The thermometer fluctuated around 13°C, ideal conditions for walking the dog near the sea.
Curiously, lights were also evident about 200 yards from the well-lit Portobello coastal walkway behind the busy bus garage and locals were curious about the unusual activity on the beach.
Several could not contain their curiosity and walked on the wet sand to inquire.
The answer was simple. It was the first stop in Edinburgh’s new winter fishing series Winter Shore.
It took place at ebb tide, with low tide at 10:42 p.m., so the water disappeared quickly after the 7 p.m. fishing start time.
Fishermen constantly moved their gear to keep pace with the water, and from afar they looked like ants with headlamps.
The disappearance of the water has certainly disrupted their routine, but the needs are there and one joked: ‘We’ll end up in Kirkcaldy at this rate.’
The fishermen were suspended on poles about 15m apart and most of the 22 men opted for three hook-and-loop clamshell rigs.
With the fish being reluctant to come out to play, different combinations of bait had to be tried, looper, looper alone, looper with mackerel strips and even peeler crab and the variation was evident on the fishing tables. neatly arranged baits.
However, as the three-hour event wore on, even the sound of gentle waves on the sand wasn’t enough to calm some attendees. Some began to fidget more and more as their bait was greedily gobbled up by an army of marauding crabs that seemed to inhabit most of the stakes.
Undersized fish were also landed, but the large flounders, who were the target, kept their own lawyer despite the best efforts of the field which included seasoned anglers, including one from Arbroath, and a woman, Buffy McAvoy, a silver medalist with Scotland at the Home Internationals near Weymouth in the summer.
It was a new adventure for the Aberdeen-born competitor, the first time an Edinburgh-based angler had fished in a night competition. She had, however, traveled to Portobello earlier in the week for a taste.
Then she landed a big plaice and said, “I could have done with that in the competition.
Andrew Boath, who lives ten minutes from Portobello, was one of the anglers in what was called ‘crab corner’, and he landed nine, a far cry from the 21-pound halibut he s snagged on a recent fishing trip to Norway. This is a personal best achieved during his first trip to Norway. It won’t be his last.
However, the positives far outweighed the negatives. The fact that over 20 people came fishing on a Friday night was significant. All agreed that this type of competition was needed in the Edinburgh area.
Stewart Falconer, who had driven from Arbroath, urged more people to come and support the initiative and he said: “I will be going home around 1 a.m. and have another competition on Saturday at Inverbervie in the middle of afternoon.
“It is important that people come to support this type of initiative because we want to encourage more people to practice this sport and coarse fishing.
“The fishing wasn’t great but the camaraderie was good and we injected money into the local economy through meals and gas. I had never fished Portobello beach before but An east coast beach is an east coast beach and, as with everything in fishing, local knowledge matters.
“Luckily I know quite a few local guys and they have shared their knowledge. I am a regular competitive fisherman and will be back for more.”
Gordon McLeod lives in Barnton and has been a fisherman for over 50 years. He revealed: “It’s my first time fishing Portobello Beach because there’s always been another place to go.”
Staring into the darkness with a headlight, Macleod pin pointed to a sandbar, but he didn’t know how far he was going. This is where local knowledge comes in and that was a problem.
He added: “It’s a really big tide, bigger than normal, and the water seems to be disappearing by the second, hence why everyone is running down the beach to keep up. They’re like ants.
“Three-hook clappers are what most guys use, the hooks pretty much spaced out, and we use small hooks, with looper and a touch of mackerel on the tip, but everyone’s tried a little bit of anything to attract the fish.
“I caught a 19cm saithe, which is small for a saithe, and a lot of very small fish are coming in. It was tough but it was good that a contest was held within the limits of Edinburgh in the winter.
“There have been little competitions in the past, but a pretty tight-knit group of guys have been fishing them. This one is open to anyone, anyone can come, one rod, three hooks, no more. Not complicated .
“Nobody deals with beginners. It’s encouraged. Most guys, if someone asks a question, will give advice. We had a lady fishing and it’s good to see a lady involved.”
The lady involved was McAvoy who used the series to hone her matchmaking skills. She plans to feature in as many Edinburgh games as her job allows as she prepares for the home Open in Wales next summer.
McAvoy loved the unfortunately undersized fish, but she said: “It’s a learning experience for me to fish in the dark. Cutting bait with a knife using a headlamp is a little different from what I’m used to in the light, and it’s a little strange because all you can see are the headlamps moving along the water’s edge and the lights at the top of the stem to help detect bites.”
She admitted: “I don’t think I have enough experience of fishing in the dark to know if I’m casting short or long, but the more I do these matches the more I learn and the other members of the Scottish team are do similar competitions elsewhere to deepen their knowledge.
“Gill Coutts, for example, run the David Neil event on the west coast, but the Edinburgh one, being a Friday, makes it easier to fish rather than a midweek one due to work commitments. We’ll see how he is. Everything is convenient.”
The series is directed by famed sea angler Ian Campbell, who lives in Falkirk and is patron of the busy Edinburgh Angling Center in Granton.
The company has donated prizes and matches are due to take place every two weeks, with the next match scheduled for November 11 in Newhaven. Registration is at Western Harbor EH6 6PG from 6:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and fishing from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The top five scores from all eight rounds will count and Campbell would love to see some fresh faces there. Information will be posted on Facebook sites including The Scottish Shore Angling Match Group and Sea Fishing Scotland.
Campbell was pleased with the response from the fishermen. For the record, of the 22 who fished the event, 19 caught 55 fish.
Edinburgh’s David Cooper won with seven fish for 193cm, Steven Barrett also second with seven fish for 183cm and Ryan Venters third with five fish for 105cm.
Barrett caught the longest fish, a 31cm saithe.
Campbell added: “All the winners were pegs towards the Portobello end of the beach, but there was fish everywhere. Can’t wait to see some new faces for the next one. League standings will be the best results from five of the eight matches so there are plenty of opportunities for new entrants to win the Edinburgh Angling Center vouchers.”
Meanwhile, Airflow has confirmed that its Open Fly Fishing Championship will continue this year. Teams of six can participate and teams can only participate in one round. The Lake of Menteith is the Scottish venue with innings during the day and evening on June 15 and there are tackle prices for each inning.
Three qualifiers per round with the Grand Final on October 3-4 at Rutland Water with an entry fee of £200 for each team.
Anglers are reminded that Harlaw Reservoir, run by Malleny Angling, is now closed until April next year. Nearby Loganlea is also closed and will reopen on Saturday 4th March 2023. Phone 07412 079031 to book dates next year.
Clubbiedean will remain open all winter, weather permitting, and owner Steven Johnston said fish are still caught above water. Klinkhammer models produced.
The hothead damselfish and cat whiskers were also productive with fish around 6ft deep and fish were caught all over the water which is open daily from 9am to 4pm.
Allandale Tarn poss Iona Allan has confirmed it is now winter time 9am-4.30pm daily – closed every Tuesday – and the water near West Calder has been fishing well with regulars hooking up over 30 fish in one session.
Spiders and beetle patterns marked as warmer weather continues.
Pottishaw remains open seven days from 9am to 4pm and bach and buzzer diawl flies continue to produce, but dry flies also hit the right day as water temperatures remain high.
At Bowden Springs near Linlithgow, Billy Wilson Jun attempted eight fish on cormorants, FABs and snakes while Billy Wilson Sen, his father, had five on black lures. The bait pond also produced with Olaf Bien landing six for over 17lbs on Powerbait while S Jarvie and his friend had six with the biggest over 3lbs. Bowden Springs is open six days, closed Wednesdays.
Linlithgow Loch will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in November, but secretary Tom Lambert said he would reconsider the Friday session if the demand was not there.
Members and guests had their day of fun last Sunday with 20 boats out and George Bellini attempting a nice 5lb trout. The yellow dancer patterns, unusual for this time of year, worked well with black and green lures and other anglers were also into trout over 4 lbs.
Francis Donnelly of Glasgow, fishing from the shore, tempered an exceptional brown trout estimated to weigh between 12 and 14 lbs while fishing from the north shore.
on a black Viva and he also used hare’s ear and sedge on a float line to temper several other fish up to 5 lbs on two other trips.
Lac de Menteith remains open during the winter and they will confirm the times in the next few days.
Meanwhile, Drumtassie’s reputation as a range fishery grew. George Howie fished for four days and hooked Maisie sturgeon plus 16 carp over 18lbs including you at 16lbs and three at 15lbs. He said: “The sturgeon was 38lbs 9oz and what a fight.”