Noted fly tyer Graham Nichols will be a guest of Inverness Angling Club at its fly tying class on Thursday, December 7, starting at 7 pm in its usual venue at Hilton Community Centre. Graham is a ‘weel kent’ face around north rivers, including the club water of the Ness where he is an associate member.
Graham operates Grainhead Flies from his home in Golspie, serving anglers all over the country. Some of his work can be viewed on his web site www.grainheadflies.co.uk A particular speciality is his tube flies, the tying of which he will demonstrate at the December 7 class.
Concentration: Tyers at this week’s class
Skilled hands: Jordon Grant nears completion of the Ghillie fly
Inverness Angling Club’s weekly fly tying classes will recommence on Thursday night (November 30) after a break for last week’s club AGM. Fly of the week will be the Ghillie salmon fly, a particularly successful fly designed by Tay ghillie Tony Black.
Class tyers have already developed a few of the techniques required for this fly which combines gold tinsel, hot orange bucktail, mirror flash, Arctic runner in hot orange, yellow and black, holographic tinsel, black floss, blue Guinea fowl and jungle cock. As always, tools and materials can be supplied for those who are not yet fully equipped, or for any newcomers on the night.
In a bold bid to retain and increase membership, the committee of Inverness Angling Club has confirmed its intention to hold fees at the present level for the next five years. The plan was announced by president Graham MacKenzie at the club’s AGM on Thursday (November 23).
In common with other sports clubs, IAC has faced real challenges in holding membership - its only regular source of income along with visitor fees - and posted losses to its balance sheet. Fee increases designed to stem losses resulted in further year-to-year declines in membership. Welcome assistance came from The Highland Council and Inverness Common Good Fund, in the shape of a substantial reduction in annual rent and grants which are reviewed annually. But losses continued - until 2017 when the club made a major breakthrough into profit.
Treasurer Gordon Smith reported to the AGM: “It’s been a good year.” Under his tight control of the purse strings, income rose from £39,020 in 2016 to £46,943 in 2017 while costs dropped from £40,415 in 2016 to £38,738 in 2017. This produced a surplus of £8,205 against a loss of £1,395 in 2016. Key features of income were £30,945 in members’ subscriptions, £7,316 in visitors’ fees and a £2,500 grant from the Ness District Salmon Fishery Board in recognition of the significant contribution the club makes to the promotion of angling for all and the provison of affordable and accesible salmon fishing.
Graham warned, however, that the club’s finances remained fragile. He explained: “Membership fees can only be set at our AGM so a sudden fall in membership during any one season can have a major impact on the balance sheet. Prudent financial management means that we must aim to hold reserves of at least two years of costs. At this point in time, we are still short of the target, so efforts to increase income by building membership and sales of visitor permits , and cutting costs, will continue.”
Senior and associate membership - IAC’s key source for income - has shown an alarming decline over the past five years. Locally based members have dropped from 187 in 2013 to 174, 141 and 126 in consecutive years to 2016, and a marginal increase to 128 in 2017. Associate members over the same period hovered around 30, but with a severe drop to 21 in 2016. Concessionary members have dropped from 49 to 33 in the period from 2014 to 2017. Junior membership, free to under 18s, has varied between 140 in 2014 to 131 in 2017. The sale of visitor permits has shown a significant increase, totalling 329 in 2017 - the highest level in five years.
As 2017 followed a season of mandatory catch and release, catches were disappointing as Ness anglers were allowed to take fish for the pot. Spring fish continued to be released to protect Moriston stocks, but a maximum of two cock fish under eight pounds could be taken between July 1 and October 15. Total salmon and grilse caught were 168 against 177 in 2016, with a 78 per cent release rate. 36 salmon and grilse were retained while 132 were released. Previous years catches were 174 in 2012, 209 in 2013, 125 in 2014, 239 in 2015 and 177 in 2016, giving an average of almost 185 fish.
The AGM accepted a committee recommendation to continue the voluntary agreement with the Ness District Salmon Fishery Board to delay the start of the salmon fishing season from January 15 to Thursday, February 1. The club will be organising the usual opening ceremony - so watch this space!
Fees for 2018 - and potentially for a further four years to 2022 - have been set as follows: Membership: Adult male (21 and over) - £150, Intermediate (18 to 20 years inclusive) - £50, Concession (65 and over with 12 years unbroken membership) - £75, Lady - £75, Associate male - £150, Associate lady - £75. Surcharges (for all above) - no catch return received for 2017 - +£20, Late renewal from April 1 - +£20. Junior (under 18) - Free.
New members - £150 (no joining fee) on application to the membership secretary. Special entry - £100 (for adults who have NOT been members of IAC within the last five years, on application to the membership secretary). Application forms can be downloaded from: http://www.invernessanglingclub.co.uk/fishing/permits
Permits: Sea Trout (Black Bridge to the sea) - £20 per season. Visitor - February 1 to May 31 - £15 per day, £75 per week, Junior £10 per day. June 1 to October 15 - £25 per day, £125 per week, Junior - £10 per day. Half day (1300 to 2400 hours, July 1 to October 15) - £15.
A new regime is being introduced for the election of the club’ office-bearers with the aim of maintaining continuity in the management of the club. All office-bearers will be appointed for two-year periods. The president and secretary will be appointed on even numbered years while the vice-president and treasurer (currently a joint post with the membership secretary) in odd numbered years.
A strong committee, combining old heads with some fresh faces, will lead the club through 2018. Office-bearers are president Graham MacKenzie, vice president Alex Elliott, secretary Steve Black and treasurer/membership secretary Gordon Smith. They will be supported by a committee formed by re-elected members Tony Quinn, Eric Craig, Neil Fraser, Bill Byers, Steve Watt, Paul Owen, John Sutherland, Lawrence Deans, Aiden Macdonald and new members Harry Fraser, Walter Mackay and John Ralph.
The first verified salmon catch of 2017 was landed by club member Derick Proctor. Spinning the Weir Pool with a 3-inch black and orange Devon, he caught and released a sea-liced salmon estimated at 17lbs. The catch was recognised at the AGM when Graham MacKenzie presented Derick with the Corie Horne Trophy.
The coveted ‘Angler of the Year Award’ was shared by committee member Lawrence Deans and associate member John Macdonald from Evanton. Both receive £50 vouchers towars their 2018 membership. The duo put in a power of work on the canal-side bank of the Red Braes in 2016, clearing bushes all the way down the beat to improve access to this important fishing beat.
First fish: Graham MacKenzie presents the Corie Horne Trophy to Derick Proctor
and (below) congratulates Lawrence Deans (centre) and John Macdonald (right)
on being 'Anglers of the Year'.