Shetland v Orkney Intercounty 2016

Orkney Fly Fishermen shine in the sun on Tingwall -


Shetland Angling Association were the hosts for the 66th annual Intercounty fly fishing competition, with Tingwall loch the venue, fished over two days last weekend. Tingwall was usually an extremely tough nut to crack, and had not been a happy hunting ground for some time for Orkney, with Shetland being unbeaten there since 2008. The weather forecast for the duration was bright sunshine accompanied by a brisk east wind, adding to the trepidation, but never once denting the Orkney teams confidence in their ability to overcome these harsh conditions.
With the draw for partners made, the six boats set off, with five choosing to stay in the north end and only one boat venturing in to the south end of the loch. As is the case generally, your best chance of catching trout in the bright sun, is in the morning before the sun is at its highest, and late afternoon as it drops again, all noted in the discussions on the ferry trip north the night before. The Orkney team, well organised by skipper James Bews, had decided to start the match with fast sinking lines to hopefully contact feeding fish holding at depth to escape the glare of the sun and this payed off handsomely with many Orkney rods seen bent into action playing fish from the start. In time honoured tradition, there was a break for lunch at 1pm when team members have the opportunity to compare notes on how they are doing, and be fed and watered. I'm sure I noted at least 3 Shetland team members choke on their reested  mutton bannocks when they heard how many fish Orkney had boated in the first session, over 20 fish ahead, astonishing.
The second half of the day went equally well for the Orkney lads who grasped the opportunity to build an unassailable lead to take into day two. The weigh in showed Orkney in a commanding lead with an aggregate of 28 fish for 16 lb 12 1/2ozs to Shetland’s 9 fish for 4lb 10ozs. Orkney’s James Bews was top rod on the day, leading from the front with 7 for 4lb 3ozs, in what was a very strong team performance with every team member scoring well. It was indeed, all over bar the shouting.
The Shetland AA hospitality over the whole  weekend was absolutely superb, due in no small part to the organisational skills of their stalwart club president Alec Miller and following a tremendous meal at the Grand Hotel in Lerwick the anglers retired to the Shetland Anglers club house where some great craic was enjoyed. There were suggestions made there that we should all forget about the fishing on the second day, as Orkney were so far in front and that we should go for a sight seeing tour of Shetland instead. Another was that the Orkney anglers could just sit on the pier at Tingwall and cheer the Shetland boys any time they caught a fish, but at 10am the next morning it was all forgotten as the 12 anglers drew for partners and day two began.
Nothing had changed much weather wise, with the sun if anything increasing in intensity and the wind moving round a couple of points to a more SE direction.
This opened up the south end of the loch and all but one boat ventured through the gap to fish there. Again, success on the first drift was crucial and with the competition finishing at 2 pm, there would be no chance of a late improvement in chances. Shetland were keen to recover their composure and at least win the second day if not the overall spoils, the weigh in would show that although their catch rate had  improved, Orkney had further increased their lead with a total aggregate for the day of 19 fish for 10lb 12ozs with Shetland putting 16 fish for 9lb 4ozs on the scales. Shetland had the best individual on the day with Sean McCaffrey weighing in a creditable 7 fish for 4lb 5ozs. The overall scores were Shetland 25 fish for 13lb 14 1/4ozs to Orkney's 47 fish for 27lb 8 3/4ozs, a resounding victory for the jubilant Orkney anglers. Their top rod, who was also top individual over the two days, James Bews, was presented with the Intercounty Cup to generous applause by all present. Special mention must also be made of Orkney's Tingwall debutante's  Neil Chalmers and Kevin Muir,  who both played a blinder, catching consistently well both days.
The winning tactic as reported previously was the use of fast sinking lines with DI5, 7 and 7 Sweep employed,  as for flies, the tweaked Hulk, Merky Hulk, Wooders Ace and Cod and Chips excelled amongst various others.
Somehow the ferry journey from Lerwick to Kirkwall did not seem to take as long as usual, as the Orkney anglers enjoyed the moment, and on this very rare occasion, the toast was “Tingwall 2016”.
Ken Kennedy