Orkney v Shetland 2019


Intercounty 2019, Swannay Loch

Swannay Loch was chosen as the venue for the 69th annual fly-fishing contest between Orkney and Shetland, the match being fished over two days, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June. This proved to be a wise choice as the loch provided remarkable sport for the two teams.
Representing Orkney were Norman Irvine, James Harcus, Stuart Leslie, Ian Hutcheon, John Munson and Jim Adams who was fishing his first Inter-County. Josh Brush, James Henry, Darren Laurenson, Peter Laurenson, Sean McCaffrey and Frank Watt fished for Shetland.
Sunshine and a moderate north east wind greeted the competitors on day one and these conditions resulted in an astonishing ninety-two fish being boated by lunchtime. The wind backed more northerly and a haar descended over the loch as the boats headed out for the afternoon session and it remained dull for the remainder of the afternoon. This change of conditions didn’t affect the fishing too much as good sport continued for most.

Jim Adams, Jim Harcus, Ian Hutcheon,Stewy Leslie, John Munson and Norman Irvine

The match was fished on a partial catch and release basis with the first six fish being retained and an allowance of 12oz per returned fish awarded thereafter. When the weigh-in was concluded and calculations were complete the Orkney team was leading with 82 fish for 60lb 8.50oz compared to Shetland’s 68 fish for 47lb 12.75oz. Top catches for Orkney were John Munson with 23 fish and Norman Irvine with 16. Frank Watt was the top rod for Shetland with 16 fish while Josh Brush and James Henry both had 12.
Near perfect conditions greeted the anglers for day two – overcast with a light to moderate north west wind. It was on the cool side, but these favourable conditions prevailed all day and once again Swannay did not disappoint. The lunchtime fish count showed the Orkney team had increased their lead with fifty-five fish to Shetland’s fifty. This lead meant the Orkney anglers could relax for the final afternoon session.
Overall the Shetland team landed 158 fish for 113lb 4.75oz while Orkney reclaimed the Inter-County Cup with a two-day total of 178 fish for 128lb 12.25oz. This combined catch of 336 fish has only been bettered once in the history of the contest – 2009 when 343 fish were boated on Harray Loch. It is worth pointing out that the total catch from Swannay in 1975 was only 24 fish over two days. While fish were harder to tempt back then the average weight was much higher. Some would argue that there are too many fish in the loch these days.

James Henry,Peter Laurenson, Darren Laurenson, Frank Watt, Shawn McCaffery and Josh Brush

Top catches for Orkney were John Munson with an incredible forty-two fish and James Harcus with thirty-six. Josh Brush had the heaviest basket for the Shetland team with thirty-four fish. He was closely followed by Frank Watt who had two more fish but less weight. The heaviest fish weighed-in was a nice 1lb 9.25oz specimen taken by Josh Brush.
Tactics varied with Midge Tip, Di 3, Di 3 Sweep, Di 5 and Di 5 Sweep lines all producing results. Successful flies included Ace of Spades, Erlend’s Cat, White Cat and Munchkin.
The two teams enjoyed a meal at the Empire Chinese Restaurant on the Sunday evening before crossing to the British Legion where the Inter-County Cup was presented to John Munson who had the heaviest catch for the winning team. All in a successful Inter-County weekend and a catch from Swannay Loch which will be talked about for many years.
Ian Hutcheon