Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Watch your step!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Watch your step!

Photo 01 Library photo of an Adder or Viper
Watch your step!

The weather has just got to start hotting up soon surely this depressing cold cannot continue or can it? One of our visitors Derek Williams from Edinburgh visiting a few weeks back sent me the following information on snakes and how to act around them.

“The Adder or the Viper is the only venomous snake in the UK and is common in heath land across the country. I have on previous visits encountered Vipers although I was intentionally seeking them therefore was much more likely to come across them. Snakes are cold blooded creatures more properly called ectothermic which means they have to derive the heat they require to function from the environment. This explains why you will never see a Viper in the wintertime when they hibernate and why most are spotted on warm sunny days.

Other snakes you may encounter are the Grass Snake and the Slowworm but neither of these is venomous. There really is no need to be frightened of snakes; in all cases they will be more frightened of you than vice versa. In particular Vipers are very timid when confronted by a human and if not further threatened will slink off out of sight. In very warm sunny weather snakes often bask in a grassy area enjoying the warmth whilst upping its operating level so be careful. Vipers need their venom for subduing prey such as rats and other rodents and are generally reluctant to use it if they can avoid it.

If you come across a snake never try to pick it up, lots of people try and end up getting bitten. Another common reason leading to a snake bite is toying and provoking the snake or trying to kill the creature which as well as being highly dangerous is highly illegal as they are protected by law. The third most common reason of being bitten is the unwary rambler standing on a snake and lets face it if someone stood on you would you not be annoyed?

Avoiding bites from the first two reasons given is self explanatory just do not carry out the activities mentioned. The third can be minimised by looking where you put your feet especially when stepping over a log or other obstruction. Wearing the correct attire is also very important if your legs are bare then you will encounter the full effects of the snake’s venom. Thick trousers and boots can afford great protection from bites not to mention other dangers like ticks which have the capability to cause Lyme’s disease which can have some very serious long term consequences.

If you are unfortunate enough to get bitten by a Viper do not carry out the procedure seen in many westerns of cutting out the area and sucking the poison out. This is only for cowboys and will have no effect on the dissipation of the venom into the body. You should seek immediate medical attention immobilising the affected limb. Bites are rarely fatal but there is a risk of severe allergic reaction so medical attention and monitoring is essential.

If you leave a snake alone then it will leave you alone, by all means admire the creature but from a safe distance. If you come upon a snake abruptly, calmly take a few steps back and allow the snake room to exit the situation. A snake has no interest in you it would rather keep its venom for subduing dangerous prey such as rats. Most of you reading this will never become a snake’s friend but do not make it your enemy, give it the same degree of respect that you would afford any other potentially dangerous animal. Live and let live”!

Dennis many thanks for this treatise on the wrigglers, I have on a few occasions come across a basking snake and whilst initially being terrified I don’t much react at all as you have said give it some space and it will just slither away!

Photo 02 Our work to improve drainage.
The question answered!

Yes we have had our first indication of the status of Pike in the loch. Les managed to land a fine 7.5lbs specimen and it was in super condition putting up a great fight. Whilst unhooking the fish he noted the tell tale sign of milt weeping from the vent of the fish! Giving the vent a gentle squeeze more was exuded indicating that this specimen was a male and had not at this time spawned! Of course not all Pike spawn at the same time so some may have spawned. This fish however was ripe and for interest we took a couple of scales to get an approximate age. Several other Pike were caught up to thirteen pounds this week disappointingly however we received no information as to the likely spawning status from the captors! Spawning over feeding begins in earnest– oh happy days!

Yes the prolonged cold spell has held back many events in nature, there is no sign as yet of the blue Tits and Great Tits making moves towards nesting in the area all our nest boxes are empty and the boathouse which last year housed two families of Blue Tits one of Great Tits and one family of Chaffinch looks to be empty at this time! Well not quite as we are home to a colony of Pipistrelle Bats who are not averse to hunting in bright sunlight as we noted again today feasting on the many flies present today. We noted this a few years ago and whilst this is unusual its not unheard of and Pipistrelle’s seem to be the only species to engage in this behaviour! Just wonderful what can be seen if your eyes and mind are open, fishmongers take note!

Member news!

The motorcycling piscator!

Today we were delighted to be visited by the holder of the heavy Trout Cup Alan Frew who came up on his trusty Honda motorcycle to the news and assess the suitability of the loch for a fishing expedition. Alan is an elder statesman of the club and keeps telling us he is 78 years of age! We don’t believe him, no one could be as sprightly and sharp of mind if they were 78 let alone embark on a sixty mile round trip on a motorcycle! On the subject of motorcycles you should see his bike it is absolutely immaculate with the original factory fitted warning signs and mirror chrome! Alan is a Honda aficionado also being the owner of a trusty Honda outboard which also is in immaculate condition! If you ever think of selling the outboard Alan my number is....... Quite simply a gentleman – Respect due!

Oh and a message for Dorothy – sorry to hear you have been under the weather, get well soon and we hope to see you and Alan in the near future powering around the loch if we are lucky enough to experience a summer!

Richard “Dick” Patterson one of our esteemed members recently took ill and is currently an inpatient in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary due to undergo a major operation on Monday. We are all rooting for you Dick get well soon as they say.

Elliot Fraser also looked in to give us the update on our engine and largely the news is good. He has fitted the bearing but has also made us another as the one we purchased was not quite long enough so thats the bushing situation sorted. He has not yet had the time to weld our gear wheel (It’s a bevel gear I’m told) but this will be on the cards soon. Thanks mate you have probably saved our elderly engine from being consigned to thsat place where the fire burns brightly! Respect Due!
Getting there!

The readership is getting there, the last month saw 753 visitors to our news pages still short of the high point of 1100 readers. More are viewing each week so all is well. A few people searched "where is St Mary's blog" hope you found it people!

Works update!

Yesterday Les moved towards completing the safety rail on our boat house steps and landing filling in all the screw holes and concreting in the fixing points. All that now remains to be done is to apply the wood preservative which should get done next week. Today Gordon McClurg and I started work on the boat house parking area which with the wet weather is nothing short of a mud bath! We have dug out stone drain channels which we will fill with rocks to allow the water to drain away. In the deeper channels we will insert drainage tubing to ferry the water away.

Frustratingly we have discovered the old main road which lies 10 – 18 inches below that of the current one and it runs for the length of our parking area and since it is intact Tarmac would make a most durable area. I have seen this road on an old postcard on the net and the route is quite different to the current one. The drop however would lead us into conflict with the council so we are not even considering it! Great pity though but it is forbidden fruit! I just have to thank Gordon on here he worked like a Trojan greatly aiding the club in its endeavours! Members like Gordon – worth their weight in gold! Cheers mate!

Fishing guide submission.

Our submission to Marine Scotland, Visit Scotland and the Scottish government will now have a further dimension added. We are to include fishing instructors in our document since many make a living on the water. I have no idea if unqualified people operate as such but it is right and proper that this group is subject to regulation as are fishing guides. Those who charge money for guidance and instruction must undergo training to give the best service possible, no longer can anglers in this country be the laughing stock of the civilised world! We will look into those advertising instruction and see what comes about!

Photo 03 - Our neighbours at play!
Inter club competition on Lindean.

We would just like to extend our good wishes to Stevie Nimmo and Pete Young who will be fishing for the club on Tuesday evening against the host club Selkirk. These lads are excellent anglers and great blokes to boot having a long and unstinting record of service to the club. Winning is not important simply acting in a correct manner and enjoying the evenings fishing, so just go and enjoy the fishing lads!

The wider world in my view!

Microsoft word!

Yes it’s been a great programme for me facilitating bills blogs and what have you! Yesterdat all the print moved to the left refusing to shift back to the middle in spite of my best efforts! Trying to open a document in the programme resulted in the document refusing to open and a message stating there is not enough memory to open the document. The memory on this computer currently stands as 68% being free so if that’s not enough then I am really struggling!

Googling the error message it appears this is not uncommon, the programme is corrupted by who or what I do not know! Oh yes there is a solution involving strange characters and words I have never encountered – oh woe is me! So the choice is try and follow the procedure and risk god knows what or beat it to a pulp! Some thinking required here, No, where’s that heavy hammer?

Told you so!

I must admit to bursting into laughter on reading that most of the flagship projects of the Con-Dems are predicted to fail! Policies regarding Universal Credit, the new aircraft carriers, the West Coast mainline scheme, the high speed rail project and 28 others are marked as unachievable! And who says this? Why the government themselves in the form of the cabinet office major projects authority an overseeing body set up by the government!

Yes Lord Snooty and Puppet Clegg talk a good job but it ends there! Ian Duncan Smith the architect of the universal credit fiasco was marked to be sacked by Lord Snooty as worrying undertones filtered back to him that the universal credit system was full of holes. However being the inept fellow that he is he reneged and will now pay a heavy price for his weak actions! Looking at it another way though is if a fool replaces an existing fool with another fool you still end up with a cabinet of fools! We will all rue the day the posh boys and puppets seized power!

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Just like teenage tantrums!

Photo 01 - Archive photo, Dangerfield showing Mass Failure!
Just like teenage tantrums!

Yesterday was one of the worst May days that I can remember, constant rain with torrential outbursts, low cloud with a depressing mist blocking out the light and a strong east wind with significant gusts bringing the temperature down to single figures. We spent the morning in the boat house finishing the wooden parts of our new safety rail and we were struggling to see in the dark! Unbelievably it was eighteen degrees warmer in Moscow yesterday! The structure now only requires some cement work, sanding of the rails and the application of a suitable wood preservative. On the subject of preservatives I was unable to source the Creosote substitute which replaced the now restricted genuine Creosote. The only things on offer are the wax based products and I went for the Ronseal version which offers a five year lifespan – we shall see! In the afternoon I spent some time with a well kent walker who had noticed our bank work at Kirkstead and was keen to know more so here is our rationale for the works we have carried out.

The major contributing factor is the appearance of floods where the capacity of the stream bed is unable to cope with the flow of water and the energy contained therein. In this area with its huge collecting bowl floods can be very severe just ask any local to relay the events of late. It is of course a natural process that has always been with us but nowadays with conflicting interests such as farming and angling this constant erosion becomes a problem for farmers and angling bodies. In an unpopulated area where nothing much takes place the redirecting of rivers and continued severe erosion has little in the way of discernible consequences.

The photo of Dangerfield on the Megget area above shows the impact of high water flows where the area of the curve taking the full impact of the increased flow is eroded preferentially undercutting the bank causing the area to collapse into the stream invariably losing the farmer valuable grazing ground. Known as “Mass Failure” the near vertical banks are indicative of enormous water forces. This sediment material arising from such earth movements is also capable of filling in the voids in the gravel beds effectively suffocating young fry and other organisms, of course serous floods when fry first emerge is a complete disaster for recruitment to the population.

Often this material is deposited further downstream where the flow is lessened such as the inside of a curve leading to a build up creating solid land. This however is of no use to the farmer as it will take years to re-grass the area and more importantly is in an area which is of no use to the farmer. Sometimes this deposition of material will be sited mid stream as can be seen by the formation of islands at the foot of the Megget where it enters the loch. Incidentally the wooden “sculptures” directly across from the mouth of the Megget signify the deposition of material from Megget across the loch which in thousands of years will form a land strip similar to that which straddles the loch at the top of St Mary’s and houses the Tibbie Shiels Inn. Although none of us will see it, St Mary’s will eventually become two lochs.

It is a well known fact that lightly vegetated areas are much more susceptible to erosion than those that are held together by multiple root systems. It is this aspect of erosion management that has led us to natural methods for bank stabilisation. For the farmer widespread flooding also causes unseen damage where the soil pores are blocked leading to poor growth of vegetation in their fields so affected! Grazing stock also play a significant part in the erosion of stream banks this however is widely recognised and fencing of stream edges is now commonplace.

There are two types of control used for bank preservation being a bio engineering method and so called industrial preservation. Nowadays the bio engineering methods are the more popular not just for the aesthetics but for the fact they are more effective. Concrete structures will protect the immediate area behind them but serve only to move the erosive forces further downstream recreating the original problem. The concrete structures are of no benefit to the flora and fauna bank side providing no food or cover for fish inhabiting the stream.

Preservation structures such as we have used in the form of live willow rolls work in an altogether more eco friendly manner. They partly redirect the high forces away from the area being protected and at the same time adsorb much of the energy as the water is slowed as it passes through the bound rolls. In a short time roots on the bundles form weaving their way into the banks creating the optimal structure for resisting the huge erosive forces. We have also taken the further step of implanting willow whips directly into the banks seeking the quicker formation of the root system. Our rolls which contain thousands of small spaces provide refuge for all manner of animals and in particular our young fish, the slowed flow also allows rooting of other forms of vegetation increasing the bio diversity of the area. When the substantial growth comes from these bundles cover food and good habitat will ensue.
Photo 02 - Sensible ewes & lambs sheltering from the downpour yesterday.

The measures we have taken and further measures we are still to take will have a beneficial effect on the complete water corridor. With a little good fortune allowing minimal flooding until our structures are set we will have a bank resilient enough to withstand the high water flows that come throughout the course of a year. We will probably see no immediate improvement in our streams but through the fullness of time we expect to see some improvement. The three year cycle of electrofishing our burns will hopefully show some measurable improvement in the coming decade. It is difficult to argue against an improvement when we will have increased food, shelter and the general habitat quality of the water all essential factors in the recruitment of fry from our feeder streams. Whether it is an increase in the quality of our fry emerging from the stream or increased numbers leaving remains to be seen, suffice for us to know that we have done no harm and quite simply made things better! The farmers on the banks of the land on which we have carried out these improvements will also benefit hopefully seeing an end to the constant erosion. For our future years and for those who come later we have played our part in the conservation of St Mary’s loch and surrounding countryside!

Like teenage tantrums the effects of flooding cannot be stopped they can however be moderated given requisite time, knowledge and resources!

Work detail Sunday the 26th of this month.

I will be calling round a few members this week seeking volunteers to come and help with digging out trenches and constructing stone drains in our boat house parking area. This is fairly heavy work but we will ensure plenty of breaks and refreshments and no one will be asked to work if they feel unfit to do so. Lighter workdays will constitute the following workdays mainly cutting willow branches to form the bundles for our bank stabilisation works. If you are planning coming along on Sunday please drop me a text on 07980350031 before Tuesday so we can manage the numbers. I will start phoning round after this.

Star items from our recommended dealers!

This week Fishers in Penicuick are offering Greys G series breathable waders for an amazing £149.99 that’s £70.00 of the RRP! For newcomers to the sport how about a Leeda 2XL fly rod, reel combo spooled and ready to go with £10.00 off RRP at only £49.97. Turnbull in Gala have some great offers coming this week so nip down to Bank Street to see the goodies they have in stock. Great tackle from tackle dealers who are also accomplished anglers you just don’t get any better! Remember the 10% discount Fishers scheme for further discounts!

Photo 03 - Pretty much the best of the day!
Mariner engine update!

We were fortunate that our precision engineer Elliot Fraser came down yesterday and reviewed the task we had in mind for his estimation. As usual he did not disappoint and will happily bore the 16mm hole and fit the phosphor bronze bush to tightly restrain the eccentric movement of the driveshaft on our Mariner engine. Not only that he has taken the clattered gear wheel and said he would try and weld the teeth up with “Disimlar” a welding rod that can be used to weld stainless Steel on to mild and other Steel. The stainless constituted with Nickel and Chromium is far harder than mild Steel and if successful will greatly add to the resilience of the wheel.

Incidentally trying to make a vertical hole with a two face cutting drill in an angled hole will lead to a bigger hole at the same angle as the original. Words from the mouth of one who knows, so now you know! Just another one of the good guys we are proud to call our members! Peerless!


The male Blackbird can be heard in competition with their cousins the Song and Mistle Thrush providing fluting melodies from dawn to dusk. The needle like tweet of the Chiffchaff and twitter of the Robin means that in spite of the unseasonal weather spring is here! All manner of birds are nest building or feeding young and new life abounds, relax on a sunny afternoon with a glass of your favourite tipple preferably away from a road and listen to nature all around you, just magic!

Photo 04 - nothing much to see!
The wider world in my view!

Is there really a choice?

I pondered on this yesterday taking a little time to reflect in between trying to punch a line out in the blustery conditions we had to endure yesterday. Firstly we need to dispense with the Lib – Dem puppets; they are only a party of protest and will always be so as long as Puppet Clegg continues to backtrack on electoral promises, he is now a man without honour or credibility. Similarly UKIP who caused quite a circus in Edinburgh are turning out to be the milder acceptable face of the now defunct racist BNP and are currently promising to oust the Lib – Dem puppets as the number one protest party. This however will not happen as the Faragites have no policies at all on which to fight an election, look for them to do well in the European elections and then slowly disappear! A vote for the Lib – Dem puppets or the racist UKIP is a good vote wasted!

We are then left with the favourites of Lords, Landed gentry and aspiring Thatcherite Yuppies who care little for social equality seeking only increased wealth for themselves at any cost to others. Intent on increasing the rich poor divide they by means of favour seek only to reward their own kind! The working classes are greatly impoverished when these Victorians are in power. There has been a considerable change however as the above ethos is replaced in the number one spot by involuntary bungling! Yes screwing up all that they attempt in the manner of rank amateurs they continually show up the people of Britain on the world’s stage! The out of touch posh boys utterly clueless regarding what ails us bang on about irrelevancies like gay marriage which will probably be the nail that closes their coffin! When the economy is crashing downwards, accident and emergency units close to bursting, mild mannered non militant head teachers opting for a vote of no confidence in education secretary Michael Gove! The Con – Dem administration is crumbling around their ears!

Engulfed in infighting Lord Snooty’s authority diminishes every day in a carbon copy scenario of the Major era. Filled with nonsensical ideas such as the pie tax and the granny tax they stumble from one faux pas to another, barracked by one senior Tory after another, lambasted by the likes of Co party chairman Lord Feldman calling the party faithful “swivel eyed loons”does not bode well for the future of the eternally confused posh boys! Laughably the issue of gay marriage not part of the Con-Dem manifesto saw Lord Snooty giving the bill his imprimatur which this week will resurface to further damage the lightweight fool!

The opposition which in the days of Foot et al used to be genuinely left wing offering the working classes some kind of respectable lifestyle has now gone to be replaced by insipid right wing Tory clones offering the same under the banner of New Labour but perhaps with less blundering! The jewels in Labour’s crown of old, State ownership, co-operative working, and properly funded health and welfare systems are now mere transparencies in history! It’s more of the same; simply further reworking of a failed system of government, the model of capitalism! Yes vested interests will forbid the abolition of this flawed system as those who have, will not give up their wealth! Blinded to the plight of others by insatiable greed the status quo is the only option!

There is no longer a choice in the British political system it’s just shades of the ubiquitous grey with the only choice the degree of bungling you are prepared to accept, you can have capitalism with clowns and unmitigated bungling or capitalism with vague policies and leaders who qualify as non persona! It’s not really much of a choice and the outlook for the working classes is simply decreasing standards of living, careers as shopkeepers and at the end of our time scrimping and saving to eke out a threadbare living, it’s not a great vision for the future!

On Europe!

The days of the empire are gone; we don’t make anything anymore, as Napoleon rightly said we are a nation of shopkeepers! There are some niche industries left but other than that what could we export? We need the trade we have with the EU without it we are lost! The Tories would have us out and this would plunge us further into the mire! The bungling posh boys need to give themselves a good shake and wake up to the fact that we are not and never will be again a manufacturing exporting country! We need all the help we can get, it is imperative we stay in Europe

Our view on the current situation regarding fishing guides.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Our view on the current situation regarding fishing guides.

Photo 01 - Nearly complete safety rail & landing.
Our view on the current situation regarding fishing guides.

The following is an extract from our submission which is being submitted to Visit Scotland and Marine Scotland and the MSP who will be taking up the issue on our behalf, we will also send our submission to a number of other agencies. Although not our complete submission the salient points are contained within. Ghillies who are invariably employed by riparian owners are out with the remit of this investigation.


Our first experience with a fishing guide took place a couple of years ago when a fishing guide arrived at our loch with two clients and after giving them instructions as to where to fish left them to get on and fish unaided after taking a substantial fee from them. We were appalled at this situation and from that point on we begun to look further into the fishing guide set up in this country.

Current position.

The current situation in Scotland with regard to fishing guides is quite simply a free for all! Anyone irrespective of standing could and many do transform themselves into fishing guides overnight, they are however unknown quantities. Some of these people may be very good anglers and have creditable practical skill and demonstrable knowledge whist many may be mediocre and motivated solely by the pursuit of profit.

The personal character of some of these people is unknown as is their level of knowledge and practical skill. Some may generate professionally constructed websites and whilst stopping short of making untrue claims may allude to high status within the angling world. Websites are a particularly effective way of marketing such a business as customers invariably come from geographically distinct areas and have no or very limited and ineffective opportunity to share experiences and this being the case allowing sub standard fishing guides to operate long term in spite of their poor skills.

Interest groups such as Fish pal offer limited control over fishing guides working under their umbrella but of course there is no compulsion to join such an organisation as a certain amount of vetting takes place and a fee is payable to be listed on their site. Anglers dissatisfied with their experience with an independent fishing guide have no avenue for recourse. They may receive compensation in full or part or nothing at all! Fishing guides working under this unregulated system are largely left to their own devices, self policing to whatever extent they desire and are largely unaccountable for the standard of service they offer. The current situation does not lend itself to the implementation of defined standards with individual fishing guides implementing whatever they think fit or nothing at all! Prospective clients may end up booking with a completely unqualified guide or one that is absolutely top notch on a lottery basis.

Photo 02 - Stevie on the core drill before baggin the Troots!
The benefits of regulation.

As the world progresses and higher standards are demanded by the buying public, trades and professions are seeking higher standards of qualification, greater depths of knowledge and advanced standards of professionalization. The above situation does not meet any of aims here stated. With regulation comes a defined and certain standard of expertise, an avenue for complaint if the situation turns out to be unsatisfactory and gives to prospective clients a centralised directory of qualified and professionally competent fishing guides who would be held accountable for their actions. Regulation by a central body preferably in statute would lead to countrywide defined standards whereby a minimum standard of qualification could be set. Such an overseeing body should have revenue raising powers such as by taking a registration fee from all fishing guides who satisfy the entry requirement and wish to become bona fide qualified fishing guides.

The regulating body would be responsible for registering all fishing guides, creating a central register viewable by anyone and publishing reviews received by content or otherwise clients. The regulating body would be responsible for the application of sanction against a fishing guide who acts inappropriately and be responsible for the maintenance of professional development by use of refresher courses for all guides on the register on a basis to be determined. The type and categories of qualifications required could be standardised with for example a fishing and an emergency care qualification being set as the minimum.

Only completed qualifications should be able to be listed on the central register and on the websites of registered fishing guides. A guide to charges that may be applied should be issued by such a body which should be binding on all fishing guides to diminish the risk of overcharging. Fishing guides registering with the regulating body should be subject to full disclosure by Disclosure Scotland to reassure clients they are dealing with upstanding members of the community. Fishing guides should also be compelled to take out an appropriate level of indemnity insurance for personal protection and the protection of their clients. Visitors on hearing of the fishing guide scene are filled with incredulity on hearing of the lax situation in this country.


The current situation akin to activities in the Wild West has no place in modern society. All trades and professions are seeking further regulation in an effort to reassure the general public and outlaw unregulated operators. Currently a client of an unqualified fishing guide could suffer a medical emergency and emerge with significant health repercussions because the guide has no medical training to optimise the situation. Clients paying significant amounts of money deserve better and receive this higher level of service in other developed countries.

Whilst we acknowledge that there are very many competent and educated fishing guides in operation, there are also those with opposing qualities who would bring discredit to the good name of angling. The situation at present does not reflect well on the activities of fishing guides qualified or not and even worse on the sport of angling. Selecting a properly qualified, subject to regulation and fully accountable fishing guide should not be left to chance or to a private company who by their very nature have profit as their ultimate goal. Prospective clients looking for a fishing guide should only be able to access the very best qualified guides giving a measurable and audited level of service as is the case in other developed countries. Only central regulation will meet this end. Those who advertise their business seeking monetary reward must be subject to regulation and held to account!

Gaining and maintaining a level of credibility is absolutely essential with regard to tourism in this country. Anglers are prepared to pay considerable sums of money in return for good professional fishing guidance; only by the implementation of a regulated framework can this be achieved. No longer can we tolerate self appointed fishing guides with unknown credentials. Angling must face up to the future and realise the need for professionalisation. Fishing guides themselves seem unable to embrace this aspect of their vocation it is therefore only right and proper that we as concerned anglers take the necessary action to move towards this end. With the current situation it is surely only a matter of time before a catastrophe ensues, how much better it would be if the situation were pre-empted+. We will be launching an advisory website for anglers seeking to highlight what we see as the problems with our system and the action to take to ensure that their day out with a fully qualified fishing guide be the very best experience that it can be!

St Mary’s Angling Club.

Photo 03 - Swallows on the outlet feeding, well it was meant to be!
Another hard day’s work!

Yes following on from last week we under Les’s direction again resumed the task of constructing the new safety rail and landing extension for our boathouse. You will see from the photo above it is nearing completion but the process was not without its problems, the chemical mortar we used to secure the structure to the walls of the steps did not set solid! This meant we had to change strategy with a process using heavy duty masonry drills and 2inch diameter core drills adding greatly to the time taken to complete the project using mechanical methods of securing the structure. In drilling into the concrete we encountered some rebar used to add strength to the original structure providing yet another delay in completion.

The construction however is structurally complete with just final finishing taking place next week, this would include planning the rails smooth, sanding and applying a wood preservative oh how I long for proper Creosote! Both Stevie and Les worked like Trojans yesterday and the club is indebted to them both! Thanks lads your hard work is very much appreciated!

Good solid anglers!

After putting in a good three hours helping with the above task Stevie Nimmo and Pete Young headed off across the far side to try and tempt the wily Trout that reside in our loch with some enticing flys. It wasn’t long before the phone rang with Stevie informing me in a gentlemanly fashion that Pete had caught a nice one at around three quarters of a pound! Nothing further was heard until they landed when it was revealed a further four Trout had been caught by Stevie between eight and ten inches and scales had been taken from all the fish! On the downside Pete’s engine was not running at all well and had been placed on Stevie’s list of things to be done which is getting bigger by the day! No loudmouth bragging here, just two good solid anglers, absolutely peerless!

Stevie and Pete will be fishing against Selkirk AA in the inter club competition on the 28th of this month, yesterdays catch will have given them much encouragement!

Photo 04 - Current state of the gear wheel with teeth flattened!
Discovering the sex of our Trout!

We would be grateful if any angler catching a Brown Trout of any size could take a few scales from the fish. All our outlets have protocols for the taking of scales which will be used to sex our Trout following the development of a new procedure by a researching university. The test costs around £3.00/fish and will give us invaluable information about the makeup of the lochs population. Scales should be sandwiched between two sheets of paper (they will rot in plastic) and given to our loch keeper or posted in our returns box at our boat house.

Mariner engine update.

On Monday Stevie and I met to reassemble the mariner’s lower gear assembly with the new welded gear wheel looking good, we clamped her onto the boat and attempted a test run. Of course in typical fashion she would not start despite ferocious pulling on the starter cord. So we adopted the usual two stroke routine of removing the spark plug heating it to cherry red with a blowlamp, wire brushing it clean and inserting it into the cylinder head after syringing in a few mls of petrol and lo and behold she started and proceeded to scream her head off!

Gingerly engaging gear she nudged the boat forward and kept the momentum going until full revs were reached. Forward working, reverse working all looked well! After a pie and a bap we thought we would fly fish the far side and duly set off on a windy and cold loch. Three quarters of the way over the loch and it was for me déjà vu! Yes the boat slowed the revs hit the roof and it immediately became apparent drive had been compromised! Rowing to the shore we managed ten minutes of fishing before we had to return to take in an engine which had been on hire to a young couple from Edinburgh who were absolutely frozen. With the engine at full tilt moving the boat albeit slowly, Stevie took to the oars and gave us respectable speed and we soon encountered land!

So for the umpteenth time it was strip down time yet again and as you can see from the photo the welded gear wheel took a real pummelling, not a single weld had given way, the teeth of the wheel simply being hammered flat! Something was amiss here that we had not detected and on examining the brass bushing that centres the driveshaft it was noted to be oval and much larger than the shaft diameter. This had been the primary problem allowing the gear wheel to engage and disengage at will! Operating eccentrically in an elliptical pattern has widened the original bushing. Giving the matter some thought we decided the oval bushing should be centre drilled out to accommodate a new oil impregnated phosphor bronze bushing inserted with a tight push fit which would stabilise the shaft. There is plenty of meat to allow this procedure to be carried out. We will bring this to the attention of our precision engineer Elliot Fraser on his next visit to the loch for his opinion. We thought further to use a thrust washer (£4.25 for a washer!) to keep the gear wheel pressed hard down on the opposing gear. Of course we have also ordered the mandatory two stroke spark plug switching from NGK B8HS to Champion L78 which in my long affinity with two strokes have found to be an altogether superior plug!

So the bits are on order and the accursed wheel is again with me for firstly grinding then re welding which I will do once the bits required to fix my welder have arrived. It’s just never ending but hey, we are now wiser!!

The wider world in my view!

Another thorn in the side of Lord Snooty!

First it was maverick MP Nadine Dorries branding Lord Snooty and Minister without a clue Gideon Osborn as a pair of out of touch arrogant posh boys which lets face is the view of the majority of the working classes! Now Dr Sarah Wollaston the driving force behind the proposal for the minimum price for alcohol sale is up in arms that the proposal did not even get into the queens speech! Dr Wollaston who has firsthand experience of the carnage caused by alcohol is rightly upset by the move to omit her baby from the next session and has spoken out on “Twitter” against Lord Snooty et al regarding their spineless actions.

Naturally Lord Snooty is none too pleased that yet again he is being exposed as the spineless fool he is! He is not a leader, a politician who through logical thought can develop policy he simply reacts to developments to stave off the certainty of his demise as leader of the Tory party. Just look at their reactionary response to the drubbing dished out by UKIP. Dr Wollaston has stated that she will not be bridled as she vehemently believes that a minimum price for alcohol will cut down the mayhem currently experienced in A&E units all over the country. Respect to the good doctor for having the balls to stand up and be counted! Methinks yet another thorn in the side of Lord Snooty!

Call 111 for chaos!

You really couldn’t make it up, the ongoing saga of woe related to the 111 helpline for NHS services in England. On the ITV Border news a woman phoned this “helpline” because her husband had run out of antibiotics seeking an emergency prescription. She was asked during a call lasting nearly three hours if her husband was unconscious! It makes you wonder who these dimwits on the phones are! They cannot be qualified in any way and are completely devoid of knowledge and logic! No educated professional would come out with such questions in the middle of a three hour “consultation”! If the man was unconscious surely this would be the first utterance of the woman and the first question of the health professional! The lady making the call ended up completely frustrated and hung up and headed to an A&E where her problem was dealt with promptly!

The Con-Dems were warned about this by the BMA government opposition and others but as usual took no notice. More and more people in England are bypassing the system and heading to A&E! The new system was supposed to lighten the load of these overstretched departments instead it has significantly increased it! That however is the mantra of the Con-Dems, promise one thing then deliver the opposite! The bungling continues unabated! Quite simply the most inept government in the history of the country!

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A most productive day!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A most productive day!

Photo 01 - Mike zipping through rebar!

A most productive day!

We arrived 40 minutes late because we had to turn back and get my insulin which I had neglected to pack (dunderheid!) and were met at the boathouse by Mike Wood and John Wright. We decided on the tasks for the day and so leaving Les at the boat house to prepare for the erection of the safety rail and landing extension the three of us set off for the Tibbie where our 540 trees of mixed variety had been delivered along with the steel rebar for our bank works.

Starting our trusty genny we quickly set about cutting the long lengths of rebar into one metre lengths and cutting out a check to harness the wire we would use to bind in our willow bundles. With two angle grinders cutting we had the lot cut and checked in around 30 minutes with sparks galore! Mike obviously set on minimising the weight of his clothing successfully burned his top making a large ventilation hole as well! Mike I have a white (well it used to be) lab coat exactly the same fashioned by angle grinding lol, hot work I can tell you!

Back at the boathouse we had a look at the trees and they are fine specimens comprising of hazel, bird cherry, holly, blackthorn, hawthorn and alder all indigenous trees to the area. We hope to plant Riskinhope on Friday weather permitting. Meantime Mike started excavating the holes required to house the massive ten foot long 4”x4” stabs which would form the anchoring structure for our work. Taking a step back I marvelled at how everyone was mucking in pushing the project forward under the direction of master craftsman Les. With muscle bound heavyweights like Mike and John there is no need for heavy machinery! Yes there was no prevarication here unlike the antics of the regional council it was plan and implement, plain and simple!

At around Eleven John and I headed for Kirkstead to carry out some minor repair work following the huge water of a few weeks ago and consisted of tightening up the securing wires and repositioning a few of the top willow bundles which was minimal work given the force of the water encountered! We ran out of securing pegs to hold the wires in place normally would mean a tiresome journey back to the boathouse for more but not when John is on the job! He simply bent a couple of pieces of rebar with his bare hands as though they were polythene, respect due! On the way back we noted a few trees missing simply due to the massive and prolonged force of water and again we thought the work has stood up very well indeed. Each year as the roots of our trees dig in and burrow down the effect of high water will be lessened! This was most encouraging and gives us heart for further works!
Photo 02 - Bank strengthening work looking good in spite of mega water flow!

Back to the steps there was much cutting, concreting, and hammering, cursing and blaspheming along with the odd builders bum on show; it was after all for all intents and purposes a building site! The basic structure was however now in place and a sturdier piece of construction you could not imagine! Completely immovable the over engineered structure will take all that we can throw at it with no ill effects and most importantly it is safe! It is not yet finished but not far from being so and the next few days will see the structure complete photos of the completed structure next week!

Many thanks to Mike Wood (loved the airy top), John Wright (great bacon rolls as usual) and master tactician Les Henderson (damned nice work mate!) without the commitment of these lads this work would still be on the drawing board! A most productive day indeed!

Visiting Anglers!

I spoke with a few of our visiting anglers yesterday and what became quickly apparent was that almost universally anglers had cut down on their fishing trips due to the dire economic circumstances brought about by the clueless Con-Dems! Citing higher food, fuel and heating bills it is becoming clear that everyone is being affected by the inept policies of these fools with the exception of those who have significant bank reserves! Such a shame that working class families no longer have the necessary resources to enjoy some leisure pursuits all because of the short sighted and persistently blundering Con-Dems!

Photo 03 - John hard at it as Les looks on!
Our new blog!

I had a look at our statistics to get an idea of how many visitors are visiting the site. In short 500 visitors are visiting per month extrapolating data so far received. Once the first month is up we will have a better idea as more anglers are visiting each day. So it looks at this point over 50% of our readership have followed over to our new site which is great and I fully expect the figure to be 80% at the end of the month. Clearly there has been a minimal loss of visitors following the transition which is tremendous! I have no doubt we will soon reach our previous figures of 1000 plus visitors/month.

I have received a few mails regarding restricting the comments section of the blog. This was implemented because of the large number of derogatory anonymous comments from the green eyed brigade and it is a great shame that purposeful commenter’s have had to be penalised because of these fools, but that is how it must be! If you have a burning desire to comment simply e mail me and I will include your comment (favourable or not) in the following weeks post along with my reply. Running the blog takes some considerable time and I am keen to cut the time spent managing the blog especially during the summer months when much more can be accomplished outside.

A good number of archives have been added and I hope to get more done this week, so it won’t be long before we are complete again. You may notice some discrepancy in the calendar of the posts but this will be rectified as time goes on.
Photo 04 - The reclaimed gear wheel!
Mariner gear wheel!

We had an unsuccessful hunt for a replacement gear wheel mentioned a couple of weeks ago with most returning the message that the part was obsolete! Having little choice I welded her up and gave the whole wheel a thick coat of hard nickel. Will it work? We will find out tomorrow!
A new generation comes!

You can see it in the fields populated by gambolling lambs, in muddy lochside puddles as frogs and toads lay the eggs that will bring the next generation. I noted both male and female blackbirds with beakfulls of juicy worms to feed their hungry offspring, some such as a pair of house sparrow are seen entering nests in buildings with pieces of straw to line the nests that will form the incubation chambers for their young. The great annual renewal of life has begun! We can only hope that the weather improves to facilitate this great event, from a farming point of view the situation up to now has not been good! I went along recently to see how the Tibbie Bees were getting on but unfortunately they have died probably due to the accursed Varroa Destructor mite against which the European Honey Bee has no defence! It’s a very worrying situation!

The wider world in my view!

Lord Snooty on the slide!

The recent council elections as predicted saw significant gains for Milliband and his right wing “Labour” party, humiliation for Puppet Clegg and his band of Tory traitors and damaging losses for Lord Snooty and his pack of inept incompetents! Nigel Farage however was the clear victor in the pantomime taking nearly 25% of the votes cast. What makes this fellow stand out among the fools above is charisma! Yes he has a personable manner and gives the public the chance to hear what they want to hear! It’s a simple concept which should have been employed by those above who prefer deception and downright lying!

Where Farage will fail is in backing up the rhetoric with policy (because they have none) that stands up to testing, and it is this aspect which will down the Faragites! Farage offers no real alternative to the jokers above simply the same again in different more affable packaging! Some of the protest voters will stick with Farage in the hope of sound policy being developed but this is unlikely! Herein lies the problem for Lord Snooty, if this turns out to be the case with six Tories defecting to ever one labour voter their chances of forming a majority government are lost (thank god!)! Right wing activists are already calling for a new leader to revive the right wing Tory brand of old and clearly Lord Snooty does not fit the bill excelling only in incompetence! The Faragites will undoubtedly do well in the European election next year but as they are unfrocked having no proper policies the defection back will begin!

No one will get overly excited by the results with the exceptions of Lord Snooty and Puppet Clegg who cannot fail to see the incessant slide in their ratings! It is a protest vote but it is also more and let’s be honest for a bunch of fruitcakes, loonies and clowns Farage and his merry band dished up quite a shock! The people of this country are fed up with the peerless bungling initiated by them. It’s one broken promise and disaster after another interspersed by the occasional cataclysmic catastrophe with the poor being punished every time! No thought out policy, simply try it and see and if it fails as it usually does claim to be the listening government! Eminently content to meander aimlessly feasting on caviar and brandy whilst filling up their days in the belief they are doing right by those “who work hard and want to get on”! Actually for many a chance to work in a proper full time job would be a fine thing indeed! Each and every blunder however and there have been many affects us to a significant extent! The general public cannot take much more of this, many working families are now on the breadline struggling to exist, and it simply won’t do! A flock of disoriented geese could do better! Let’s get them out!


I heard midweek that the Scottish football authorities are considering allowing the sale and consumption of alcohol within football grounds! Are their memories so short that they cannot remember the infamy of the tartan army when the word Scottish used to generate fear and revulsion wherever they went? It’s not a bad idea it is a horrific one that would lead to huge consequences for everyone in the country! Utter insanity!
DP I know iI overuse the exclamation mark but thats what I do!

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Wild Trout Competition 2013!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Wild Trout Competition 2013!

Photo 01 - The victor looking very happy as well he might!
Wild Trout Competition

No two days are ever the same, and it was thus with our competition!A cold wind with occasional cast tangling heavy gusts led to blue fingers once the hands got wet only to be partially warmed up when bright sunlight broke through the dark clouds. The water has stubbornly remained cold at around eight degrees in the margins which is not conducive to good fly hatches demonstrated by no Trout being noted breaking the surface during the six hours fishing.

As always we started the day with piping hot tea/coffee and a bacon roll at the Glen cafe which at least gave us a great start. Cath had kindly opened the cafe 45mins earlier to accommodate us on our day. Around ten o clock we headed off to our preferred starting points where we each imagined Trout would come to the fly.With the wind changing direction by the minute it quickly became clear that (as usual) this would be a hard days fishing!

Most elected for intermediate lines with a team of three flys two natural patterns and a bright attractor fly. Some chose to fish into the variable strength wind whilst others fished with the wind at their backs, I did both with no method coming over as superior. Yes according to all the entrants the going was hard with relentless casting, retrieving and moving to new areas in the hope that suicidal Trout were present in numbers.

One member our secretary Alasdair White found such a spot on the far banks of the loch down from the sculptures and enticed three Trout for the day which was really good going in anyone’s book! Unfortunately he had happened upon the juvenile department where none of the residents were above eight inches in length! Stevie Nimmo reported having turned a small Trout at the graveyard but nothing else and it looked like a day when no takeable Trout were to be caught.

Step in Chris Empson, yes our committee member and ultra fit champion power lifter. Chris appeared at the Tibbie with a carrier bag with a bulge at the bottom which clearly boasted there was something within! After some coaxing and gentle encouragement he modestly pulled a nice looking Trout from his bag in very good fettle and turned the scales to 14oz. Yes we had a winner in Chris! Like mild mannered Clark Kent of Superman fame he was delighted but made no bravado regarding his catch! He was in the right place at the right time and secured his win. He didn’t touch any other fish and when asked how his day went he simply said it was a hard day’s fishing as it usually is on the loch but the trick is to never give up and fish willingly until the bitter end!

Yet another of our members with the correct attitude following in the footsteps of old Izaak and revered senior members such as Pete Young and John Miller! We held the post mortem at the Tibbie and as usual there was much re-examination of tactics and swims fished but general agreement that once again there was much enjoyment, wind burns and untangling of casts which all add up to a great day out!

Indeed we would have preferred less rain less wind and more fly life to assist us in our quest but it was not to be! This is the lot of an angler where nothing is ever just quite right, but like Chris demonstrated persistence in spite of the conditions can bring great rewards! Chris now takes his place in the hall of fame as the holder of the Major Sir Neil Westbrook cup which he will keep for a year as testament to his resolve! He is also very excited at the prospect of his autumn day on Tweed having never before fished for Salmon. We will of course report on the trials and tribulations that face us on that day when it comes to pass.

The second and third prizes of a bottle of Old Grouse Whisky kindly donated by Alastair at the Tibbie and the third prize of a box of fly’s containing the essential St Mary’s loch favourites were decided by a draw kindly conducted by Sheila pillar of the Tibbie Shiels Inn. I won the whisky and Alasdair White won the flys and fly box which was particularly appropriate as he lost five on the day hooking trees and such like! Thanks to Alastair and Sheila for the great food and drink and super service as usual. Of course heartiest congratulations go to Chris a worthy champion! I think I have said this after every competition but it is what comes naturally. A great day out in the company of real anglers – it is the one thing that remains constant every year Peerless!

Photo 02 - Chris with the cup!
Other activities on the day!

You would not have thought other activities were taking place yesterday but they were. Yes treasurer John Wright and committee member Frank Gillespie opted to finish the tree planting at Kirkstead and continue our habitat work there. Frank proudly proclaimed that he had managed to plant 95 trees which was absolutely super. Glad you enjoyed your day Frank as we are expecting a delivery of three hundred on Thursday which will need planting! Thanks to John and Frank for their hard work on the day!

Upcoming works.

As mentioned above we have three hundred trees coming on Thursday and a large delivery of rebar steel which we require for our bank stabilisation work. Unfortunately it is arriving in eighteen metre lengths so we have 3 angle grinders and one of our Genny’s earmarked for duty first thing on Saturday morning. Also taking place on Saturday will be the initial work of concreting in the ten foot 4 x 4 posts which will form the anchor points for our safety rail. There is also some remedial work required on our bank works at the foot of Kirkstead which took a pounding in the recent huge waters experienced in the area. The dates of our work parties are below.

26thof May 2013

8thof June 2013

23rdof June 2013
rdof August 2013
thof August 2013

Fishing Guides

We will have our completed submission ready in the next week. This will be submitted to Visit Scotland and Marine Scotland in a formal format with a copy being given to the MSP who will pursue this on our behalf. Without exception all the anglers we have approached are one hundred percent behind our campaign. Member desirous of adding their tuppence worth should mail me with their comments this week.

Photo 03 - Frank on his 95th tree and still smiling!
At Last!

Yes it was only last week that I spotted the Lancaster bomber of the Bee world, the mighty Bumble Bee. The ones on the go just now are all queens looking for abandoned mouse holes in which to set up a home for the coming summer season if we get one that is! Already fertilised the queens will lay their eggs in a honeycomb similar to honey bees and a few weeks later her army of between thirty and two hundred will emerge. Charged with the function of pollinating if the weather is kind their loud drone will be all around very soon. Incidentally Bumblers do make a watery type honey not as nice as honey bee honey but eminently recognisable as honey! However the amount the small colonies produce coupled with the watery consistency and resultant poor preservation properties do not make it a commercial proposition. How did I get a taste? My dad had to move a buried colony to erect a shed and he punctured a honey cell and gave me a taste. The colony actually did survive the move which is unusual.

Don’t panic, if you find a nest of these guys near you, they are harmless. They live in harmony with us and you have to do something really stupid to egg a Bumbler on to sting you and even then it’s not near as bad as a honey bee or a wasp. Just modify your path so you don’t have to cross the flight path to the entrance of the nest. Other than that have a seat with a nice cool drink of whatever takes your fancy and just watch them at their unceasing work – an absolute treat!

Boat Damage!

Our loch keeper Dave has informed us that one of our Arrans looks like it is taking on water following the storms of late. The water level was too high on Saturday to investigat this and we will have to get a looh as soon as the level permits. My thoughts are that the cental keel has taken a fair number of good sideways smacks and has fractured allowing small quantities to seep in. We should know by the end of the week!

The Frasers are back!

We thought they had gone and feared the worst, but the ald yin appeared on Saturday! I was under the floor but that growling voice was unmistakeable! Elliot & Lee welcome back! I’ve just cancelled our order for a new heavy duty electric puller with these two muscle bound guys who needs powered machinery! Good to see you again mate hurry back! Of course our stock of Trout will be worried by this development but what the hell!

The wider world in my view!

A bunch of clowns!

Yes old school posh boy Ken Clarke uttered the retort when being asked about the UKIP threat to the Tories in the local elections to be held on Thursday in England & Wales. No great dissection of policies just the nervous uttering of one who sees his party of duffers take a heavy beating at the elections! There is no doubt that UKIP has the posh boys rattled as dithering Lord Snooty tries to hold together the crumbling mess that is the Tories.

UKIP are a party of protest there is little doubt about it but with Snooty and Minister without a clue Gideon Osborn making a complete hash of everything they turn their hands to the outlook for the posh boys is not great! You generally find when constructive criticism has run out insults take over and so it was with has been Kenneth Clarke! Nothing constructive to say, no answer to the justified criticism of the posh boys by all factions in the political arena and by the public at large. If you are a supporter of the posh boys then prepare to take a sound beating on Thursday as all the shameful incompetence of the Con-Dems policies come back to haunt them!

Puppet Clegg no doubt will also be hammered for his persistent lies and prevarication that now characterise these buffoons! Tory handmaidens incapable of sticking to an election promise these fools have shamed the proud tradition of Steel & Co and are now completely unelectable. Look out for big Labour and Green party (respect!) gains and a significant percentage of UKIP councillors elected at the expense of the posh boys! Looks like the much used phrase of wanting to help “hardworking families who want to get on” is looking a little threadbare!

And then there were none!

Hehe in the Guardian last week a Tory political commentator cited Minister without a clue Gideon Osborn as being a liability to the prospect of a Tory Government being elected at the next general election! Further down the column he placed Lord Snooty in a similar category and that from one of their own! It’s looking pretty dire for the posh boys!

Nice words.

Don’t know who said it but it’s quite heavy!

Life isn’t about how many breaths you take but about the moments that take your breath away.....