Loch Lomond historic water

Loch Lomond: frustration continues to simmer

SEARCHING questions about the financial administration of salmon and sea trout angling on Loch Lomond are expected to dominate tonight’s annual meeting of the historic club which runs game fishing on the famous water.

A tense meeting of members of the Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association (LLAIA) in Glasgow is anticipated when officials present the report and accounts for the 2009 season which it is claimed show management salaries and hatchery expenses together totalling more than £84,000.

Members last week sent a letter to accountant Alastair Mair, the club’s treasurer, calling for greater transparency in the figures and for more details of salaries, hatchery expenses and river repairs, among others, to be published.

The letter, written by a prominent member of a group of disenchanted anglers, says:

I do not believe that it is acceptable any longer to list large items of expenditure under one line and not break the totals down into more manageable chunks.”

Last year’s annual meeting broke up in disarray following a vote of no confidence and a subsequent emergency meeting narrowly avoided voting out the existing committee after months of acrimonious wrangling over how the club is run.

Since then the atmosphere of open hostility between the club’s secretary, Michael Brady and the dissidents who operate an alternative Loch Lomond angling website, has subsided and a tone of conciliation has appeared in public statements from both sides.

Loch Lomond 22lb salmon

© LLAIA Gallery: 22lb Lomond salmon

Early results of salmon and sea trout catches last spring predicted a bumper season for salmon and sea trout on the loch which forms the centrepiece of Scotland’s first national park. Final figures are expected to show that this was not sustained and that verifiable salmon returns, as in many other Scottish waters in 2009, were mediocre.

The Loch Lomond catchment is unusual in that, despite its size and popularity, it is not a formal district salmon fishery board and therefore not subject to the statutory rules of governance set out by the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards. There are also continuing questions about policy differences between the LLAIA and the Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust, an independent charity dedicated to promoting conservation of the catchment’s native fish populations.

Below the surface of the 100-year old club, it seems that frustration among some of its 600-plus members continues to simmer over aspects of the administration. The letter, which has so far received no official response, says:

“The Association is undoubtedly moving in the right direction and while you did not open up the accounts this year to full scrutiny I would suggest there is little to stop you from doing this next year as I believe you will have the full support of the membership on this matter.”

It asks for a breakdown of management and watcher salaries, quoted at £51,799; hatchery rent and expenses at £32,066; and river repairs at £1499 and says individual sums over £100 should be listed.

Clydebank teacher, Stewart Inglis, who authored an alternative plan for administration of fishing on the loch last year, said today: “Some progress has been made since the emergency meeting, but there is still a long way to go and many unanswered questions remain.”

Officials of LLAIA could not be contacted for comment.  However, Brady is on record last spring saying: “When I took over as chairman 12 years ago we had a debt of £63,000. Now we have a fishery reserve of £250,000 and have bought four stretches of the River Endrick. There is a small group who want to get their hands on the fishery reserve, spend it willy-nilly and cut permit costs on the River Leven.”

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