News by Month


Annual Report and Christmas Message from the Chairman

Well, 2020 is almost over and I am sure, like me, you will be glad to see the back of it.  Hopefully 2021, with the implementation of the nationwide vaccination programme, will see us embark on the pathway out of and beyond the COVID pandemic and allow us to get back to normal business.  On the upside, the impact of the COVID restrictions on our activity as a Federation has meant that I have far less to report on than in normal years and my report with therefore be a lot shorter – I can almost hear the sighs of relief!


As many of you will know, I have for the past two years been reporting that I would be standing down Chairman and I know that some will therefore be surprised that I am still in post and indeed writing this yet again?  Unfortunately we had no nominations to replace me as Chairman in 2020 and, with the AGM in March cancelled and not able to be rescheduled, I was not able to cajole anyone into taking over. This is therefore now my fourteenth Annual Report and Christmas Message as Chairman of the SFCA!  As I said last year, this is far too long for one individual to lead and guide an organisation with such a wide and diverse membership, and this issue of identifying a successor needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency.


Due to the impact of COVID-19, progress with the establishment of Angling Scotland has stalled, mainly due to the inability of the three SGBs to effectively consult with members and to run AGMs to put forward proposals for the next steps. As I mentioned last year, the Angling Scotland Board has reached a key decision point as, in its current format as an umbrella structure with no independent income stream, it is simply not financially sustainable as a Business. Therefore, collectively as the sport of angling in Scotland, we need to decide on the future direction.  On Saturday 4th January 2020 the Angling Scotland Board met with invited representatives from SFCA, SANA and SFSA to look at options for the way ahead.  The meeting was very positive and the output was published on the websites and shared through on our social media platforms and a presentation by Chairman Angling Scotland Ltd was published as part of our Annual Review in lieu of the AGM in April.  The agreed plan after that meeting was for consultations to be conducted with members, member clubs and the wider Scottish angling public throughout 2020 with the aim of considering all responses and to come up with clear proposals which could be put to the AGMs in March 2021.  Clearly, due to the restriction imposed by COVID, this last piece of work did not happen, and the Board of Angling Scotland have therefore decided to push everything back a year.  There is therefore a lot to do in 2021 and we will be publishing more information over the next few months.  I would strongly urge anyone who cares about the future of our sport to take time to get involved and have your say.  If anyone would like any more information, or if any clubs would like me to arrange a Virtual conference to speak to their members, please don’t hesitate to email me at  I am intending to dedicate a sizeable slot in the AGM to providing an update on this work-strand and, as it will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the SFCA and the future of our sport, I would urge all member clubs and any interest parties to attend.  The AGM will be held on Thursday 26th March so please put the date in your dairies.


With the 2020 AGM not taking place we have decided to simply roll the changeover of key Executive Committee appointments to 2021, and there are a number of key appointments that need to be either re-elected or replaced.  These include the Vice Chairman Saul Gardiner and Secretary, Craig Postlethwaite who are both up for re-election.  Additionally, after more than 20 years in the post Policy Officer, Ron Woods decided to step down earlier this year.  Thankfully Ron has continued to contribute throughout this year, you will no doubt have seen is articles on the website about ‘The Legal Position of Coarse Fishing in Scotland’, and has continued to provide myself and the Executive Committee with the benefit of his extensive knowledge and experience on policy and legal issues impacting on our sport.  While Ron will undoubtedly continue to work behind the scenes and provide the benefit of his counsel whenever required, it is essential that we find the right individual to assume the Policy Officers’ role.  There are also a number of other posts that need to be filled or rotated within the executive Committee.  While some of these posts can be covered by an internal reshuffle, we desperately need fresh blood on your executive Committee.  To this end we will again be advertising a number of appointments in January and would strongly encourage anyone who would like to get involved of who feels that they have something to offer the Executive Committee to get in touch.


At the time of writing this Christmas message, we have 1363 individual members which includes 103 Juniors.  This is a 27% increase in adult membership on last year and just goes to show how angling as a sport has benefitted from our work to ensure that it remained open throughout most of the lockdown restrictions. Despite the fact that we have not run any development programme in 2020 we have also seen an increase in our FREE junior memberships.  This may have something to do with parents looking for activities for children to do during lockdown, but hopefully 2021 will see our development activity return in earnest and we can work to build on this increase in interest to get more youngsters out on the bank learning to fish. 


While the increase in membership is extremely encouraging, sadly there are again a large number of individuals who joined in 2019 who have decided, for one reason or another, not to renew their membership.  As of today, there are 500 individuals on the system who joined in 2019 who have not re-joined in 2020 and there are another 834 who joined in 2017 and 2018 who have not re-joined since.  As I have said in previous years, there are undoubtedly a large number of reasons for this, but we do need to do more to understand this and address the causes.  If you are one of these individuals, I would encourage you to let us know if there is something that we are doing, not doing, or if there is something that we are not providing which has contributed to your decision not to re-join.  Only by knowing what is wrong can we hope to address it.  As I mentioned last year, due to the constantly rising postage costs, we have been looking at options for individuals to prove membership electronically to avoid the need to manually produce and post out physical membership cards to those individuals who do not need them. This may involve moving to a new membership system which provides this facility, and which also delivers a platform to significantly improve two-way communication with members. We will of course still retain the ability to send out physical cards to those who prefer or require them.  More information on proposals for this will be published in the coming months.  Please email us with feedback, good or bad, to  

I would, as usual, like to ask all members of the SFCA continue to help us to promote membership of the SFCA by encouraging all of the anglers they know to join the Federation.  Being able to demonstrate a large, active and engaged membership plays a huge role in ensuring that we are able to keep coarse angling and coarse angling interests high on the agenda of Angling Scotland, sportscotland and Scottish Government.  In addition to FREE fishing across the Lowland Canal network, all SFCA individual members again receive free ‘Public Liability’ insurance cover for all of their fishing activities whether engaged in SFCA events or fishing on their own anywhere in the world. 

In a bid to encourage some of the 500 individuals who didn’t join this year to renew their membership, anyone who joins between 1st January 2021 and 31st March 2021 will receive a membership running right through to 31st March 2022. We are also going to run another membership prize draw on 31st January 2021.  Full details will be published early in the New Year.  The draw will be open to all individuals who are paid up Individual Members on 31st January 2021. The name of the lucky winner will be published on 1st February 2021.  Remember, you have to be an Individual Member to be included in the draw so if you have not yet joined get your application done today. 

Again, if you are experiencing any problems with the membership system, please either email or call me on 07812 241816 and I will guide you through it. 

On the competitive front, 2020 has been a complete write off both in terms of domestic and international fixtures with COVID-19 restrictions resulting in a decision to cancel all International and all Federation National fixtures.  This gap year has however allowed us time to reflect on the Federation match structure and the number of fixtures that we are trying to plan and deliver under the SFCA Banner.  For several years we have continued to try to run our traditional match calendar and to shoehorn it in around the various club and fishery leagues, without really reflecting on whether it was still achieving what it set out to achieve, i.e., providing opportunity for participation and growing match fishing in Scotland, or indeed whether all of the matches were still required.  In a bid to address this we are intending to run a virtual meeting with all stakeholders in early January to look at the way ahead and try to fix the format and calendar for 2021/22.  Hopefully by then the situation with regard to COVID will be clearer and the travel restrictions will be having less of an impact on our activity.  If you, or your club or fishery, wish to be involved in that meeting please email me at and I will add you to the invite list. 

COVID-19 also put paid to plans to form a Scottish Lure Fishing Team in 2020, although we were able to hold a meeting in Glenrothes on Saturday 1st February 2020 which was attended by more than a dozen individuals interested in being part of it.   This will be a priority for the SFCA for 2021 and, if the COVID situation permits will be looking to run a series of selection events, a Scottish Lure Championships and for opportunities to field our first ever Scottish Lure Team in a Home International in 2022.  More details to follow.


As a Federation, we need to support the aspirations of all of our members who have a goal of representing Scotland on the International stage and ensure that we are delivering opportunity for all.  In 2021, post COVID, I will resurrect last year’s commitment to get the International Team Managers, key Senior Internationalist and a selection of coaches together to review our coaching and performance pathways and to make better use of some of the performance coaching opportunities through sportscotland.  The aim will be to ensure that our structures are fit for purpose and ensure that our coaches are trained to provide future generations with the opportunities to develop the technical, tactical and psychological skills required to perform at the highest level.

After the challenges of 2020, our main focus for 2021 will continue to be identifying ways to provide opportunity and encourage more juniors to get into competitive angling and re-establish the junior teams.  The fact that recreational angling has been one of the few sports to have continued throughout the COVID pandemic has meant that lots more people, and particularly juniors, have taken the opportunity to try angling or come back into it.  We must now work to actively engage with these new anglers and provide them with a pathway from recreational angling, into competition if we are to have a sustainable base for our International Teams for the future.  I say this every year, and every year it remains an undeniable fact; to achieve this aim we need more coaches.  In partnership with the other SGBs, through ADBoS, we run regular UKCC L1 courses.  We just need volunteers to come forward. Coaching is exceptionally rewarding and there are Bursaries available from sportscotland to offset the training costs.  In the next few weeks, we will be publishing dates for UKCC L1 courses that will run in 2021. If you are interested in becoming trained as a coach, or know someone who might be, and would like more information please email me at or call me on 07812 241816 and I will be happy to speak to you.

As a Federation, we continue to engage with Scottish Government and other key stakeholders at all levels and every forum where we can have an influence, shape future direction, and protect and promote our sport for future generations.  If you want to know more about what we are doing on your behalf, please visit the website and review the Annual Business Plan which can be found at


Regular readers of this Christmas message and our Annual Business Plan will be well aware of my commitment to always set ambitious targets in order to challenge myself and the Executive Committee to deliver more on your behalf.  The Executive Committee are now beginning to work on the draft SFCA Business Plan and Risk Register for 2021/22.  This will hopefully be published on the website by mid-February for consultation, with the final plan will being ratified and issued at the AGM in March.  We will, as always, ensure that clubs and individual members have at least 4 weeks to respond to the consultation on the SFCA Annual Business Plan prior to the AGM.  As usual, I encourage you all to read it once it is published and provide feedback and comments through your clubs or direct to me at  While the Executive Committee are your representatives, we do not have the monopoly on good ideas.  It is your sport, and we are your governing body, you need to tell us what is important to you. Every year I and other members of the Executive Committee hear rumblings about what we should or shouldn’t be doing, but rarely if ever does anyone actually bring these concerns to our attention or afford us to opportunity to explain why we have chosen a specific course of action.  This is your Annual opportunity to tell us what you want and voice any concerns – use it and help us to develop a Plan that delivers what the sport needs.


2021 will undoubtedly bring fresh challenges for us to overcome, especially as we escape the COVID pandemic and are able to reinvigorate the programmes and work-strands that have necessarily been put on hold during these unprecedented times. For this reason, I have no doubt that the Executive Committee, and hopefully new Chairman, will be busier than ever. Going forward, we need to find solutions to the problems around attracting and retaining youngsters in our sport.  The aging demographic in match angling continues to be a particular concern, as is the lack of clubs willing and able to take and develop junior anglers.  To overcome this, we must create a simple structure and encourage and assist clubs, and fisheries, to play their part in supporting and developing youngsters through the participant pathway.  We also need to identify and find ways to remove barriers to participation, both real and perceived, and identify and address those issues the adversely impact on our ability to retain them. 

I would, as always, like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Executive Committee, our coaches and the other volunteers, on your behalf for the huge amount they have put in to support Scottish coarse angling over the past 12 months.  Without their commitment, determination and willingness to go that extra mile, at their own personal cost, we could not hope to protect, promote and grow the sport of coarse angling in Scotland. 

When our draft Annual Business Plan is published for consultation in February, we will again be setting ourselves some challenging and aspirational targets.  As I say every year, if you feel that you have a skill set that could benefit the SFCA and can spare some time, however little, we would love to hear from you.  In the meantime, I would urge you all to continue to play your part by simply promoting coarse angling as a totally accessible and ideal sport to engage and capture the imagination of young Scots, and by encouraging everyone you meet to join the SFCA. 

In closing, I know that you will all join me in wishing all of our teams every success on their return to the international stage in 2021.  I would like to wish all of our members, and indeed all coarse anglers in Scotland, a very Merry Christmas and Tight Lines for 2021!


Gus Brindle


Tags: ,

Comments are closed.