fish caught but only one exceeded the 10" limit. This turned out to be the pattern for the rest of the night. For those of us who have been told by wives or girlfriends that size doesn’t matter, they were lying. Lewis and I could have both been in double figures in numbers caught. As the light faded we had a flurry of takeable trout and ended with a combined bag of ten.
Back on shore we were given generous helpings of piping hot mince and tatties or pasta bake, and for those not driving, the drams were flowing nicely.
This was my first introduction to the Skye boys and I found them welcoming, generous and full of character.
The weigh in followed supper and the results were:
In conclusion, nobody went swimming, there were no rods broken and a second place was secured. A very enjoyable trip.
As usual the teams were greeted by the smell of breakfast and all were soon feasting on bacon sausages and fried eggs, all washed down with tea, coffee or a dram, whatever you prefer. What wasn’t so welcoming was the Sutherland weather. There was a stiff NW wind blowing down the loch and even at the club house white horses were crashing down the middle of the loch. The forecast for later was that the wind would pick up even further and for squally showers to move in from the SW, what a treat.
At 10:00 sharp the gun went off and as usual most boats ripped off up the loch. Because of the wave the boats had to cut across to the South shore before making their way west up the loch. Derek and Jim cursed their luck as their outboard cut grinding them to a halt after only 50 yards. All they could do was watch the Lairg armada sail off into the gloom. In the end, once they got mobile the pair elected to fish the dam end. Iain and Davie went up around the first corner and fished the south shore with some success until the wind started to get up and the pair darted over to Shiness bay for some shelter. Two of the Lairg boats punched out into the waves and braved the narrows, Hamish Chisholm and Popper electing to go right up to the top of the loch and Brian Martin and Jimmy MacKenzie going to where Brian had most of his fish two weeks earlier, between the burns and Macleod’s bay. As the day wore on the weather closed in and by mid-afternoon virtually everybody was soaked to the skin.
Six o’clock came as relief for quite a few, especially Iain MacPhail who had suffered from tennis elbow for a good chunk of the day. I think we’re all still trying to work that one out but at least Iain had a couple of nice trout. Davie had 9 keepers , Jim had 3 but I’m afraid Derek blanked which put him out of the running for yet another booby prize as you need to weigh in at least one fish to qualify. The weigh in was a close run affair with both Brian Martin & Hamish Chisholm with 10 keepers each. The trout right up at the Overscaig end tend to be a bit better quality and Hamish’s bag weighed in at 7lb 4oz as opposed to Brian’s 6lb 15oz. Tubby and Davie Macgregor were not far behind so at least Achonachie faired better in this competition. After some well deserved broth and shepherd’s pie, hope it was a different pie from a fortnight ago, the shin cup and the £100 first prize was presented to Hamish. Loch Achonachie did better at the raffle with more than their fair share of whiskey, wine and other prizes being thrown in their direction. Soon enough the teams headed off in the direction of home, another shin season behind us. I would like to thank Lairg A.C. for their hospitality and if invited we should be sending some teams up again next season.
On the Saturday of the competition the loch was still high after some rain during the week but dropping to a good fishable height. Unfortunately there was very little if no breeze in the morning so at 09:00 the boats roared off into a flat calm. About half of the boats elected to go up to the top of the loch with the rest looking for the bigger trout down at the dam. As the morning wore on a light westerly breeze picked up and with it the fishing improved. Barry Whitford had a beauty of at least a couple pounds with virtually every boat picking up fish here and there. During the afternoon boats started to move about the loch which suggested that sport had started to dry up and the tactics had changed to finding that odd fish that might just win the day. At the weigh in it looked as if most had some decent bags to weigh in with quite a few 2lb fish in evidence. Neil Drummond had persevered down at the dam and this eventually paid off as he had 2 beauties, the best just under 3lb in his bag of 5. This gave Neil the top rod and biggest fish. Neil MacRitchie and myself, were the best boat with 7 trout for just over 8lb.
Back at the cottage bar we were treated to an excellent meal by Tracy and our thanks go out to her and the staff for once again looking after us. The trophies and whiskey prizes were presented to the two Neil’s and myself and with it came the close of the 2015 season. On a sadder note, due to work pressure I’ve had to resign as competition secretary. It’s been a pleasure over the past few years and I feel we’ve had a lot of fun along the way. I would like to thank all of those who’ve supported competitions and I hope that you can come in future years. On a brighter note, Davie MacGregor will be back doing the competitions in the coming seasons and I’m sure you will all give him the same help and support that I’ve enjoyed.
|Boat||Name||No Fish||Total Wt lbs||Biggest Fish||Trophy|
|3||L Ross||4||4.34||Best Boat SGL Quaich|
|N MacRitchie||3||3.74||Best Boat SGL Quaich|
|9||Neil Drummond||5||7.01||2.86||Hydro Quaich/Sports and Model Shop Plaque |
The junior competition started out as usual, with all juniors and their accompanying adults meeting in Strathpeffer square at 8 o’clock. A couple of call offs meant that there were a few less than expected. All accounted for we all headed up to the wilds of Fannich estate. Once at the estate it became evident that the lack of wind could be a potential problem but to compensate the drive up the side of the loch was stunning.
As usual everybody split up and darted off in different directions as many of the competitors had fished loch Fannich before and obviously decided just to go straight to their favourite spots to start their day’s fishing. It was great to see a few new faces who were about to have their skills tested by lack of wind which at best could be described as light variable. At least there was some cloud cover but with the lack of wind and sun it could only mean one thing, dreaded MIDGES by the thousand.
Back at the lodge, the weigh in proved that midges aside, the competitors had had what seemed to have been a good day out on the loch. Once again, as seems customary with the junior competition, the bag weights were incredibly close. This year the top two bags could not be separated even down to the last 10th of an ounce.
After an excellent days fishing the results are as follows:
|1st place||Neil Ross and Mathew Stewart||(joint) 6 fish and seven fish for 3.02lb|
|2nd place||Ramsay Rait||2 fish for 1.71lb|
|3rd place||Scott Dingwall||2 fish for 0.85lb|
|Biggest fish||Ramsay Rait||1lb|
|Most on Fly||Ramsay Rait||1.71lb|
|Best Pair||Neil and Lewis Ross||23 for 12.65lb|
Weigh in completed; it was over to the dubious culinary skills of Mr Ali Morrison who was very kind in bringing his gas fired BBQ. All the burgers and sausages came from Cockburns of Dingwall. When you combine some hungry teenagers and some delicious rolls together you end up with not a morsel left which is customary at our junior competition. Once again we would like to thank Rhuiraidh and Rachael for their hospitality and for letting us use Fannich year after year for the competition. We would also like to thank Ali Morrison for his surprisingly delicious BBQ, Cockburns for the excellent grub, for all the juniors and adults for making it such a great day out and for my dad Lewis for once again organising the competition.
Loch Shin had been up into the heather for most of the spring and even by the start of July Tirry bay was still full. The expectation was that the trout would be in different parts of the loch other than the usual lies and it might take a bit of time to work things out. Day one dawned with a steady but not too difficult north to north west wind. One thing you can always guarantee at Shin is a good breakfast and the smell of the bacon and sausages soon lured our teams into the club house for some scran and the long awaited draw. Barry and Brian were paired together, Davie was drawn with DJ Innes from Fort William and Derek was paired with Douglas Fairbairn from Mallaig.
All fed, watered and buoyed by a glass, or for some two glasses of Clynelish, the teams roared off at 10:00 sharp. A couple of boats went straight over to the cages but the rest chose to push straight up through the narrows. Davie and DJ went straight up to Fiag but only found a couple of keepers in an area that usually holds plenty of fish. Half an hour later and that particular pair were grounded when Davie’s brand new 6hp engine packed in. You have to give the Lairg boys a fair bit of credit as Davie Ross had the pair afloat with a replacement engine inside half an hour. Barry and Brian were one of the boats that stayed down the bottom end and scratched about for a couple of Keepers Derek did no better and had little to show by weigh in time. For most it was a hard day but the usual faces seemed to find the fish. Mr. wild trout, Donnie MacBeth, had a dozen nice trout to 6¾lb but for the first time in years had to play second fiddle. Lairg’s Brian Martin weighed in 13 to 7lb 2 oz and had just shaved it on day one. The best Loch Achonachie rod was Davie MacGregor with 5 for 2lb 14oz. The biggest trout on day one was a 1¼lb fish caught by Peter Weyms. One thing you’re always sure of on Shin is a good scoff and this year the broth and the shepherd’s pie certainly filled the hole and help thaw out the chilled bones, thank you Donnie.
Day 2 started with another good old fry up which for most of our west coast friends, helped soak up the Saturday night dram. The weather was kinder on the second day with a gentle south easterly breeze and believe it or not, a bit of sunshine. Again most of the boats roared up the loch looking for a drift that had been missed on the Saturday. The south shore was more accessible on day 2 and a number of boats tried their luck from opposite the lime kiln all the way up to Macleod’s bay. This was where Davie and DJ tried their luck and both of them were into trout early on with DJ netting a good trout that was easily bigger than anything weighed in on day one. Brian Martin was fishing in the same area and his rod was seen to be bent over on a very regular basis. As the day wore on the boats headed back through the narrows and congregated around the Tirry mouth looking for that last trout before the weigh in. At the weigh in the Brian Martin had 14 to weigh and to the surprise of all Donnie MacBeth could only weigh in 11 keepers. It was Brian’s day as his 14 trout weighed over 8lb nearly 3lb clear of Donnie. The best boat over the 2 days was Brian Martin and Peter Weyms and the biggest trout was DJ Innes with a corker of 1lb 14oz. Davie Macgregor was again the Achonachie top rod with 7 to just over 4lb.
All too soon the supper was scoffed and the prizes presented by Clynelish distillery. It was a bit strange not to see Donnie MacBeth add to his crystal vase collection but congratulations has to go to Brian Martin for nailing 2 good bags over a hard weekend. Again Loch Achonachie failed to trouble the judge but we will be back. Finally our thanks go to all of the Lairg boys for the invitation and as usual the welcome and hospitality was warm and the craic amazing.
After a couple of quick pit stops at Golspie and Helmsdale the bus headed up the Melvich road on route to the Badanlochs. There seemed to be a good flow in the river Helmsdale which pointed to enough water being in the Badanlochs to complement the river level. Turning west at Kinbrace you could see the lochs a couple of miles in the distance which as usual acts as a trigger for the shoes to get replaced with the hiking boots.
On arrival, to the relief of all, there was a good easterly breeze blowing keeping the midges down, the lochs were also at an excellent fishing height. With the wind at their backs, most of the lads charged up the track heading up the Badanloch. A few tramped beyond to Loch na Clar, Loch an Altan Fhearna or right out to Loch Rimsdale. Some of the team went up the deer path along the north shore heading to the island and beyond. Within half an hour all and sundry were scattered to the four corners and only the weigh in would decide who had got their tactics right. As the day wore on the stiff breeze turned into a howling gale but thankfully moist of the rain kept away. Back at the bus all gathered for the weigh in, some hopeful of winning a prize and some looking to avoid being crowned the 2015 master baiter.
What was obvious was that the lochs had fished well and although there were no big fish the numbers had held up against previous years As usual Davie MacGregor and Archie Prentice had done well on Rimsdale but there were also some good bags from the Badanloch notably Kenny Groat who after years of fishing this competition had at last come good. In the end it was quality and quantity that won the day for Kenny who had the heaviest bag even though he has 2 fish less than big Archie. The biggest fish was weighed in by George Eccleson at 0.66lb. Top team was Loch Achonachie with 59 trout to 21.6lb. This year the Badanlochs had given up a total of 169 tout which goes to show what a good competition venue this is.
|Top Rod||Name||Team||No Trout||Wt. lbs||Trophy|
|1st||Kenny Groat||LAAC||20||7.62||SGL Claret Jug|
|Winning Team||Name||No trout||Wt. lbs||Trophy|
|1st||Loch Achonachie A.C.||59||21.6||SGL Cup|
|Biggest Trout - George Eccleston||SGL||0.66lb||-|
When all the dust had settled Kenny Groat collected both the Claret Jug for coming top rod and the SGL Cup for having the best bag in the winning team. Kenny also collected a £50 tackle voucher. George collected his £30 tackle voucher for the biggest fish and prizes were handed out all the way to 10th place. The booby for coming 13th, a £20 voucher was won by Neil MacKenzie of Beauly. Finally we come down to those that fared not so well. SGL always have someone who talks the talk and not much else. This year our very own Pavel had one fish for 0.19 of a pound, which is hardly going to feed the multitude and he deservedly was awarded the gay bear. Right at the bottom of the Achonachie pile was a man who came 2nd in this year’s winter league but somehow managed to catch a polo mint, a doughnut, or in other words a big fat zero. Step forward Mr. Derek Williamson MASTER BAITER 2015.
With all the prizes handed out it was off to Helmsdale with the odd dram to warm the cockles along the way. There was a raffle for 3 bottles of whiskey but by that time only the winners were interested. The fish supper at Helmsdale was excellent and before long we were all back at Conon Bridge with yet another great day out behind us. Thank you Sandy for getting us there and safely home and thanks to SGL for organising the prizes Thank you all for coming and making it another memorable day out and let’s make it another topper of a day next year.
This winter saw some good bags of trout from 4 different fisheries in the highlands. The venues were Achagour, Rothiemurchus, Glen of Rothes and Lagg. There were no dates called off for weather or frozen lochs. The winner is the angler with the least number of points, 1 point for top rod, 2 for second etc. The winner this winter was Davie MacGregor with Ali Morrison catching the largest trout.
|Name||Total Number of Points||Overall Position|
|Ali Morrison||Biggest Trout||9lb 3oz from Glen Rothes|
A full 2015 - 2016 winter league report, which makes interesting reading, is downloaded onto the News Tab