THE SILVER JUBILEE OF THE CAURNIE ANGLING CLUB 1925 – 1950
---The following document by an unknown author has been passed down through the Club’s Committee---
– Roger Hughes, Secretary 2006
Caurnie Angling Club, Kirkintilloch, founded on May 9th 1925, will
celebrate its Silver Jubilee at the Club’s annual social evening on
General Strike, in 1926, gave them, if anything, far too much time for
fishing. The Club had no home water. Few could afford the expense of
outings to distant waters. But no man ever sat at home on that account.
Those who were ‘flush’, gave generously and showed they had in their
breasts the true spirit of Izaak Walton.
Yet the Caurnie Anglers, despite their high reputation, enjoyed many a day of lean sport. Four outings, which took place within the months of 1927 are worthy of more mention. They are described thus: ‘No fish – failure’. ‘No fish – but lots lost’. ‘No fish – but had a great time’, and ‘No fish – worst ever – couldny fish’. Against this on two separate occasions total baskets of over 50 lbs of trout were returned. Did they worry? Not a bit of it. Nor did the committee lose any sleep if any particular outing resulted in a financial loss. The fishing was the thing that counted. They didn’t give two shakes of a trout’s tail for mercenary matters. A deficit of 9/- on one occasion is recorded as ‘very good’. A profit of 2/- made from a Club social evening is described as ‘very gratifying indeed’.
when they DID get money through their hands, they certainly knew best
how to spend it. 10/- profit was made from one venture. The committee
immediately ordered one bottle of port, cost 5/6 to fill the Champions
happened once when funds were low, that there were not sufficient prizes
to offer at the next competition. Were they stumped? Not they. It is
solemnly recorded in the annals of the club that the members of the
committee themselves resolved ‘to work the town’. How successful they
were in this effort can be judged from the next list of prizes. It includes
an astonishing item – a half-a-ton of coal. And, believe it or not,
it was won with 2 1/2 lbs of trout, caught on the River Blackwater by
a Junior Member. Small wonder that the day came when a rule was passed
that any Junior winning a competition should automatically become a
days of roaming over, the members settled down to a happy period of
fishing their own loch. A completely new constitution was drawn up.
New rules and regulations had to be formulated. A great deal of hard
work went into the business of reorganisation. There was plenty to do,
and never any lack of volunteers.
Long may their rods arc to the spring of fighting trout.
contacting several of our senior members, some information has been
forthcoming. Peter Comrie and Jim More provided old Membership Cards,
which gives information on Office Bearers, subscriptions and rules.
Dave Thomson provided some ‘tall tales’, and Dr. David Primrose, who
joined the Club in 1962 and who, along with the Rev. Willy McLeod, has
been one of our auditors since 1967, has taken the trouble to search
the archives of the William Patrick Library. He has produced several
leads to follow up and amongst his findings are the following:
I joined the Club in 1973, having applied, waited and having been vetted at an interview, for my suitability to be a member; membership cost £5. Names of previously active Club officers I heard mentioned, were Jimmy Craig, Jim Forsythe and Ian Cooper. I was elected to the Committee in 1977. The Committee met in a wee room upstairs in the Co-operative hall, at Broadcroft, on what is now the Kirkintilloch by-pass.
my early days on the Committee, the then Treasurer, Joe Perkins used
to organise fishing outings. I only went on a few of these, but I gather
from the then Secretary Harry Miller, that my experience was typical.
We started off very early and were driven in a mini-bus to a loch or
river. The President and his cronies would commandeer any boats, leaving
the rest of us to our own devices. We would fish happily till it was
time to return and then would go to the nearest town or village for
a refreshment. When it was time to leave, the search of the town’s inns,
pubs and hotels would begin, looking for errant anglers. This was a
self-defeating strategy, because as the search party grew larger, those
who had been searching longest felt they needed a ‘quick half’ to sustain
themselves and so became detached from the search party, requiring the
search party to return to the establishment where they last seen. The
search of the hostelries in quite a small village could take a long
time, and usually was only successful when alcoholic exhaustion set
David Primrose remembers AGMs being held under gaslight in big hall. He reminded me of the perennial debates about bait fishing & spinning, which usually started off with a proposal to allow fishing with worms. This was followed by a number of amendment proposals, such as ‘only after June’ or ‘only when bank fishing’, or ‘only for pensioners’, or ‘only for Juniors, etc, etc until there were half-a-dozen amendments which were discussed round and round in circles, until someone proposed ‘status quo’ and this was always carried, to the great relief of all, otherwise meetings would have lasted all night. Generally the Committee was elected ‘en bloc’, with new members being drafted in to fill ‘dead men’s shoes’.
David also recalls the attempt by Ian Cooper to breed our own fish, which was heavily dependent on the efforts of a small number of members who attended the hatchery, built up near Woodburn, on a daily basis. Remnants of these efforts can still be found.
Club held the lease of Antermony Loch and Woodburn Reservoir from Mid-Scotland
Water Board. We had four wooden clinker boats and stocked annually with
several thousand 6 inch brown trout, letting them grow on to taking
size, which was I believe 8 inches. Spinning was permitted throughout
the year on Woodburn and until the end of April on Antermony. In the
early 90’s Woodburn was drained because of fears for the integrity of
its dam. For every trout caught on Antermony, you usually caught two
perch. This persisted until the late 70’s when Errol Burchell mounted
a one-man crusade against the perch, netting over 15,000 in one season,
which he sold to a course fishery at Kilsyth. From the proceeds he bought
200 rainbow trout, which were introduced into Antermony. This policy
of stocking with a small number of rainbows in the summer dog-days continues
to today. Over the years the stocking policy has changed from stocking
fish below taking size, to grow on; stocking nominally at taking size,
which resulted in a proportion of fish below taking size; to now, when
we stock with about 3000 brownies above taking size at about 12 inches.
For most of its existence Antermony has been a feeder reservoir for Woodburn, which was high enough to supply Kirkintilloch with its drinking water. As Woodburn emptied in the summer, water was pumped up to it from Antermony. In very dry summers this resulted in the level in Antermony dropping by several feet, reducing its area by about half. Now that Antermony is no longer used for this, the Stank to the east of Boat-House Bay, usually shows 3 courses of brick throughout the year. In one dry summer I remember counting 21 courses, about 6 feet. Although at the time we moaned about losing so much water, in retrospect, it was probably beneficial by preventing the build up of nutrients, which have caused the loch to become eutrophic, with major algal blooms.
the years the Club has been blessed with many characters who have enlivened
proceedings. For most of my membership, Jacky Stewart was President
and the heart of the Club. He was so valued that when he lost the place
a bit, due to age and failing eye-sight, we had no hesitation in declaring
him Honorary Life-President and electing a Chairman to conduct the routine
club business. Jacky, was a Foreman Moulder at the foundry (look at
the base of one of the old red phone boxes, if it says Kirkintilloch,
Jacky made the mould for it); he lived for fishing; he never learned
to drive but managed to fish all over Scotland by cadging lifts; he
fished with nylon as thick as rope and a line twice as old as himself;
he never stopped talking during competitions – you could hear him all
over the loch. Even in his 80’s, when he was virtually blind, he attended
work parties, acting as an interfering, unnecessary and even now, 4
years after his death, still a much missed foreman. Davy Thomson tells
the story of taking Jacky, who by this time was virtually blind, over
to the loch, because Jacky was concerned that ‘somethings no right with
the watter.’ Because of Jacky’s failing eyesight, Dave was leading him
by the hand as they approached the stile at Cattle Grid Bay. A white
van pulled up and the driver shouted ‘f***** poofs everywhere. It must
be something to do with the water.’ Jacky only heard the last part of
the sentence and shouted, ‘You bet!’
The ‘Silver Jubilee’ piece mentioned the dreaded ‘Boat Plan’; by my time, membership had grown to 196, there being 196 days in the trout season, with the club’s four boats, each member could have a different boat pre-booked on four days in the season, one in the first quarter of the season, one in the second etc. This was accomplished at a committee meeting and involved having a slip of paper for each member and a calendar with four columns per day. There followed an immensely complicated and prolonged procedure, which inevitably resulted in several members being booked on the same boat on the same day. Fortunately we have abandoned this system and now leave it to the Membership Secretary to work out the boat plan. I believe he visits a witch-doctor.
Throughout the years, the Club has maintained its boats, buildings and fishing by the goodwill of the members who make up the Work Parties. The work party traditionally get together at the loch on Sunday mornings in January, February and March before the season opens and on stocking days. Rarely do more than a dozen members attend and until recently it was all they could do to repair and maintain the six wooden clinker boats. A few years ago, however, we entered the twenty-first century by buying six 13 foot fibreglass boats, each costing £1700. These have transformed the work parties. Maintenance is minimal, giving members more time to attend to lochside vegetation control and paths. Currently we are installing wooden tracks in the boggy bits. We have also benefited from assistance of teams from the Community Service Unit of the Council, who have done a great job of maintaining the ground around the boat house and jetty, building paths, steps and even a bridge over the burn. They cut back some of the mature trees and put up bird and bat boxes. Along with competitions I find the work parties particularly enjoyable, because our sport tends to be a solitary pursuit and these give us an opportunity to meet and blether with fellow members. A tradition has developed, thanks to Iain Black, at the final Work Party before the season starts, of providing pies and Bucks Fizz to toast the new season. Inevitably Iain buys too many pies and so the Pie Ceremony becomes a Pie Orgy, with some members gorging themselves on half-a-dozen or more pies soaked in brown sauce.
Club runs seven competitions for Members at Antermony; the Spring Cup,
the Brown Shield, the Jewart Cup, the Summer Cup, the Brown Cup, the
Autumn Cup and the Junior Cup. In addition, the Club Champion is determined
by points gained fishing the competitions, and the Cafaro Trophy is
awarded for the heaviest fish caught in the competitions. The Club Champion
represents the Club in the SANA National Championship Competitions and
the next three positions represent the Club in the SANA National Team
As the years progressed, the Club saw a succession of water-boards transferring ownership and our lease, until the late 90’s when the East of Scotland water Board wanted to sell the loch, but only to a local authority. East Dunbartonshire Council led by a local Councillor stepped in and bought the loch, giving the Club a ten year lease, due to expire in 2008. In 2005, a recommendation was put to the Council to sell the loch on the open market. Several commercial groups expressed interest in buying Antermony, but the Club mounted a strong defence, which drew support from many quarters, including councillors, MPs and MSPs. This culminated in a visit to the loch by the Council Committee making the decision. They made no pretence of their surprise at the scenic beauty of the loch and the work carried out by the Club members and others to maintain the loch and its surrounds. As a result the Club has been given a 25 year lease. This will enable us to demolish the derelict pump-house, extend the car-park, to build disabled access and to build a new fishing-hut for members to use. It will also enable the Club to welcome its Centenary at Antermony.
So our future at Antermony now seems assured and it is up to us all to keep on with the work started 80 years ago, when a group of like-minded men decided they wanted to form an angling club. We have inherited this and like them no doubt, we will have problems to face. To start the debate, I believe that there are three issues we should be considering. The first concerns accessibility. We pride ourselves that the Club is accessible to all, but we have very few female members, we don’t discriminate against them, so why don’t more join the Club? Secondly, as the price gap between brown trout and rainbows, continues to increase, can we afford to maintain our Club tradition of stocking with brownies indefinitely? Finally, we all know our loch is eutrophic. How can we increase its vitality?
Roger Hughes 30.9.2006