While the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland (illegal or otherwise) is hardly the most controversial subject I have touched on in this column over the decades, it certainly sparked more than its fair share of interest, culminating in an invitation to join Ian Hunter at Mearns FM for a chat on the subject.
Ian and his fellow local radio enthusiasts do a great job for the local community from a rather cramped but impressively equipped wee studio and I’d encourage more folk to simply drop in while the programme is on air, to speak about virtually any topic they choose. They will certainly be put at their ease in doing so.
Having once played tennis regularly as a high-summer pastime in my teenage years back in Nineteen Oatcake, I certainly found Wimbledon a riveting experience this year as our own Andy Murray showed skill, fitness, guile and an extraordinary commitment to chase down every single ball as never being a lost cause, to finally break a 77-year hoodoo by becoming the first British men’s winner there since Fred Perry. Fantastic and compelling stuff!
The completion of that annual UK tennis highlight does, however, mark the start of another important calendar event in Stonehaven, as seatrout stocks begin to build up in the Bay and enter the Estuary Pool, taking up residence there if the water is deep enough and lying in serried ranks like grey ghosts under the July sun as they wait for rain to lift the river level and allow them to ascend. Virtually comatose by day, they take advantage of the natural reduction in light levels as the gloaming advances, by night-adapting into feeding mode and prowling around the pool. At which time they can be caught by anglers using appropriate tactics such as a fast-moving surface fly, a slow moving deeper fly lure or the even slower-fished and invariably deadly fly-and-maggot.
A hard-earned 1990s compromise between the angling and racquet fraternities ensures an equitable share of Estuary Pool evenings during the crucial angling months from July 15 to October 15, and SDAA members should consult their rule book to confirm when they will find the pool in darkness. Several have already sourced a supply of maggots and beginners just need to ask. Those who are too squeamish about handling the wee white wrigglers, can always try an unadorned flee such as a large Wickham’s Fancy, Teal Blue and Silver or a black-as-tar Stoat’s Tail........the keen eyed seatrout will soon find any of these in the darkest of nights, if it is in hunting mood.
SDAA anglers who have not yet experienced the matchless thrill of hooking a wild-as-stink fighting seatrout at dead of night, should contact the author or any of a number of club enthusiasts including Davie Gove, Quintin Clark, Gary Scott and others, each of whom would be very willing to impart some of the skills and tactics required for success at that seapool and further upstream. Amongst which is the important ability to identify all the sounds of the nocturnal hours, and keeping fertile imaginations well in check. For example, that persistent rustle in the undergrowth at one’s back is rather more likely to be a snuffling hedgehog than some exotic big beast lining itself up to attack!
Passing on skills to the younger generation is a role that any sporting club ignores at its peril. Profiling the UK game fisher reveals that the average participant is likely to be male, middle aged and reasonably well off. Where many community clubs are dying on their feet, the SDAA is proud of the fact that its overall membership remains rock steady at just over 200, and most importantly continues to include a healthy contingent of keen under-17’s, well supported by parents and grandparents.