Consolidating the art of angling....

VIA a kind invitation of Stuart Fleming of the Aberdeen and District Angling Association, four Stonehaven club juniors attended a well organised ADAA fly casting event at Park Quarry near Drumoak from 10am to 4pm on Sunday, with expert tuition provided by Ben Dixon of the Banchory Orvis fishing tackle shop and hamburgers and other treats on tap.

Close liaison like this with fellow fishing clubs, can only help consolidate the art of angling in the North-east and sustain the interest of our vital youngsters. This free day follows closely behind two similarly successful SDAA coaching and competition events at Allochie Lochan for our own healthy junior membership.

Talking of taps, the good Lord certainly forgot to turn off the natural one last Saturday when an intrepid party from Stonehaven travelled north to Tongue to accompany “Fiona the Vet” and her remarkable 80-year-old father, Alistair, in successfully tackling their final “Munro” in the shape of the steep, brooding and spectacular Ben Hope. These two bold vets really should learn to read computer generated weather maps more accurately, though......a deep green patch positioned right over that same rugged mountain, did not signify that we would be ascending through lush green grass, but struggling uphill in the eye of a severe gale-force wind laden with solid rain which even the best of mountaineering kit was hard pressed to withstand!

Some celebratory hand shaking, appropriate singing and a dram of 17-year- old malt whisky shared in the basic shelter of the crescent-shaped boulder cairn at the summit Trig Point, provided welcome inner warmth before we all scurried off downhill, sodden but euphoric, towards base camp.

Which reminds me of a longstanding invitation from Durness-based angling author Bruce Sandison, to join him for a cast on Loch Hope at the head of that watercourse, once a world-renowned seatrout water but now a pale shadow of its former self as wild salmon and seatrout stocks which had happily thrived there since the last Ice Age, struggle to survive under the environmental pressure of pollution, pests and disease stemming directly from salmon fish farming.

Another internationally-famed Scottish angling venue is the beautiful large glacial relic of Loch Leven in Kinross-shire, just 90 minutes or so from Stonehaven. SDAA outings convener Mike Fraser has booked no less than five boats for a social outing there on Saturday, September 28, with each of these comfortable outboard-powered vessels seating two to three club anglers and friends. He has done well to secure these, as this is the penultimate weekend of the season on “The Loch” and many of its biggest brown trout will be congregating around the various burn mouths, where they become more inclined to grab proffered artificial flies as the approaching spawning season loosens the craftiness which saw them reach that size. Names to Mike or any committee member as soon as possible please.

Back home on the Cowie, a recent SDAA squad took a breather alongside a well-known lower pool last week and enjoyed the sight of a silver grilse and a couple of darker seatrout splashing there. Although Davie Gove and some others have given places like the Estuary Pool a cast in the witching hours with some seatrout success, sport is rather in the doldrums and the river definitely needs some persistent rain to raise its level and encourage migratory fish to forsake the salt in favour of the safer haven of freshwater, away from the threats of predators and illegal netting. I guess that in their continuing efforts to detect and confiscate equipment and boats to conserve fragile stocks of salmon and seatrout at sea, the Dee bailiffs are content to abide by the chilling maxim of the IRA in their long-past heyday, “You have to be lucky all the time. We only have to be lucky once”.