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Chairman and Secretary Report for Season 2020.

The winter of 2019 through to the spring of 2020 was pretty open, wet and windy at times and not much snow or freezing conditions.

Essential maintenance on the boats stored at Balloan was carried out early in the year, the hulls of two boats were cleaned with a light acid to remove the peat staining. Thwarts, seats, oars and the wooden gunwales were treated with wood preserver.  Repairs to the hull on the Lannsaidh was boat completed. The shed at Loch Laoigh also had a coat of wood preserver applied as the west facing side had taken a battering over the winter months.

Then, as we were preparing for the AGM to be held on 20th March, the Covid 19 pandemic was starting to affect our lives. A decision to cancel the AGM was agreed by the committee, due to social distancing regulations. Worse was to follow the next week as the government announced a lockdown, essential travel only and social distancing, shielding for those with underlying health issues, all measures introduced to save lives and the NHS.

Pubs, hotels, shops and businesses all closed to the general public. Our way of living was starting to change dramatically, and worst of all, fishing on lochs and rivers across the country stopped!

The decision to close the fishing was made for us by the government and once they relaxed the conditions then the committee would consider how to safely control access and issue of permits to the lochs.

The 1st stocking of the year scheduled for the 27th March at Loch Lannsaidh was cancelled. There would be no point in providing food for the ospreys and cormorants as no one would be fishing for some time by the look of things.

The weeks went in with no sign of any relaxation in the government’s stand until on Sunday 10th of May, Boris announced that conditions were to be relaxed allowing some sports and recreation activities to resume in a controlled manner.

Nicola’s government did not agree and announced no real change in conditions in Scotland. The only change being that you could go out more than once a day, still no fishing, golf or hill walking, all activities that could have been undertaken in isolation.

Friday 29th May fishing was now permitted with all the rules and regulations regarding travel and social distancing to be observed at all times. One of the travel regulations suggested was the 5-mile rule. This was not a hard and fast stipulation as people had the right to use common sense in their approach.

Guidelines were issued to the DDAA membership with a very comprehensive do and don’t roadmap, explaining how booking fishing, through the secretary and how issuing the permit and keys from the Eagle Hotel would be conducted.

There was to be no visitors fishing on the lochs, and with travel restricted to broadly 5 miles, Lannsaidh and Laoigh were the only lochs to be fished, initially.

 

The boats on Lannsaidh and Laoigh were put on the water.

The shed at Lannsaidh had some repairs carried out and a coat of wood preserver applied, all thanks to Michael Banks.

With the relaxation of the lockdown and fishing becoming available, albeit restricted, the 1st stocking of Lannsaidh was carried out on the 2nd of June, and thanks to Eric and Suzie at the Eagle Hotel, 4 more tagged fish were included in the stocking.

The boat on Lagain had repairs effected to the hull and the boat subsequently launched. The boat on Buidhe was also launched on the 18th of June but no permits other than for Lannsaidh and Laoigh were to be issued until the travel restrictions were relaxed further.

On June 30th with the travel restrictions eased, the boat on Loch Brora was launched and from now on the boat will be attached to the anchor buoy clip by the bow ring only, so that the boat can now weather vane, causing less strain on the anchor in windy weather.

Permits for Loch Brora, Buidhe, Lagain, Ghiubhais were now available from the 3rd of July. Just Laro and Cracail M’or were to have the boats launched at a later date.

The catch and relocate weekend 11-12th July at Lagain was well supported, with the car park overflowing on the Saturday. Gales of wind and the occasional shower with low air temperatures proved to be testing conditions. The fish also thought the same and were reluctant to show or be caught. On Sunday, the weather improved but the fishing was just as hard as the previous day but overall, the two days fishing produced 62 fish which were safely relocated to Loch Ghiubhais. Thanks to all who participated over the weekend.

Travel restrictions were being relaxed as the season progressed, the whole of the North of Scotland was inundated with wild campers and campervans, some adhering to the countryside code of conduct others doing as they pleased. This caused resentment with locals who were affected and left to clean up the mess.

Andy Hughes, who we rent the fishing on Lannsaidh from, experienced issues with campervans obstructing access to his property at the Lannsaidh gate. He also reported an increase in foot traffic over his land causing him some anxiety. Andy will be putting up more warning signs on the track to the lochs, and, with respect to the anglers, he would like to point out that these are not aimed at them.

Over the season, once again we have experienced malicious damage to our equipment and evidence of poaching on the Lochs apparent. Removal of the plug on the Buidhe boat, removal of the oars from the Cracail boat, fishing line discarded at the Loch sides, tins of sweetcorn found on loch banks, the access gate to Lagain was found to have the retaining nuts on the hinge side of the gate removed to enable unauthorised access. All evidence of people damaging and helping themselves to DDAA’s facilities.

The seasons competitions were once again ably organised and run by Michael, his report covers the achievements of the accomplished, skilful and fortunate trophy winners.

As the season wound down the boats were removed from the lochs, some stored at Balloan Steading, the others hauled up onto the loch banks.

The committee have had few meetings over the year. Contact was made within the group by either phone or e-mail, with a couple of meetings in the open air at Balloan Steading, observing social distancing and numbers congregated rules.

At present we have no clear indication as to when we will be able to hold our next AGM, but as always, the committee have plenty to discuss prior to then.

Some of the topics being aired within the committee at present are retirees and replacements to serve on committee, DDAA membership numbers, visitors fishing, River Evelix fishing, charges for fishing DDAA lochs and boat hire.

Once the outcomes are agreed then all will be presented at the AGM, which we hope will be achievable later in the spring of this year.

With the constraints we experienced in 2020, through diligence and observing safe practices, the association managed to offer fishing to the membership when it was deemed safe to do so.

The Covid vaccine programmes are starting to be rolled out in the country, the 2021 season is just a few weeks away now and I hope we soon return to a more normal way of life.

As always, your hard-working committee strive to improve and maintain the equipment and fishing available to the membership. 

Tight lines for this season.

 

Hamish Macrae.

  

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