Hook, line and sinker for Stornoway Sea Anglers at Western Isles Open

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Stornoway Sea Angling Club hosted its annual three days of open fishing competitions from Thursday, July 11, starting with the Highlands and Islands Open on the 11th, followed by the main two day event, the Western Isles Open.

As usual, demand for entry to the two competitions was overwhelming, especially with only 24 places available this year on two boats, so entry to the competitions was full up within a matter of days of entry forms becoming available earlier in the year, with a lengthy reserve list. Surprisingly so, only seven local anglers took part, the rest were mainly made up from sea anglers from throughout the UK, with anglers travelling from as a far north as Shetland, and as far south as Littlehampton in the far south of England.

The fishing for the three days was on board two boats, the club’s own boat the SYSAC 2, and on board the Nimrod, skippered by Jimmy Macintosh, which came across from Kinlochbervie.

With all the visiting anglers arriving on the islands on the Tuesday and Wednesday, the three days of fishing began on the Thursday with the Highlands and Islands Open, a competition where the rules are adjusted slightly, with only flatfish counting. So with flat calm seas as the boats set sail from Carloway pier, the boats headed south to fish the waters of West Loch Roag, and Cliff Bay where the seabed is soft and sandy, home to various species of flatfish. The fishing on the day was slow but steady, despite everyone being pestered all day by the vast numbers of small grey gurnards that were snaffling up the baits, the flats and rays were eventually getting to the baits.

From amongst the gurnards, there were numerous species of flatfish caught, those including spotted ray, thornback ray, cuckoo ray, dabs, plaice, and turbot, the largest of which was a 5 lb 15 oz thornback ray, caught by Eddie Hughes on board the Nimrod, narrowly beating a 5 lb 10 oz turbot caught by Gillies Mackenzie on board the SYSAC 2. In the competition, the top angler on the day was top Scottish boat angler Scott Gibson from Fife with 91 points for the 100% boat win on the Nimrod, narrowly beating veteran local angler, who seems to be rejuvenated this year, Angie ‘Mopp’ Macdonald who had 89 points for the 100% boat win on board the SYSAC 2.

In the main event starting on the Friday, the 49th Western Isles Open, again the fishing was held in almost flat calm sea conditions, with the rules back to normal where all species of fish counted. The boats left from Carloway at 9am for 6 hours fishing, both heading out to the deeper waters straight out from Carloway, where hopefully a wide variety of different species, and good numbers of fish could be caught. To make things more interesting, boats were split in two, so anglers were only fishing against the anglers on their side of the boat, so with the two boats split, at the end of each day there would be 4 boat winners.

The fishing was slower than usual for this time of year, this however has being the pattern this summer, with the sea fishing on the West coast no as prolific as normal, however fish were still steadily getting caught on both boats, with catches mainly made up of haddock, whiting and gurnards getting caught. The boat winners at the end of day one were Nimrod A – Peter Redshaw with 190 points for 100%, Nirmod B - Steve Souter with 226 points for 100%, SYSAC 2 A – Gus Mackenzie with 181 points for 100%, and on the SYSAC 2 B – Scott Gibson with 169 points for 100%. Leaving the top three anglers at the end of day one, in 1st Steve Souter, 2nd Peter Redshaw, and 3rd Gus Mackenzie, Steve Souter topped the day with a total of 38 fish made up of 11 different species for his 190 points.

Day two of the competition saw the weather conditions changing slightly with a stiff westerly wind blowing, making the sea’s a bit more lumpy, meaning that the boats would drift along faster. The boats left slightly earlier on the Saturday, leaving Carloway at 8am, for the 6 hours fishing, all the focus was on the Nimrod, where all the day one winners were drawn upon it, with Steve Souter, Peter Redshaw and Gus Mackenzie all up against each other as part of the Nirmod A, and Scott Gibson on the Nimrod B side of the boat. The fishing was much the same as the previous day, slow but steady, with always a fish or two coming over the gunnels, but this time there was a fast drift, and rough sea to contend with also, so it meant the use of lead weights up to 24oz and over, and a steady set of legs.

At the end of the day, after a tight competition on the Nimrod, it was Redshaw originally from Stornoway, now living in Thurso whom came out victorious, winning the Nimrod A, making him the 2013 Western Isles Open Champion. Scott Gibson also won the Nimrod B, giving both of them a maximum percentage score of 200%, however Scott’s total score combined of 324 points was less than Peter’s score of 375 points. This win for Peter makes it the 5th time he was won the Western Isles Open, a tremendous accomplishment, in what is considered by all the top boat anglers in Scotland, as one of the hardest competitions there is to win.

The end result and top three were, 1st Peter Redshaw – 200% from 375 points, 2nd Scott Gibson with 200% from 324 points, and 3rd Billy Murray with 188.42% from 327 points.

The top local angler went to Joe Campbell from Point, having the highest aggregate score by a local, and also highest score by a local on a single day. The heaviest fish went to John Spiers from Oban, for a ling of 5 lb 8 oz, and top specimen fish went to Willie Carr from Perthshire for a Red Gurnard of 1 lb 6 oz, 54% of the Scottish record. Josh Campbell was this year’s Junior Champion, and top 4 man team was won by Steve Souter, Scott Gibson, Billy Murray and Chris Putcher. In the skippers section, the boat with the highest catch was Jimmy Macintosh and the Nimrod, and the boat that landed the heaviest fish was the SYSAC 2, skippered by Robbie Bell.

Over the three days there was over 1500 fish caught in total, made up of over 22 different species of fish! The three days was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone whom took part, and big thanks have to go to everyone whom helped towards the running of the three days, especially boat skippers Robbie Bell and Jimmy Macintosh, Mairi Montgomery and Joan Campbell for the fantastic food that awaited anglers when they returned to the club, and Francis Jefferson for the engraving of the trophies.

It was back to club competitions on Saturday, July 20, with the club’s July monthly fished. With a full boat of anglers leaving Carloway in flat calm conditions and a baking sun beating down, it made for a fantastic day to be out in the Atlantic ocean fishing! The fishing was slow in the morning, as there was very little tide, with just the odd cod, pollack, haddock, dogfish, cuckoo wrasse or mackerel coming aboard, however when the tide picked up, the fish came on the feed, starting with a shoal of large coalfish that were grabbing everyone hooks, then when the boat moved to get away from them, good numbers of quality haddock, whiting and ling were coming aboard. Top angler on the day, continuing his good form from the Western Isles Open was Peter Redshaw with 201 points for the 100% (25 fish, made up of 11 species), narrowly beating Gillies Mackenzie whom had 196 points for 97.51% (25 fish, made up of 9 species), and in third was Steve Phipps with 149 points for 74.12%.

There are possibly more fishing trips on this Saturday, so please get in touch with the club for more details and to add your name to the list.