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Fancy dress and fly fishing

Allan gives something back into the sport, teaching children to fly fish for the River Spey Anglers Association

Fancy dress and fly fishing. Can there be anything better?
Fancy dress and fly fishing. Can there be anything better?

There was a time when almost all boys went fishing, usually in the summer holidays and, in my case, long happy days spent wandering in search of often elusive trout or perch, whatever the weather.

The days seemed endless and the fishing always fun, whether it was wandering a wee stream, on the banks of a loch or reservoir, or on a club outing on a big river such as the Tweed or Tay, and if we weren’t fishing we were talking about it. Tales of legionary three-pound plus wild fish, huge two-plus perch, monster pike, salmon and grayling; recounts of tales of successful days and always the ones that got away.

Not everyone stuck at the sport, some did return much later in life, others not at all, but at the very least many experienced the wonders and pleasures of heading out for a cast.

Nowadays though much fewer young anglers venture forth in search of ‘piscatorial adventure’ . This is is hardly surprising, given the sheer number of alternative pastimes available (I blame computers) and the seemingly limited opportunities for young folk to get onto a bit of water.

The thing is, I still think back to those days when we all headed out on our bikes, rods tied to the cross-bar, and wonder if more young people followed suit today how many would either stick at it or indeed return to the sport much later in life? (I do think the numbers doing this are higher than we think, given the fact that it’s generally older people who have both the time and disposable income to enjoy fishing, especially when there’s a bit of travelling to consider).

To help off-set this a little many clubs still try to promote and encourage young anglers, despite the growing amount of legal considerations required (although I must admit to agreeing with these to give a safe and secure platform for any young adult to attend).

In my area, this mantle has been taken up by the River Spey Anglers Association, who work very hard to promote safe and enjoyable fishing to all young anglers who join the ranks with outing both on the River Spey for salmon as well as trout days on the local and excellent Mill of Kellas Trout Fishery. Last Sunday (October 22nd), saw the last of this season's events with a fun and enjoyable day for all. Fancy dress helped add to the fun (as it’s so close to Halloween) and it was surreal to see nuns, sailors, zombies, wizards, pirates and a werewolf wielding fly rods in the autumn sun.

It’s also good fun teaching kids, and I try to put the emphasis on actually fishing once they have completed the most rudimentary of casting lessons and had the obligatory safety talk, donned life-vests, hats and glasses. All of these days I’ve attended have been a hoot, all have seen a good number of kids (and adults) heading away smiling (whether fish caught or not), and all of them have proven very popular indeed.

Next step is a couple of fly tying workshop days over the winter, and some work to help co-ordinate close ties with other organisations, already steps being taken to work with Cromarty Fishery Board and Loch Achonachie Angling Club to expand events and opportunities for next season. I'm looking forward to helping spread the word, and give a little back to a sport I love so much.

The River Spey Anglers Association is a charitable organisation aimed at promoting the sport amongst young anglers. Their AGM is at 7.30pm on Monday, November 20, 2017 at the Walled Garden Restaurant in the grounds of the fantastic Gordon Castle Estate by Fochabers, Moray. The event has talks from Sarah Bayley Slater (Executive Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust), Dr Matt Newton (Acoustic Tracking co-ordinator Atlantic Salmon Trust) and Roger Knight (Director of River Spey Fishery Board) as well as fly tying from Allan Liddle through the evening.

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