Anglers voice worry over lack of fish

LOCAL river anglers struggling to land any catch this year have been left stumped by what they say is a chronic lack of fish in the River Cree.

Despite the best efforts of local fishery agencies, who work tirelessly to maintain stocks in the rivers, veteran anglers say they’ve never seen waters so empty.

Jackie McCleary, from Minnigaff, who has fished the Cree for 56 years, said he has seen one fish all season.

He said: “It’s not been good at all. I have seen one little fish. My friend has seen two … that’s terrible for this time of year.

“This is definitely the worst year ever, for July and August, when it should have been at its peak.”

Mr McCleary said there had been plenty of good water and ideal conditions, but no catch.

He added: “It could be that we’ll see a hell of a run of fish in the next two weeks, but these are the prime beats and I know people who have caught all year what they usually have in a day.”

Jock Livingstone, also a seasoned angler, has seen no fish either.

He suggested sea lice on escaped fish from farms could be spreading to local waters, and also blamed large foreign trawlers in open seas hoovering up salmon stocks and preventing them from making their way to Galloway waters.

But Jonathan Haley, who runs Mochrum Park Holidays, reported the opposite situation and claimed his guests had been thrilled with their catch.

He said: “You get good years and bad years. But when I look at my figures for the past seven years, I’d say they’ve been the best ever for us and we’ve just been unlucky with much of 2012.”

In fact, one of Mr Haley’s guests landed two salmon on Wednesday and witnessed a third getting away.

He added: “They often come 
and say, ‘Wow’, after a day’s fishing. I’m really quite optimistic about the situation as a whole.”

Mr Haley said reports from other estates had also been encouraging, with some runs showing vast improvements.

The Forestry Commission has been blamed for felling works up river, but it says it has stringent plans for such works and a spokesman said the commission had not had any complaints from fishermen.

Local fishery agencies were unable to comment this week. See next week’s Gazette.