Shetland V Orkney 2023



Last weekend as most of the victorious Junior Intercounty sports squad were heading back south to Orkney, six more senior fly fishermen were heading north to fish the Intercounty in Shetland. This year the venue had changed from the usual Tingwall loch to Clousta, a totally new experience for the travelling anglers, and with the Shetland team putting the hours in practising, it would be a tall order to take the away win, but the Orkney boys were up for it right from the start.

Orkney Intercounty Team 2023

Jimmy Grant, Thorfin Muir, Ian Hutcheon, John Munson,
Ken Kennedy and Stuart Leslie

Day one, and after the draw for partners, the six boats set off to different areas of Clousta, which was a loch totally different to any in Orkney, more like a Highland hill loch with islands, skerries, cliff faces, big submerged rocks, and the water colour was extremely dark, due to the surrounding peat hills. The trout were also very black, again due to the peat stain. Weather was very conducive, with cloud and blinks of sun which was never out long enough to warm things up a bit. There were a few fish caught right away but I got the impression from my boat partner that they were expecting a lot more action. Lunchtime and the first chance for the Orkney team to compare notes, with flies, lines and techniques shared quickly during the break, we were behind by a good few fish and would have to improve the catch rate. The match was fished to a six fish kill then catch and release with 12 ozs awarded for each additional fish released, and following a better session in the afternoon, the result was a but closer. Shetland were in the lead having caught 25 fish for 16lb 8ozs to Orkney’s 22 fish for 15lb 1/2oz, so all to play for on a shorter second day due to ferry times. Best basket of day one was from Orkney’s Ken Kennedy, with 8 fish for 4lb 14ozs, heaviest fish if the day was a belter going 1lb 9ozs, from Shetland’s Sean McCaffrey.

Sunday arrived and with just one session, time was on the home team’s side, but again, the Orkney team were determined and confident they could overturn the deficit. There was slightly more wind and sun, neither of which helped the fishing, but there were one or two rising fish noted, probably taking olives which were hatching out, albeit in sparse numbers. As the morning wore on, the tic tac between drifting boats revealed that Orkney were doing quite well numbers wise, but again, with few fish being caught, it would be very close. The weigh in was a tense affair but it soon became apparent that Orkney had secured the win with 13 fish for 9lb 12ozs, to Shetland’s 9 fish for 5lb 1oz for the second days total, giving the aggregate weights of Shetland 34 fish for 21lb 9ozs and Orkney 35 fish for 24lb 12ozs. Orkney’s Jimmy Grant had the best basket on the second day with 4 fish for 3lb 12ozs, which included the day’s heaviest trout at 1lb 6ozs, great angling! Following tradition, the Intercounty Cup was presented to the angler with the heaviest aggregate weight for the weekend, with 11 fish for 7lb 9ozs, it was a delighted Ken Kennedy who accepted the prize on behalf of his team mates.

Shetland Intercounty Team 2023

Stephen Leask, Steven Breivik, Sean McCaffery, James Henry, Frank Watt and Peter Laurenson

Orkney tactics were to fish small flies, with a small hedgehog or muddler on the top dropper, but crucially, fished very slowly, which seemed to encourage the better quality fish to take, while pulling seemed to catch more undersize fish. Doobry, Bibio, and Tutti Fruity dabbler helped the cause on the fly front. First and foremost, it was the teamwork which made the difference, with every single man doing his bit, sharing, encouraging and helping each other, the way it should be. Tip of the hat to Ian Hutcheon (captain), Thorfinn Muir, John Munson, Stewy Leslie, Jimmy Grant, and Ken Kennedy.
The weekend was not all about the fishing, it was an opportunity to socialise with old friends and make new ones, and the hospitality was immense, with a great night at the Lerwick Hotel and the Shetland AA clubhouse with many a laugh and some hilarious stories, especially the one about the new Hardy rod and a mountain bike.
The ferry voyage back south seemed to take less time than the way up, I guess that’s the difference an away win makes in this historical fixture. KK