It is amazing how quickly it comes round every year, but, once again, Stornoway Sea Angling Club hosted the Western Isles (Open) Sea Angling Championships on Friday and Saturday. The competition was fished out of Carloway.
For once the festival was favoured with good weather, with calm seas, only a slight swell, and even a bit of sun thrown in. This is a change from most years, when the anglers have to contend very often with stiff winds, big swells and rough seas, meaning the boats are very often confined to the shelter of east and west Loch Roag. However, this was not the case this year, and the boats could strike out and fish wherever they liked.
Most of the fishing was out from Dalmore/Dalbeg areas, starting off on the clear, sandy ground for haddock, whiting, gurnards, and the odd other species, and ended off close in, fishing the hard, rocky ground for lythe, wrasse, cod and coalies.
The mackerel were thick, as is often the case at this time of year, which meant a lot of anglers had severe problems getting through them to catch the fish which lay beneath. Though the fishing was quite slow at times, some good bags of fish were landed on both days, and the species count was as high as ever — with cod, ling, lythe, coalies, haddock, whiting, gurnards, dabs, dogfish, herring, mackerel, plaice, rays, sandeel, scad, megrim and wrasse all being caught.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable and keenly contested two days, and the great majority of the anglers seem to have thoroughly enjoyed the competition once again.
This year's champion and winner of the prestigious Milbro Cup is our very own Angie 'Mopp' Macdonald, who won the competition for the third time — 1972, 2002 and now 2004 — an excellent achievement in a hard competition.
Angie scored 265.1 points and a perfect 200 per cent over the two days to win. In second place was another local - Gordon Mackenzie, with 254.1 points and 198.2 per cent. Gordon may very well have won the event, if it wasn't for his misfortune in losing a very unusual catch — a conger eel — on the surface, which slithered out of a hole in the landing net, and vanished back to its home on the seabed!
Third place went to a visiting angler — Gus Mackenzie from Inverness — who had 275.1 points and 190.69 per cent, and he also won the award for the best visiting angler.
The other prizewinners are as follows:
Day 1 winner - Gordon Mackenzie; Day 2 winner - Gus Mackenzie; best specimen - Graham Forbes (red gurnard, 60 per cent of Scottish record); heaviest fish - Chris Barrett (cod 14 lbs); club member with highest aggregate catch - Angie 'Mopp' Macdonald; ladies champion - Mairi Montgomery; ladies runner-up - Sandra Mackay; junior champion - Ian Macleod; junior runner-up - Jamie Innes; team events - four-man team: Peter Redshaw, Gus Mackenzie, David Proudfoot, Angie 'Mopp'; two-man team - CJ Buchanan, Gillies Mackenzie; club member with the heaviest catch in one day - Gordon Mackenzie; boat with the heaviest aggregate catch of the championships - 'Danny Jade' (Ronny Macphail); boat landing the heaviest fish - 'SYSAC II' Angie 'Mopp' (14lb cod); Rarstin Trophy - Stornoway.
Last, but definitely not least, the club extends their thanks to all our sponsors and all the people who helped out over the week, without whose help the championships would not be the success they are: Lewis Carpet Contracts, Angus Campbell Ltd, Hebrides Haulage, Lewis Crofters Ltd, Caledonian MacBrayne, the Macdiarmid family, Sportsworld, Stornoway, John Murdo Mackenzie (slater and roughcaster), Mackinnon's Self Drive, CPL, Angus Maciver Ltd, Ronny Scott, Lews Castle College, John Ramsay, Duncan Walker, Ladies Committee (Joan Campbell), all our faithful weigh-in team, Francis Jefferson, Mabel, Murdo 'Timber' Matheson, 'Stornoway Gazette', Ronny 'Soapy', 'Bobbans', 'Lofty' and Murdo Ewen - thanks guys!, Mathie Sign, Gillies Mackenzie.
Well, that's the Western Isles over for another year, and now we will all be back to our local competitions again, with the juniors out this Thursday (August 5), and the senior monthly on Saturday, August 14. As usual all names and money to the club.