The lake was filled with water in mid December 1893 and 1500 Loch Levan trout were placed there in February 1894. Fishing was not permitted until March 1896, when 157 licenses were granted. The licensed fishermen were specifically prohibited from selling or otherwise disposing of the fish they caught for profit.
In 1903-4 there was some debate about adding coarse fish to the lake. It was argued by some that coarse fish (roach, tench, bream and rudd) would be easier to catch than trout and more likely to attract working class anglers. There was strong and effective lobbying against this and in May 1904 the Council finally decided that coarse fish would not be placed in the Lake, which should remain exclusively a trout fishery.
In the 1904 season over 3000 trout were caught by the 129 season ticket holders. Fishing initially proved both popular and profitable. Between 1903 and 1915 fish to the value of £355-12s-8d were sold and young fish to the estimated value of £243 were placed in the lake. During the same 12 year period £293-4s-4d was received from the sales of fishing tickets.
|Year||Season tickets||Day tickets||Receipts|
A decline in fishing was first noted in June 1911. There were complaints from anglers about their lack of success and the Glamorgan Anglers' Club alleged that stocks were declining because fish were being washed out of the lake when the water level was lowered. In 1922 the Chief Parks Officer A.A. Pettigrew acknowledged that this was a problem and proposed a modification to the outlet valve of the lake to resolve it. He also attributed the decline in fish stocks to the growth in popularity of boating and the possible contamination of the lake by surface drainage from tar-sprayed roads.
Pettigrew recommended that an attempt be made to revive fishing by restoring the Hatchery and the rearing ponds, and by buying in mature fish for the current season. £150 was provided in 1922-3 for stocking the lake and 1000 nine inch trout were purchased. Despite this, the ticket receipts for 1922 came to £13-4s, representing 60 season ticket holders. It was felt that anglers were not supporting the efforts of the Parks Committee and no further attempts were made to revive the popularity of fishing. Pettigrew, writing in 1931, concluded his chapter on fishing with the statement that after 1925 "no pretence is now made that angling is one of the Park's recreations".
Despite this, purchases of trout for the lake did take place in later years. In 1933 it was suggested by local anglers that if the lake were restocked with trout it might not be necessary to treat the water to destroy the parasites which were a problem to bathers (see the Bathing section). Following advice from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries the Parks Committee decided to experiment by purchasing and releasing 3,800 trout fry in the lake. By early 1936 it was decided that the young trout were now large enough to permit angling, which the Committee agreed could take place from March 2nd. There were subsequent purchases of trout: in 1939 the Council authorised expenditure of £40 for this purpose, and in April and November 1947 a total of 350 young trout were purchased for the Lake in two instalments at a cost of approximately £40.
A proposal arose in the late 1950s to revive fishing as an organised activity, when the Parks Committee approved in principle an offer from a prospective licensee to pay the Council an annual rent for the right to manage and charge for fishing. Nothing came of this proposal in the event, because it was again necessary to treat the water in the lake with copper sulphate, to prevent bathers developing a rash, and the prospective licensee considered this harmful to the fish in the lake.
Finally, in 1959 the Parks Committee decided to stock the lake with coarse fish, namely carp, tench, roach, rudd, dace, chub and perch. In the summer of 1960 the Parks Director reported that coarse fishing had proved both extremely popular and successful financially.
In September 1984 the Leisure and Amenities Committee decided that use of lead shot weights was to be prohibited, and the area of lake on which fishing was not permitted was to be extended. The following year it was agreed that the Welsh Federation of Coarse Anglers be permitted to hold three international fishing competitions at the lake during the coming season.
Sources of Information
In general, the information in this section is taken from A. A. Pettigrew, The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff, Volume 3.
Other sources are: