Wednesday 25 August 2010

Stormcats Tope Fishing Festival

The annual StormCats Islay Tope Fishing Competition took place on Lochindaal last weekend. Conditions on both days were variable,with heavy swells to start each day and weather including rain, mist, wind and sunshine.
Seventy anglers took part on 22 boats over the two days. The £20 entrance fee is donated to charity split between the RNLI and the Islay & Jura Sick Childrens’ Fund. The majority of anglers are local to the island but there are regular competitors who travel form different parts of the UK to fish. 
Lagavulin boatbuilder StormCats owner Gus Newman donates a prize of £400 for the heaviest tope caught over the two days. Other prizes are donated by local distilleries and businesses.
Altogether eleven tope were tagged and released over the two days and this is a new record for this competition. Many more were lost beside the boat, there were lots that got away and extended tales of close encounters! 
The smallest tope caught was 25lbs and unbelievably the top prize was shared between two that weighed in at 44lbs each. The next size down was 43 lbs, all very close in weight. In previous years, we have had fish to over 60 lbs.
All tope were in excellent condition and returned unharmed. 
Having made contact with the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network through James Thorburn (Sharkatag Officer at SNH), some of the Islay anglers are planning on taking part in the Sharkatag weekend next summer.

Photos from top: 

 Lyle Heads with his fish - dad and grandpa proudly looking on. 

 Fraser Stevenson with his Tope

Tony Mitchell with his winning fish

Joint winners Tony Mitchell and Gilbert Maclellan accepting their prize.

The Stevenson boys and James Thorburn weighing their Tope

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