Written by Scott Rutherford
Whether you are new to Fly Fishing or an experienced angler it really is worth checking out the Angling clubs and Associations in your local area. Joining a local club can give you access to Stillwater’s or rivers that you may otherwise be unable to fish and offers many more advantages. Due to the events of the past 2 years interest in Fly Fishing has grown exponentially, being an accessible outdoor pursuit known for its benefits to Mental health and wellbeing. Most Angling clubs are actively welcoming new members and in the main offer the best value fishing around.
My local club is Stonehaven and District Angling Association; Stonehaven is a small coastal town in the North East of Scotland, 15 miles south of Aberdeen which has two small spate rivers running through it. The river’s Cowie and Carron split the town much in the same way as the rivers Dee and Don split Aberdeen city but are tiny in comparison. Our Association, formed in 1937 by a group of local anglers has a membership of around 140 including Juniors, aged up to 16. Along with the Rivers Cowie and Carron we also lease a stretch of the River Bervie, which lies farther south.
These rivers have resident wild brown trout and have runs of Salmon and sea trout. Well known Angler/Presenter Paul Young of “Hooked in Scotland” is known to have landed a fine sea trout on the Cowie whilst filming in the local area. Along with the rivers our membership also has access to two Stillwater’s, Crossley Quarry was bought back in 1965 after the former hilltop sandstone quarry flooded after blasting opened an underground spring. The quarry has been transformed into a productive Stillwater fishery and is stocked with Rainbow trout, Blue trout and there are also few good-sized resident Brown trout. The SDAA also leases Allochie Lochan (as small stocked Stillwater) from a local Estate, Allochie is as close as you will get to a highland loch, fly fishing being restricted to floating lines with dry fly or unweighted nymph patterns only this provides great “top of the water” sport. The lochan is stocked annually with Rainbow and Blue trout. These fish pack on weight quickly due to the abundance of natural food available. Both Stillwater’s have great facilities with platforms allowing accessible fishing and tables for a family picnic. Due to the size of our membership and amount of fishing available it is not unusual to have the place to yourself.
Angling clubs or Associations each have their own rules which must be followed, however compared to commercial fisheries, in general club water’s allow members the freedom to fish at any time of the day for as long or as short a time as you wish. (Please ensure you check and comply your clubs rules and fishing season).This means you can take the time to really get to know the water and how it fishes, experiment with different set ups, lines and flies throughout the year. Seasoned club members will be more than happy to give advice on casting, set up’s and fly selection. They may even share a few flies! As an angler I get as much enjoyment out of watching someone catch after giving advice or suggesting a fly pattern as landing a fish myself. Pre Covid we regularly organised Fly Tying sessions ran competitions and ran coaching sessions for our junior members. Many going on the join as Adult members. The Adult joining fee is £110, Juniors £15 for the season. Visitors tickets are available from the local Pet Shop, Adult day £10, Adult week £25*.
A 9 – 10’ fly rod with a WF full floating line is an ideal all-rounder for both rivers and Stillwater’s meaning if you are new to Fly Fishing you don’t need to invest in more than one outfit initially. As you gain experience and your confidence grows you may wish to invest in an intermediate and sinking line or other line types along with different lengths and weights of fly rods which will allow you fish different styles and methods. These vary on the time of year, weather conditions and insect life, all of which affect the behaviour of feeding trout.
*Prices correct at time of publication