Cast an eye over this fishy opportunity

editorial image

ANYONE who’s ever wanted to try fly fishing and not known where to start will welcome the free have-a-go day for adults later this month, writes Sally Gillespie.

It’s the brainchild of Tweedstart, the local non-profit-making organisation which passes on the skills of the sport.

Usually, the group’s angling development officer, Eoin Fairgrieve, is teaching children and teenagers.

But in a new move – scheduled for September 22 – he is inviting adults to come and try fly fishing at the Roxburghe Hotel’s lake at Heiton, near Kelso.

Mr Fairgrieve said: “The bulk of interest and focus and funding is allocated towards working with schools but we do believe there are people who have an interest but are slightly unsure how to go about it.

“It’s free, and open to everybody to come and participate.

“We are trying to get a broad range of adults from their 20s to 80s so they can have a shot and learn a bit more about the river and technique.”

Those interested will learn fly casting, fishing techniques and find out about tying flies. An expert will talk about the entomology of the river, when participants will learn about fish life cycles and the insects they feed on.

Eoin was one of the one of the youngest ever instructors to qualify in both the Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors trout and salmon disciplines while he was a ghillie on the Tweed.

He first set up an angling development programme to encourage more children to take up fishing in 2000 and in 2005 became Scotland’s first angling development officer.

He has since taught more than 7,000 children to fish.

He said: “There’s the joy of catching the fish, of being outside, learning the skill of fly casting and what insects are on the water at any given time and selecting flies, even specific to different time of the day.

It’s a wonderful outdoor environment and although you fish yourself and it’s not a group sport, there’s a camaraderie.”

Eoin has also written two educational fly fishing books for children and in 2006 was a member of the Scottish fly casting team that won the Emerald World Speycasting Championships.

Last year, he was presented with the Arthur Oglesby Award, in memory of the late angling author and broadcaster, for services to fly fishing.