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REPORT and UPDATE

July / August 2020

GOOD NEWS ON THE STOCKING OF THE ORKNEY LOCHS

Before the report on the angling for the last couple of months, I’m pleased to report that following sterling work from the OTFA Environment sub-committee, tremendous support from The Orcadian, and strong representation from our MSP Liam McArthur, Marine Scotland have changed their position on the restocking of some of Orkney’s trout lochs with fry from our hatchery at Kirbister. Although it’s too late for stocking these lochs in 2020, following applications for permission to do so in 2021, it should be back to previous levels, which is welcome news.
As for the angling on our lochs, the last couple of months have been exceptional, with many seasoned campaigners suggesting that it was as good a year as they could remember. There have been some visiting anglers too, which has been good news for the businesses who benefit from their presence. It would still be fair to say that the lochs were lightly fished in July and August, with just a core of OTFA anglers enjoying the opportunity to fish with different boat partners on different lochs.
Harray fished extremely well in early July, with the trout feeding hard, particularly on the dark sedges which hatched daily for a considerable part of the month, with Fiery Brown Hedgehogs and Muddlers accounting for many fish. The angling in the deep water drifts was also very consistent, with fast sinking lines and mini lures giving good sport, Erlends Cat, Boris, Merky Hulk and White Hulk worked well at times.
Swannay continued its earlier form, with the fish being very surface active, again dark or black sedges certainly kept the fish feeding. Unusually, it wasn’t really affected by changing weather conditions like the other lochs, it did not seem to matter if it was bright sun, strong winds, light winds, all the usual conditions that can put them down failed to dampen their enthusiasm, with Black Loch Ordie, Hedgehogs in Fiery Brown, Claret and Black, and evening foam Daddies working well.
Boardhouse blew very hot and cold, if conditions were ideal, with full cloud cover and a steady rolling wave, it was outstanding sport with some real specimens accounted for. Any hint of sunshine and it invariably resulted in an early finish to the day.
Hundland was lightly fished but it also produced good fish on its day, but weed hampered fishing, with only a few areas fishable.
Even Stenness managed to produce a few thumpers in the last few days of August, with Phillipe Avril, finally making it across the Channel to net a beauty, estimated at 5,lb+.
Bea Loch in Sanday produced some cracking fish for visiting anglers, with some real trophy fish amongst them.
Our season is very much drawing to a close now, on reflection, considering that at one time in April/May, it looked like we might have to miss the entire fishing year, it turned out to be a season to remember, and not just because of the ever present pandemic and the restrictions it placed upon us all, but for the outstanding angling on our unique lochs, enjoyed by most of our members in this extraordinary year. Let’s hope that 2021 brings more normality to all our lives, tight lines.
                                                                    Ken Kennedy

 

A few random photograph taken over the Months of July and August Swannay,Boardhouse and Harray
Photographs by JIm Adams

 

 

May / June 2020

OTFA Anglers ease out of lockdown

With many anglers relishing the thought of another year of trout fishing ahead of them last March, the whole country was placed in lockdown as a result of the pandemic, and everything had to come to an abrupt close. The OTFA Management Committee took the decision to basically cancel the season in its entirety, with all subscriptions already received from prospective members refunded or carried over until the 2021 season, when hopefully, we can return to some kind of normal. It was also decided that all the successful anglers who had qualified to fish Inter County, Scottish National, Anglian Water International etc for 2020, should represent the OTFA in 2021.
When restrictions were eventually partially lifted, fishermen were happy to learn that angling was to be one of the first outside hobbies/pastimes to be allowed. Gradually, the angling season resumed, and with all government guidelines being strictly adhered too regarding social distancing, travelling alone, hygiene etc, anglers finally ventured forth.
Wading the shores of our lochs was how many anglers chose to wet a line initially, with boats soon appearing on the site frontages and then afloat with happy anglers aboard. It certainly had the desired effect, with spirits generally lifted amongst good friends who were able to share a boat together for a days fishing at last.
All the lochs have been fishing well since then, with Swannay in particular providing consistent sport whatever the weather, even in the bright sunshine.
Harray and Boardhouse started off slowly with East wind and bright sunshine curtailing the action, but recently, the water quality on both has improved and so has the weather, and sport has been spectacular on occasion with the trout in top condition. Skaill Loch also produced some beautiful fish up to an estimated 6lb+, but I’m delighted to report that most of these trophy fish, yes, fish of a lifetime conceivably, were safely returned to grow on and possibly fulfil some other anglers dreams. Unfortunately, it’s not all good news regarding Skaill. It is one of the lochs which the OTFA has included in its stocking regime for decades, with fry from the Hatchery at Kirbister Loch. Permission has to be granted by Marine Scotland, as they are now known, to do so annually. This has never been refused in the past, but this year, they decided in their wisdom that they could not allow stocking with fry, of Skaill, North Loch in Sanday and others in the Isles, because basically, we could not provide evidence that there were no indigenous trout in these lochs before we began stocking them. This incredible decision was appealed by the OTFA, citing the Orkney Brown Trout Project, a study and survey of all our lochs done scientifically and hailed as a benchmark at the time, but they ruled that their original rejection be upheld The dialogue continues, and we must continue to try and persuade them to reverse their position, I for one, would hate to see the aforementioned fisheries decline from their present status, which ultimately will see the extinction of brown trout in these lochs, are there are no feasible spawning facilities associated with them. We cannot allow it happen on our watch!
How strange it is out on the Loch in these times, without another boat to be seen on many days, the OTFA will suffer financially like so many other related bodies with no visiting anglers in the county, so when we can, we must support all the local businesses who have been so seriously damaged by this scourge we have all had to endure, stay safe, tight lines,
Ken Kennedy

A few random photograph taken over the Month of June Swannay,Boardhouse and Harray
JIm Adams


 

MONTHLY REPORT

February / March 2020

The season got underway on 25th February with the opening of the sea trout fishing which in Orkney takes place in the sea. A good number of anglers were out at the crack of dawn, and before, and by all accounts some reasonable baskets of silver maiden fish in the 1 lb to 2.5 lb range were taken. It was hard going though, with flat calm conditions for most of the day, and a poor tide curtailing sport.
Ken's Sanday fish (photograph by Jim Adams)

Ken Kennedy, fishing on Hoy with Donald McIsaac had a sparkling 3 lb fish

The best fish I heard about on opening day was a cracking 3 pounder taken by Ian Robertson from the Orphir shore. Later in the week, Ken Kennedy, fishing on Hoy with Donald McIsaac had a sparkling 3 lb fish and Kenny Sinclair took a lean 4 lb 7 oz fish from the East Mainland. Brian Foreman and Jonathan Curran enjoyed good sport on Rousay with fish up to 3 lb and Ian Robertson took several on Hoy with his best at 2 lb 8 oz from Rackwick. Ian told me that he found some once superb Hoy locations devoid of fish. All  of these former hot spots are within close proximity of salmon farms. Generally, anglers found the early season sea trout to be in very good condition which could be just put down to a mild and very wet winter.
 
The Orkney Trout Fishing Association held their AGM on 25th February. At the meeting in Kirkwall, OTFA Secretary Malcolm Russell informed members that 9 of the 13 stocking applications to Marine Scotland had been refused.  The refusals were mainly on the grounds that the stocking could have a potential negative impact on the genetic composition of the current trout population. Although it was explained that virtually all the lochs intended had not held fish until they were initially stocked with fry from the Loch Harray catchment, and the proposed stocking of fry was from the same source, Marine Scotland still insisted that  scientific evidence be provided that the lochs did not hold genetic populations. The OTFA’s anecdotal evidence, going back 100 years or so, was deemed as insufficient evidence. The OTFA is appealing against the refusals. It does seem that the “trophy trout” future of many of the Orkney North Isles lochs is now in jeopardy thanks to Marine Scotland’s seeming obsession with genetic composition. If not stocked, lochs such as North and Roos in Sanday, Burness in Westray and Meikle in Stronsay, all without spawning burns, will revert to their once troutless state and be lost to anglers. 
Orkney’s lochs opened for business on 15th March. Weather on opening day was not conducive to sport and I did not hear of any catches – as is often the case here. Towards the end of the month, and just as things were starting to improve, the country was put on “lock down” and anglers were wrestling with their conscience as to whether a solo day  on the loch would constitute as “one form of daily exercise” or just to stay at home. The OTFA cancelled their programme of events for the season and terminated membership for 2020. Site huts and toilets were out of bounds and the OTFA was effectively closed for the season. Difficult times indeed.  Stay safe.

MAR