A LOCAL fishing club has been cast a new lifeline after nearing collapse.
Dalbeattie Angling Association had lost money and members since 2016 when Scottish Water was forced to empty and decommission Buittle Reservoir, a popular fishing spot the group used situated three miles outside of the town.
The decision was taken after a species of non-native invasive American signal crayfish was discovered in the waters, threatening local salmon stocks.
The association’s secretary and chairman Will Marshall said the group then lost half its anglers as a result, adding: “There was a good reason for it not being in use during that time, but we had not appreciated just how much that would impact the club. It is clear it is the jewel in the crown to many anglers in the area.”
Last March members fished at the reservoir for the first time in years, having been emptied of the crayfish and restocked with trout and Sticklebacks.
Mr Marshall said: “What Scottish Water did at the reservoir was a game changer. We now realise what an important part the reservoir plays in terms of the angling portfolio. Being able to get back there led to a surge in our members and we ended 2020 more than breaking even financially which was some turnaround.”
“The work led to a very good catch that always gets us anglers excited. The return of the reservoir and lockdown led to a big turnaround for us, we saw our member numbers shoot up to 100, the highest it has been in years. Many people have said how well the water is fishing and how much people have enjoyed being outdoors at the reservoir again. We also held lots of competitions, for all ages and after such grim times it was great to see so many people out there.”
In a fitting way to celebrate its centenary in 2021, the angling association has experienced its first year with no financial losses since before the reservoir was decommissioned — and now has more than double the members it did this time last year.
Mr Marshall continued: “In 2019 we lost money – and in 2020 we broke even, even making a very small surplus, which is what we had only dreamed of. Scottish Water’s efforts with this project will be remembered by us and we are so grateful for the time they took to talk and listen to the community and by committing resources to this project which ultimately saved our club. We are only a wee club and to be able to work so constructively and successfully with a big national organisation like Scottish Water was superb.
“It is not just anglers who have benefitted, the reservoir is in a beautiful and peaceful location popular with many people in the community who visit for walks. With ongoing Covid regulations in place it is a great site to have which is delivering benefits to many, allowing people to get out in our local environment.”