A KEEN fisherman fell and drowned while fly fishing in a river, an inquest heard.

Ian McMullen, of Rookery Lane, Broughton, went missing on April 26, last year, during a trip with friends to the River Oykel, in Scotland.

A full scale search was launched, with emergency services, coast guard helicopter and members of the public involved.

An inquest into Mr McMullen’s death at Winchester Coroner’s Court heard his body was discovered by police divers on May 1.

Mr McMullen had travelled to Scotland where he had met friend Robert Douglas Miller. A statement from the Scottish authorities said: “Robert knew him well and said he had been coming to the area for fishing for 60 years. Initially with his father and latterly with Robert.”

Later on the afternoon of April 26, the 75-year-old met Mr Miller and friend Sir Robert Clarke for lunch and Mr McMullen drank some rum and cola.

About 4pm Mr McMullen was left alone, but he intended to go fishing in the river.

Sir Robert saw Mr McMullen at about 5.05pm standing in the river and told him to “be careful” before going up stream himself.

He returned to the area later but found “no trace” of Mr McMullen.

Fishery manager Steven Mackenzie, who had known Mr McMullen for 25 years, was alerted at around 6pm, and a search was launched which discovered Mr McMullen’s tweed cap. Police were called and at about 8.37pm his rod and reel were found. Police divers on May 1 found his body in “approximately five feet of water”.

Tests found that he had 127 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, however senior coroner Grahame Short said that he does not believe he was intoxicated. The legal limit for driving is 80 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

He added: “Mr McMullen lost his balance while he was fishing and fell. Due to his waders and the depth of the water and his pre-existing physical condition he could not get up and drowned.”

Mr Short recorded the death as an accident.