Andrew Foggin reads the rules
In 1989 Earlston Angling Club and Loanhead Angling Club arranged a friendly bait orientated competition for grayling, fished on the River Tweed. The competition remained this way until 1999, when due to the growing popularity of bugging with heavy nymphs a fly section was added in 2000. The Lady of the Stream trophy for fly fishers was introduced in this year and forty anglers took part. Compare that to the seventy who took part in 2006 and you can see how this competition has grown as has the pursuit of grayling.
2000 - DICK LOGAN (COLDSTREAM) - 2001 - JAKE HARVEY (ST. BOSWELLS)
2002 - WILLIE RUSSEL (LURGAN N.I.) - 2003 - JAKE HARVEY (ST. BOSWELLS)
2004 - PAUL DAVIDSON (ENGLAND) - 2005 - GRANT GIBSON (ST. BOSWELLS)
2006 - MIKE ALLEN (GALASHIELDS) - 2007 - JAKE HARVEY (ST. BOSWELLS)
2012 - DALE RUSHBY
Andrew with one from Lowwood
This years winner was Dale Rushby, here is his account of how his day panned out.
After the coldest morning in our three day stay in Earlston we sat in the car until 09-55am before rigging up to fish our beat up on the Leader...Andy my fellow traveller and fishing buddy had suggested we fished at Boon...Never really catching much up there before I wasn't feeling too optimistic...I rigged up with a French leader of about 30ft...A size 16 green nymph on the top dropper, a size 10 heavy Czech nymph on middle and NZ style, an egg fly a foot behind that...Andy cast his eye over it and declared it ok to fish...I got in the river and cast up the burn about 10 feet...I let the line come back towards me keeping in touch all the time...When it met the main river current it immediately swung to the right...Still keeping in touch and lifting the line slightly I decided this was the way to fish it...End of the first cast nothing...The second cast I did exactly the same and bang, fish on...To say I was excited was an understatement...7 years I've fished the comp, and this was going to be the first score card I was going to put in without a blank on...OK so my attention span is probably slightly less than that of a goldfish and the pull of "the Bull" has won through other years...Not this year I was determined not to go to "the Bull" for a lunchtime liven'er never to see the river again till we left over Leaderfoot view...Not the biggest of Grayling but none the less a fish...This set the day up for some serious concentration...I kept working my hotspot for a couple of more hours taking fish to 50cm...It was a little after midday and I had 5 fish, I was in heaven...Andy who had been fishing just above me had taken two nice fish of 46 and 48cm...We decided to stop for a warm and a flask of coffee...I had been speaking to a few guys in the Bull that morning and a couple suggested I may try somewhere in some trees...Andy knew the spot and off we went after lunch...I had chosen my spot in the morning and gave Andrew the chance to choose the beat in the afternoon...He went into the trees to fish and I worked the stretch just below him...2nd cast in I lost my lucky rig..."Oh no" I yelled, or words to that effect...I was sitting on the river bank rigging back up when Andy yelled for me to measure a fish for him...It was leading him a merry old dance in and out of the fallen tree...It was bending his rod double...He played it, bent down and scooped it in his net and passed it over...46cm of pure muscle and not a millimetre more...we were both really surprised by its size, it fought well above its weight...A slightly dejected Andy got out of the water and explained that was the only take he'd had...I asked him if he minded if I fish where he got out..."Nope" came the reply not a thing in there...My 2nd cast in "thump" and off went my line racing out of my hand...Suddenly Andy sat up and said "it's a hog"...It went mad for what seemed an age then I got it's head up...I turned the fish into the net and could see it was my personal best ever Grayling...I didn't measure it properly but I'm guessing it was 54cm about 21 inch...It hung over my 50cm net...It was liked a tarnished bar of silver...In fact I'd never seen a Grayling so black...Could my day get any better..??..We went back to Boon and I had another 3 fish...My total 10 fish for the day with 5 over 43cm...Back to the Bull we went...I can still remember handing in my score card with the biggest of cheesey grins...John Mc. was laughing "you've handed a card in"..."Yes" I replied "and it's not bloody empty"...I spoke to a few of the guys in the bar and six seemed to be the best count so far...4-30pm came and went and a couple of stragglers came into the pub with their cards in there hands...Robert Irvine being the last I believe...No-one had got more than 7..."Bloody hell I've won then"...John Mc. made it official and I was declared the winner...The "well dones" came in thick and fast...I today am in charge of a lovely trophy for the next 12 months, and a lovely 11' for a 3 Streamflex rod...Shall I be back next year..??..Of course, I've told the wife I've got to take the trophy back...
Stuart McDonald plays
a grayling on the Tweed
Tweedbank's Mike Allan won the 20 th Earlston grayling Competition fished on the 14 th January on the Tweed . Mike, who owns the Border's Angling Centre saw off the competition's largest ever entry, 76 anglers, to clinch the Lady of the Stream trophy and a Grey's rod and reel supplied by the Border's Gun Room at St Boswells. What makes Mike's achievement even greater is that it is only a year since he took up fly fishing, or as the locals call it ‘bugging', for grayling. The field included experts from all the home nations, who had to deal with some tricky conditions, as heavy rainfall in the upper catchment overnight saw the rivers condition deteriorate rapidly during the first few hours of the competition. This resulted in the competition recording its lowest catches for four years with the 76 anglers catching, measuring then returning only 95 grayling, a drop of 165 fish from last year.
Mike's huge catch of ten fish from Melrose saw off Ireland 's 2002 winner Willie Russell who had eight fish from Dryburgh. Dreghorn's Stuart Wallace was third with eight fish from Leaderfoot and last year's winner Grant Gibson came home in fourth place, also with eight fish, from Dryburgh. Local rod Pete Robson caught the day's biggest fish with a 50cm monster caught at Makerston.
Earlston Angling Club secretary and competition organiser Andrew Foggin said: “The day was a great success and is only made possible by the permission we get from the riparian owners and local associations to fish on their stretches of river. Every year more anglers contact me to come and fish – such is the growing popularity of fly fishing for grayling. Yet again we were lucky with weather but unfortunately the rising water seemed to put the fish off the feed a wee bit. We receive a lot of support and special thanks goes to The Border Gun Room, The Border Angling Centre, and Tweedside Tackle for providing some great prizes for the day.”
This seasons competition had to be moved to the River Leader as the Tweed was five feet above summer low and was unfishable. Heavy rain had stopped falling the night before the competition and at two feet up on the gauge the Leader was just about fishable. Earlston A.C. members had secured private beats at the last minute meaning that the whole of the river from Lauder downstream to Leadermouth could be used, it was then just a matter of seeing how many anglers would turn up to fish. As it was 46 hardy souls fished returning a total of 51 grayling a remarkable total considering conditions. Scott Mc Dade and Mark Munro both had grayling of 49cms, absolute crackers and the largest caught on the day. Jake Harvey won for the 3rd time with 7 fish, Robert Irvine was 2nd with 4 and Billy Davidson also had 4 in third place. Hugh Skeoch and Andy Foggin were 4th and 5th respectively with 3 fish.
The competition and raffle afterwards raised £400 which will be used for habitat improvements on the Leader this season.
Melrose and St Boswells angling clubs have been tagging Grayling recently, so if you catch one please take the tag number and report it's number and place of capture along with it's length and weight, if possible, to Kenny Galt at the Tweed Foundation on 01896 848277. Hopefully this research will help anglers and biologists alike find out a bit more about grayling populations, movements and growth rates.
Billy Davidson finally got his hands on the trophy with 7 grayling, of which 6 were over 40cms from the Ravenswood beat of the Tweed. Second and third also with 7 fish were Rab Neil and Craig Osborne respectively. Crown Fly Fishers member Ron Chesney came fourth with 6 fish. 76 anglers took part and managed a grand total of 116 grayling with Raymond Smith netting the largest of the day, an excellent fish of 52cms. Upper Mertoun was the most productive beat with 6 anglers returning 17 grayling. Lower Dryburgh did not give up its residents easily with only 1 fish between 4 anglers. Once again the Crown F.F. members who fished would like to thank Earlston A.C. for the invitation, especially John MacLennan the main organiser of the competition and the Black Bull Pub for hosting the event.
Pete Robson retained the trophy he won in 2010 as for the first time no fish were caught. The Tweed was up four feet and theories for the poor return included salt spread on the roads during the long cold spell being washed into the river system after the recent thaw. It's just as well the entertainment in the Black Bull was up to the usual standard meaning that no matter how poor or even non existant the fishing might be this event is always worth attending. Hopefully the river will be back on song next year and the weather kinder. Once again thanks must go to all from Earlston A.C. for the hard work to make this event the success it always is.