Sunday, 27 November 2016

Count us in!

Photo 01 - Flat as a mill pond on Saturday!

Count us in!

Yesterday Elliot Fraser and I met with some interested parties regarding the apparently increasing incidence of Muppet behaviour on the Cafe Green especially during the summer months. We have agreed to donate up to two hundred pounds towards the cost of a quality CCTV system to record all antisocial events that may take place. Our donation however is conditional on other stakeholders donating a similar amount!

This may seem to some members as acting outwith our sphere of operation! However we need to remember that when we took over the operation of the club many years ago visitor numbers were virtually non existent. We have turned that ailing club into one which is currently thriving with fantastic membership and good honest unadulterated fishing.  Along with increased visitor numbers however comes the incidence of increased anti social behaviour!

Those who have been around a while will be aware of a few incidents involving people masquerading under the banner of angling. It is because of this we feel we need to be involved and play our part in rectifying wrongdoing! Having brought about an increase in visitor numbers we have a moral responsibility to play our part in managing any future misbehaviour! The time has come to do something, we are doing it!

One other very good bit of news is that two riparian owners on the loch have stated that they will block any attempt to admit a recently disgraced individual dismissed from his position within the club back into club membership under any circumstances. This most welcome measure is more than we could have hoped for and will secure the future of St Mary's Angling Club for many years to come!

Ideas for improvement! 

Through sound financial management brought about latterly by club treasurer Elliot Fraser we now find ourselves commanding a very healthy bank balance. Now as everybody knows some cash in the bank for a rainy day is a pretty good idea yet at the same time we can spend some money whilst maintaining that cushion.

Now spending for the sake of spending is rarely a good idea and with this in mind we are asking the membership if they have any ideas as to how we may improve the fishing or facilities to let us know. We don’t want to hear about engines or any other ideas that would degrade our fishing for we must continue to manage the loch. By law we cannot introduce new stocks of fish with the exception of Arctic Char and this would be financially out of our reach so that option is not really on the table unless we could secure some significant financial assistance.

We can try and improve the habitat as we have done many times before with some success. We have heavy duty wire baskets which were to be used to provide havens for young fish when weighed down and placed in the loch. We could re establish the shoreline greenery which is now barren due to the lower level being established shown below. The loch will eventually re establish this flora, we could also do this informally by cutting  willow whips and just pushing them into the ground on an ad hoc basis they will root in a short time and become inhabited by insects which will become food for our fish stocks!

Photo 02 - The littoral zones we have lost!

We could improve the club facilities in and around the boathouse by means of heaters or cooking equipment. We could provide a base tackle store where members could borrow equipment that they may have forgotten to bring. These are just a small selection of ideas picked up over the years but if you have any ideas give us a shout!

Heavy Pike recorded!

 We have not even presented this year’s winner Scott Redpath with his prize and a corker specimen has just been recorded for next years cup. Ultra keen member David Forsyth managed to land a 21lbs 8oz fish. This verified fish fought like a Trojan but eventually came to the net. Well done that man! So that's the weight you need to beat if you want to get your hands on the cup!

Offers of assistance!

Over the last few months we have received numerous offers of assistance with projects we have planned for the coming year. Members who are cognisant of the fact that maintenance and improvement are required to keep the club running smoothly.  To the many who have offered us help thank you we will be in touch!

The wider world in my view!

Desperate times ahead!

Forecasts from agencies concerned with the increasing numbers of poor people in our country have predicted a sharp rise in the numbers of people struggling to survive! Most reasonable people will not be surprised by this as the Tories continue to look after their own whilst punishing the poor!
Corporation tax giveaways and the failure to stop benefit cuts Mean that many poor people will end up thousands of pounds poorer whilst the rich receive more! Predictions of job losses attributed to “Brexit” now top 200,000 and will certainly plunge our country into another major recession!

Health care social care are on the point of collapse and this dithering government concentrate on “Brexit” to the exclusion of all else! Over 100 billion has been borrowed by the so called party of fiscal competence I do wonder how such borrowing will benefit us? There will come a time in the next few years when the public voice will eclipse all else and that voice will call for an end to this “Brexit” nonsense, an end to spending on nuclear weapons and a focus on poor people with the aim of improving their standard of living. Roll on that day!

More strong opposition!

Yet again on first Ministers Questions Borg Queen Ruth Davidson made a complete pratt of herself! A week too late she posed a question about the 246 points of improvement that were asked of Scotrail. She asked if and when they were to be published! Sturgeon’s reply was that they were to be published and in fact had been available to the general public for 24hrs prior to Davidson’s question! Yet another example of the strong opposition promised by the Tories!

Similarly Murdo Fraser MSP asked the Scottish government to welcome the £900 million supposedly given by Philip Hammond to Scotland! In fact since the Tories came to power to 2020 £2.9 billion will have been cut from the Scottish settlement!  Are we to be happy about that!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Annual pilgrimage to the Tweed!

Photo 01 - Stevie about to cast!

Annual pilgrimage to the Tweed!

On Monday our party consisting Gordon, Elliot, Mike and Stevie four of the membership who gave most of their time to propel the club forward set off to the Upper Pavilion on Tweed in search of the increasingly elusive Salmon. Unfortunately our competition winner Alan Ramsay could not make it due to holidaying in Australia!
Very few fish were showing and those that did show themselves were all the colours of the rainbow! It looked like spotting a fresh fish would be an event indeed!

 This pattern was to remain for the whole day. Now we had both banks of the whole beat so no shortage of areas to fish but alas as in recent years past nothing was hooked! The angler who came closest was Mike Wood who got a pull not once but three times with line being stripped on the third event click to see video . However at the end of that run the line went limp which was catastrophic for Mike, so near yet so far!

However putting our day in context the weather was super very mild for November, the water was up around a foot with that beery colour that all anglers like to see and fish were showing but therein lies the problem!  Compared to four or five years ago the amount of fish showing is much reduced. It seems as though the famous back end on the Tweed is at an end so much so that the Spey is now considered Scotland’s premier Salmon river.

Now the above is not by way of making excuses, the annual catches on the Tweed have plummeted in the recent past and no one seems to have a credible theory as to why this is the case.  Saturday of the preceding week saw no Salmon caught over the whole Tweed whilst on Monday (our day) three Salmon were caught on the lower stretches, Tweed Salmon fishing is at rock bottom! In all the years I have fished this beat I have never known it as bad!

Photo 02 - Mike bobbing on the water!

However as I have said many times angling is about more than catching fish it encompasses the colourful spectrum of nature the camaraderie of fellow anglers and the peace and contentment that comes from a day in the outdoors! A day free of bullies and feckless drifter’s, what more could you ask for! Aye it was a rare treat to be with a bunch of lads unceasing in their efforts to help the club and grateful for a different day under the piscatorial banner!

All the participants enjoyed their day and from a personal point of view it was a privilege to fish with such a group of honest and decent real anglers. I have sent a letter of thanks to the Westbrook family thanking them for their kindness in allowing us to fish on their private beat.

Photo 03 - Most welcome in a dry spell says Stuart!

Permits on the bank!

Over the last few weeks I have been asked why it is not possible to purchase permits on the bank like in other areas. Well here’s the news you can buy your permits on the bank you have always had the opportunity to do so! It is the preferred method of buying your permits as it gives our bailiffs some recompense for the work provided by them!

This means you arrive at the loch and you commence fishing and our bailiffs catch up with you later in the day. There is no waiting around for an outlet to open it’s simply arrive and fish. This was problematic in the recent past but the situation now is that our bailiffs will encounter you. Our lead bailiff is a woman so lets see some respect here and be on your best behaviour.
So just come and fish, one of our bailiffs will catch up with you! You get to fish as soon as you arrive and our bailiffs gets some recompense for their efforts!

Photo 04 - Stuart with a soon to be whopper!


Last weekend one of our members lost a fishing reel a Shimano baitrunner 6010. Now he thinks he may have left it in the Glen Cafe car park or the big stone swim on the loch o the Lowes. If you have found it and are wondering how to return it simply e mail us and we will arrange a suitable way for you to return the reel. We will also as a thank you give you a five day permit to be used in any combination of days over a year.

The wider world in my view!

Strong opposition!

If any of you were watching First Ministers Questions this week you could not avoid being left open mouthed at the ineptitude of Borg Queen Ruth Davidson! The woman who insisted she would provide strong opposition was systematically stopped in her tracks then dismembered by the much more astute Nicola Sturgeon!

Tories all over Scotland must have been left feeling humiliated as Sturgeon belittled and completely cancelled out her outlandish criticisms. It was clear that Davidson had done no research on the topics raised as she was summarily put down with facts after each point she raised.
A good opposition is vital in politics to challenge the government's stance and had it not been for the intelligent and robust questioning by Kezia Dugdale Sturgeon would have remained untroubled! Yes Ms Dugdale raised the only pertinent question in the whole session regarding Abellio’s utterly incompetent attempt to run Scotrail!

Sturgeon was put on the back foot stating that the contract could be removed from Abellio. I agree with Dugdale the contract should be terminated with immediate effect and that contract be given to a state run enterprise i.e. a nationalised industry! The most pressing problem for Scotland was not even mentioned by the Borg Queen! How those protest voters who switched to Tory must feel silly now with an overgrown schoolgirl providing the “strong opposition!” Davidson is no “strong opposition” simply a loudmouth who can gesticulate more, shout more and invariably make herself out to be a complete dick!

Buckingham Palace!

You will have noticed this week the call for Buckingham Palace to be refurbished at an approximate price of £370 million to the taxpayer! I am very uncomfortable about paying for renovations to the house of another especially when that family is steeped in wealth!

Make no mistake it is the taxpayer who will fund this even though the queen is paying. She has been given a 66% rise paid for by us to fund these works! Perhaps she should be subject to the “Bed tax” like ordinary people! It is just wrong to fund those with fantastic wealth when institutions such as the NHS are crying out for investment!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

How big is this Pike?

Photo 01 - David with a very fine fish!

How big is this Pike?

Yes it was caught last week by visiting angler David Rutherford on a two day session on the Lowes. Prior to catching this specimen he got a chance to hone his skill with a wee jack. Now David did not bring his scales but did bring a tape measure whilst not able to give an accurate weight would at least give an approximation.

Naturally the lady was a trifle aggrieved at having a hook lodged in her mouth and put up a splendid struggle. However succumb she did as David piled on the pressure with the aim of not exhausting the fish. Uppermost in his mind was a quick photo and speedy return and this he did forgetting to take some measurements to estimate the weight. We must commend David for putting the welfare of the fish above all else seeking a speedy return to the loch.

Quick initial thoughts were around sixteen pounds but she was very thick set and on showing the fish to other anglers saw the range expand and move upwards with figures coming in from nineteen to twenty three pounds! What do you think? One thing is for sure it was a cracking fish from the much underrated loch o the Lowes!

Tweed bound in pursuit of Salmon!

Tomorrow our party heads off to the Upper Pavilion on the Tweed to see if we can tempt a Salmon of any colour! The last outing was fish free in spite of a couple of tugs so this year it would be nice to actually land one. Last week on the beat a few friends of the family landed four fish none of which were fresh. However rod bending certainly took place and that’s all we are seeking.

Gordon, Mike, Elliot and Stevie will all wet a line to see what they can do and they have the whole beat on both sides so will not be restricted in that matter. I know new flies have been purchased so there hopefully will be fireworks! Irrespective it's a day out in the company of real anglers not a bully in sight! A true vision of piscatorial heaven!

Potential spoiler!
The river is up today, beery coloured but it's drizzled all day. However as the darkening came in this evening it was quite fishable. Hopefully the rain will stop soon and we should be ok, I will be down the Tweed at dawn just in case it's become unfishable so I can let the lads know.

 Photo 02 - Wednesday on the loch!

Hidden benefits!

So you’re now a member of the club, and you now have unlimited access to the fishing for any species on both the lochs. Yes you can fish every day of the year for the measly sum of thirty five pounds per year! But did you know there are other hidden benefits of being a member.

If you have a job at your remote lock up that really needs electricity to do the job properly but there’s no mains supply. As a member of the club you can borrow one of our portable generators 3.5 or 4.0Kw to enable you to get the job done all you need do is fill up the tank on returning the genny.

We also offer this service to local residents in the area if you need power where you have none give us a shout and we will arrange for one of the generators to be made available as we have done in the past. Maybe you and the wife fancy a day out pleasure boating; well you can use one of the club boats free of charge to enjoy your day this applies to members and locals. All you need do is get in touch!

Photo 03 - 0 degrees all day!


Following last week’s leader photo which clearly was not a 14lbs Pike as the caption proclaimed I have to hold my hands up, plead guilty and say I cocked up! Yes Davy sent on two photos of his session last week, one of a wee jack (the one in the photo) and the other the 14lbs Pike. I uploaded the wrong one and didn’t even notice when I reviewed it before publishing.

So I have replaced last week’s photo on the blog and in the gallery with the actual 14lbs fish and send my apologies to Davy! Incidentally Stuart ended up with 1604 photos on his phone which he could only remove with the aid of one of those electric tin openers! So once you have scoured this week’s blog continue scrolling until you get to last week’s header or go to the gallery in the main site to see Davy’s 14lbs fish!

“Plastic Pike!”

I heard today that featured in Fridays Daily Record “Fish of the week” was a 44lbs Pike from a Borders loch. Now the name of the loch was withheld for obvious reasons but the author went on to say that the captor had only been a member of the Pike syndicate for two months! Only two pounds short of the British record this will have big fish hunters drooling and in a frenzy to locate and catch the now marked poor creature!

The fact that the fish came from a syndicate water immediately rings alarm bells! Now if this fish had come from a wild water then that would indeed have been a feat! A fish who had to battle, deploy all its cunning in order to secure its prey is indeed a worthy fish! However we have been aware of several engineering projects where heavy Pike from other waters are transferred to ponds which have been massively overstocked with prey fish!

This gives rise to a totally synthetic environment where the hunting Pike is confronted with a potential meal at every turn which is not the case in the wild! Similarly often the prey fish chosen is stunted high energy Rainbow Trout causing the hunting Pike to put on massive amounts of weight. Our Pike which we consider well fed put on between 3-4lbs per year and at that rate the heavy weights above would be unattainable!
These fish have been artificially bulked up simply to make the capture of a possible record fish easier. For me a twenty caught from our untampered with lochs is worth much more than one of these gullible and flabby creatures engineered for record status! Can there be any worth in catching such a “Frankenstein” creature where human intervention is the cause of its high weight.

The joy of searching out a loch for a possible holding area is negated as over fed Pike come along frequently and pick up any meal they desire with only minimal foreplay! Such a fish may register 44lbs on the scales but is it a real 44lbs Pike that is the question!

The wider world in my view!

A tale of two duds!

Well like Brexit the result of the American election result left us all reeling! Who would have thought a dick like Donald Trump would be elected the most powerful man in the world! Of course it was down to bungling by the democrats in selecting the hated Hilary Clinton as their candidate, marked down as a crook her goose was cooked a long time ago! Both the candidates were the bottom of the barrel so the end result is a bottom of the barrel president!
Already trump is backtracking on much of the hot air he spouted during the campaign. This has got to be a good thing because much of his campaign rhetoric was absolute rubbish! There won’t be much good come of this election, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Poppy day!

As we mill around going through our usual routines we often don’t think of how we came to be where we are today! Yes if the Bosch had triumphed in either war we would be living in a very different world indeed! It is only due to the millions who lost their lives in the two world wars fighting the cruel Bosch that we enjoy our freedom today!

People nowadays take for granted the sacrifice made by so many. We must ensure that the sacrifices made and the brave actions of men and women from so many nations are never forgotten! R.I.P

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Up & running!

Photo 01 -  Davy with a fine 14lbs Pike!

Up and running!

At last we find ourselves back up and running in a fashion that we are content with. Leaving behind what was probably the most shameful episode in the clubs history we can now progress. I think we should now erase all memory of the fellow and carry on enjoying the fishing!

Our new watcher/bailiff Jenny who farms at Bowerhope has now settled into the job and on hearing from visiting anglers they are impressed with the courteous and efficient service given by her. It is important to keep in mind that Jenny is not an angler so if you have any queries specifically about angling please direct them to me and I will assist as I can.

So it is again possible for anglers to purchase their permits on the banks if they wish and we still have three other bailiffs who check and sell permits. Of course we still sell permits at the Glen Cafe, The Tibbie Shiels Inn, The Gordon Arms Hotel and Fishers in Penicuik. However your first choice should be our bailiff as it gives her some reward for the work she carries out! Boat hire is again possible for visiting anglers with a simple DIY system that provides all the essentials to get and keep you afloat for your days sport.

Regular readers will know that the subject of engine hire has been added to the agenda for our AGM and following this we will formulate a policy regarding their use. It is important not to assume a Walter Mitty type of outlook when reviewing engine usage rather a cold hard look at the pros and cons!

New members having just joined the club have no membership cards since Mr Young has kept hold of them but we will be ordering replacements for the 2017 season and you will not be required to submit a photo. Other items such as supplying a date of birth will be dispensed with! A new application form will be uploaded in the next few weeks.

One of Mr Xxxxx’s last legacies was to leave us with 10 bags of rubbish to get rid of which with a bit of application we soon did. Again however bags were building up at the boathouse and the disposal problem reappeared. How heartening to hear that big Davy has managed to come to an arrangement with the proprietors of the Gordon Arms Hotel for us to dispose of our accumulated waste! A member helping the club, the way it should be! Thanks Davy!  

That was certainly a fine Pike Davy (pictured above), I can't get in touch with him at present as he is sending the photo to mate Stuart every 3 minutes. Stuart tells me he currently has 1,378 copies of the Pike and his phone is about to burst. Well nothing like making sure yer mate gets to see yer prize!
A fishing mate of Davy and Stuart caught and returned the cock Salmon below on a Spratt so much for not feeding in freshwater! Also caught yesterday was a fine 16lbs Pike from the loch o the Lowes photo next week.

Photo 02 - Small cock Salmon(with suspected Cormorant damage) caught and returned yesterday.

Salmon Fishing on the Upper Pavillion!

Well we now have confirmation of our day and it's Monday the thirteenth of this month next week in fact. I hope the date is not a bad omen but the lads coming are not put off by trivia such as that. Again fish are being caught but all were coloured last week. Something has changed with regard to the Tweed's autumn run and no one seems to know what is the root cause of this anomaly! However our lads Stevie, Elliot, Gordon and Mike are indomitable when it comes to fishing, irrespective of what happens I am sure a great day will be had by one and all!

Moving on!

It finally happened last weekend after a few false alarms good friends of the club Ian & Barbara left the area seeking pastures new. Yes the occupants of the old converted church at the hall have moved into Edinburgh for a taste of high culture and busy city life. Of course Ian & Barbara were the incumbents at the Glen Cafe a few years ago and built up a reputation for good food at sensible prices just like the current tenants.

Ian was also our loch keeper for a good while and brought credit to the club with his honest no nonsense pragmatic manner! Latterly Ian assisted us with the checking and selling of our permits as time allowed and we are most grateful to him for that. Ian & Barbara set up the visit St Mary’s Loch website which I am sure brought many visitors to the area and in all aspects of village life brought verve and enthusiasm.

We will miss Barbara and the Dulux dog on their morning strolls and all three on their winter hikes in biting cold weather. Nothing however stays the same life evolves all around us and we must adapt and move forward! All the best in your new home from all at the fishing club, Ian & Barbara good friends indeed!

Club AGM

To facilitate the smooth order of business at the AGM we are again asking that members with what could be considered substantive topics submit these to us no later than 7 days before the AGM. This allows better time management during the meeting and allows time for research into that topic if required.  The agenda is being compiled and we will publish it nearer the time as before.

The wider world in my view!


I had a good blether with Elliot this week and he was quick to point out how he felt let down by the SNP government after they had raised the council tax for the upper bands to raise £100 million to inject into the education budget. I can empathise with him as this is not targeted towards those who earn bumper salaries rather those who have striven to better themselves and their families.

The SNP were always of the stance of targeting those who earn huge amounts of money which is a proper stand to take. They have said that the raising of the council tax is a transient measure because they did not have a mandate to implement root and branch change. That is maybe so but when ordinary working families are hit by unneeded cuts (up to £500 annually) in their income then the distribution of votes cast will change!

The SNP are not the perfect government far from it in fact, they are however the best of a bad lot!  They should however be aware that unpopular moves such as this risks sending voters towards a more unpalatable form of government such as the Tories! In Scotland no one in their right mind votes Tory they are the destroyers of industry and past masters of peerless bungling. However a heat of the moment protest vote could see them put into a position of power which would be the worst thing possible for the people of Scotland! So to Nicola Sturgeon and co please think very carefully before implementing any further such moves for it may end up costing you and the country