Work on re-establishing the loch for trout angling has commenced with the Friends of Blairs volunteer group clearing Rhododendrons from around the back of the Boat House. This work is to allow access for a tracked excavator to re-open the silted-up channel which connects the boat house to the main section of the loch.
Purchase of a boat, outboard motor and weed cutter will be early requirements in order to allow the main body of water to be cleared of the excessive weed growth. This work will be carried out by volunteers over the summer/autumn of 2018. Once the main infestation of weed is removed there will be an annual maintenance plan to keep the growth at acceptable levels.
Initial reed removal will be limited to the channel clearing exercise and the area opposite the boat house (southern end of the loch). Thereafter an annual programme will be set up to remove small areas of reeds from points around the loch to open up a few additional viewing points of the open water. The reeds (Phragmites australis) are an important contributor to the biodiversity and natural habitat so the aim will be to bring the reed growth into a managed state, not complete removal.
The target would be to be ready to stock the loch early in 2019. Whilst it would be wonderful to see fishing on the loch during 2018 the amount of weed removal makes it highly unlikely that volunteer time will be sufficient to achieve this.
In order to make the fishery available to as wide a community as possible the plan includes the installation of a purpose-built boat boarding pontoon and the boats purchased will be fitted with easy access equipment.
It is intended to operate the fishery on a “put & take” basis whereby it will be stocked with fish on an annual basis and anglers will pay to fish the loch. Anglers from the local community will be able to fish the loch on a discounted day ticket whilst visitors to the area will be charged at a commercial rate. The fishery will operate on a “not for profit” basis and all surplus revenues from visitor tickets will be reinvested into the fishery for future stocking and maintenance.
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