#680 Have we reached the bottom of the barrel? – What lies beneath?

What do you think lies below the bottom of the LLAIA Committee barrel. I think we might soon be going to have to find out.
As far as this committee is concerned everything is for ever. Until the time it is no more , obviously.

But this latest seasons disastrous catches systemwide, especially on the loch, have raised the stakes in many members eyes. Nothing has happened in a decade to show that the committee have improved anything that will filter through in increased salmon numbers. In fact, exactly the opposite, and there comes a time even they must ask themselves if they’ve had their chance and it’s time to admit they have come to the end of the line. After all, how many chances do they expect, in the face of such an obvious and calamatous decline under their direction.

Competent and successful LLAIA committees have been an endangered species since 2011. Maybe not a full extinction event yet, but how bad does it need to get before the scientists and other second-rate committee opportunists that got us into this predicament get their jotters and we get a real improvement strategy under way with a chance of success.
Leaving the important things in Lomonds continuing battle to survive to toothless organisations like the LLFT and individuals with only personal records of failure and incompetence will have little or no impact on the real decision makers, or public opinion
When it comes to defending the once famed Lomond salmon and sea trout fishing local anglers and ordinary LLAIA members have really been left isolated, and with little or no say in the direction this committee have taken. There has never been anything set out for ordinary anglers to understand what the committee are trying to achieve, or how they will achieve it. That’s left the committee isolated and under constant attack by those who see their fishing collapsing in front of their eyes while nothing gets done that they see as giving any hope of recovery.

Through it all the committee remain aloof, with few, if any supporters, and block any attempt to hold them to account by illegal and unconstitutional methods. And season by season the salmon numbers get lower, member numbers reduce, angling boats dissapear forever and nothing changes.

To turn the corner we need quite a few more than a couple of vociferous agitators manning the trenches in isolation and getting themselves targeted for retribution. Lomond anglers seemingly don’t know the meaning of solidarity or unity. We need people who are not scared to speak the truth no matter the consequences. Those determined to do so need backing and staunch support from those who don’t possess the direct interest and drive to do something themselves.
And most importantly we need the individual determination to rid ourselves of the wasters, the big mouths, the un-achievers, who get themselves into positions beyond their capability, stay there despite their unsuitability and record of disaster, and then are scared to let go in case others then see what James Hunt they’ve made of it.
In the current situation the worst thing we can do as ordinary anglers is to hide, to watch from the side lines and expect someone else to sort it for us. That’s exactly what got us into this mess. The present crisis in salmon numbers won’t blow over or miraculously rectify itself. In that knowledge why just sit and wait the eventual outcome. Do something today to change things yourself.
Starting with demanding the disappearance of the present committee.

Their perennial problem is how to quietly disappear without trashing so much of their reputations and without leaving an obvious dead duck behind them which collapses as an organisation immediately thereafter. If that happens there are a number of individuals who stand to face serious questions and possibly legal repercussions.

#679 2022 LLAIA Loch Lomond Fly Fishing Competition? – added to the list of things this committee don’t do? – so what is it they still do?

Has anyone heard anything about the date and time of the LLAIA annual Loch Lomond Fly Fishing Competition for this season. From memory, after its resurrection three years ago it was always fished sometime in September, usually the first or second week, after the Lammas rains and consequent reduction in surface water temperature. But I’ve seen nothing from our committee, I’m sure, either mentioning its demise or publicising the event.
Come to think of it the annual pike fly competition wasn’t held this year either. It’s usually held sometime in June and I’ve seen and heard nothing about this either. Even after the installation earlier this year of a new coarse fishing representative to the committee it seems not to have energised things much in an upward direction.
Is the absence of these two events just another indication of the loss of interest within the committee of an unstated but clear admission that, in the case of the sea trout competition, there’s just not enough fish in the system to merit even pretending to hold it to try to save face and then covering their embarrassment when either nothings caught or the turnout is abysmal.

Not a word from the committee. No explanation, no excuse, no embarrassment at their failure on another initiative supposedly to publicise the job they’re doing for us. They just think it doesn’t matter, no one will notice and they’ll carry on pretending they’re all working so hard and everyone else is complaining about trivia that doesn’t matter.

It looks like the last winner will be holding the cup for a while, perhaps forever. Take good care of it, because my name is on it twice, in the company of many of the historic and well known names of the LLAIAs past. Another bit of unreplaceable history now lost and the heritage destroyed with it by the apathy of the present committee.
Time was, even until recently, there was a large number of fly fishers based in Balmaha, all of whom concentrated on the sea trout fly fishing at the back end once the salmon season was unofficially over, and who turned out in numbers to fish the annual competition. But that was when we had a hatchery stocking the east shore burns with sea trout and maintaining a population that otherwise just disappeared through neglect. Not any more though, with a complete decimation of Balmaha members who used to be regular and dedicated fly fishers. There’s been no stocking of any kind since Bourhill and Raeburn took over, and that’s exactly when we found ourselves with no sea trout to catch either, and that’s when the boatyard at Balmaha started to look like a ghost town for fishing boats.
The timing of the above fits almost exactly with the unquestionable pattern of the scorching of the earth of everything they touched or even, in this case, didn’t touch. Death by neglect, laziness and incompetence. It looks like soon there will be only committee members boats left at Balmaha and everyone else will have left them to it. What a result for Raeburn, Elsweiler, Bell, and Sinclair. In their time the River Leven has been turned into a fishless ditch, Loch Lomond into a toxic settling tank, and the Endrick into an FEB breeding colony and nursery.

#678 A catch report for the gullible, the desperate and the distraught – phantom fish from a dying loch – truly, we have only ourselves to blame for letting them get away with it.

Did you see the latest official catch report compiled by Colin Liddle encompassing the three months from July to September? What a dismal and uninspiring feeling of absolute dispair that single report engenders in any true Loch Lomond angler.
Discounting the atrocious nine (9) salmon reported of the river Leven in the same time i.e. averaging three a month, and less than one a week, there is reported, including 3 slipped in from late June, a grand total of 15 salmon and grilse over July, August and September, most of them small 5-6lb grilse in July, from all reporting stations from Balloch to Balmaha.
That is a catastrophic salmon total from what, just ten years ago was a thriving and improving system, with a progressive improvement and hatchery stocking program, and crucially, salmon from May until August. In that short time, all spent under various shades of committee guidance by Raeburn, Bourhill and McCormick, the fishing has collapsed until now it’s virtually pointless even taking a boat from its mooring.
Of the few fish caught, no anglers name appears twice, so even those getting a fish should count themselves lucky. Gone are the days of three or four to one angler in a day, double figures per boat for a week and twenty-odd for the season, all commonplace occurrences when I started on Lomond and even into the late 1990s. Now even experienced and committed regulars struggle to avoid a blank season.
And still the reports by the committee are presenting an aura of enthusiastic bombast. The grilse run, for that’s what they think that was, continued through August and into September, supposedly. Utter nonsense and deliberately misleading claptrap. I fished Lomond for forty years and the grilse run stopped like a tap turned off after the first week of August. September produced coloured grilse, once in a while and far from fresh. To the extent that most, if not all anglers stopped trolling and fished fly for sea trout. When, that is, we actually still had sea trout to fish for.
Despite the sea trout caught and triumphantly declared by one committee member as reflecting an increase in these fish, every one of them was caught accidentally, on the troll, while looking for salmon. They don’t count in catches and never did. They never translate into, or compensate for the loss of, fish caught later on the fly, which is when they do count. Keeping up the numbers, and falsely representing the true state of sea trout runs is what’s got us into the situation where regardless of the near extinction rates of migratory fish running the system, and the abysmal catches like those reported, we seem to manage to keep our Cat2 designation eternally.
The LLAIA Committee are out of touch, out of ideas and openly concealing the depth of the hole the Lomond system has been dug into. They’re incapable, unwilling, seemingly, of recognising the mess they’ve presided over, and resort routinely to presenting a rose tinted picture of an unfolding calamity they’ve presided over in silence.
Lomond fishing even as we knew it ten years ago is dead. The real salmon season, when anglers actually have a faint chance of a fish, is condensed now into the six weeks between 15 June and the end of July. Going out in March, April, May and the first half of June is a waste of time. Likewise, August, September and October are pointless, except for the odd manky near spawners.
A whole system has been trashed in a decade of false reporting, constant wide eyed predictions of recovery and improvement and a purging of anyone who refused to keep quiet when the demise of the fishing we once enjoyed became obvious. The committee denied there was anything other than continual improvement, issued, as they have again recently, predictions of improving and continuing runs that never materialise, and leave those who believe the hype to spend thousand of hours a season searching an empty Loch for phantom fish.
Everyone who fishes Lomond knows what’s going on and realises where it’s going to end up. There have been all sorts of committees in my lifetime from the benign incompetents, to the desperate enthusiasts, to the committed, successful and now banned for speaking out. But until now there’s never been a committee of deliberate deceivers who would rather the LLAIA dies than admit they’ve failed.
How anyone can dress these abysmal figures up as deserving of Cat2 is something I’m looking forward to seeing in the next Annual Report.

#677. ACTION REQUIRED says the Committee – you bet there is! – so how about they start it for a change! – what happened at the latest RSPB Beaver meeting?

There was another meeting, loosely styled “a consultation” by the RSPB, at the Millenium Hall, Gartocharn on the evening of 5 September where the intention was for them to elucidate on their intention to introduce (dump on us regardless) the present overspill of the Tay beaver population to the Endrick valley. The word was that our ex-chairman, Malky McCormick was to have a role at the meeting expounding the considered position of the LLFT (of which, remember, he is now the General Manager).
I expect someone (maybe more than one) from the LLAIA Committee were also in attendance in an official capacity and with some serious questions to ask and objections to record. But who knows, as there’s been not a word from them since the meeting as to who was there, what was discussed, how it went, what was said and what the outcome was, if any.
On a subject of such magnitude I’d expect a full committee turn out with a managed and carefully orchestrated series of well rehearsed and cogently presented objections to have been officially lodged, and that no doubt what-so-ever should have been left about the LLAIAs total and vehement oposition to dumping beavers in the Endrick valley. This would destroy the carefully managed, protected, delicate and unique landscape there, and in addition further endanger numerous native species already under pressure from other I’ll considered RSPB initiatives over the years.
Members are entitled to expect the LLAIA Secretary to have a carefully prepared and lucid minute recording the proceedings on 5 September, at the very least, as a record to be produced on their official web blog and to demonstrate their mastery of the situation and how well organised and prepared to resist they are. But I don’t actually believe there is anything of the like in preparation, and if there is it’ll be so top secret that only certain of the committee will ever see it.
We have a situation here where the LLAIA desperately need a committed, intelligent, militant and organised leadership with a settled plan that members can buy into and support. Unfortunately it appears that what we have is a few sad, tired and jaded old men, long past the first flush of enthusiasm when being an LLAIA Committee member seemed a good idea, all pretending still to be interested but also trying desperately to find a legitimate way to get themselves excused duty without seeming to appear to be abandoning ship.
That’s not a situation that is ever going to end well for the LLAIA and it’s long suffering members who deserve better that this committee has ever produced in its existence. It’s the perfect storm really. A set of challenging circumstances and problems at the very time the committee are so badly equipped to deal with them, and so embedded in believing their own hype that none of them are capable of taking a step back and looking objectively on their achievements, or rather lack of, and their more numerous failures.
So they’ll blunder on, to the detriment of the whole organisation and the Lomond system in general and ignore the calamity that’s unfolding on their watch.
I recently re-read my post compiled sometime in 2011 reflecting on the situation we found the LLAIA in in 1995 when we took over, after long resistance from the then sitting committee allied to the then Endrick Owners cabal. It listed the faults and deficiencies then of a committee also so sure they were irreplaceable and desperate to cling on in the face of imminent collapse, both financial and organisational. I was struck by the number of similarities to todays situation. No committee so out of kilter with the wishes and expectations of the vast majority of members can long survive unless they are so successful in increasing salmon stocks that members are prepared to accept all the other deficiencies as a necessary evil.
That isn’t the case here, and I can see no reason members will continue to accept the continuing dissatisfction with the committees attitude and abysmal performance. There comes a time in every committee, even successful ones, when they’ve run their race and the whole organisation benefits from fresh blood and a change if direction. That time is long past for this committee and all the signs of the approaching death throes are there. No Committee can last long after it alienates members to the extent that a few of the leading lights of this mob have. The trick is to understand that no-one is indispensible, and have the grace to step away cleanly long before the time when members realise the mess you’re going to be leaving behind.
Unfortunately, everyone on the committee presently seems to think they are doing a great job and are indispensable and they are the only thing standing between us and the ultimate collapse of the LLAIA. The LLAIA is already failing and will ultimately collapse, and when it does it will be because of the committee, and not despite of it.
The LLAIA only exists for anglers and members to catch salmon. Its not there as a charity, or a conservation tool, or a personal plaything for Bourhill. If there’s not enough salmon around to warrant remaining a member most, if not all, will cease to be members. When that happens, and it’s already happening around Balmaha without doubt, there will be no saving us. The only way the LLAIA survives the next three years is if there’s a miraculous return of our salmon runs, and quite frankly the prospect of that seems remote.
I constantly wonder what current committee members (and all those within the last ten years) think they have added to the LLAIA and what they conclude justifies them in thinking they have done a good job that merits praise, or even the basic thanks of members for trying their best. Nothing done by any committee since 2011-12 to my mind has been anything but detrimental to the ethos, reputation and well-being of what was, until recently, one of the best run, accessible, affordable salmon and sea trout systems in Scotland.
What a legacy for Raeburn, Bourhill, McCormick, Edminston, Graham and Colquhoun to leave behind them.