Swannay Loch on form for Highland Park Trophy

Top Rod Neil Chalmers

The first competition of the fly fishing season is always a welcome milestone for Orkney anglers, the first chance for many to dust down the fishing gear, see if the outboard will start, give all these new fly patterns dreamed up over the long winter months a swim, and to see if the casting arm will stand up to a long stint on Swannay after 6 months off.
A tremendous turn out of 35 anglers, which included some welcome new faces, and some returning well kent ones, assembled for the midday start, on a reasonable fishing day, which actually improved as the day wore on.
Unusually, the bulk of the boats set up for their first drifts at the west end of the loch, with the Heathery Shore, Muckle Holm and Site frontage most popular, leaving a few of us who headed for the Long Points, Ernie’s and the likes feeling very insecure, as if there was something we didn't know about. There were a few fish caught early on, but it wasn't until much later in the day that the wind dropped by a few points and the fish came on, taking advantage of a sparse midge hatch. This  would appear to have been very localised with some anglers seeing no improvement in sport, while others caught rapidly in the last hour. One angler sitting on 2 fish at half past five, took 6 fish in the last half hour to finish on a creditable 8 fish, good angling Thorfinn Muir.
Top basket, winning the Highland Park Trophy, was Neil Chalmers, who put 11 fish on the scales, weighing 10lb 3ozs. Neil took his fish on a drift along the front of the site, catching steadily all day. Ian Hutcheon actually had one more fish but they lacked the quality, weighing in at 9lb 7ozs. Other good baskets included James Bews with 11 for 8lb 4ozs, Kevin Muir with 9 for 7lb 13ozs and Brian Thomas with 9 for 7lb 8ozs. Heaviest fish went to “Big Fish” Billy Thomson, with a cracking Swannay trout going 1lb 13 ozs.
Best areas, especially late in the day, were the weather shore, basically from Dale to Chrismo and the old Hatchery corner.
A sinking line was the order of the day with DI5 and DI5 Sweep apparently the most successful. Fly pattern was a change from the norm with the Ace of Spades loosing its charm somewhat and flies like the Christmas Tree, Naked Spur and Erlends Cat and basically wee black headed  Muddlers mentioned at the inquest.
A few points of note were the excellent clarity of the water and the loch level being low due to the lack of rain lately, with the latter causing many props to be damaged on the unseen skerries, and many a good cast of flies lost on unforgiving rocks, these are the joys of fishing the “Black Lagoon”.
Harray beckons next weekend, the weather forecasters are shouting about a warm spell, here's hoping they are on the ball.
NB. The Harray site has now been cleared of the algae build up and boats can now be put on the site hut frontage.





Competition 1 - Highland Park Trophy







Lb oz


CHALMERS N 11 10 Lb. 03½ oz 16
HUTCHEON I 12 9 Lb. 07 oz 15
BEWS J 11 8 Lb. 04½ oz 14
MUIR KEVIN 9 7 Lb. 13¼ oz 13
THOMAS B 9 7 Lb. 08¼ oz 12
MCCONNACHIE S 7 6 Lb. 11 oz 11
KENNEDY K 8 6 Lb. 07 oz 10
MUIR THORFINN 8 6 Lb. 06½ oz 9
MORGAN A 7 6 Lb. 05¾ oz 8
YOUNG K 7 6 Lb. 04 oz 7
MUNSON J 6 6 Lb. 00¼ oz 6
THOMSON BILLY 5 5 Lb. 12 oz 5
MACLEOD K 6 5 Lb. 09½ oz 4
SUTHERLAND C 5 4 Lb. 12½ oz 3
ADAMS J 5 4 Lb. 08¾ oz 2
WOOD S 4 4 Lb. 07¼ oz 1
ADAM K 6 4 Lb. 05 oz 1
STANGER S 5 4 Lb. 00 oz 1
MILLER H 4 3 Lb. 12¾ oz 1
RUSSELL M 5 3 Lb. 12¼ oz 1
LESLIE S 4 3 Lb. 10¾ oz 1
MILLER RAYMOND 4 3 Lb. 03½ oz 1
IRVINE N 3 3 Lb. 00½ oz 1
CRAIGIE A 3 2 Lb. 13 oz 1
SHEARER A 3 2 Lb. 11¼ oz 1
MILLER LESLIE 3 2 Lb. 01¼ oz 1
HARCUS MICK 2 1 Lb. 12 oz 1
FOREMAN B 2 1 Lb. 11¾ oz 1
BYERS R 2 1 Lb. 11¼ oz 1
MOAR D 1 1 Lb. 09 oz 1
RENDALL M 2 1 Lb. 08¼ oz 1
WATT B 2 1 Lb. 06 oz 1
HARCUS JIM 1 1 Lb. 05¼ oz 1
GRANT J 0 0 Lb. 00 oz 0
LEASK J 0 0 Lb. 00 oz 0