Your Directors’ responses to your “top ideas”

Your Directors’ responses to your “top ideas”

In response to our request for your best idea on how the Westwater experience could be improved, we had 59 “ideas” and we would like to thank those contributors for the time they took to respond and for their interest in the Club. Not all ideas can be implemented and some directly contradicted others! However, we set out below the gist of the ideas and what action is being taken.
We have broken the topics into a few groups, as follows:
1. Fish and fishing (your suggestions and our responses)

? More Brownies, no more Brownies, how about more “Blues” and how about some Brook Trout? Let’s make East our Brownie only Lake – or a wild Brownie lake. Let’s have a few double figure Rainbows. How about reducing the “catch and keep limit”?

Responses: Having considered the issues set out immediately above, (and they will be kept under review) we reached the conclusion that we have the balance about right. We stock 200 Browns only each year and they grow on and over-winter extremely well. Most Members are pleased for the variety. Blues are a naturally occurring variant of Rainbows and cannot be selectively bred; however, we have a deal with our suppliers that if they see Blues in their stock, they will attempt to put them aside for Westwater. As far as Brook Trout are concerned, we are considering this suggestion, although as a result of the necessary forward planning, the die is already cast for 2021.

? Can we spin at the end of the season? Can we set aside a small area for float fishing? Any chance of additional waters? How about making Westwater a barbless hook fishery? Can we open earlier than 08.00?

Responses: We are a fly fishing club, so we don’t feel that spinning and float fishing are appropriate. Barbs are not allowed while intending to release a fish; some “catch and keep” Members wish to use barbs, and that’s ok. Opening earlier than 08.00 could disturb our local residents, so we don’t permit anglers to arrive prior to 07.45.
As far as additional waters is concerned, we can’t afford any at present and our 250 acres is more than sufficient for our current membership numbers.

? Can we stop the fishing in November extension to the season? Can we keep November as a permanent feature?

Response: The November extension is a trial and is being kept under review; interestingly, the majority of our Members fished more than once in November 2020.

2. Boats

? Can foot braces be reintroduced and can we have additional fittings to secure motors, anchors, drogues, etc?

Response: Yes – being organised.

? Can we store motors and batteries at Hallington, can you charge our batteries and how about an electric pump to assist with baling?

Responses: This would be too complex to manage (we no longer have full-time staffing) and it is felt that a self-service arrangement would be fraught with difficulties. As far as a pump is concerned, we have an electric one but it’s not up to the job – it takes far too long; however, we have ordered a light-weight petrol one and Ian Scott will pump out boats after heavy rain. Other than that it is self service baling – we will provide a bucket in each boat!

? How about a mini jetty to help less agile members?

Response: Very expensive, particularly one to cope with fluctuating water levels. Also, there is an over-riding safety concern – if a single boat angler falls in to the water, it could be very dangerous – so we won’t be taking any action on this one.

?How about moving boulders adjacent to the ramps to facilitate the moving, loading and unloading of boats?

Response: Will do – when water levels permit. It will be easier to achieve in East than in West.

3. Administration

? Fees – can we pay electronically? Can there be reduction for 2020 given the late start due to Covid-19 restrictions? Could there be a reduction for those Members who live “out of area” and fish rarely? Can tonight’s closing time be posted on the website? Can we install webcams so that we can see the conditions before we leave home?

Responses: For 2022 season, those Members who wish to pay 100% upfront will be able to pay electronically; details will be published in due course. There will be no reduction in fees for 2020 – we incurred costs equivalent to a whole season in stocking, etc. Consideration will be given to “out of area” Members for 2022 onwards. Closing time is 15mins prior to sunset and never later than 22.00. Web cams are too expensive to be used for the suggested purpose.

4. Facilities
Let’s have more staff presence throughout the day. More seating dotted around the lakes, please. Can we have a dedicated fish-gutting station? How about casting platforms along north shore of West? Can we have access to the old boat-house at the bottom of East? How about refurbishing the Clubhouse? What can be done about dog fouling?

Responses: We can no longer afford a Fishery Manager – membership fees would have to rise substantially. Ian Scott is around for some time most days and can answer questions or concerns. There are already several benches and there is no shortage of places to sit down around the lakes. We have no means of disposing of fish waste. The safety concerns addressed above regarding a boat jetty apply here. We’re not happy that the safety of our Members could be ensured. Unfortunately, the new owner is renovating the boat-house for his and his family’s own use. Dog fouling is outside of our control. But the Northumbrian Water Ranger is aware of the problem and will police when he is in attendance. Last, some good news! The lounge has been redecorated and completely refurnished – we hope that you like it!

March 2021