Fideach Angling Club was formed by an enthusiastic group of local fishermen in 2003 after acquiring a 21 year lease on the Laxdale/Blackwater estuary and rivers.
Determined to implement an improvement programme and increase fish numbers to their former sustainability after decades of netting rights being leased, illegal netting and neglect, the fishings had spiralled into an almost irreparable state, verified by electro fishing surveys and redd counts. The latter being no redds found the year prior to the formation of the angling club. A stocking programme was implemented on the advice of the Outer Hebrides Fisheries Trust.
The Laxdale and Blackwater rivers rise from the east side of the Barvas hills, 5 miles north of Stornoway, draining an area of peat moorland approximately 30km2. After some 5 miles they enter the Fideach estuary a mile apart, locally known as the Cob, the Laxdale on the south west and Blackwater on the north arm. In low tide conditions they run over soft sand and merge opposite the south west side of Steinish island, north of Steinish, and become the first of three pools in a mile or so stretch before emptying into Broadbay.
The Blackwater flows out of Loch Mor an Starr 4 miles northwest of Stornoway on the A857 to Barvas and is used as a backup water supply for Stornoway, once the towns main supply. It was dammed in the mid 1930's and can be easily identified on an ordnance survey map with its dismantled tramway lines marked in. This was a narrow gauge locomotive tramway used to transport materials for the construction of the dam. This man made obstruction has denied access for migratory salmonids to Loch Mor an Starr as well as the burns higher up the catchment.
LAXDALE: Although the main river runs east from the Barvas hills the main Loch, Garbhaig, feeds a feeder stream which enters into the main river. It lies on the northern side of Ben Thulabaigh, on the junction of the A858 and the yellow marked Pentland road to Breasclete and Carloway, 4.5 miles west of Stornoway. Though some fish enter the loch in July, the majority stay within the estuary, running later in the season. It is here the system comes into its own offering possibly the best estuary fishing for salmon and sea trout in the Hebrides with more than 95% of salmon and sea trout being caught in the sea as well as some large estuary trout, one of 5lb was caught in 2008.
ESTUARY: As this area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with a rich diversity of marine wildlife, it is in everyones best interest to co-exist with care, and respect them, as they are only the visitors so please avoid disturbing the wildlife. AVOID the pebble shore round Steinish island as the terns use it as a nesting ground and the eggs and young are hard to see as they blend in with the stones. Any disturbance could make them flee the nests and lose a year in their life cycle. AVOID environmental crimes, take away and dispose of litter, lines, hooks etc as this can be lethal to wildlife and the many dogs that are walked along these shores and would surely take the club and its members into an area where they can be subject to legitimate criticism from other organisations monitoring this area ie SNH, RSPB, SEPA as well as the general public and dare I say possible loss of the fishing lease.
As a newly formed association with dedicated members actively involved in improving the quality of habitat and conserving existing stocks the Association would appreciate a similar approach from all that fish the system as not only Laxdale and Blackwater fish use these feeding grounds as a safe sanctuary from predators, sea trout from other systems feed here also.