It was a bittersweet weekend for the Lake Keepit Family Fishing Club.
The club was fed up with the rubbish being left behind by “sticky beaks” and coordinated a successful clean-up on Saturday but was faced with a depressing sight – dead and dying fish.
“It was pretty awful out there, cleaning up all the dead fish,” club president Anne Michie said.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking. That sort of knocks the stuffing out of you a bit.
“It’s great being the president of a fishing club when you’ve got no water in your town.”
Ms Michie said it all got a bit much for the children who were helping.
“Bert’s little granddaughter was there and she was seven and they had to take her back up to the caravan because she was so upset about all the dead fish,” Ms Michie said.
Most upsetting of all for the club was the death of fish, which had been alive for generations, including what 130cm Murray Cod estimated to be about 50-years-old.
The death of the old fish also affected Tamworth candidate Mark Rodda who had headed out to lend a hand and “see for myself” the desperate situation at Keepit.
“Right before my eyes, I saw a big old Murray Cod on his last breath. It probably would have died later that day,” Mr Rodda said.
“I left feeling quite depressed at what I saw.”
It’s great being the president of a fishing club when you’ve got no water in your town.Anne Michie, Lake Keepit Family Fishing Club president
Mr Rodda said it was clear that the club was struggling with the impact of the low water levels.
“They’re quite deflated,” he said.
“It’s quite clear that it was not only about fishing but the loss of the social part of being part of a club, that you didn’t have the opportunity to meet under good circumstances."
But the club says it won’t be beaten by the drought.
“It all gets a bit over at times but we’ll keep going. We won’t give in,” Ms Michie said.
“We’re not going to fish but we’ve got to keep doing something to get us back together a social group.”
Over a few beers and a barbecue, the club floated ideas like yabbie races and camp oven competitions.
“There’s not much else we can do to save the fish we’ve got… it’s just a waiting game now,” Ms Michie said.
“Hopefully the temperatures will start to ease off a bit and we’ll get a bit more water. The only thing that will fix it is [to] add more water.”