A FISHERMAN has been left devastated after his favourite reservoir was closed to anglers - despite the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Keen angler Gary Weller was disappointed to learn that the fishery at Arlington Reservoir will remain closed even after the easing of restrictions.

Fishing is currently allowed under coronavirus guidelines and is included alongside other sporting activities as a legitimate form of outdoor exercise.

But, South East Water said it could not could afford to keep the reservoir open for trout fishing amid the "uncertainty caused by the pandemic".

And it would instead be prioritising the safety of people visiting the beauty spot, near Hailsham, for walks.

The Argus: Fishing on Arlington Reservoir.Fishing on Arlington Reservoir.

The 58-year-old said: "Arlington is a lovely place to go and chill-out, it’s beautiful to go to and forget about the problems in the world.

"It was a place for people to meet up and enjoy each other’s company."

“I used to have a very stressful life but for me it was like you could walk off the earth for a moment.

"My uncle took me there after I got divorced and it helped me get my head back in the right place.

"It would mean a lot to me and others if it were reopened.”

The Argus: Gary Waller has been fishing at Arlington for years.Gary Waller has been fishing at Arlington for years.

Fishing has been allowed since the end of March with small groups permitted for the last few weeks.

As part of current guidelines, up to six people - or a larger group from two households - can fish together as part of a bubble.

Gary added: “If I play football on the park for 90 minutes, I’d be dead, fishing allows me to have my share of recreational sport.

"I can walk around the reservoir and enjoy the serene location.

“There is nowhere else now within a 30 or 40 mile radius to go fishing.

"I am a coach driver, and I don’t want to be doing more driving on my days off."

The Argus: Arlington Reservoir has become a hotspot for walkers.Arlington Reservoir has become a hotspot for walkers.

South East Water said trout fishing had been offered Arlington Reservoir for a number of years but has been declining in popularity.

This situation was "further compounded" by the pandemic that led to a "dramatic downturn" in income with fewer than 150 season ticket holders and members in 2020.

The fishery was closed in July 2020 and it has not opened since.

Emma Goddard, head of environment for South East Water said: “The uncertainty caused by the pandemic, coupled with continued decline in trout fishing, meant we had to take this decision not to restock the reservoir last year.

“We also saw a fourfold increase in visitors to the site during lockdown, so managing the safety of the public walking around the reservoir had to be our priority this year.

“Although we know this was disappointing for those who enjoy angling, we are keen to engage with them and others to see if there are ways we can work as a community to provide sustainable activities into the future.”