Angling: Linlithgow Loch hope to reopen after 'worst algae problem in living memory' while Raith Lake forced into shock closure

Bosses at Linlithgow Loch are keeping their fingers crossed that the green algae problem which has forced the closure of the fishery for four weeks will recede enough to start fishing again on Monday.
Linlithgow Loch has been closed for four weeks due to green algae. Picture: Tom LambertLinlithgow Loch has been closed for four weeks due to green algae. Picture: Tom Lambert
Linlithgow Loch has been closed for four weeks due to green algae. Picture: Tom Lambert

An inspection will be held over the weekend but it is understood to be the longest summer closure of the popular fishery in living memory.

The move has cost the Forth Area Federation of Anglers, who administer the fishery, a sizeable sum in lost ticket sales as clubs booked to visit were cancelled and other anglers turned away as the problem continued.

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The warm weather during July and August was the cause but bosses hope the cooler weather and the recent rain will be enough to bring and end to the problem.

Tom Lambert, the club secretary, said that he has been involved for four years and this is the worst he has experienced.

He added: "I believe that there was a real problem around 15 years ago. The guys still talk about it, but this is one of the worst spells of algae we have had in living memory."

There was an inspection last weekend, but Lambert said that the water was not ready for a return at that time.

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He added: "One of our guys did go out to test the water and he did hook into fish. He also had several tugs and pulls but it would not have been right to ask people to pay for a permit to fish."

Thankfully, July and August are not the water's busiest months and Lambert admitted: "We had to cancel bookings from clubs and societies and we've also had to turn people away.

"It has been difficult and we do hope that we can give the green light to fishing after an inspection this weekend."

There have also been other problems for fisheries nearby. Jim Gargaro, owner of Bowden Springs, around two miles out of the town of Linlithgow, has been trying to find somebody to talk to following a road closure on the busy A706 which, he claims, has been affecting his business.

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The situation has been on-going for more than a week and the frustrated fishery boss said he contacted his local councillor, Tom Kerr, and West Lothian Council.Gargaro said: "If the work needs to be done that's fine. It's the signs which are causing the problem."

He added: "Business has been much quieter than we expected because of the road closure. People have been arriving at the road signs and turning back and going elsewhere.

"I've had people phoning me asking if it is OK to continue driving up here. I have been trying to get answers for days. It's really frustrating particularly as this comes after the COVID-19 issue."

The Evening News emailed West Lothian Council and a spokesperson revealed it is not council work that has cause the road to be closed.

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He said: “A contractor on behalf of Scottish Canals is currently carrying out essential repairs at Woodcockdale Canal Bridge near Linlithgow.

"A road closure at this bridge is currently in place as it is required to allow these works to be safely carried out.

“We have passed Mr Gargaro’s concerns onto the contractors, to investigate if the current road closure and diversion route signage that is in place can be reviewed and improved.”

Those anglers who have made it to the fishery, which has a two-acre fly pond and five-acre bait pond, have been rewarded.

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None more so than Jim Bryce who landed 12 trout with a best of 6.5lb on squirmy wormy patterns and George Roberts, a newcomer to the fishery. His session on the fly pond produced three trout including a 10lb rainbow and Gordon Reid followed with another on a brack and green lure. R Sanders hooked an 8lb rainbow. Other favoured recent patterns have included black leech and buzzer.

Ben McPhillips, a newcomer to the sport, also landed a fine 4.5lb trout.

Sizeable catches have also been recorded on the bait pond and R Slater landed a 6lb trout in a splendid bag of around 18lbs and a teenager who is new to angling hired a rod. Gargaro set-up his tackle and the newcomer emerged happy with a fine trout around 3lb to show for his efforts. Powerbait and maggot or worm have proved the most successful on the bait pond.

Meanwhile, Clubbiedean in the Pentlands above Bonaly have launched a re-vamped website which owner Steven Johnston said had gone down well with clients.

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Like everywhere else, the weather has had an impact on fishing, but anglers have been catching with a 6lb trout among the best returns in recent days.

Adams Irresistible, CDC, shuttlecock, yellow dancer and diawl back plus have been the most successful according to Johnston who currently has six boats in operation on the water. He also allows bank fishing all over the lake but casting can be a problem in some areas.

Bait fishing is by maggot and worm on his seven-days-a-week fishery which is open from 9am to 9pm.

Johnston said: "Anglers are catching all over. Sometimes it is in the morning that is best. Two boat anglers hooked 11 on dries as the water was bubbling, then the weather changed and the fish went off."

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Raith Lake bosses have decided to close the fishery by the end of September and they have sent a notice to all customers and friends on social media.

A statement said: “Today (19.8. 2021), WITHOUT any prior notice, contractors turned up at fishery with excavating equipment under instruction from the landowner with instructions to gradually lower the level of the lake by at least 1/2metre with the main sluice already being lowered by 200mm today.

“This action would render the lake not viable as fishery or a business going forward and therefore I have made the hard decision to close the fishery by the end of September.

“This has come as shock to everybody involved in the fishery so if anyone has any questions please get in contact with myself.

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“Going forward we will try to keep everyone informed with what’s happening if and when information becomes available.

“Until we close we will increasing the catch limits with brown trout included.”

Bosses added: “We have made many new friends in the short time we have run fishery and hope you continue to support us for our last five weeks. Sad times Craig. Please share.”

Elsewhere, there is still time to enter the Scottish Canal Championships on the Forth & Clyde on Sunday, August 29. See the Scottish Federation of Coarse Anglers Facebook page.

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The Edinburgh and Lothians Coarse Angling Club host the ninth of their 11-round Summer Series today (Saturday, August 21) on Alex's Pond at Orchill near Auchterarder.Pegs are drawn on the day at 8.30am and fishing is from 10.30am to 4pm with the weigh-in at 4.15pm. The final of the Knockout cup will now be held on September 4 between Geoff Lowe, the club president, and Bruce Lawrie.

The annual Pairs match will also be fished on that date and the pairs will not be known until AFTER the weigh-in which, say the organisers, will add a spice to the occasion.

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