Angling manager Andrew Conlon was “an old school” fisherman who knew the stretch of water where he drowned “better than anyone”, a close friend has revealed.
Stuart Fraser, a local angling expert, said Mr Conlon, 56, from Dalkeith, was “an old school” fisherman who never wore a lifejacket.
Mr Conlon’s body ws found at Gladhouse Reservoir near Gorebridge, on Monday, along with that of his friend David Archibald, 59, also from Dalkeith.
Mr Fraser, a close friend of Mr Conlon’s, said: “He was a jovial, larger than life character who was very knowledgeable about fishing and he’ll be sorely missed,” he said.
“I knew him since when we were teenagers and we fished Gladhouse together many, many times. He was an old-school angler and never wore a lifejacket. Apart from that he’d never take a risk on the water. I can’t think what could have happened
“He was well aware of how quick the conditions can change and he knew everywhere to shelter in, maybe it was a medical problem.”
Police today continued their search for the boat that Mr Conlon and Mr Archibald were sailing in.
Mr Conlon was the fishing manager at the Midlothian reservoir, where he was in charge of safety and had the power to cancel trips he believed to be unsafe.
Police confirmed that neither man was wearing a lifejacket when their bodies were found shortly before 4am on Monday by an RAF helicopter.
Warning signs to fishermen beside the water state “a buoyancy aid must be worn at all times when on the water” and “Be prepared to change your plans or pack up early. There is always another day”.
Police chiefs believe the boat holds the “key” to explaining how the tragic accident happened.
Inspector Neil Simpson said that their boat may have been turned over by strong winds or currents, or may have sprung a leak.
Until post-mortems are carried out, officers are not ruling out a “medical” issue which may have led to one of the men falling overboard and the other trying to save him.
Insp Simpson added: “Our search officers have identified areas where they might have been fishing. Their bodies were found in the outlet of the reservoir that leads to the overspill Roseberry Reservoir but they could’ve floated for some distance.”
Mr Conlon’s family were too upset to talk, but Mr Archibald’s wife Heather paid tribute to her husband who worked as a technician at the University of Edinburgh.
“For more than 35 years David was a devoted and loving husband and father.
“He was always there for his family and friends and you would struggle to find anyone with a bad word to say about him.
“His death has left a massive hole in the lives of all of those who knew and loved him.”
Andrew Kirk, retired head gamekeeper from the Roseberry estate, said strong wind can hit the reservoir which is 900ft above sea level.
“The winds howl down the valley from the Moorfoot Hills and things can become quite dodgy all of a sudden,” he said.