Anglers have been dealt a blow after it was revealed Lochore Meadows Country Park is next to be hit in region-wide budget cuts.
Due to “huge financial pressures” Fife Council has confirmed it will no longer subsidise Rainbow Trout fishing at the park and people who bought season tickets for 2016 will receive a refund.
Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT) had managed the loch on behalf of Fife Council since July 2014, as part of a two year pilot.
But Sean Baxter, owner of Deals on Reels, a fishing tackle shop in Cowdenbeath for 17 years, said numbers of anglers at Lochore had been dwindling for eight years.
He commented: “It’s down to bad management and it comes as no great surprise to me and a lot of people in the area that it’s closed.”
Mr Baxter claimed the stocking policy of rainbow trout - a fish not native to Great Britain - at Lochore was insufficient and that, combined with a long-term failure to properly tackle poachers meant there was “not a lot of anything there”.
The service should have been self-sustaining but, given the circumstances, Mr Baxter believed it was unrealistic that another group, even one with fisheries’ experience, would resurrect the service.
The loch had been used by anglers for around 30 years but FFCT conceded it had been used less by fishing clubs over recent years.
A volunteer bailiff programme had been in place to address poachers, however “due to the use of volunteers, enforcement and managament of the programme has been very challenging”.
A spokesman said: “It has therefore been decided that stocking is no longer possible, however the public will be welcome to fish freely for what is available.”
He added: “A third party business plan was commissioned recently to identify viable alternative funding routes and ways of developing fishing service, the conclusion of this report was that the service was not sustainable.”
FCCT made enquiries with several other agencies to source funds to bring back the service, but were unable to secure due to a “variety of factors”.
Funding to subsidise the fishery provision at Lochore Meadows will be removed from April 1, 2016.
Fife Coast & Countryside Trust have managed to carry out a partial stocking of the loch with Rainbow Trout to allow fishing in March 2016. Bank fishing is now free and any season tickets already purchased for 2016 will be refunded in full.