Fish ain’t jumping no more for the anglers under the bridge on the Leven

fishing at leven

A boy fishing under the old bridge over the River Leven at Dumbarton.

By Lizzie Healey          Picture by Tom Gardiner

Visual storyteller Tom Gardiner calls this photograph hook line and sinker – and no wonder.

This spot, under the old Dumbarton Bridge, used to be a great spot for fishing on the banks of the River Leven.

Jim Crosthwaite told us: “I used to fish off-the-pipe under the bridge on the Levengrove side at that age.

“Never fell in once. However, my risk assessment today says it looks a bit more dangerous to me than it did back then.

“We caught a lot of eels back then and, even though we could spot large salmon from the bridge above, I never caught one.”

Anna Buchanan said her brother and his friends used to catch mullet from there when they were about 11 or 12. “Doubt they would be allowed [to do that] today,” she said.

But Jim Crosthwaite said: “Not so much a case of being allowed Anna, there are just not any fish by all accounts – less birds, less fish, less eels, less biodiversity.”

Bill Heaney writes: “I was tipped off one night that a group of Chinese guys were out fishing at Dumbarton Rock, and that the police had been called.

“They were arrested for poaching allegedly, but I never heard anything more about any court case or whatever.

“I am told mullet were often sold in the fish dishes in local Chinese restaurants.

“And that they were very tasty indeed. I think they were passed off as red snappers.”

Eddie Connelly says there are no eels anymore and that the mullet “seem to have disappeared “.

Jim Crosthwaite recalled that there were once “millions of eels” late 60 into 70s – “you could catch nothing else there at that time.

“A fisherman chap used to put concentric reducing hoop nets down opposite the Castle at Levengrove and got loads of eels, I believe he shipped them down South.

“The river used to also shine with the flash of mullet underbelly at certain times of the year. All gone I understand.”

Jim added: “The only good sign I see is the seagulls getting mussels at the Castle and dropping them from a great height onto the Castle Cannon Battery’s to open them.

“If we get shellfish we will hopefully get more fish too.”

Tom Gardiner, who took this picture said: “The mullet used to gather between the bridges. That must have been late 70s early 80s when the water used to be full of them.

“I haven’t seen them in many years. I always thought it was something to do with the water turning from salt to fresh round around there.

“There must have been plenty of food to attract them. They were not very nice to eat and there were rows of lads on the bridge trying to foul hook them.

“This and the starlings’ murmurings over the old bridge are a huge miss on the river.”

Jim Crosthwaite too remembered the starlings. He said: “Good memories, Tom. I do remember the starlings. They were so common in those huge flocks, and would roost in the trees in Levengrove.

“We have a feeder for garden birds and we get a few starlings there, but not many. Changing days.”

Tom Gardiner explained: “They moved away when the bridge was renovated in 2005.

“I really regret never filming them – what a spectacular display it was every evening before they settled for the night.”

We’ll give the last word on this one to Eddie Connelly.

He said: “The Chinese take-away on the bridge used to buy the mullet from you as they knew how to cook them, although I never tasted them myself.”

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