Thursday, 1 December 2016

November 2016 - Can The View Make-Up For A Lack Of Fish ?

The main reason for the question in this month's blog title ( and our newsletter editors cover image) isn't as you could reasonably assume, another moan about a poor fishing month but more to do with the fact that November provided many  of our members with opportunities to fish in some very scenic locations in some very scenic conditions. Some of them even caught some nice fish whilst others were forced to revert to becoming photographers instead of anglers which will at least mean that the slideshow at our annual presentation of awards night will have something other than pictures of fish to entertain the assembled masses.
With visits to the Lake of Menteith and our Jolly Boys Outing, also north of the border, there were undoubtedly opportunities for both fish and photographs to feature in this month's blog. First the fish and best of the month was one of Menteith's crackers which fell to our joint RO Bruce Turnbull at the tail end of the day fishing with our Scottish colleagues the PAAS. The PAC visit proved to be a bit more of a struggle due to the breezy conditions and the somewhat questionable anchoring equipment that was provided by the fishery ( I'm sure that this will be sorted out in time for the March visits) and SENPAC representatives Dennis Fearon and Mike Bell had a frustrating time although Dennis did manage an 11lb'er between re-anchoring practice. Dave Gardner who was at the sharp end of the boat with Bruce had one of those days when nothing would stay hooked and took solace ( I think?) in the netting of Bruce's fish.
By The Light Of The Super Moon - 24lb Of Menteith Magic

The JB Outing fished over five days in the west of Scotland coincided with a period of high atmospheric pressure, clear blue skies, bright sun, sub-zero temperatures ( can you tell where this is going?) and no breeze which kind of equates to the perfect storm when it comes to catching pike, but as I said earlier, did provide alternative opportunities and did not impact greatly on the overall enjoyment of what is principally a social event. Certainly the very comfortable farm cottage which was our base for the trip proved to be very popular and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we don't go back. Best fish of the trip amongst a number was an 11lb'er and the competition for best photograph is still to be decided but sunrises featured strongly.

Of  December, well the Region outing is to one of our regular venues, high in the hills of Dumfries, high enough to need us to keep an eye on the weather so hopefully that all comes together and then we enter the silly season that is Christmas, when as anglers, we all try to fit the fishing around all of the other demands on our time and domestic expectations of the festive season.

No formal region meeting in December because of the celebrations although a few of us will be found in the Northumbrian Piper on Tuesday 27th December 2016 just to get out from in front of the TV!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

October 2016 - Short,sharp and to the point.............

Apart from being a little late with this one it is going to be sharp, punchy, to the point and sadly very short!!

The main reason for this disappointing situation is that SENPAC have probably "enjoyed" the hardest start to a piking season that most of us here can remember. The fishing on the waters that we usually fish has been incredibly slow, yes we have been catching small jacks in numbers on both baits and lures ( mainly baits) and yes for all sorts of reasons the time that people have had available to actually fish has been lower than was to be expected, but none of our lot have had a double figure fish to report throughout the month. Not good.

We nearly enjoyed a perfect region outing during the month, that is if you measure perfection in terms of everybody present catching a fish, sadly one of our number let the team down, no names no pack-drill but Paul was as fed-up as a fed-up thing. That said nobody was exactly celebrating as the biggest fish was a 5lb'er, not that we were being ungrateful you understand but something a little larger would have been nice and it would certainly made having to endure a biblical hail storm towards the end of the day, a little easier. Still we all enjoyed a wonderful Scottish sunrise which solved a problem for our newsletter editor and provided him with his front cover image, (now you can all play guess the venue??).

I know this all begins to sound a little negative and I want to try and avoid that if I possibly can and here at SENPAC we are achieving that by adopting our usual philosophy of being a bunch of eternal optimists and focusing very much on the delights to come in November (at least one of which has already happened as I write this, report in next blog) with trips to the Lake of Menteith, our Region outing and  five days away for some on what has become known as our Jolly Boys Outing which one way or another is always a high-point of our season.

Next Region meeting Tuesday 29th November 2016, usual venue as detailed on the left.

Like Buses!......Tight Lines To All

P.S. Just watched the latest "River Piker" video on You Tube, the Northern Lure Gathering, fantastic stuff, well done Paul and Ady, thoroughly recommended viewing.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Oops!......Apology Time

OK guys, time for an apology. Whilst I was trying to be helpful back in the August 2016 posting by including the update on the progress of the Scottish Wild Fisheries Review (WFR) it turns out that some of what I said was in fact inaccurate, otherwise known as wrong!

 In general the update is fine and does reflect the current state of play however following an exchange of correspondence with the guys at the Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling (SFCA) they, very helpfully, pointed out that the law regarding the use of more than one rod and the use of rod rests was in fact changed many years ago. In fact the law was changed at the same time as the use of livebaits was made illegal, a battle over which an awful lot of effort was expended by both the PAC and the PAAS, all to no avail.

So for the sake of clarity, the current legal position in Scotland is that a maximum of four rods may be fished at the same time and those rods can be placed in rod rests. The use of livebaits is illegal.

In my original post I suggested that if you wanted to stay up to date with developments with the WFR then you should monitor the Scottish Governments website and that advice is still valid however, you could also monitor the SFCA's website ( or their Facebook site if you want the "anglers slant" on how things are going.

And as for progress, well the guys from the north confirm that progress is very slow, with no signs of any imminent changes being made to the status-quo.

Sorry to our readers if I have mislead anybody, particularly if you have spent any recent fishing outings north of the border nervously looking over your shoulder in case the polis turn-up?

Saturday, 1 October 2016

September 2016 - On Your Marks..........................

As with most other Regions of the PAC, the end of September and the arrival of Autumn is viewed with some excitement here at SENPAC. The start of another piking season has always been anticipated with a real sense of expectation and optimism, particularly so amongst the Region's more "active" members, one or two of whom have already enjoyed the odd exploratory outing. The end of September also marks the end of our competition year here at SENPAC and the start of a new one.

Of 2015/2016, well it wasn't particularly outstanding if you measure such things by numbers, our Region outings were the usual enjoyable events in social terms but the numbers of fish caught was a little disappointing. The number of new piking PB's for our members was very disappointing, there weren't any and whilst there were only three pike reported over the magic 20lb. mark there were a large number of good double figure fish caught which was viewed by all as a very positive sign for the waters that we fish most regularly. Of the two trophies that remained to be claimed from last season the "Biggest on a Lure" again served to demonstrate that we do not really have many what you could call, dedicated, lure anglers in the Region as the trophy was shared by Dave Gardner and Steve Sandiford, each with a fish of 7lb. Hmm! "Biggest Fish of the Year", well that was taken by our joint RO Bruce Turnbull with a Scottish fish of 24lb. that was despite the best efforts of our other joint RO, Mike Bell with his Lake of Menteith fish of 21b.
Bruce's Winning Smile ?
But now we are all about looking forward to the new season and the joys and excitement to come. Our first Region outing will once again be north of the border on Sunday 16th October 2016 as will our November outing on the 13th of the month and for some of our number there will be a first visit to the Lake of Menteith to look forward to as well as our annual " Jolly Boys" trip, five days away with a new base and new waters to fish. So as I said earlier, excitement, expectation and optimism prevail at SENPAC as we embark on a new piking journey. As our Newsletter editor quite succinctly put it "On Your Marks......"

If you would like to join in the fun then our next Region meeting will be on Tuesday 25th October 2016 at the Northumbrian Piper ( see opposite) as usual starting at 8pm. It would be great to see you,as they say.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

August 2016 - Thank Goodness For Fishing

Am I alone in feeling grateful that August is now safely behind us, and with it the wall to wall coverage of the Olympic Games. Not that most of us at SENPAC need another excuse to go fishing but if we had then the non-stop waffle and the interminable repeat showings of soon to be millionaire ( if they are not already) "athletes" and their tear  infused thank you speeches was more than enough reason to get the maggots out of the fridge and head to the water side. One aspect of fishing that you can always rely upon........escape!

August is always one of the quietest months in the SENPAC year with so many other demands on our members time with family holidays, child minding and a myriad of other domestic duties all combining to reduce the time available to go fishing. But August is also when most of our number begin to think seriously about the new season's piking and solid plans are formulated for the campaign to come. It is obviously no secret that we pikers up here in the far north-east corner of the country are not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to waters with a potential to produce a decent fish or two. In fact, to be completely honest we probably only have two such waters locally and one of them is notoriously difficult to get on to. As a result we rely quite heavily upon venues in Scotland to provide us with fishing that offers the opportunity to catch pike in reasonable numbers and also the chance of a notable fish. It was against this background that our Newsletter editor attempted to provide us all with an update on the progress being made with the Scottish Government's Wild Fisheries Review in his latest missive.
It didn't make for particularly comfortable reading and whilst it is acknowledged that the update is a much abbreviated version of the current situation and focuses on the potential impact on anglers who visit Scotland as opposed to the much wider debate that is under-way, and despite there being an inevitable degree of editorial interpretation and opinion included I decided to include the update here for information...............

The Scottish Government’s Wild Fisheries Review plods ever onwards, the first draft of the new Fisheries Bill was published in February 2016 and put out for consultation to interested parties, that consultation period concluding in May of this year. The draft Bill was a mixture of detailed proposals and much less detailed areas where further discussion and consideration was felt necessary in order to arrive at concrete proposals. Much of that further discussion and consideration is being undertaken by the augustly named Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) which is made up of representatives of various interested parties and organisations. The members are……………………………………

Willie Cowan (Chair)         Scottish Government
Carole Barker-Munro         Scottish Government
Alan Wells                          Scottish Government
Mark Bilsby                        Association of Salmon Fishery Boards
Jonathan Swift                   Association of Scottish Stillwater Fisheries                                             Simon McKelvey               Institute of Fishery Management
Chris Horrill                       Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland
George Pullar                     Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland                                          Craig Campbell                  Scottish Anglers National Association
Ron Woods                         Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling
     Duncan Ferguson               Scottish Gamekeepers Association

The basis of the latest proposals remains as originally outlined following the initial consultation process, the abolition of most of the current fisheries management bodies to be replaced by a national network of regional Fisheries Management Organisations (FMO’s) who will be given the legal responsibility for the operation and supervision of all freshwater fisheries be that salmon, sea trout, trout and coarse fisheries both wild and commercial in the case of the latter two categories. The bureaucrat’s solution you might say, and as with all bureaucracy, the costly solution.

Perhaps then, not surprisingly, one of the more sensitive areas of the discussion is in relation to how this new organisation is to be funded and is one of the areas where there is a distinct lack of detail in the draft bill. Step forward the SRG. They have now produced their first attempt as to recommendations on how the whole shebang is to be financed and it is this report that has prompted me to provide this update.
My first reaction is that this does not look like good news for anglers like our-selves who visit Scotland on a regular basis for our fishing. The five options for raising the necessary money that were considered by the SRG were, in abbreviated form, as follows………………………………

1. A tax on fishery owners, this was dismissed as being difficult and costly to collect and administer, and was considered as un-fair, as the burden would fall on “commercial” fisheries to an unreasonable level and would be mired in problems of having to identify who owns what fisheries.

2. A tax on fishing permits’, this was dismissed for the reasons above.

3. Place non-migratory fishery owners under a legal obligation to manage their fisheries and make them responsible for raising the funding to achieve this. Again this option was dismissed, somewhat less convincingly I thought for the same reasons outlined in 1. above.

4. Raise a tax on fishing tackle sales. The SRG helpfully pointed out that such sales were already subject to VAT and the suggestion was dismissed on the grounds of the additional financial burden it would place on anglers, which quite frankly I found laughable in the light of what followed.

5. Introduce a “fisheries management and development levy” to be raised directly from individual anglers. The SRG seized on this one as being “the fairest and most cost effective approach………..and to be the only viable and acceptable funding system if combined with suitable levels of government funding” They went on to dress this idea up with statements about such a levy providing anglers with a personal stake in fisheries welfare and development, the ability of anglers to influence fisheries management and provision of anglers insurance cover of some sort!

No mention so far of a rod licence you will no doubt have noticed, which at first sight appears strange. Well there is a very good reason for that and this is where the politics creeps in. It turns out that the Scottish Government has already committed to a policy of not introducing a rod licence and is clearly desperate to side-step the inevitable bomb-blast of reversing such policy on such an emotive subject. So I think it a reasonable preposition to suggest that for “Rod Licence” read “Fisheries Management and Development Levy”. There may be some good news concealed in this situation though, especially for us pike anglers. There doesn’t appear to be any connection between the payment of the “Levy” and the numbers of rods that can be used which may have proved problematic and costly if the principle of the rod licence was adopted. Historically, all fishing legislation in Scotland has been based around a single held rod. Multiple rods in rests remains strictly illegal (set-lines?) so perhaps a single payment not linked to numbers of rods and sorting out the set-line nonsense is a positive. On the other hand it is perhaps too early to celebrate.

 Whilst I suspect we wouldn’t have been overjoyed with having to buy a rod licence(s) for our fishing in Scotland, it would at least have been straightforward, what is now being proposed raises additional practical difficulties and potentially increased costs.

The SRG proposals for the levy are……………………………

1.  It must be compulsory

2. It must be universal, apply and be collected nationally, apply equally to Scottish based anglers and visitors alike, apply to all anglers pursuing all species of fish.

3.  Be easy to understand and access.

4.  Be efficient in collection and administration.

5.  Be set at a level which represents good value to anglers but is sufficient to raise adequate funds to finance the new management organisation.

6.  Have uniform rates for all types of angling activity with discounts for juniors, disabled and OAPs’.

7.  Be based upon an annual fee but with weekly or monthly options for visiting anglers.( no mention of whether “visitors” can opt to pay the annual levy?)

8.  Provide the means of collecting, generating and disseminating information to anglers.

So in a nutshell, coarse anglers are going to pay the same as anglers on the best salmon fishing rivers and we, south of the border as visitors, may well have to organise weekly or monthly            “ permits’” or whatever they will be called, each time we want to fish. Compared to what we have become used to over the years this all sounds like it could be an expensive nightmare! Just consider the impact on our PAC visits to the Lake of Menteith which to be honest are already something of an expensive luxury for most of us

Clearly there is still work to do by all concerned and I have yet to find anything that suggests just when the new arrangements, whatever they end up being, are to be introduced, so we may just squeeze in another season of piking before we have all this to worry about. 

If you need to learn more then I would suggest that you consult the Scottish Government's website on a fairly regular basis. As I said earlier, not the most comfortable reading and easy to see that, should these proposals be implemented, then a visit to Scotland will be a more complicated and expensive affair, consider the impact on the PAC visit to the Lake of Menteith which for many of us is already an expensive luxury without the costs associated with a weekly "levy" being added?

On the SENPAC fishing front, well as I said all a bit quiet although, speaking of Scotland as we were, one of our number gave up on patiently waiting for the new season to start and took himself off to a favourite water north of the border for a four day session and had five doubles with two at 18lbs on his first day! Not a bad start? Our Summer League matches were concluded during August but catch returns were poor on both matches. Despite that congratulations go to the winner Dave Greally who showed us all how to do it for the second year in a row.

The September meeting for the Region will be on Tuesday 27th at the Northumbrian Piper as usual, it would be great to see you.

Tight lines to all.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

July 2016 - A Forward Look

The summer fishing continues for our SENPAC members with reports from all the different angling disciplines being generally positive, including from our local rivers which, despite rapidly falling water levels have been producing the goods. Highlight from the flowing water in July, a new personal best barbel for Steve Sandiford who is fast becoming our stand-out angler of the season. Both of the first two rounds of SENPAC's Summer league passed off successfully with a different winner on each match we currently have a tie at the top of the league at the mid-way point. Two more rounds in August will hopefully sort that out.
Steve's 10lb-12oz New PB Barbel

However, whilst we are all enjoying our warm weather fishing and hopefully we continue to do that for a few more weeks yet, there has been a noticeable increase in anticipation amongst our number as we begin to formulate plans for next season's pike fishing.There has been much "chatter" about venues and trips for the Region's social piking which has always been an important element of the SENPAC philosophy and of course many of our members will also be quietly researching and planning their own campaigns for the coming winter. On the social front our newsletter editor has been able to confirm the club trip calendar for next season in the latest edition of the publication and in addition arrangements for this year's "jolly boys outing" in November have been finalised and accommodation for our four day trip has been booked, all of which served to heighten the sense of anticipation for the fishing to come.

Our six club trips held monthly, October to March, have a distinctly Scottish feel once again, with only two of the excursions south of the border. This year we have decided not to experiment with unknown waters and not to include a visit to a river venue, in order to avoid last season's frustrations of cancelled outings due to out of sorts waterways. So, very much tried and tested waters which, over the years, have served us reasonably well. A big change though on the "jolly boys" front. For a number of years we have visited the Lake District for our outings but nothing stays the same for ever and whilst our trips to Lakeland have produced some great fish for a number of our members, changes on the accommodation front and frankly increasing restrictions on access to waters and cost increases have lead us to decide to find pastures new. Guess what, we are going to Scotland! An easy decision to make in those terms I think.

So the new season is beginning to take shape nicely, next step I guess will be to put together the Region's order for bait and the logistical organisation of placing the order with the Lord of Darkness at Lucebaits and the subsequent distribution around the members and then we will be set fair for what we hope will be another enjoyable and hopefully successful season.

Only two months and counting as our newsletter editor put it!

The August regional meeting will take place on Tuesday 30th August at the Northumbrian Piper as usual. I'm sure that there will only be one subject on everybody's minds.

Best of luck, whatever you are currently fishing for.